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Found 31 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. There is one saying that we have used to describe our family travels: "The three of us are the best couple!". The three of us meant Zvezda, me and our daughter Tanja. That was a perfect traveling team for many years, until Tanja graduated and started to become independent financially; our new love, Africa, did not fit into her budget plans. Until when Qatar Airways has announced a new direct route from Zagreb to Windhoek via Doha. At 550 Eur a trip to Africa was finally feasible. To keep the costs even more within her reach (and anyway it was my secret plan to start traveling this way), part-time camping became part of the upcoming trip. ​April/May is our preferred time, clear blue skies, almost no rain, and decent wildlife sightings. To make the best out of the plane ticket, we opted for a 3 weeks travel. Itinerary was easy to make, usual tourist clockwise route. Also stops along the route were quickly determined, and our travel agent of choice, mrs.Gemma from Discover Namibia did not have too complicated of a job. The route: and the itinerary: Toyota Hilux with two roof top tents, and necessary camping equipment was again hired from Advanced Car Hire. Some needed and useful info has been collected from various sources, and in September 2016 we were all set to go. Why not camping only?! Firstly, to allow the ladies some extra creature's comfort, and inside Etosha, to allow for being at the gate of the camps before they opens. To start with the end: we all have enjoyed the new experience very much! We will camp more often, and we will be back to Namibia.
  3. Trip Report: Namibian Splendour So it has been a full 4 years since I last set foot on African soil, and not a day has passed since that I haven’t thought about my time there. I made returning to Africa a priority, and finally, back in July, I was able to return. Having visited South Africa and the Victoria Falls region back in 2013, I wanted an even “deeper” African experience this time, so I visited the Kalahari region of South Africa and Namibia in hopes of going even further off the beaten path. Again with this trip, the focus was on time in the bush. My itinerary was for 16 days, and we were starting in South Africa. There would be 3 days/4 nights in the Kalahari (at Tswalu) and the remainder of the time was in Namibia. I had been interested in going to Tswalu for many years, in hopes of having a good chance to see a pangolin (among other rare sightings). We flew into Johannesburg from U.S. and Tswalu is accessible via private air charter directly into the Kalahari airstrip. It was clear upon our arrival that Tswalu catered to an upscale audience, the lodge was a traditional BOMA bush camp style structure, but composed of high end elemental affects such as crafted natural stone and timbers. We stayed in the lower end “Motse Suite” but it was uncommonly large, complete with bath, patio and personal refrigerator. The weather was absolutely perfect for our first game drive with crisp and refreshing air, a pleasing arid clarity of a mild Kalahari winter. The first drive was outstanding, we had a few “first native sightings” in the wild, including: Gemsbok (Oryx), red Hartebeest, and ostrich. We even got a tantalizing glimpse of a young male black rhino in some thick bush, but he was not having it and quickly dashed deeper into the impenetrable thicket. The best, “first” sighting occurred near the close of the day, when we spotted a lone male cheetah walking alongside the road near a main barrier fence of the reserve. He was clearly seeking something in the area, and our guide, Sian, told us that he was known as one of a bachelor pair in the territory, so he could have been seeking his sibling. Our second day brought even more wonderful sightings including: black backed jackal (BBJ), some springbok, a young giraffe and its mom and several more ostrich. I found the ostrich quite amusing because they always seemed in a hurry, flying through the bush to who knows where. Their posture and gait was quite comical to me, and I smiled a little whenever one would fly out of the bush, racing into any direction that wasn’t ours. Then there was the steenbok, which we had seen before in the Kruger area, and the Kalahari sightings were almost always the same: a brief moment of pause, then a quick direct stare at you and then off like a rocket into the bush. Our wonderful tracker, Ben, repeatedly demonstrated his fantastic tracking skills, spotting pangolin tracks and porcupine tracks among others. During our game drives, I was struck by the diversity of terrain at Tswalu, as it could quickly turn from mountain to semi-desert, to thick bush and then to clearings with open expanses, grassy fields mixed with rocky terrain and hazy blue mountains off on the horizon. Throughout the open areas, numerous animals could be spotted either lying down or traversing and grazing about. There were springboks, Oryx, trotting ostriches, and wildebeests in relative abundance. Other sightings of the day included a small meerkat colony, cory bustard (the largest flying bird in Africa), numerous giraffe, eland and common zebra. On our evening drive, soon after our departure from the lodge, off to the left of the road was a large lizard basking in the afternoon rays, it was a rock monitor! I had not expected to see many, if any reptiles in the winter, but it looks like we were fortunate. Sian explained that this reptile was a relative to the Komodo Dragon, and it certainly looked as much. Evidently, this lizard also possesses poisonous bites similar to the Komodo. We followed Sian off the vehicle, on foot to get a closer look. We took a few minutes to snap some pictures and just enjoy the moment of spotting this great reptile. Continuing on, we spotted a mongoose, red-crested korhaan, a beautiful tower grouping of giraffe, some bat-eared foxes pouncing and foraging in the grass, more steenbok (complete with trademark pausing direct gaze followed by jet propulsion into the bush), red hardebeest and gemsbok (Oryx). The highlight of our evening’s sightings was at the Wild Dog den, just as the sun was setting. Sian intently ended the evening there, to witness their sundown hunting rituals….which is when they evidently go out to hunt, just as the sun sets. Although we could not see them, we were told there were a litter of pups in the underground den. We enjoyed sitting in this tightly shrouded enclave of bush, watching the dogs frolic, wrestle and grapple as part of their evening hunt rituals. After some time, just before full sunset, we followed the pack into the thick bush to view their hunt…only to lose them eventually in the darkness and thickness of the brush. Sian talked to us about the species current threats, which I was mostly aware, and how the reserve had completely lost their previous pack, unfortunately, to canine distemper. It was an honour and another full privilege to have seen these fantastic animals in their natural surroundings. Our last full day on lodge, would turn out to be a full 12 hours out in the bush. I think by the end of the day, Sian and Ben may have regretted the suggestion to stay out all day, but it would be a truly spectacular and memorable African day for us, filled with magical wildlife moments. Armed with Ben’s superior tracking skills and Sian’s sharp eyesight, we started out on the lion side of the reserve in search of the famed Kalahari black maned lions. Note: the reserve is divided into a lion side habitat and a non-lion side for the protection of some of the more highly endangered prey species (such as the Tsessebe). Along the way into the interior of this portion of the reserve, we spotted common zebra, and another small meerkat colony. Ben got tracking and we could sense we were close…around a curve and high up on a hill, Crystal (my wife) first spotted the majestic male perched on view on a high embankment, casually surveying his territory. Sian stopped the vehicle, as we took some time to capture a few images. Sian then moved the vehicle up and around to get a more level view of the lion. When we came around, a second male was seen nearby standing on another part of the hill. We spent some time with this magnificent pair, following them as they moved about the area, sometimes stopping to rest in the grass. They were beautifully intimidating, visibly larger than the typical African lion, looking healthy and well fed, as you would expect from two 8 year old dominant males…in their prime. Moving on, we drove on to a nice sandy and high vegetation area where we spotted more zebra grazing with eland. We arrived to what we were told was one of the most remote areas of the reserve, in order to have our packed lunch. As we were stopped in a clearing that was, in wetter seasons, a watering hole…we saw several Harteman’s mountain zebra up on the rocky hillside nearby. We had a fantastic gourmet bush lunch and continued on our way, to yet a different area of the reserve. Ben caught sight of some lion pride tracks, and this was to consume our next 1-2 hours, driving off road through thick brush and nearly unpassable terrain. At a couple of points, I thought of suggesting that we abandon the tracking, but it was clear that Ben was certain we were close. True to the maxim: “never, ever give up”….our perseverance paid off as Ben spotted the young lions hiding deep in the thicket, lying down. There were at least four of them, all looking healthy, relaxed and well fed. We spent some time talking about the pride and enjoying the company of lions before we carried on. Driving on, we spotted a herd of kudu and a sable before we got radio notice that a bachelor coalition of cheetahs had been seen nearby. Sian drove us over to the