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Found 9 results

  1. Namibia, the wonderful! Woooooow, the countdown is at 0, the day is finally here! In just a few hours, I am airborne and on my way to Namibia, once again! The excitement is beyond words as i post this! I have thought about how to write this years trip-report, as last years, http://safaritalk.net/topic/16912-my-great-namibian-adventure/, I never completed because i got lost in dates and places etc. So I think I have a better «strategy» in my mind this time around and as you can see with this first installment even before I have left home, I feel confident that this report will take you from the first to the last day! We will travel with the same little company as last year, but our guide from last year, Tommy, sadly had an accident, and for the longest we and he hoped that he would be well enough to travel, but sadly, his doctor has grounded him, so no Namibia for him this time around. So the trip-leader will be another one in the same company, a very proffesional fellow, but he has never been to Namibia before, but they choose to do it like this instead of cancel the trip, wich all of us is very happy for. So this year, I am the «experienced» one 😊 and they have actually asked if I can be of assistance in anyway I want, and of course I will, these guys have become my friends, so I am happy to help in any way I can! In Namibia we will be driven and guided around by the same company we had last year, a Namibia-based company called safari24.com, wich specializes in Namibia and Botswana, and makes the trip smooth and hassle-free for us. Well, smooth is up for debate considering the roads in Namibia driving in a safari-specced landy, but you know what i mean 😉 Unlike last year when Air Namibia flew us down south, and qatar via doha homebound, this year we will travel with british airways via heathrow and jo`burg both ways, so one more stopover this time. BA was in fact my suggestion as they have a class between economy and business(https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/travel-classes/premium-economy/world-traveller-plus) with a good amount of added comfort, and it does not cost the white out of ones eye. I am quite tall with some extra «padding», so it is a nightmare for me to fly in economy, so i was happy to get some more room for my legs and overall myself this year! And also, today is actually my birthday, so if I am offered a bubbly drink aboard, I think i will say yes to it this time, although i`m not much of a drinker! Can`t think of a better way to spend my birthday 😊 However, since we are flying BA we had to depart a day before planned due to flighttimes and bookings, so we will spend the first day and night in Windhoek before we head down to sossusvlei on the 18th and spend the two first days there at http://www.sossusdunelodge.com/. Then we head back up north and will spend two days at erindi.com, doing a total of 6 game-drives, 18 hours of game viewing 😊 Then off to http://www.etoshanationalpark.org/, where we will cover the park from east to west, starting at https://nwr.com.na/resorts/namutoni-resort, then https://nwr.com.na/resorts/halali-resort, before we end the trip inhttps://nwr.com.na/resorts/okaukuejo-resort , same as last year, wich I think is great as this time I know what to expect and have the opportunity to plan a little ahead, photowise! And this is where the anticlimatic part begins, the jorney home, with a mind full of new memories and harddrives full of pictures! Also worth mentioning is that i have shedded a great amount of weight in my camera backpack this time. My Nikon D500 will be fitted with a Sigma 50-500 OS, and I just recently bought a D7500 wich will be fitted with a new tokina 16-50 f.2,8 i bought (i really like Tokina, they are great lenses built like a tank at an affordable price), so i think i have all the range i need in a very managable weight! I will also bring a lightweight tripod as the moonphase is favourable to try some nightsky-photo, we`ll see if i get some decent shots, it`s new to me. Lots of memorycards, and my new microsoft surfacebook that i purchased earlier this year, as well as 2x1tb external hdd`s, lots of extra batteries, chargers, the works, so I think I have everything covered! My initial thoughts is to write this trip-report «live», as in writing a little bit for each day that passes when the impressions and thoughts are fresh, obviously to save and post when i get home, not to much in the way of internet down there. However, I`ll have to see how this plan turns out, it`s easy to have this plan now, but follow through when every day is an adventure.. Well, we`ll see! Well, that is about it for the introduction to the trip i suppose, it`s time for me to leave the winter and head for summer! Oh, btw, I might have a little surprise for you up my sleeve in the final part of the trip report, so stay tuned! «TBC»….
