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Found 5 results

  1. I want to open with a 'thank you' to my friends on SafariTalk as your input significantly influenced my trip plans (in a good way) My first trip to Africa was a self-drive trip to Chobe National Park, Botswana in the early 2000’s. I went in with a group of acquaintances from South Africa. On the nights before, I had a lot of discussions about what I would see. Chobe was said to be one of the greatest destination in Africa to see abundant wildlife. That sounded great, but often I would hear ‘the only place where you will see more wildlife is Etosha!”. That trip to Chobe was all I had dreamed it would be and more. Africa was in my blood and I’ve been into the bush more than two dozen times since then; however, I never got to Etosha … and I continued to hear about how great it could be. Today, I lead small groups to Africa locations like Chobe, Timbavati, Sabi Sands, Hwange, Zimanga and Madikwe. I only take folks to places I’ve visited first hand so I really can share with them what to expect. I’m hoping to lead a group to Namibia, including Etosha in 2017, so I decided it was time for a scouting trip. In addition to Etosha, I wanted to check out a few other regions in northern Namibia. In particular, I’ve had great interest from travelers in getting a chance to visit villages, meet indigenous peoples and have a more cultural experience. Since I would be ‘moving quickly’ to check out several locations, I decided to make this a self-drive trip. To share the experience and to have a little ‘back-up’ for the trip, I enlisted 3 friends to go along. We took two vehicles, that way one person could sit up front and shoot left or right and one person could sit in the back and shoot left or right without interference. In addition, the second vehicle would provide a little safety insurance in case of vehicle troubles since we were going rather remote. Just a little more background and I promise to get on with the primary story and some photographs. For my 2017 Namibia trip, we will be with a larger group of photographers via train visiting the Quiver Tree forest for night photography, Kolmanskop for some ghost town taken over by desert shots, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei for the classic sand dune shots. Considering the size of Namibia and the travel times, I am concerned that following the first portion of the trip, travelers will not want to go too far before a stop and to see some wildlife. Basically, I wanted to find one high quality stop between Windhoek and Etosha. The two best options seemed to be Africats (Okinjima) or Erindi. AfriCats is a non-for-profit organization that rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas. While I have heard good things, that sounded a bit zoo-like. In my research on Erindi, it sounded a bit like a variant of the private reserves around the Kruger. Write-ups noted that Erindi is known for big cat sightings and has both self-drive regions and also off road tracking. In addition, they have a few animals I know I won’t be seeing elsewhere in northern Namibia such as crocodiles, hippopotamus and wild dog. While I’ve seen these many times, some of my 2017 travelers will be taking their first and possibly only trip to Africa so these are a nice add. I finalized upon an itinerary as follows: · Day 1 - Arrival night in Windhoek with overnight at a Guest House · Day 2 - Drive to Erindi in the mornig, afternoon game drive and overnight. · Day 3 - Morning game drive at Erindi, mid-day drive to Etosha, afternoon drive to Etosha, stay first night at Halali. · Day 4 - Morning and afternoon game drives and 2nd night at Halali · Day 5 & 6 – On the 3rd and 4th nights in Etosha at Okaukuejo Lodge. · Day 7 - Etosha game drive to the western gate (Galton Gate) then proceed to Grootberg Lodge for overnight stay. · Day 8 & 9 - From Grootberg, head north to Khowarib Lodge, just south of Sesfontein for two nights. On one day I wanted to visit a Himba settlement and on another full day I wanted to look for desert elephants along the Hoanib River. · Day 10 - On the last morning, we would drive back south to Otjiwarongo for a night · Day 11 - The next morning, drive to Windhoek to fly out that afternoon to Jo’berg and back to the States That’s a pretty grueling week and a half with 2000 miles of driving including 1500 miles of driving on gravel and dirt. I would never do that schedule with a tour group, but this was a scouting trip and I was taking along some seasoned travelers/photographers. Now, let the story begin! Okay, I have to throw in at least one photo to start things off.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. I have an upcoming trip to northern Namibia. It will be four of us, all serious photographers. It is a short trip. I originally planned 1 night Windhoek, 2 nights in Erindi and then 2 nights Halali and 2 nights in Okaukuejo I added time 3 nights in Kunene (1 night Grootberg and 2 nights in Khowarib) and in doing so I'v eaccientally decreased my stay in Okaukuejo to one night. Flights are booked so we can't change duration. My question: - should I keep my two nights at Erindi and accept I lost one night at Okaukuejo? - should I adjust reservations to one night at Erinidi and reschedule to 2 nights Halali and 2 nights Okaukuejo? Remember photography (and waterhole night photography as well) is the purpose of this short trip. Thanks for the advice.
  5. I am planning a mid-October trip to northern Namibia driving a double cab 4wd Hilux. On my way to Etosha, I plan to stay 2 nights at Erindi's Old Trader Lodge. I note that Erindi has 3 self drive trails: Eland, Zebra and Canyon drives. The two of us are avid photographers. I'd like advice on whether self drive is advised for seeing good game viewing or whether the lodge's guided game drives are significantly superior. Also, on the self drive routes, which of these self-drive routes most typically yield the best sightings?

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