area, and another ranger had been tracking the cheetah on foot alongside a high ridge thick with brush. After some brief off-roading and radio communication, we saw 2 of the males lying down in the bush, nearly hidden from sight. We approached closer in the vehicle, and the cheetah seemed quite accustomed to 4 wheeled visitors, but they were very aware of our presence, taking the time to occasionally stare back in our direction. After a brief time, they started moving to our left through the brush and shortly thereafter we saw all 4 coalition males in front of us neatly spread out in the brush, all seated and looking in the same direction. It was a truly beautiful sighting. We then moved on for a visit to one of the largest resident meerkat colonies on the reserve. Evidently, conservationists had been working to condition the meerkat to tolerate human visitors over time, so that Tswalu visitors could walk amongst the colony as a native. It was a very fascinating, amusing and informative visit amongst these little animals, which were somewhat paradoxically both adorable and vicious. We saw them foraging about the ground, sometimes locked in heated battles with one another over an ostensibly empty hole in the ground! (see photo below). I was particularly drawn to the sentinel, perched high in a nearby tree as he scanned the horizon in 360 degrees for any sign of predators from above or on the ground. As Sian remarked, ‘you have to take your job seriously because it could mean the death of one of your mates and it would be on your head’. As we continued on, the day was waning but Sian and Ben made a last effort to find a pangolin before we headed back to camp. We went to an area where Ben knew there to be a resident pangolin and he hopped off the vehicle to track it on foot while we drove around the area. After about 1.5 hours, and several radio attempts to reach Ben, we met up with him and he informed us he was hot on the trail of a pangolin. With indications of fresh tracks, Ben had, amazingly tracked the pangolin down to its home, which was a basketball sized hole in the ground at the top of a ridge behind some large rocky terrain. We followed Ben quietly on foot to the location, where we hoped to have a glimpse of this magnificent animal as it came out in search for its evening supper. We watched the hole quietly for some time with no signs of activity, Sian and Ben informed us that the pangolin may not come out at all. We eventually decided to carry on, but I snapped a quick photo in the dark of the animal’s home. Even though I had high aspirations of making this rare sighting, one of my personal favourite animals, it was actually very thrilling to see its home. I had come so close to this truly special animal which was burrowed before us in the ground. For our last morning game drive at Tswalu, we drove to a yet un-explored (at least for us) part of the reserve. After a couple of hours, we unexpectedly came upon one of the large black maned Kalahari lions taking a rest in the grass just beside the road. Sian stopped the vehicle so we could get a closer look. Ben jumped off the front into the tall grass to get into the high back of the vehicle. When he jumped off he quickly jockeyed his gait and leapt onto the vehicle, nearly stepping on the second large male lion that was lying just in the tall grass! Sian and Ben had a good laugh and some light hearted exchange in Afrikaans, but it was a close call to nearly step on a lion! We sat, basking quietly in the morning sunlight, taking more photos of these great cats at close range. Both males had risen to a seated position, one on either side of the vehicle, when Sian instructed us to be quiet. Imperceptible to us, a rival male had made a call off in the distance. The two massive males started to respond in kind and it was one of the most awesome experiences one could imagine, awesome in the true meaning of the word. The sheer power of these thunderous roars were deafening, with vibrations that you felt running through your chest, as if you were at the loudest concert with the deepest bass. The experience was in “stereo” with one giant Kalahari male on either side of us. The seats of the vehicle were actually vibrating from the roars. It left me with an immense, profound respect for the outright power of these animals and reinforced in my mind why they are known as the king of beasts, a title that is well deserved. Even our guides were speechless for some time afterwards and it was clear that we had shared a truly beautiful and unforgettable moment in time. After the “roaring lion” encounter, a guide radioed out that the local pride contingent was at a nearby watering hole taking a morning drink, so we headed over in time to see the matriarch and numerous young cubs hanging out, drinking and relaxing under brush. It was another great close encounter with the counterpart members of the lion family, and we could see that the adult female still had fresh remains of pink from the blood of the previous night’s kill. If you look closely on the photo of her below, you can see the pink on her jaw and a spot of red near her shoulder. On Namibian Soil: After our wonderful time in the Kalahari, we made our journey into Namibia. It became quickly apparent that transportation between the remote camps of the Namibian wilderness could be tumultuous, with light air charter flights serving as the most expeditious transport. If the winds are kind, the flights are decent, but note that it can be turbulent and not for the squeamish. Our first camp in Namibia was the Kulala Desert Camp near the Soussevlei Sand Dunes . When we arrived on camp, with our new guide Matheus, I was struck how much the lodge reminded me of the first camp we stayed in Africa back in 2013, the Nkambeni Camp near Numbi entrance at Kruger. We settled in and enjoyed a brief, relaxing afternoon break before our evening game drive. The evening’s drive was a casual, informative drive around the reserve as Matheus explained the foliage, geology and geography and fauna of the area. We learned about the soussala bush that shielded springbok and gemsbok from sandstorms. We learned about the mara bush and the bitter bush (which was the semi-pleasant grassy smell I had recognized from the Kalahari grasslands at Tswalu). The mara bush, evidently, when rubbed on your skin will protect you from mosquitos for up to 4 hours. We saw fairy circles, which I had recognized from David Attenborough specials, which naturally form on the ground and which nothing will grow from within the circle. It is still not fully understood what causes this phenomenon. You can see some of these fairy circles in the picture below, just above my watermark signature in the lower right. Our second day was focused on hiking the sand dunes….and we hiked the highest one, knows as “big daddy”. We drove ~40km to the highest sand dunes in the world: Soussevlei. This is a surreal, striking and alien landscape with sand dunes as high as mountains. The geographic shadows and light over the dunes changes with the angle of the sunlight and the surrounding flat desert terrain is littered with ancient dead acacia trees (known as the skeleton forests). The atmosphere is other worldly here, and time space seems less defined. Days in Namibia, as I would come to find, are better defined as simply “light and dark” rather than by clock. Experiences stack one upon another, and you can hardly believe the asphalt covered world of urban dissonance from which most of us tourists came could exist on the same planet as this. The views from the highest vantage point were breathtaking. At the bottom of big daddy, there is a silt basin with the ancient dead trees seen in the photos above. After the big daddy summit, when we stopped for a mid-day break nearby, an uber-polite young British boy pointed out to us that there was a spotted eagle owl resting in a nearby tree. I took the opportunity to check it out and got a nice, close view of this fantastic predatory bird. I was grateful for the tip, as I had previously only seen them in darkness during the night’s hunt. Our evening drive was out to the Sesriem canyon area, which we were told was ~300 m deep. The area is notorious for horned vipers (adders) which are often blown down into the canyon by the strong desert winds coming off the nearby Naukluft Mountains. As we hiked through the picturesque and rough terrain of the canyon, our guide looked out for horned adders in the floor. In the end, we did see a dead one, but luckily (or unluckily) no live ones. On this evening, our intended trip back to the camp for our sundowner was cut short because, as Matheus remarked: “the sun is faster than us today”. We improvised and pulled up to a nice spot on the side of the roadway, listening to the barking desert lizards, unseen but well-heard throughout the vast desert land before us. These were truly moments of bliss, free from worry as I sat in the fading sunlight, sipping a cold Seagram’s dry lemon! On our last day at Kulala, we hiked up more sand dunes and then drove to a very remote and stunningly beautiful part of the reserve, where Matheus showed us an example of ancient bushman cave painting…reportedly around 4000 years old. These paintings were left as markers to indicate some significant direction or sign or to brand the location as having some importance as a reference to other bushmen. The rest of the evening’s drive around the desert was in search of a Hartmann’s mountain zebra viewing…which was realized, but only from afar. For our sundowner, we went to a simply astonishing viewpoint, overlooking a vast flat plain with rocky mountains out on the horizon. We could see the small silhouettes of zebra marching across the flats as the sun went down over the distant Namibian cliffs ahead. It was a fitting finale