  2. Friday 16th June 2017 Cape Town airport is supposedly the No 1 in Africa, we tend to disagree, but as 14 paying guests board our South African airways jet that should hold around 50 passengers we spread ourselves around the seats and before we know it we land at Windhoek, capital of Namibia. As we are 20 minutes early and so few, our luggage is waiting on the carousel when we've eventually cleared customs. This is our 7th flight of this trip around 4 Countries in Africa and we've met all sorts of customs people. The normal like in the U.K. official and nondescript. The singing Gospel preacher at Maun, he was a one off and very funny! But having arrived at Windhoek without being told we needed to fill in forms, were very nicely told by the first customs guy to return to the desk, collect and complete a form then return to him. All very pleasant. So when we did arrive back at the front of the queue, the Boss, a female as unhappy and unpleasant as possible, barked NEXT as we dared to walk forward together as two, a couple. Whooh! No you don't! With beady eyes as she was about to sentence us to 10 years solitary, she growled “I SAID ONE, NOT TWO!!!!” O.K. happiness, Welcome to Namibia! Luggage laden on our trolley, we were happily shown by every other Namibian airport worker, which way to go and when we made our grand entrance through the double doors expecting an array of guides and meeters with white sheets of paper welcoming all nationalities, we saw …………. No one! Not a solitary sole. Totally deflated we pushed the trolley into the empty concourse where just a couple of taxi drivers and shuttle busmen vied for our business and we sat down to hopefully await the arrival of a representative of Asco car hire. We were still early and it is a 45 minute journey into central Windhoek so we waited. After 15 minutes of slightly stressful thoughts of being hopelessly abandoned, I tried for wifi and Peter decided to go walkabout. Then, if by magic who stood immediately in front of me was Gert, Asco’s representative and as Peter was disappearing deeper into the airport I yelled after him and almost frightened two fellow arrivals off their seats! Oh such fun is this travelling lark. We are booked into the Olive Grove Guest House both tonight and our final night in Namibia. It is a clean and tidy stop over for us and it seems that is the norm in Windhoek. It's a place to lay your head overnight before departing on an adventure and that exactly what we are doing. I think both Peter and I are slightly apprehensive about this driving trip. We are both 100% sure it'll be fun and exciting but until we get through the first day we will be on tenterhooks. We've been told of a brilliant bar/restaurant to visit in Windhoek. Joes Beer-house is famous as a lively drinking den by all who travel through this part of the world. We've made a very adult decision that as we are driving 200 plus miles on gravel and dangerous roads tomorrow we will leave a visit to Joe and his beer house until our final night when we will be sans vehicle and without responsibilities. So we can let our hair down and drink and eat to our hearts content, last night style! We are shown our ground floor room at the Olive Grove and it's almost entirely made of stone, but believe me its homely and comfortable but just a bit strange to us. The floor, the bed and headboard, stone, albeit with a thick comfy mattress. The washbasins behind the 6 feet high bedhead, shower and loo cubicles, stone. All painted and finished with luxurious toiletries, white fluffy towels and dressing gowns. It's the loveliest fitted bedroom, but soooo practical and such an idea stop. The opensided restaurant (which has rolldown plastic walls for inclement weather) is in a large corridor between 3 bedrooms (ours included) and the lounge/open kitchen and reception. Also beyond that is a small pool with more chairs and tables to dine at and more bedrooms upstairs. It's a smashing little guest house and the staff are all lovely including our dinner waitress who curtsies as she collects the plates! We spend another great meal chatting to fellow travellers including a retired New Zealand couple who are working their way around every Safari spot in Africa, also a bubbly Irish lass called Mary who is touring alone, but talks for Dublin. I love these trips for the convivial atmosphere we seem to find in every place we stay. When back in our room the staff have left a little silver tray with a small glass decanter of Port, two very pretty glasses and a couple of Chocolates. Hospitality Namibian style. Saturday 17th June. A major part of our retired life is spent visiting and exploring the world. Once a decision is made of where we are going I spend a huge amount of time doing ‘My Homework!’ To be honest I love it. I try to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ to be sure I've covered every eventuality. I like to be totally happy with our choices and know as much as possible about a place so if something goes awry I can fix it. We've done three major long trips before this one and up to yet alls worked out splendidly. Peter had done major checks on car hire firms throughout the internet for our Namibian adventure and we chose Asco because of the great reports we had. Confidence in who you are dealing with abroad makes for happy times, that's what we've always found. Richard the Asco driver arrives at 8.20am and we are breakfasted and packed ready. When at the Asco office we fill in and sign dozens of forms, listen to the briefing film which shows us that there are 50 times more road deaths in Namibia than in Europe ( remember this country is the size of France and Germany combined but with a population of just over 2.5 million!) Speed is the problem and with all their hire vehicles if you exceed the 80km/50mph limit, on gravel roads, a very loud beeeeeep sound is heard. We are shown our 4x4 and are explained all we should know about it so we can travel safely for the next 17 days. She is a lovely Toyota Hiluxe 2.4 GDS (or Beryl for short! Named after a neighbour who is a great driver! Our white Toyota had to have a perfect name) after filling with diesel we drive to a shopping mall opposite to fill our onboard fridge with water and supplies and we drive onto the B1 the main road through the middle of Namibia and our adventure has begun. Gravel roads! We leave Windhoek behind and head on a single carriageway tar road which is superb and very straight. There are a few vehicles and the occasional lorry but not much in the British sense of traffic. We see a few small housing estates as we leave the city but only perhaps 50 houses on each. The terrain turns brown and there are plenty of small trees and gorse bushes but no animals as such, only the occasional herd of huge but beautiful cattle. It's an easy drive thankfully to Rohoboth our first major town we've done about 50 miles and on a tar road for the last time for a couple of weeks we turn right onto bumpy gravel and make our first stop for a drink and swap over of driver and so then I'm at the wheel. (We were advised to drive for around an hour or so each and then swop over to not only give each other a rest, but you just can't view the magnificent scenery when watching for the next pothole!) Our final destination today is Le Mirage hotel and Spa about 180 miles ahead. It's in the Naukaluft desert and surrounded by mountains and we must be there by sunset as driving over here with wild animals wandering around is not done after dark only by lunatics with a death wish! We drive onwards through large villages of 10 houses and small hamlets of 3 tiny shacks. We see Mules everywhere and the Rabos Turf club, Rabos village itself is minute. We follow mountains, see dozens of dried up rivers, spy the occasional farm, a few horses in a field, but onwards we go, changing who drives regularly. We stop to take the odd picture or two but are ever thoughtful of the setting sun and our destination. Eventually the sign we've been waiting for, our hotel sits majestically in the middle of nowhere. Gosh it looks gorgeous. We get a guided tour as we check in and as we are utterly exhausted it's time to get ready for sundowners which means a glass of Vino, usually by an open fire pit, as the sun sets beautifully across the desert sand. Le Mirage is set just off the gravel road just down the road from the Sossusvlei dunes, which are the highest in the world. The biggest in the area is known as Big Daddy is 325 meters high. There are only 30 rooms in the hotel which is set in 3 main buildings all made of stone with huge bedrooms overlooking the desert which is simply stunning from sunrise to sundown. The restaurant is in a separate building and with delicious 5 course dinners there is going to have to be some exercise done during the next few days! We decide on the trips we will participate in, so tomorrow we can have a well deserved lie in and then head off on a Quad bike tour into the desert for the sunset. Then on Monday we will get up at 5 am!!!! Yes Five, have breakfast and join Presley our guide here to visit the sunrise at the Dunes. Le Mirage Resort and Spa Sunday 18th June A beautiful room, fabulous beds, darkness all around, it's a perfect recipe for a perfect night's sleep. The darkness here and especially the stars are unknown in our light world. We can stand here, anywhere around the building and enjoy the sights of the milky way like nowhere else. After a lazy breakfast we sit by the pool and soak up the Namibian sunshine and just relax. At 3.30 we are decked out once more in long trousers, big boots and this time crash helmets. The Quad bikes are garaged near where our Toyota, Beryl is. So just yards from our rooms it's minutes before we are hurtling around a makeshift bike track to check we know what we're doing and then six of us with our guide, Sadrag, drive off into the sandy yonder. Peter and I were last on Quad bikes in the Sinai desert in Egypt and have been missing the fun we used to have careering about like Rally drivers in the desert there. (Kids, memories of Colin Macrae?) Quad bikers!!! We all have a brill time, our guide provides drinks of water and juice and gives us information on the flora and fauna around us. We climb a small dune, on foot to see the Fairy Circles that are endemic to Namibia. They are still unexplained after many scientific studies into why grass and gorse grows all over the desert but nothing grows in the middle of the circles. Maybe U.F.O.’s who's to say. A superb mega dinner gives us back our strength before a short night's sleep as it's once more that silly early alarm. Please someone remind me the name of this tree, it begins with M I'm sure. Monday 19th June 5am!!!!!! Yes the good old Apple iPad heralds the morning in Sossusvlei. It's pitch black outside, the stars look wonderful, but it's morning, not night and as usual I'm not ready to wake up at this ridiculous hour. We sit at breakfast and I cannot face food so after a strong cup of coffee we board our Safari-type vehicle with a family of 3, an English Mum from Southampton, German Dad and son of 21 also our Guide Presley who used to work in Bristol for the N.H.S. Small world. The drive to the Sesriem gate, which is the start of the Nabib-Naukluft National Park, is along 10km of bumpy gravel road. Once inside the park there is a wonderful smooth tar road for about 30km. Either side of this road are mountains and dunes with a border of scrub/gorse for at least 400 yards on each side. After about 10 km Presley stops to give us photo moments of the stunning sunrise and then further on we stop to admire the colours of the dunes which are turning from black to purple and will eventually be pink and rust. But they are huge, ranging in height from 50 metres to 325 metres. At this point Presley walks us onto the sand and kneels down and starts digging, very delicately with his hands by a gorse bush. I am already prepared for something dangerous, the cynic that I