for our time amongst these trance like landscapes in the Namibian Soussevlei region, with panoramas that collide upon one another, sand to rock, rock to trees, bush to canyons. Truly spectacular. Our next stop brought us to the Hoanib Skeleton Coast camp, which is truly one of the most remote, desolate locales remaining on the earth. As our pilot remarked when we landed, ‘you are not on the edge of nowhere, you are in the middle of nowhere’. I couldn’t be happier. The lodge was a very open, modern and refined design with a backdrop of rocky outcrops and scattered trees whose beauty could not be possibly accurately represented with photography. Despite its remote locale, this camp is top shelf. The rooms are just the right size, with just the right amount of comfort and the staff and food service here was fantastic. Much to some’s surprise, however, the Skeleton Coast camp is not actually on the coast, but rather situated ~75km inland from the Oceanside. Upon our first evening outing, with our amiable guide Mwezi, we could see that the landscape would once again be breathtaking and unimaginably beautiful. We drove upon a long natural rock wall, as beautiful gemsbok gently scoured the semi-arid ground for green snacks. We traversed forward through the sand and rocks, passing through and unexpected forest of acacias amongst the seemingly lifeless, harsh terrain. When we reached a high point for our sundowner, it seemed that we could see to infinity over the horizon. For me, the spot brought thoughts of something off the set of Star Wars. This was natural, unspoiled desert wilderness like I have never seen. With its proximity to the ocean, a.m. game drives can often be obstructed with unexpectedly thick fog, as we would discover on our first morning drive at Hoanib, which would land us at the coastline. Along the way, we had a nice sighting of these desert adapted beauties on top of the hillside as they were browsing for their breakfast in the thick Namibian fog. As you move to the coast from camp, you pass through an amazing variation of terrain, from expansive deserts with sand oceans, thick and almost impassable brush, rocky outcrops and semi green oases. Once at the ocean, you could get an eerie sense of this harsh, unforgiving shoreline and its foreboding beauty which has caused so many shipwrecks of the past. The one pictured below is the wreck of the Suiderkus from 1977. There is also a massive cape seal colony that resides on the coastline. They were amazing, spread out for at least 1 km. While we were on coast, we were fortunate to get a brilliant sighting of a lone long haired brown hyena nearby, ostensibly looking for opportunities to ravage a baby seal pup. Next up was to the Damaraland region and the dusty, harsh beauty of the Desert Rhino Camp [DRC]. The lodge is blessed with a warm and welcoming crew, probably the best crew we encountered at any of our lodges. The accommodations are rustic and understated, but very comfortable and having a real campground feel. At night here, you can hear a variety of visitors outside your tent….most vocal would probably be the spotted hyena, which chanted, howled and barked with regularity during our stay. The night sky at DRC has to be seen to be believed. The star laden southern heavens are truly brilliant after dark, with the multitude of colours of the Milky Way galaxy revealed in full celestial glory among the unpolluted Damaraland skies. Shortly after our first excursion at DRC, I was impressed once again how the landscape could change so dramatically in Namibia. The rolling hills were covered in baseball sized red stones and sandy foothills with low, rocky mountains surrounding on all sides. It was apparent that the amazing and unexpected Namibian penchant for abundant life among the harsh climates applied here as well. Milk bushes, acacias, nara bushes, grasses and the amazing welwitschia plant grew throughout. I was particularly fascinated by the welwitschia plant, which, at first glance seems like rubbish that someone has tossed on the ground. Upon closer inspection, you can see the plant has a woody base and long twisted leaves that grow out close to the ground. These plants are quite amazing, and endemic only to Namibia and neighboring Angola. We learned that they can survive for thousands of years, only on moisture from the air if need be. There is no guarantee you can see one of the rare and elusive namesake desert black rhinos here, but I can almost guarantee you will have an unforgettable experience with natural wonder, regardless. As you can see from the DRC photos below, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, oryx and springbok are prevalent in the Damaraland region. Our last stop took us further north in Namibia to the Ongava Tented Camp, a concession bordering Etosha National Park. The first evening drive revealed that the terrain here was much more vegetative and lush that the Damaraland region. There were tall reeds and grasses and the trees were higher, although there was still an abundance of arid, desert type plants scattered about as well. On our first drive at this private reserve, we saw waterbuck, impala, kudu, and a pride of young lion resting in the tall grass. On our first full day, we were headed out of the reserve to tour Etosha National Park. Shortly before our approach to the main gate, we stopped to enjoy a chance sighting of the dominant male lion and his lioness as they casually kept their eyes on a dazzle of nervous zebra. It was a wonderful sighting that we enjoyed for some time. It was a standoff. The lions moved about a bit and the watchful zebra stood on the ready to take off at a moment’s threat. We moved on to Etosha and through the guarded main gates. Amazingly we saw quite a few sightings along the way soon after entering the park. Etosha is a drive only park, and visitors cannot get out of the car or veer off the main roads. Nevertheless, there were a number of nice birds in the roadside trees and brush, including the yellow hornbill and the crimson breasted shrike (which was a fast flittering bird, constantly on the move and nearly impossible to photograph well!). Moving on towards our first stop in the park, we saw wildebeest, springbok and zebra. After the first rest stop, we moved further into the interior of the park and towards some watering holes that are strategically situated throughout the region. As we turned off towards one of the watering holes, Leon (our guide) spotted a black rhino out in the brush to our right. It would have gone completely unnoticed and hidden to the un-trained spotter. We watched from some distance as the rhino moved about the brush, well camouflaged, as you can see in the photo below. It moved a bit closer, but was almost at all times obscured by the thick bush. Eventually, stereotypically evasive of company, the black rhino moved on deeper into the thicket and completely out of sight. Onto the first watering hole, it was packed with a plethora of herbivores congregating nearby. This was a stunning array of some of Namibia’s iconic animals all gathered together. There were gemsbok, springbok, zebra, and blacksmith lapwing, among others. We moved on to a second, larger watering hole, which would prove even more rewarding. Immediately upon our arrival we were presented with a massive bachelor male elephant drinking and spraying himself with water. He was joined by ostriches, impala, oryx, warthog and common zebra. It was truly astounding to see the abundance and variety of majestic wildlife all together in one place! On our way out for the day, we spotted a black backed jackal lying in the shadows just on the side of the road….and off to his right sat a spotted hyena beside a large bush. It continued to fascinate me how these clever animals, often with such bright, beautiful and distinct colours can hide on the terrain. They are perfectly adapted for their native bush homes. Given the fantastic game viewing possibilities and the less public nature of the private reserve, we elected to remain on property for our remaining game drives at Ongava. We enjoyed some extraordinary drives during our stay, exploring the vast 70,000 acre private reserve. We also stopped to walk about on foot for a time, seeing a colony of ground squirrels and some photographic remains of wildebeest skeletons from a recent lion kill. We spotted giraffe, wildebeest, impala, zebra and waterbuck, among others. Perhaps one the most interesting sightings, was a massive congregation of red billed quelea swarming over a watering hole. The sound of the massive gathering of birds was akin to a helicopter or small airplane, they were so great in number. It was truly enchanting to watch them, as they flew about in waves and groups within the massive flock. I had never seen such a gathering of so many birds in one place. I truly can’t say enough about the beauty and unspoiled majesty of Namibia. Legitimately, this report and the pics don’t do it justice. I feel immensely privileged to have witnessed some of the last remaining “wild” still remaining. The whole experience was just humbling and it underscored, for me, the importance of preserving the wild that remains in our vanishing planet. The time I was fortunate enough to have there, brought some of the most enjoyable, profound and thrilling moments of my entire life. It was in many ways, very different from my last Southern Africa trip, but equally as delightful in a contrasting manner.