am. But I am correct in stepping at least three paces behind the others who are eager to see what he's digging up. The cause of interest …….. look away if you're arachnophobic……….. one White Lady, a spider of 4 inches in diameter (that includes her eight very determined legs) pure white and YES I did look at her and photographed her at length (quite a distance to be honest) I felt I coped admirably, especially when Presley told us they NEVER come out during daylight (unless a guide digs them up!!!) We return, thankfully, to the safety of our vehicle and drive further to Dune 45, this being the parallel it is on and guess what? It's huge, around 85 metres high and we are going to climb it! It's the cooler part of the day, it's 8 am and we have an hour to do what we can and return to our vehicle. Go! Whooooooh! It's flipping hard work. It's soft, shifting sand that goes up like the spine of a very large dinosaur. It's like a four hour step aerobic exercise at your local friendly gym, but with the searing Namibian sun beating down. We walk, we climb, I puff, we sit, we climb some more, I pant and - oh I'm a lady, perspire profusely! Peter and I aren't so young as the Southampton family so as they scoot ahead, we do it gently and do pretty well in our allotted time and love the challenge and feel we have done Dune 45 justice. It's huge fun coming back down, quickly and at times, dangerously. But Presley has drinks ready as we sit and empty our boots and socks of a fare amount of red sand (not quite as deep red as Teignmouth, our hometown on the Devon coast!) We motor onward and the tar road ends at a car park for vehicles who are not allowed to venture onto the soft shifting sands that lay ahead. Our insurance with our hire 4x4 invalidates us if we drive on this part, hence our decision to come with a guide on this tour. We are very glad we did because within 300 yards there are 2 couples in a 4x4 stuck in a deep sand rut. Our guide jumps out of our vehicle into theirs, the two males start pushing whilst the females look guiltily out of the rear windows. Presley soon has things under control by moving their vehicle out of the middle of the main track to the side, but the 2 couples realise how daft they have been and two hours later their vehicle is in the same spot and they are sat under a tree having been precisely nowhere since we left them! They evidently thought the warnings didn't concern them, how wrong they were. We continue on to see Big Daddy the highest dune at 325 metres and Big Momma who is slightly smaller, but for me the most iconic sight is Dead Vlei. Vlei means lake in Africaans and therefore Sossusvlei is the living lake albeit every 3 or 4 years when they get enough rain to put some water into the lake area. But Dead Vlei is self-explanatory. The trees in and around that area haven't been living for many years. The photos you see of it are in every travel brochure about Namibia and I hope you like my own attempt. We head back to the hotel then as we have almost an hour journey to return but make minor stop to see Sesriem Canyon an interesting rock and stone formation which again is minus water due to lack of major rains for many years. The last time the Canyon had substantial water supply in it was in the late 1990’s We spend the afternoon chilling out, sunning ourselves by the pool and preparing for another move tomorrow, once we've survived yet another 5 course marathon. Thank goodness for today's exercise. Thank you Sossusvlei, you've been stunning. I love Oryx!
  3. Well, our trip to Namibia is over, and we had the time of our lives, thanks in large part to the suggestions and experience of the posters here. Originally we planned to do a small group tour of Namibia. However, the ones that interested me were all booked until the end of October at the earliest. So, I posted in these forums and got the suggestion of a private guide another poster has toured with. So, we had a privately guided, 12-day, 11-night tour of central Namibia. We let our guide know what sights and areas interested us, and he booked our lodges and activities, after okaying his selections with us. We were in Namibia from June 11-June 22--midsummer at home; midwinter there. June 11 John and I arrived in Windhoek a few minutes early at 10:15 a.m., after our overnight flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, from where we caught the short flight to Windhoek. Fortunately, we had both slept several hours on the overnight flight and were ready to go and beyond excited to finally be in Africa. We travelled with carryon luggage only, so it didn’t take long for us to leave the secure area and meet our guide, Francois, who was waiting for us. We went straight out to the vehicle and Francois drove us out of Windhoek by a back road, avoiding driving through the city. We stopped at one of the “tree” rest stops, and Francois gave us sandwiches, fruit, and personalized water bottles that he filled for us. He showed us the map, and we discussed the itinerary and our travel style. Coming from the Canadian foothills, we are used to long drives, so our guide knew we would be all right with taking the “scenic route” when the opportunity presented itself. (We learned from our guide that the sign is shaped to point to the side of the road where the rest stop will be. In this case, the rest stop will be on the right.) There was a huge corn cricket at the rest stop. This was my first "wildlife" sighting in Africa. I am insect phobic, so I was thinking, "Uh, oh. What have I let myself in for?" Fortunately, that was the worst thing I saw the whole trip. Our first night was booked at Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch. On the way, we stopped at a sociable weavers’ nest. We couldn't believe how busy and noisy it was, with all the birds and the bees. On the way, we also saw mongoose, steenbok, springbok, kudu, giraffe, a crimson-breasted shrike (aka “executioner bird”), a kori bustard, ostrich, elands, and termite