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Saturday 24th June The road from Mowani once we leave the sandy D2612 and head towards Khorixas is dreadfully pitted and lumpy gravel. It's horrible, poor Beryl is being battered around, but we motor onwards. We've got an easier travelling day today, around 120km/70 miles to Sophienhof Lodge, just outside Outjo, which is about halfway to our main destination of Etosha. We needed somewhere a reasonable distance as you have to be inside the Etosha National Park gates before sunset and sometimes things unexpected happen and it's impossible to predict road journeys here in Namibia. So much so we have quite a shock having driven on this ghastly road for 50km, literally outside Khorixas we see Tarmac!!! A beautiful, smooth, flat, drivable Tarmac road. It extends all the way to Sophienhof, I cannot tell you how wonderful a smooth journey is after being bounced around on gravel and dust. Sophienhof Lodge pool Restaurant We pull into Sophienhof at 1pm a couple of hours earlier than the requested time. I booked this Lodge through booking.com as apposed to all the other places that were decided by Peter, myself and Marie at Trailfinders. It was difficult to find somewhere suitable in the location we wanted that was available at this time of year. Etosha is always popular and most folks book up to a year in advance if they want certain times after the rains when the waterholes are full and therefore the wildlife is plentiful. The Waterhole at night Sophienhof is a pretty place, perfectly painted reception area, clipped deep green lawns and rust red sand surround the trees and shrubs. A pretty thatched roofed dining room/lounge with heavy wooden tables and chairs. Beyond a stone and slate Brai (bar-b-que area to non Africans) and fire pit with a circle of stone bench seats. Also a lovely pool which I'd love to try, again surrounded by gorgeous grass, it looks very English or German maybe. With the connections of Colonial days past, I think quite a majority of visitors to Namibia are German. As well as the main house which is used as a Guest house during the busy times, a camping area, also there are 10 semi-detached chalets, again all built of stone and number 4 is ours with its own wooden table and chairs outside. We meet the Manager and he informs us of a game drive in a couple of hours so we agree to go and in the meantime enjoy a picnic on our own raised patio overlooking the beautiful surroundings. Chalet No. 4 The one thing when I was looking for somewhere to stay, that made me notice Sophienhof Lodge was the waterhole. It's just opposite their dining area and it's lit up in the evenings but I've found it fascinating and have seen various animals. They have a webcam on it that updates every 30 seconds. I've watched it day and night for months, I copied pictures of Wildebeest, birds, Antelope and in December last year I saw 4 Giraffe and by the time I copied them there was just one, but it's been a wonderful thing to watch and for me to be here and actually see the waterhole is brilliant. I love it. 3.30pm arrives and our German guide - Sorry I didn't get his name - drives us off with only an African helper to join us. Five minutes later we pull up along the perimeter fence where there are half a dozen Ostriches all scampering about as they know it's food time. They are superb, so funny as we take it in turn to give them hands full of pellets, they peck away madly. Im having so much fun, but it's time to go to the next stop, five minutes down the fencing. We stop and I don't think Peter or I are prepared for what happens next. Evidently a local farmer last year shot dead a mother Cheetah for causing havoc to his livestock and in front of us are her two orphans. If any wildlife farms or Lodges take in Cheetahs they must have at least 1 hectare of scrub/grassland to be in. Our two young orphans have six, but are at the moment in a smaller pen until the end of the month when the vet has agreed when they will be free to roam. They are enjoying dinner, a bit ‘meals on wheels’ Cheetah style. They look well and are very happy, thankfully. We leave them to it. We then drive off into the game park to see various animals as we go. Giraffe, Ostrich, Dik Dik, warthogs, Wildebeest, Impala, Kudu and Waterbuck. The views everywhere are fabulous, the wide open Savannahs are just so stunning. I know I've said this before but as the sun goes down you can see why people fall madly in love with this place. As we look at one more beautiful vistas our driver sighs “Aah, Africa!” That says it all. Back at base we have a few minutes to change before we are expected at the Brai area as there is a huge fire going and soon the boss will be cooking us Steaks for dinner. It's a lovely warm evening and in the open air dining room we have the largest loaf of freshly baked bread to cut and a delicious bowl of potato salad also swirls of garlic butter to add to our cooked steaks. Bliss, with a bottle of red what more could you want? We enjoy another relaxing evening under the African night sky. Giraffes at sunset Sunset is beautiful on a Sophienhof Game drive Sunday 25th June. Another day, another venue. Today it's the pinnacle of our Namibian trip, we head to Etosha. After a lovely relaxing breakfast looking over the waterhole, we watch the Hornbill birds messing about and making a silly racket as usual. We wave goodbye and drive towards Outjo the next small town 10km away to fill up with fuel before driving the 100 km to Etosha. ( Be warned if you follow our footsteps, the Petrol stations around Namibia tell you they don't take Credit cards, then the Big Lie, they tell you the other Petrol stations don't, when actually they do - a great sales technique - if you want to pay by card in places like Outjo, Okakuego, drive round first, it takes five minutes and find out for yourselves!) Some do take credit cards, June 2017! We are still on Tarmac roads when we slow down to join the queue of now 3 at the Anderson Gate one of the few gates into the national park which started as almost 100,000 squ km in 1907 It's size has altered but since the 1970s it's stayed at its reduced size. It's mainly an enormous salt pan at its centre but with a multitude of vegetation around what is a desert in the main. Through the winter months from May to September it holds the major number of animals in the world around its waterholes. The rains come to Angola during December to March and slowly filter down to Namibia making it a hive of activity for all these wonderful creatures. We pay our fees just over £10 a day for 2 adults and a car. There are very strict rules in the park. But the only way in is by vehicle, of which you can't get out of unless you are within the boundaries of one of the few Rest Camps. Animals roam, similar to Dartmoor but here you see Zebra, Giraffe, Elephants, Antelopes and what you don't see are Lions, Leopards and Cheetah but they are about, as well as a myriad of others. You can only drive in the park between sunrise and sunset, so our timings are 6.20am to 5.28pm today. You can only sleep in a designated rest camp in either a chalet as we are, or tent, some of which are perched high above vehicles, for safety when normally camping out in the bush. At Halali where we are staying for the next 3 nights, there is a floodlit waterhole on the outskirts of the camp where you can sit and watch the animals come to drink and is particularly nice as the sun goes down and the sky turns from blue to orange and then black. Halali wasn't our first choice in the park as it's a large camp and really isn't given a great write up. But it's central for all the waterholes and as long as we get something to eat each day we will survive for our three nights before we move on to Onkoshi. We unload our gear into our chalet (Peter says it reminds him of Butlins circa 1965!) and head off to do our own mini game drive before curfew. We are told of a waterhole just 10 miles away and it will be a good learning curve as there aren't any good maps of the park and we have a time limit to keep to as they close the gates at 5.28pm whether we are in or not. The thought of sleeping in our vehicle without a loo until morning is not my idea of heaven! First we see a Giraffe munching away at some leaves, a few Impala as usual, they are always around. Then we see an unusual bird called a Bataleur, it's large and black with a red face and a yellow hooked beak. Wow, that's one for the twitchers! A Bataleur We get back to Halali in time for curfew and park immediately as it's time to get to the waterhole for sunset and we are a bit late. When we get there we are told the Elephants have already left but as we take our seats, from stage right comes a huge Ellie, waving his trunk as to start his performance and walks forward to have a drink. He's so beautiful. We enjoy watching him for three quarters of an hour and when he decides to wander back into the bush, we depart for dinner. Monday 26th June. After a really good sleep in our Butlins chalet we go to breakfast, but like everything at Halali it's nothing to write home about. We load our stuff into Beryl and drive off to see some waterholes. After an aborted attempt because a road was closed (if you saw the state of the good roads, you wouldn't try a bad one) we decide to return to Halali as we forgot to connect our on board fridge and there's no way you can stop on these roads to wander about, a Lion was seen just outside the Camp yesterday. Finally we restart our mornings Safari and at the first waterhole we are at the Salt Pan for the first time, gosh it's barren. At its widest it's 110 km x 60 km around 4700 square km We see Ostrich in the far distance, a few Oryx and Wildebeest. So we move on to Reitfontein a large area where we had seen a huge herd of Zebra yesterday. Again there are Zebra, also Wildebeest, Kudu and Impala all congregating around two large waterholes, surrounded with plenty of greenery. A large coach of Japanese tourists pull up next to us and a couple of 4x4s we all sit in the beautiful sunshine, snapping away out of our open windows when………….. whooooa!!!! What's this gently wandering towards us about 250 yards away at this moment. I feel like screaming at everyone, ITS A RHINO!!!!!! He eventually stops at the waterhole in front of us 100 yards away. Oh how amazing is that? We all just stare at him, whilst he nonchalantly sups water. We are mesmerised, such an amazing creature, so endangered and we have the pleasure of looking at him for half an hour until he wanders back into the bush and we move on to see what we can find. When finally back at Halali we dash up to see the sun setting at the Waterhole and guess what is supping water? Yes! Another Rhino, but even more fantastic, when this one moves away, another one pushes by her or him and takes their place. Can we believe it, we've been looking to see a Rhino for the past 3 weeks and now we see three within a few hours! What a terrific day. Haha, a Zebra crossing. Tuesday 27th June. The late risers manage to get to breakfast before there's nothing left at 8.30am for that's the sort of place Halali is and we're not in the mood for a 5am start. We've decided to drive eastwards today and visit the waterholes to see what's about and we have a brilliant time. We lost count when we got to two dozen Giraffes during our 5 hours out and about, as well as a dozen Elephants, some grazing, some standing fast asleep under the trees in the midday winter sun as it reached 27C. Down by the salt pan we realised the huge herd far in the distance but coming gradually towards us were Wildebeest and there were over a hundred. With the sun blazing down over the huge expanse of the pan, the shimmering heat shows mirages across the miles we can see. It's a stunning sight with Zebra and Ostriches meandering across the plains. We've decided to go on an organised night drive today at 7pm and are kitted out in extra warm gear of puffer jackets and woolly hats. It does get very cold after sunset here. There are eight of us and a guide Paulus who has a strange very dry sense of humour, but he's funny. We drive on the pitch black roads with just the help of an red filtered light that Paulus uses to scan the fields and bushes either side of the road. He manages to find plenty of Springbok, some Jackal, a prowling Lioness, a mother Rhino and baby, as well as herds of Zebra. Now as they say on the BBC news if you don't want to see the results of the Football, look away now! Well my story turns really nasty here, but it's nature in the raw, but I struggled with what happened next so please don't read on if you are of a delicate nature, it's truly very gruesome. By 9.15 we thought we'd seen everything and it was very cold so I was prepared that we would head back when we saw a Lioness going into a canter chasing a Springbok. I've never seen ‘a kill’ and even though I know the carnivores have to eat, as I've said in earlier blogs, seeing things live, is something I didn't particularly want to see. At that point, remember it's virtually pitch black except for the guides strong torch, straight in front of us, not 20 yards away is another Lioness lying on the road with its giant paws around a young Zebra. Within seconds there are three more Lionesses and a male Lion with just a little ring of mane showing him to be between 2-3 years old. They all want some of this food. Then to terrify everyone, a huge adult male Lion jumps from out of nowhere through the side hedging and claims the kill as his. This is all going on remember only yards from us (just nine humans sat in an open-sided Safari vehicle) and the growling and fighting was loud and horrendous. But the worst part as I was struggling at the beginning to cope with it all was the Zebra hadn't at that point died. But at last it was inevitable and they fought and ate and we were present. I've never been so terrified but also in awe of nature as it was happening live. Thankfully a funny moment lightened everyone's mood when a Jackal appeared and kept walking up and around the commotion like a Court Jester, every time he got close to the action, the growls got louder and the Lions more ferocious and he scooted away only to return seconds later and repeat the performance. Eventually Paulus said we should leave to get back to Camp and we drove by within 10 feet of the hungry mob. Oh what a night! The Lion Kill The extras
  7. 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!
  8. Sunbird from one of the camps in Etosha, but wich one of the sunbirds is it? Thank you for any help :-)
  9. Hi ST! I have just seen the following trip from a Spanish TO. http://www.pasaporte3.com/africa/viajes/sudafrica-namibia-botswana/sudafrica-namibia-botswana.php I am very impressed by the prices they offer. This includes short safari in Kalahari, Torra conservancy safari, Etosha, Okavango safaris in canoa and Chobe in 4x4. It is also included flights of the Namib in aircraft, Damaraland rhino safari with Wilderness in Torra Conservancy, Visit of Fish Canyon, A flight over the Okavango Delta, and a helicopter flight over the Victoria falls. The price is around 4000 euros with the international flights. As a photographer I would obviously prefer a 4x4, but the point is that this includes a guide which would not be the case if I travel in self drive, excellent Wilderness lodges in many places. Also I see that the safaris in the parks are shorter than usual, but this seems logical if considered that it is a 28 days trip from Cap Town to Victorial Falls. I don't know if they consider 4x4 in Etosha which would be much better fro photography because these trucks are clearly not appropriate for photographic safaris...
  10. I'm heading for Namibia in a few weeks and can't make up my mind. So if any of you can help me out, that would be much appreciated! The itinerary will ofcourse include Etosha. It's the national park which gives me headaches. I have max 4 nights to spend. But where? At first I thought of Okaukuejo and Halali. But I've been reading these camps are quite large and can get crowded by overlanders. Then I switched to Onkoshi, as it's much smaller, but from there it's too far to Swakopmund. I've also been reading wildlife at Okaukuejo is great and that this makes up for the size of the camp. If the latter is true, should I spend all 4 of my nights at Okaukuejo? Or should I go for 2 nights at Okaukuejo and 2 nights at Halali? Or are there private concessions at the south(west) of Etosha I could consider? In the end, I'm there for the animals, but usually I like smaller camps... If you're interested, I'll also be going to see the seals near Swakopmond and visit Sossusvlei. Some other activities (sandboarding, balloon flight) in that area, but will decide when I'm there. TR will follow afterwards.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. In July 2011, I made a 3 weeks’ self-driving trip in. Overview : ENINGU CLAY HOUSE : 1 night WOLVEDANS DUNE CAMP : 2 nights SOSSUSVLEI LODGE : 2 nights VILLA MARGHERITA (Swakopmund) : 3 nights DAMARA MOPANE LODGE : 2 nights KHOWARIB LODGE : 1 night DOLOMITE CAMP (Etosha) : 2 nights OKAUKUEJO (Etosha) : 2 nights MUSHARA LODGE (Etosha) : 3 nights OKONJIMA MAIN LODGE : 2 nights THE ELEGANT FARMSTEAD : 1 night Preliminary remarks : Although I had basically nothing to reproach to the organization (Royal Tours Namibia in Windhoek) of it, this trip was not the best of my travels and for a lot of reasons: - I had never been attracted by Namibia. I went there because my wife had expressed the desire to go. So I agreed on condition that a third of the journey was spent in Etosha. Etosha disappointed me. - As I had never been there before, I accepted the circuit as it had been proposed to me. Some stopping places, in my opinion, were not right choices. - The self-driving trip (4300 km) with a 2x4 vehicle was a bad choice. If I should go back to Namibia, I would not do it again that way. - At Wolvedans, the tents were poorly designed, in case of high head wind. - Finally, I had a problem with the vehicle, not so serious in itself, but by all major hassle that it spawned during the next 5 days. Luckily, there was still some good times of which one was excellent and it also delivered some good photographic opportunities. For those who plan to take a self-driving trip to Namibia, be very careful in your choices of the agent and his local correspondant, the car (a 4X4 without any doubt), the car rental company and the conditions of the car rental’s agreements. The car I rented was a high clearance 2x4 Nissan X-Trail and the renting company was BUDGET. My agent rented the car through a broker, and not through his local correspondant RTN, because the broker covered what was not covered at all by any insurance of the renting company like towing charges (only covered in case of mechanical fault not for instances caused by accidents, undercarriage, water and sandstorms damages) and undercarriaged damage. They also covered serious tyre and glass damage which can also be covered by the renting company, but at an additional charge. 90 % of the roads in Namibia are gravel roads and therefore in some places, might be very surprising and dangerous, because they are convex and very deceptive. In some places the gravels are big and you might have the feeling that you are driving on marbles. I slewed round twice but I managed to keep the car on the road. If I ever have to go back to Namibia, I will rent a 4x4 or do it with a driver. Indeed a 2x4 is, in some places, on a C road, barely limited and on a D road, inadequate. When I reached a service station, I always filled up; the next station can sometimes be 300 kms further, pumps might be out of order (it happened twice during my trip) and the station tank might be empty (it happened one time). I had one flat tyre, but this can normally happen on such a trip. There will be in this report more texts than usual, thanks to my wife’s notes and as usual pictures.