mounds. We didn’t take many pictures, as most of the animals were a bit too far away for good shots, and our guide said we would have better opportunities later on. We also saw some people driving a “Kalahari Ferrari." At Bagatelle, we had a dune chalet, and it was gorgeous. It was spacious, beautifully decorated, and had a lovely view of the dunes and a small waterhole with springbok, donkeys, and an eland. There were ostrich on the property, as well. The chalet, the lodge, and the scenery were all so lovely that this is among the top 5 places I’ve every stayed, and I wish we’d had more than one night there. We got settled and then left the chalet. On our deck was a shovelnose lizard. Beside our deck, munching on a bush, was the lodge’s tame springbok, Skunky. We met the lodge’s guide and driver for the cheetah feeding. Bagatelle is part of the cheetah conservation effort, and they are host to two 14-year-old male cheetah that were “problem” animals and cannot be released into the wild for that reason. We went in an open-sided vehicle with a group, and once at the cheetah feeding site, we were allowed to get out of the vehicle once the cats were feeding. One of the cats does not do well with humans, but the other is approachable while he is eating. I got to go close to him and touch him. After the cheetah feeding, we went for a sundowner on top of a dune. John had a Meerkat Sauvingnon Blanc. I had water, as I don’t care for wine, and I was too busy taking pictures of the sunset, anyway. Afterwards, we had dinner at the lodge. Dinner was indoors, as it was too “cold.” (Note: winter in Namibia is warmer than summer where we live. Ha. Ha.) We had our first taste of African game: oryx and kudu, and it was delicious. Skunky, the springbok, kept trying to come into the dining room, and peered at us pleadingly through the window after he was banished. By this time, travelling and not quite enough sleep was catching up with us. We went to our chalet to sleep. I had one of the best sleeps of my entire life; it was so quiet and cool, and the bed was cozy. We slept almost 11 hours. June 12 We were up early for 7am breakfast, followed by our scheduled walk to a demonstration village with a San Bushman. On the way, we saw an eland who had a thin rope tied to his horns. We asked about that and were told he is sometimes "naughty" with the tourists. He certainly seemed to give us a mischievous grin. We were the only two who had booked the Bushman walk, so it was just us, Erastus (Black Mamba) the interpreter, and the San (!Koon (Tall Tree)). !Koon acted out some of the traditional ways that the San people survived in the Kalahari. He told us (using gestures and click language) about termite hills and anteater hunting, about snaring small birds, about the uses of the blackthorn tree (e.g. for stomach ailments), about caching water in ostrich eggs, and about trapping ostriches. He showed us how they started fire, and then we walked to the demonstration village. The women were sitting around a fire making beads from ostrich shell. There were children sitting with the woman and then playing. Then, Erastus brought us to meet the “chief.” He told us about foraging for caterpillars, making rattles, and the mini bow and arrow used for courting (still used today). There were three huts, and there was some ostrich shell jewellery on display. We bought an ostrich and porcupine quill bracelet. Then Erastus and !Koon walked us back to the lodge, and !Koon’s cute little daughter insisted on coming along. On the way back, we chatted a bit about our own heritage (Cree), and the commonalities among Indigenous people in Namibia and Canada. We really felt we had made a connection in our short time together, and it seemed that !Koon and Erastus felt the same. We had heartfelt goodbyes with both !Koon and Erastus, who both told us that they had sincerely enjoyed their time with us, and we said the same. We freshened up at the lodge, and then we were on our way to Sesriem. To be continued.
  4. Ever had a dream so lifelike that you could swear it was for real, a dream where everything is perfect and great, just plain awesome alltogheter? Then all of a sudden you wake up and realizes that it was in fact a dream? Well, that is sort the feeling I have now. I`m back home everybody, from my first trip to Africa, and what can i say? WOW! What have i just experienced? I have experienced so much, and there is so many impressions i have to let sink in. I am returing home with apprx 27.500 pictures taken. the dunes of Sossusvlei with all its shapes and colors, dead vlei, Erindi game reserve, an awesome awesome place where I had my first encounter with a big and healthy lion-king, the king of beasts himself. That first moment of eye-contact with him when he walked passed our car just pierced right through my very soul. Strenght, power, wisdom, beauti, all in that first moment. 4 one year old lion-sisters showed me the tru meaning of girl-power, never have i felt such levels of adrenalin rushing through my body, just writing this now gives me goosebumps. They put on a show! Wilddogs on a kill, a newborn giraffe, It was something to see the pack having a feast, but it was brutal, really brutal, I`m having trouble using the word awesome for that sighting, but it`s the circle of life. I felt really bad for the mother giraffe seeing her newborn getting torn apart though.. Etosha, indeed the great white place! We had many great sightings, the park was really genereous on lions. The elephants though, we almost lost hope of seeing them until the second last day in okaukuejo and the trip, a decent large herd came walking in and saved the trip elephant-wise. So you understand that i had a great time. I have to sort some pictures and let it sink in some days before i getting started with a more detailed report, hope you keep checking in on my thread! :-) Here is on of many pictures taken, some of etoshas many inhabitants. _ASW0531 by asgeir westgård, on Flickr More to come!
  5. Hi everybody, I just did a short introduction in the newbie part of this forum and there I mentioned that we have been to Namibia in 2014. So this is an "old" trip report. I just translated my Dutch trip report into English. This means that some info might not be interesting at all to some of you because it is not only focussed on the animals but on the total trip. This was our first trip to Southern Africa and we booked this trip through a Dutch agent who worked together with an Namibian agent. Just a little bit of background on how we came to do this trip. We had been in Asia a few times and my husband said that he wanted something different this time, so why don't we go to Africa. Africa for me has always been Namibia because I used to work in travel industry and heard that this was one of the best parts of Africa for wildlife and scenary. So Namibia it was. We found out that my favorite animal, the hippo, only lives in the Caprivi area so that area had to be included. This meant that because we only had 3 weeks, we could not travel more South than the Sossusvlei. We are both not into the culture things, such as visiting tribes so that was kept out as well. With this info we headed to the agent and they came back with the following route: 31/08/14 Amsterdam Johannesburg (overnight in a hotel at the airport) 01/09/14 Johannesburg - Windhoek - Sossusvlei (2 nights Desert Camp) 03/09/14 Sossusvlei - Swakopmund (2 nights Cornerstone Guesthouse) 05/09/14 Swakopmund - Vingerklip (1 night Vingerklip Lodge) 06/09/14 Vingerklip - Etosha (1 night Okaukuejo, 2 nights Halali) 09/09/14 Etosha - Grootfontein (1 night Seidarap guesthouse) 10/09/14 Grootfontein - Mahungo (2 nights Mahangu Safari Lodge) 12/09/14 Mahangu - Kwando (2 nights Camp Kwando) 14/09/14 Kwando - Kasane (3 nights Chobe Bakwena Lodge) 17/09/14 Kasane - Vic Falls (2 nights Ilala Lodge) 19/09/14 Victoria Falls - Livingstone - Johannesburg - Amsterdam Monday 18 August 2014 Final preparations It is starting to itch. 12 More days and then we get on the plane to Johannesburg. Last Friday we bought the international driving licenses. Another thing taken of the list after the malaria tablets, the hiking pants, beautiful hats and telephoto lenses for cameras. The crate with things which we certainly must take with us is getting fuller. Sunday 31 August 2014 The African adventure begins At Schiphol, 45 minutes and then our flight back to Johannesburg will leave. The first part of the trip to Windhoek. Tonight at 21:15 we land and then after a short night in a hotel at the airport, we fly at 06.00 to Windhoek. Monday 1 September 2014 An exciting day Where do I start. The flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg was fine. Upon arrival in Johannesburg we checked where our luggage was because in Amsterdam it already got the label to Windhoek. The lady we asked this told us that we could pick up our suitcases in Windhoek. So we went directly to the hotel (City Lodge) which was fine, and here we had a good sleep for a few hours. At 4:15 the alarm went off already and at 6.00 we were in a cute small aircraft (50 passengers) of SA Express. Croissant and coffee on board is all a person needs. And off course it is nice if your suitcases are on the same plane. On arrival in Windhoek our suitcases did not arrive at the luggage belt. After a lap at the airport we were able to draw up a report and now we hope that the suitcases are quickly found and delivered. At this moment we have not heard anything and it looks as though tomorrow we walk around in the same clothes for the 3rd day in a row. It's now 30 degrees in the afternoon and then a swimsuit is nicer than long trousers. Anyway, we did not let our first day in beautiful Namibia spoil with this hassle. At Europcar we collected our 4WD which will be our car for the next 2 weeks. A very clean white Toyota Hilux Double cab which now is no longer white but a kind of dull gray. Then on the road. First to Windhoek. Some shopping at the Spar. Water, soft drinks and sandwiches for the road. The first part of the route was one of the few paved roads in the country. There was also a fair amount of traffic. Then we went over on gravel and that will remain the next days. Gravel in several variations. Pretty smooth gravel, soft gravel in heaps and gravel with boulders. The first animals we've seen were monkeys. Lots of monkeys. Not wild were the cows, goats, a dog, horses and donkeys. Fortunately, we also saw a kudu, oryx and a few springbok. After a beautiful drive we now sit on the terrace with a drink at our lodge. Tonight we go to bed early and tomorrow morning at sunrise to the red dunes of the Sossusvlei. Tuesday 2 September 2014 What a joy How happy can you be with 2 suitcases? Very happy! This morning, the bags arrived and we could finally change clothes. Our plan today to get out of bed early and visit the red dunes (Sossusvlei) was killed this morning at 5:00. It was pretty cold last night (extra blanket was really needed) and it was nice and warm in bed. So instead of 5.00 am it was 8:00 and we went for breakfast in the Sossusvlei Lodge. Here we had a delicious dinner last night. Kudu, impala, hartebeest and wildebeest from the bbq after starters from an extensive hot and cold buffet. Dessert was also a sumptuous buffet of different types of cake, pudding and pie. The breakfast was quite extensive and the freshly made omelet was more than enough. After breakfast back to the Desert Camp where we were staying and it turned out that our bags were there. Changing into charming safari / hiking clothes and off we went to the Sesriem Canyon. Meanwhile, the temperature had risen to 30 C, but that did not spoil the fun. At the entrance of the National Park we bought a permit for two days so that tomorrow we can directly drive to the Sossusvlei. On to the Canyon and looking for the entrance, which we could not find. After having seen quite a lot from the top we have to be like klimbokkies and climbed down. In the Canyon it was also very hot but also very nice. We had to walk back the part which we had done at the top of the Canyon. And hope that we could get up again somewhere. Tim has seen a snake and there were also some large spiders around so I was really enjoying myself. After some time we suddenly had some oncoming traffic and yes there appeared a kind of staircase just across the parking lot. Which was hard to see from above if you did not know it was there. Now we were in the smallest and perhaps most beautiful part of the canyon. But also the busiest part. After the canyon we eventually did drive towards the red dunes. What an incredibly beautiful landscape. I cannot describe how beautiful. After a brief stop at Dune 45 where arrived in the middle of a sandstorm. We continued the road to the Sossusvlei so that tomorrow we know where to go. On the way back we came in the same sandstorm and in the center of the storm we could not see a hand before our eyes. Luckily our car was faster than the storm, and did we have good visibility again on the last part of the road. For the first time we filled up our car with diesel. Bought some sandwiches for breakfast and back to the Desert Camp. At the bar I started this travel report, but we were approached by a Dutch man who lives in South Africa since the fifties. Though this was not to hear, he still spoke Dutch without an accent. We had a nice conversation with him, his girlfriend was also born Dutch but at the age of two already moved to South Africa and they did not speak Dutch but African. Nice to hear but sometimes difficult to understand. They sought (Desert Camp was fully booked) a place to sleep and we had reservations for a Sundowner Nature drive so after half an hour we had to get back on the road. The Sundowner tour was great fun. Together with two elderly German women we went with our guide Gabriel to see some animals, plants and watch the sunset. And enjoying a drink and some snacks. The ride was around the premises of the lodge and we can add some animals to our list. Ground squirrels, p, an ostrich and a bunch Namibian mice. We were also told a few things about different trees and rock formations. The ride was fun and the food and drinks made it complete. Little mouse waiting for some leftover food during the Sundowner Weavers nest Upon returning we could immediately sit down for dinner and this time it was again delicious. One last drink at the bar and then straight to bed. Tomorrow the alarm goes off really early and after our visit to the Sossusvlei we move on to our next stop, Swakopmund, on the coast. Unfortunately a bit colder as we just saw on the news, only 18 C.