  14. Hello, We are two mammal-watchers and birders trying to book accommodations for a trip to Namibia this August. In Etosha, we wanted to spend two nights at each of Okaukuejo, Halali, and Namutoni camps. We were pleasantly surprised that our booking agent was able to book three nights at Okaukuejo. However, he said that both Halali and Namutoni were full. A few questions: 1. I've read that a large percentage of the campsites and chalets at Halali are booked in advance by tour operators, and that many of them become available later. What is the probability that we'd be able to wait and get reservations at Halali later? By booking the rest of our itinerary now, we wouldn't have any flexibility in the dates for this. We are fine camping. For example, this company shows availability for much of August: https://www.expertafrica.com/namibia/etosha-national-park/halali-camp/availability 2. How important is it to stay inside the park at Namutoni? It appears that most of the wildlife viewing is not at the camp itself, but nearby. What are the hours of the gates at the campsite, and at the park entrance? 3. I haven't seen many reports from the newly opened Dolomite Camp. How do the wildlife watching opportunities there compare with the other three campsites? If we can't get a satisfactory itinerary, we'll wait to go another year. Thanks, Ben www.tremarctos.com
  15. Hello people, Just signed up and this is my first post. I was born and spent my childhood in Namibia, and this June I'll go back to Namibia for the first time in 12 years. (I'm feeling quite emotional just typing this). We will spend 3 nights at Okaukeujo and I'm not sure which lens to get for Etosha. I'm probably looking at a manual focus lens to adapt to my A7. Right now I have a 55mm, 135 mm and the 28-70 kit lens. So far I'm considdering either a 300mm or 400mm. Or perhaps a zoom. My guess is that the 400mm might be better. What do you say? Looking forward to any tips and recommendations. Thank you dewetter
  16. I am in Johannesburg in October and am considering a short, self drive trip to northern Namibia staying at lodges. The purpose is to shoot some photos, but also to scout and learn the area a bit for 2017. In 2017, I have a group of 6 photographers that is interested in Etosha, maybe seeing Bushmen or Himba. The 2017 trip will be much more extensive and all of those travelers are serious photographers with a focus on wildlife more than landscapes even though I understand Namibia is landscape heaven. I have extensive Botswana and South Africa experience with self-driving, but Namibia is new for me. For my 2016 Scouting trip, I was thinking of an aggressive schedule of: Day 1 - arrive Windhoek overnight Day 2 - Okonjima - AfriCats Reserve in the afternoon Day 3 - Okonjima morning then drive to Andersson's Camp at Etosha Day 4 - Etosha, staying at Halali Day 5 - Etosha, staying at Halali Day 6 - Etosha, staying at Dolomite Day 7 - Opuwo, Hiimba Tribe and that area overnight Day 8 - return to Windhoek and overnight there Day 9 - depart Questions: October - am I nuts? How hot/cold in northern Namibia? For this schedule, do I need a 4x4 like a HiLux or will any rental vehicle work? From a photo stop standpoint, is Okonjima worth the stop? How much time should I plan? I'm thinking an afternoon and following morning Andersson's is outside of Etosha. Do I lose much time going in/out of Etosha vs staying at lodges within Etosha? Opuwo destination is to get a feel for how 'touristy' a visit to Himba are. In 2017, I don't want to take folks to a 'people zoo', so I see if this can be a cultural experience. I would secure a guide for any Himba visit I planned. What am I missing? I'm open to suggestions.
  17. Okay its time for another Namibia trip report. There have been a few on here lately so...... lets have another one.So for some background this was our fourth trip to Africa but first in 4 years. In 2005-06 we went to Africa for 3 months and we're supposed to get married in South Africa and spend some time in Namibia based on the advice of a Kenyan guide who called it is his favourite country. We had some unexpected expenses though and had to cut the Southern Africa portion of the trip and we were forced to get married in the Masai Mara(poor us!). 2015 has arrived and its finally time to go. I'm hedgeing my bets a bit though in case i don't love Namibia and we are going to South Luangwa where i have been desperate to go to for years thanks to some of the people on this forum. The what could go wrong part springs from previous trips and even though i don't usually suffer from bad luck in Africa something always goes wrong usually to my wife's delight. From chivalry gone wrong in Botswana to a pipe in the head in Namanga to my wedding story in the getting married in Africa thread i could have an entire thread dedicated to mishaps.And yes this trip would have a few more! Itinerary May 14 Winnipeg to Toronto to Amsterdam May 15 Amsterdam to Johannesburg with O/N at City Lodge Hotel May 16 Johannesburg to Windhoek. Drive to Swakopmund May 16-18 Swakopmund Cornerstone Guesthouse May 19 Twyfelfontein Lodge May 20-21 Grootberg Lodge May 22-23 Okaukuejo Camp May 24 Halali Camp May 25-26 Onguma Camp May 27 Kaisosi River Lodge May 28 Ndhovu Camp May 29 Camp Kwando May 30 Jun 1 Zambezi Sun Jun 2-5 Flatdogs Camp Jun 6 Lusaka Taj Pomodzi Jun 7 Lusaka to Nairobi to Amsterdam Jun 8 Amsterdam to Toronto to Winnipeg Jun 9 its over The trip was organized by Expert Africa and was well done. It was the first time i did not use a local provider though but i do prefer the local route. The trip was a self dive from Windhoek to Katima Mulilo from where we got a transfer to Victoria Falls. Our rental car was a wait for it................Volkswagon Polo Yes i know that you all think I'm crazy now but hey i made it but there were some issues that i will get to at the relevant points. I had several firsts that i wanted to achieve on this trip and i am so happy to say we got them. I lost count at 20 Rhinos in Etosha, so many Leopards in Luangwa, my first Wild Dogs as well (soooooooo exciting) Our first walking safari and so much fun in Swakopmund and Vic Falls. From this point i'll let our pictures do more of the talking but we do not have a giant lens and are still learning photography so please don't be to hard on me.