  6. - INTRODUCTION - Hi to everyone. Even if probably my trip report is similar to most of the ones I already read in this subforum, I hope to give some informations in particular to those people who want to have a "first trip" in Namibia, since this was the first time there also for us (and the first time in Africa also). I apologize first of all for my English, since I'm not a native speaker, then for my pictures, since I had a proper photo course only last year and I have also not a powerful camera (not comparable to some spotted in this forum). So, the genesys of the Namibian trip was quite weird. Since my girlfriend can take vacations only during July - August, we were looking for good weather destinations and... in the far east is raining a lot, Middle East is not available and South America was too far for 2 weeks. So, looking for a perfect place, a friend of us (working in the tourism field) said us: "Why don't you go in Namibia? There is almost no time zone changing, it is wonderful and it is the perfect period since it is dry". So... here we go, with no idea it would become one of the best trip ever! We contacted an Italian/Namibian Tour Operator called AfroZapping who provided us the booking of the lodges/hotels, the rented car and some activities to book in advice. We felt comfortable to have an "help on the field"... just in case (luckly we never called them ) But here the details: - 4 July 2014: Flight from Milano MXP by SAA. Night onboard. - 5 July 2014: Lending in Windhoek and meeting with the Car rental to take the car. - 6 July 2014: Windhoek - Kalkrand (Kalahari). Afternoon at the lodge - 7 July 2014: Kalkrand - Fish River Canyon via Keetmanshoop - 8 July 2014: Fish River Canyon - Ai Ais - 9 July 2014: Ai Ais - Luderitz via C13 - 10 July 2014: Halifax Island tour + Kolmanskop ghost town and transfer to Tiras Mountains - 11 July 2014: Tiras Mountains - Sesriem via Duwisib Castle - 12 July 2014: Visit of Sossusvlei - 13 July 2014: Sesriem - Swakopmund via Solitaire and Welwitschia Drive - 14 July 2014: Sandwich Harbour tour (only dunes) - 15 July 2014: Swakopmund - Twyfelfontein (Damaraland) via Cape Cross - 16 July 2014: Twyfelfontein - Etosha (Halali) - 17 July 2014: Game drive east of Halali - 18 July 2014: Game drive west of Halali - 19 July 2014: Etosha - Windhoek via Otjiwarongo - 20 July 2014: Flight from Windhoek by SAA. Night onboard. - 21 July 2014: Lending in Milan MXP For the accomodation we stayed in: - Pension Bougainvilla (Windhoek) - Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge - Fish River Lodge - Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort - Luderitz Nest Hotel - Namtib Desert Lodge (Tiras Mountains) - Betesda Lodge (Sesriem) - Stay @ Swakopmund B&B - Twyfelfontein Country Lodge - Halali RestCamp The car was a Suzuki Gran Vitara 2x4. Absolutely perfect, with 2 spare wheel (never used). Provided by Caprivi Car Hire As camera I have an Olympus E-400 with Zuiko 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 and Zuiko 18-180mm f/3.5-6.3 (OK, quite poor stuff, but I got anyway really good pictures. Animals were close and the sun was shining ). Plus I have a Compact SONY Cybershot 18.2 Mp mainly used for recording. Weather was always clear, dry, sunny (except for the morning in Swakopmund [thin rain] and Cape Cross [fog and then cloudy{but the welwitschias have to drink also!}]). Temperature were cold in the night in Kalahari and Fish River (below zero) and OK in the rest of the country (Etosha even above 25°C) In next posts the detail day by day...