  18. The second part of our trip took us to Etosha NP for seven nights. On our first visit in 2012 we only spent one day there and decided to really explore the park this trip. We started with Dolomite Camp on the western side. This camp was not even open in 2012 so we were keen to see how the wildlife had adapted to tourist vehicles. As we drove in there were beautiful flowering trees on the hill side with some giraffe among them. Stunning. Dolomite camp is set high up looking out over the plains. We requested and got number 13 and it really has the best view. When we checked in a small golf cart took us up the steep hill and onto our room and there was a rhino at the waterhole. What a start. We took cold cuts and salad with us we bought on the way and had pic nic plates etc from home so we could have dinner in the room so we didn't waste time in the restaurant. The following morning we took a packed breakfast and explored the waterholes on the west side of Etosha. Number 13 (on the left) on the drive out. Some waterholes had no animals and some had lots, no reason we could see as there were no predators around. We stopped at one to have our breakfast as there were a lot of animals there. Suddenly a beautiful healthy rhino approached sending the zebra off in a panic. It gave us a hard stare but decided we were Ok and had his early morning drink. We were enjoying watching him so closely with no other cars around when he suddenly ran off in a panic. A large elephant was approaching so we soon learned who was top dog in Etosha! The elephant proceeded to smear mud all over its face, kicking it up from the waterhole edges to get more. It must have been a good sun screen. Compared to the crowds we had experienced on our last visit to Etosha there was hardly anyone else around on the west side. Well worth a visit. There is a new campsite recently opened, Olifantsrus, which didn't look busy when we passed by. We slowly made our way back to the camp and had lunch, a dip in the plunge pool and spent the rest of the day watching the comings and goings at the waterhole which included a large herd of eland, such lovely animals.
  19. 1) Name of property and country: Dolomite Camp, Etosha NP, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www.nwr.com.na/index.php/resorts/dolomite 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green season, February, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I wanted to see all of Etosha NP from East to West. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research an then contacted Discover Namibia. 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? None 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, we were still warned to be careful 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 20 cabins 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had a waterhole sunrise room which had a great view (only two rooms had this view) and also a sunset room with a lovely view. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were comfortable, bed with a mosquito net, air con, fridge, bathroom. All was clean but a little run down. It was fantastic having a fridge in the room. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was simple but ok. We brought a lot of snack food and drinks from outside the camp to sustain us whilst watching the waterhole. The breakfast and dinners were basic and ok. 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? Not sure. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. We used our own car. 19) How many guests per row? N/A 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drives were varied and depended on where we wanted to visit. 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? We stayed in the waterhole room to watch the animals in the morning and afternoon. We spent the late afternoons/evenings around the pool because it was too hot to be in the room. 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? Density was low due to the Green Season and the waterhole had very little car activity. 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? Waterhole sightings. Excellent elephants, giraffe and plains game. 27) How was the standard of guiding? N/A 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: N/A 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were helpful and happy during our stay. 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: My parents and I really enjoyed our time at Dolomite. We stayed at the far end of the camp so a long walk was always necessary so make sure you have everything you need when heading to the communal area. The rooms were lovely and we had one on each side to experience sunrise and sunset. Although the rooms were approximately 3/4 years old they are showing signs of neglect and needing freshening up but this doesn't interfere with the guests experience. I preferred my sunset room, which during our time there seemed to be a cooler option. The communal areas were great and the pool was fantastic even though the water was very "fresh". The food and drink during our stay was average and the staff seemed to do a better job during our stay than what other guests have experienced. The wildlife experience from the tents was lovely but you will need binoculars. The surrounding waterholes were not as productive as Okaekuejo but it was still a beautiful part of the park and worthy of 2/3 nights. I believe spending 2/3 nights at each camp really allows guests to experience the whole Etosha NP and provide lifelong memories. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. https://vimeo.com/144662550
  20. 1) Name of property and country: Okakeujo Camp NWR, Etosha, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www.nwr.com.na/index.php/resorts/okaukuejo-resort 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green season, February, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights (would recommend a minimum of 4 nights next time) 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Great reviews about their waterhole and inside Etosha NP. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Through Discover Namibia. 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? Maybe Onguma Bush Camp 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Yes, but we were still warned to be careful 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 102 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had a waterhole chalet which didn’t have a great view but was about 20m from the waterhole. This enabled us to use our own toilets, go back for refreshments etc when necessary. I would have stayed in a Premier waterhole chalet if they were available because they fit 3 and we had to rent 2 waterhole chalets to accomodate us. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were comfortable, bed with a mosquito net, air con, fridge, bathroom. All was clean but a little run down. It was fantastic having a fridge in the room. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was simple but ok for breakfast. We brought a lot of snack food and drinks from outside the camp to sustain us whilst at the waterhole because we heard about the quality of the food. We also wanted to stay at the waterhole without leaving. 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? N/A 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. We used our own car. 19) How many guests per row? 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drives were varied and depended on where we wanted to visit. 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? We stayed out between 3/4 hours in the morning and rested in the afternoon. We spent the afternoons/evenings around the waterhole. 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? Density was low due to the Green Season and the waterhole had a maximum of 100 people during the evenings. 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? Waterhole sightings. Excellent rhinos, plains game, elephants, giraffes and lions. 27) How was the standard of guiding? N/A 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: N/A 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were not very attentive but when asked they were helpful and happy during our stay. We didn’t use them very much because we looked after ourselves. 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: Close your eyes to the problems in camp with food, rooms and staff and enjoy the fact that you can sit and watch animals 24 hours a day in a chair that is less than 20m from them. Bring in your own food and drinks to sustain yourself. The sightings at the waterhole are unbelievable and definitely worth staying at this camp. I will definitely go back during the green season. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. https://vimeo.com/144662550
  21. 1) Name of property and country: Onguma Bush Camp, Etosha, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www.onguma.com/onguma-bush-camp.html 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green season, February, 2015. 4) Length of stay: 3 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I chose this camp because of the private reserve it was on, great facilities, good price and close to Etosha. It offered my parents a good place to rest and relax if they didn't join me on safari drives. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did my own research and then used an agent to book the entire trip. Discover Namibia 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was my fourth trip. 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? None 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Yes 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 16 rooms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? The view was over the pool area and beyond that was the waterhole and private reserve. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Excellent, air con, clean, large bathroom. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was great. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) There was multiple choices on offer daily, vegetarians were catered for. 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? Did not take advantage of this. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Did not use. 19) How many guests per row? N/A 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? N/A 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? N/A 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Yes, there is a private concession but I did not visit it. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Due to the green season there was very little cars around. Waterholes had at most 3 or 4 cars at any one time but on average it was maybe 2. 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. There was no need. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? On the private concession we saw plains game but no predators. In Etosha NP we saw everything. 27) How was the standard of guiding? N/A 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: Yes, me I was the guide. No monetary tips from my clients (parents). 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, they were great. 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: Onguma Bush Camp is a brilliant property offering safari goers a lovely, well maintained property with excellent large rooms with air con, relaxing pool area, large and comfortable communal area with a nice waterhole to watch the animals and great food. The staff were very service orientated which was great. My only problem is that the property is not in Etosha which was my priority and meant a 30 minute drive into the NP to get to the waterholes. Apart from this Onguma is a fantastic place to be based for anyone visiting Etosha. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  22. Hi guys, in the end we are about to book the following trip: 23 - 25 NOV 15 Okaukuejo, Etosha 25 - 28 NOC 15 Desert Rhino Camp, Damaraland, looking for Black Rhino and maybe more 28 NOV - 1 DEC 15 Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp 1 - 2 DEC 15 Okonjima Plains Camp (Africat Foundation) The Skeleton Coast experience was something I alway wanted to do, but I could not impress Claudia to do that. Now she read an article about the Black Rhino tracking at Desert Rhino Camp and she changed her mind completely. And I was able to convince her about Skeleton Coast. I am really excited about this trip although I am aware, that we will not get to see that much wildlife. I hope, that we get the trip confirmed in the next days. So cross fingers. Afterwards we go for a few days to Cape Town as usual. Thomas
  23. Southern Africa loop trip September 9- October 18, 2015 Hello, I decided to post my rather lengthy journal of our trip last year in the hopes that it may help some readers with planning their own Southern Africa adventure. I purposefully included many details so that potential self-drivers can squirrel away bits of information for future trips. Our Route: Windhoek, Namibia Kgalagadi, South Africa Central Kalahari GAme Reserve, Botswana Maun, Botswana Boteti river, Makgadikgadi NP, Botswana Nxai Pans NP, Botswana Maun, Botswana Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana Maun, Botswana Mahango NP, Namibia Etosha NP, Namibia Brandberg, Namibia, Windhoek. Namibia Here is the detailed itinerary: September 9: Klein Windhoek Guesthouse, Windhoek, Namibia, B&B September 10: Kalahari Anib Lodge, camping September 11: Mata-Mata, Kgalagadi, South Africa, camping September 12: Two Rivers, camping September 13: Urikaruus, wilderness chalet September 14: Nossob, camping September 15: Bitterpan, wilderness chalet September 16: Nossob, camping September 17: Gharagab, wilderness chalet September 18: Kalahari Rest Camp, Kang, Botswana, bungalow September 19: Tautona Lodge, Ghanzi, camping September 20: Motopi, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, camping September 21: Sunday Pan, camping September 22: Sunday Pan, camping September 23: Island Safari Lodge, Maun, camping September 24: Audi Camp, Maun, Luxury tent September 25: Khumaga Boteti River, Makgadikgadi NP, camping September 26: Khumaga, camping September 27: South Camp, Nxai Pan NP, camping September 28: South Camp, camping, September 29: Audi Camp, Maun, Luxury tent September 30: Third Bridge, Moremi GR, camping October 1: Third Bridge, camping October 2: Xakanaka, camping October 3: Xakanaka, camping October 4: Khwai, camping October 5: Khwai, camping October 6: Audi camp, Maun, Luxury tent October 7: Mahango NP and Nunda Lodge, camping, Divundu, Namibia October 8: Mahango NP and Nunda Lodge, camping October 9: Bushbaby Lodge, bungalow October 10: Namutoni, Etosha NP, Namibia, camping October 11: Halali, camping October 12: Halali, camping October 13: Okaukuejo, camping October 14: Okaukuejo, camping October 15: Dolomite camp, chalet October 16: Hobatere public campsite, outside Etosha Galton gate, camping October 17: White Lady Lodge, Brandberg, camping October 18: Klein Windhoek Guest House, Windhoek, Namibia, B&B Planning: When planning this trip, I used the two Bradt guides BOTSWANA, and NAMIBIA, both written by Chris McIntyr as well as paper maps of each country, available on amazon.com I find both of these guides are very helpful when planning self-drive trips. I also read a ton of trip reports on this and other forums and learned a lot by just "lurking" and reading questions and answers. For the Kgalagadi park, I found information on sanparks.org website and nice forumites there helped me out with tips about this park. Operator: Peter Weber at Zimba Adventure, Windhoek, Namibia www.zimba-adventure.com It was a very pleasant experience to deal with Peter. He was extremely polite and patient with my many questions, as well as very prompt with all his answers. It was a true pleasure to do business with Peter and I can highly recommend his services. He also provides tours in Namibia as well as to all the other countries in Southern Africa. Car Rental: Peter Weber arranged our two Hiluxes through Classic Cars managed by his partner, Peter Kehrer. There was one mishap with our friends'car while still in Windhoek, see below, and the last two weeks, our cool box did not cool at night. Apart from that, both cars performed extremely well and at my asking, had new mud tires mounted, just for our long trip. Both men are very pleasant and professional, live in Windhoek, and speak English, German, and Afrikaans. In addition, they are registered with the Namibian Tourist Safety and Security: I told Peter too late about wanting to rent a Satellite phone, so he was all out. We then found a SAT phone rental company here in California and we rented it from them for cheaper than had we rented it from Peter. Of course, it made for extra carry-on luggage. Thankfully, we never had any type of emergency, but both parties used it to talk to family and it worked very well. It was one of those difficult decisions: do we or don't we. At the end I decided that it was worth having a SAT phone for everyone's peace of mind. Just in case. Every night when going up to our roof tent, I would take with me all of our important documents. Just in case. To our surprise, the rental car only came with one set of keys. We never lost ours, but I would have felt a lot better with a second set. Just in case. We also placed copies of passports, credit cards, and cash in different bags. Just in case. Accomodations: We have discovered that although we like sleeping in a roof tent and camping, we also like spending every 5th or 6th night in a B&B or budget lodge. It gives us a chance to sleep in a good bed, do some laundry and get reorganized. I will give a brief description of the places we stayed at in the course of this report. Photography: In the last few years, we have become more interested in photography. We have a lot to learn, but the good news is that each trip we show some improvement. This trip, our focus was to get crisper, clearer pictures as well as trying to capture birds in flight. I am using a Nikon 5100 and doing mostly the landscape, group, people, and camp shots. My DH is using a Nikon D90 with a Sigma 150-500 lens. He is responsible for all the close-up and portrait shots. I also tried my hand at shooting some videos, but I'm not good at it at all, and as it turns out, most of it is shaky, or blurry. Also, my camcorder seemed to have had a problem recording movement when zoomed in, and now the little machine is altogether dead and I won't replace it. So here goes my first ever trip report: California to Windhoek, September 7-9 The long awaited day for the start of our third Southern Africa adventure is finally here. We leave at 7 pm after having said good-bye to Daniel (our son) and Charlie and Sadie (our dogs). Daniel is our doggie sitter in chief and they love him as much as they love us. First leg is to SF where we eat dinner, then onto NY Kennedy via a red-eye. After a 4 hour wait, we board SA Airways to Johannesburg for a 15 hour long-haul flight. Luckily, the plane is not full and we can lay down a little and sleep. Screaming kids keep us awake. When we arrive at O.R. Tambo, it is already September 9. It is during the Ebola scare and upon arrival we have to fill out a form of possible symptoms as well as countries visited. Then there is another 4 hour wait before our flight to Windhoek. Oh you lucky people who come from Europe and stay in the same time zone! We pass the time sleeping on the benches in front of the Mug and Beans Cafe and looking for things to buy at the many shops selling African souvenirs. The flight to Windhoek is boarded via a walk along the tarmac. I have a window seat and from above, I can see hundreds of white pans dotting the landscape, as well as many animal trails. Very exciting. Benny, a representative from Classic Cars, picks us up in a van. There are troops of baboon foraging along the road and sitting on fences, not something we normally see along California's highways. Yes! We are back in Southern Africa! Klein Windhoek guesthouse is located in a quiet neighborhood of Windhoek and is comprised of a few different buildings on both sides of the road. The pool is tiny and the water is much too cold for swimming. Our friends and travel buddies from Canada have already spent a night here and they greet us with warm enthusiasm. After that, we go to dinner together at the very busy on-site restaurant and everyone had schnitzel, except our friend who wanted to try Kudu steak. Being thoroughly jet-lagged and generally up-side down after our long journey, we turn in early and enjoy our comfortable room.
  24. Hello, if you are planning a self-drive trip through Southern Africa, check out my trip report of our loop last year through 7 parks, including many photos. Here is the link: http://safaritalk.net/topic/14669-self-drive-safari-in-botswana-south-africa-and-namibiab/
  25. Reports www.namibian.com.na To read the full article click here. What are your thoughts about fencing Etosha?

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