  7. Prologue Our first trip to »black Africa, to Namibia in 2014, impressed us deeply, and as written in our previous TR (http://tinyurl.com/q9u7lrm ) we have made plans to return already while flying from Windhoek to Johannesburg, on our way back home. Making of the itinerary was easy enough; returning to Namibia, to see and experience/explore the other part of it, south. To add the wildlife component, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was also an obvious choice, specially after reading so many great TR here. There was some minor changes during the following months but final itinerary was very similar to our initial ideas. Here it is: Apr 17 flight MUC-JNB-WDH Apr 18 arrival WDH, transfer to Villa Violet, afternoon guided tour of Windhoek Apr 19 pick up the rental car, driving to Barchan Dune Retreat Apr 20 driving to Sossus Dune Lodge via Solitaire Apr 21 driving to Namtib Desert Lodge via D707 Apr 22 driving to Fish River Lodge Apr 23 driving to Mesosaurus Fossil Camp Apr 24 driving to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kalahari Tented Camp Apr 25 game drive Auob riverbed, Kalahari Tented Camp Apr 26 game drive Auob riverbed, driving to Nossob Camp Apr 27 driving to !Xaus Lodge Apr 28 driving to Twee Rivieren Camp Apr 29 game drive Nossob riverbed, Twee Rivieren Camp Apr 30 driving to Kalahari Farmstall May 1 driving to Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch May 2 driving to Windhoek, Villa Violet May 3 flight WDH-JNB-MUC All bookings were made by Discover Namibia, mrs.Gemma Dry again did her job perfectly. The rental car company and the car itself were the same as last year; a Toyota Hilux Double Cab with 2 spare tires and Engel fridge, from Advanced Car Hire. As we have had some unpleasant experiences flying last year with Qatar Airways, we have decided to use South African Airways for this trip. There were some more affordable options, both pricewise and logistically, yet none of those other airlines allowed us to book the complete trip, to Windhoek. With SAA this was possible. The »price« we paid for that was a 5-hour car drive from Ljubljana to Munich. That should be a pleasant drive through Austrian mountains ... if not for the heavy rain. The flight itself was OK, and on time. Our photo equipment was even larger then last trip; this is what we used: Nikon D610 & D7100 bodies, AF-S 20mm f/1.8 ultrawide lens, AF-S 16-85VR DX zoom, AF-S 70-200mm f/4 zoom and AF-S 300mm f/4D telephoto lens, with TC1.4 attached. Sony RX100II for my pleasure, interiors and videos. A tripod and a bean bag. With enough SD cards to last for 10.000+ RAW images (9100 was the end result, splitted D610 – 3300, D7100 – 4800, RX100 – 1000). During our 14 days/15 nights trip we have covered 3150 km, and consumed 270 l of diesel fuel. Majority on gravel roads, and we have absorbed also our first proper 4x4 sand trail drive, without problems. No tyre, windscreen, or other part of the vehicle was damaged during the making of this road trip.
  8. 1) Name of property and country: Sossus Dune Lodge (NWR), Sossusvlei, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www.nwr.com.na/index.php/resorts/sossus-dune-lodge 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Low/Green season, March, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I read reports on TA about this property allowing their guests to leave an hour earlier for the desert sunrise tour which was very important for me. The camp was also inside the national park which also offered other interesting opportunities for wildlife and spectacular views. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research and then contacted Discover Namibia who arranged everything. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 4 times 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? A desert version of Mowani without the big boulders. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, but there wasn’t too much around to be worried about 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 25 desert chalets 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had views from both of the room’s balcony and the communal area had breathtaking views over the desert which were better because the area was more elevated. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were large, comfortable, well furnished and clean. Unfortunately the rooms were extremely hot with little help from the fans provided. The cold water in the showers was too hot to use until approximately 9pm at night. We enjoyed our time in the communal area where there was a pool that offered an opportunity to cool down a little. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was ok. We had breakfast included, which we enjoyed. We decided to indulge in cheese, crackers and wine for both of the dinners. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes there were different things on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables, no hosting. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? The packed breakfast during our dune tour was very good. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open 4WD with enclosed tarp windows which helped keep the wind out during our drive to the dunes. 19) How many guests per row? Up to 3 in each row but normally 2. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Guided dune walks were offered which were approximately 5/6 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Guided nature drives and dune tours were between 3-6 hours depending on the activity, guided walks to Sesrium Canyon were also on offer. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? There were cars around but due to the low season/summer not as many as normal. 24) Are you able to off-road? No 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings. We saw only jackal. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Our dune guide was very good. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Friendly, helpful, informative, happy and fun. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were happy and helpful when requested but didn’t seem to be very proactive with their service. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Not sure. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Pleasantly surprised about this property considering we had low expectations. The rooms were great although a bit of a hike from the main communal area. The food was disappointing but we knew this and came prepared with our own snacks/drinks to enjoy on our front deck whilst watching the sunset and the amazing stars at night. The staff were not very present which didn't effect us in anyway because we were quite self sufficient. The access to the dunes for the sunrise tour was our main reason for staying here and was well worth the price. Nothing better than being the first people on the dunes and seeing the brilliant sunrise. Excellent photo opportunities. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Views over the dunes at sunrise. Guests at the lodge get here an hour before anyone else. Sossusvlei
  9. Hi all! I think this trip report may be useful to some. This was a two-month self drive expedition we did a few years back to southern Africa. Amazing wildlife spotted and photographed! One of our better trips for sure. Take a peek and let us know what you think. cheers, Coke www.cokesmithphototravel.com http://www.cokesmithphototravel.com/Expedition_to_Southern_Africa_2009.html

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