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Found 29 results

  1. I want to open with a 'thank you' to my friends on SafariTalk as your input significantly influenced my trip plans (in a good way) My first trip to Africa was a self-drive trip to Chobe National Park, Botswana in the early 2000’s. I went in with a group of acquaintances from South Africa. On the nights before, I had a lot of discussions about what I would see. Chobe was said to be one of the greatest destination in Africa to see abundant wildlife. That sounded great, but often I would hear ‘the only place where you will see more wildlife is Etosha!”. That trip to Chobe was all I had dreamed it would be and more. Africa was in my blood and I’ve been into the bush more than two dozen times since then; however, I never got to Etosha … and I continued to hear about how great it could be. Today, I lead small groups to Africa locations like Chobe, Timbavati, Sabi Sands, Hwange, Zimanga and Madikwe. I only take folks to places I’ve visited first hand so I really can share with them what to expect. I’m hoping to lead a group to Namibia, including Etosha in 2017, so I decided it was time for a scouting trip. In addition to Etosha, I wanted to check out a few other regions in northern Namibia. In particular, I’ve had great interest from travelers in getting a chance to visit villages, meet indigenous peoples and have a more cultural experience. Since I would be ‘moving quickly’ to check out several locations, I decided to make this a self-drive trip. To share the experience and to have a little ‘back-up’ for the trip, I enlisted 3 friends to go along. We took two vehicles, that way one person could sit up front and shoot left or right and one person could sit in the back and shoot left or right without interference. In addition, the second vehicle would provide a little safety insurance in case of vehicle troubles since we were going rather remote. Just a little more background and I promise to get on with the primary story and some photographs. For my 2017 Namibia trip, we will be with a larger group of photographers via train visiting the Quiver Tree forest for night photography, Kolmanskop for some ghost town taken over by desert shots, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei for the classic sand dune shots. Considering the size of Namibia and the travel times, I am concerned that following the first portion of the trip, travelers will not want to go too far before a stop and to see some wildlife. Basically, I wanted to find one high quality stop between Windhoek and Etosha. The two best options seemed to be Africats (Okinjima) or Erindi. AfriCats is a non-for-profit organization that rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas. While I have heard good things, that sounded a bit zoo-like. In my research on Erindi, it sounded a bit like a variant of the private reserves around the Kruger. Write-ups noted that Erindi is known for big cat sightings and has both self-drive regions and also off road tracking. In addition, they have a few animals I know I won’t be seeing elsewhere in northern Namibia such as crocodiles, hippopotamus and wild dog. While I’ve seen these many times, some of my 2017 travelers will be taking their first and possibly only trip to Africa so these are a nice add. I finalized upon an itinerary as follows: · Day 1 - Arrival night in Windhoek with overnight at a Guest House · Day 2 - Drive to Erindi in the mornig, afternoon game drive and overnight. · Day 3 - Morning game drive at Erindi, mid-day drive to Etosha, afternoon drive to Etosha, stay first night at Halali. · Day 4 - Morning and afternoon game drives and 2nd night at Halali · Day 5 & 6 – On the 3rd and 4th nights in Etosha at Okaukuejo Lodge. · Day 7 - Etosha game drive to the western gate (Galton Gate) then proceed to Grootberg Lodge for overnight stay. · Day 8 & 9 - From Grootberg, head north to Khowarib Lodge, just south of Sesfontein for two nights. On one day I wanted to visit a Himba settlement and on another full day I wanted to look for desert elephants along the Hoanib River. · Day 10 - On the last morning, we would drive back south to Otjiwarongo for a night · Day 11 - The next morning, drive to Windhoek to fly out that afternoon to Jo’berg and back to the States That’s a pretty grueling week and a half with 2000 miles of driving including 1500 miles of driving on gravel and dirt. I would never do that schedule with a tour group, but this was a scouting trip and I was taking along some seasoned travelers/photographers. Now, let the story begin! Okay, I have to throw in at least one photo to start things off.
  2. Well, our trip to Namibia is over, and we had the time of our lives, thanks in large part to the suggestions and experience of the posters here. Originally we planned to do a small group tour of Namibia. However, the ones that interested me were all booked until the end of October at the earliest. So, I posted in these forums and got the suggestion of a private guide another poster has toured with. So, we had a privately guided, 12-day, 11-night tour of central Namibia. We let our guide know what sights and areas interested us, and he booked our lodges and activities, after okaying his selections with us. We were in Namibia from June 11-June 22--midsummer at home; midwinter there. June 11 John and I arrived in Windhoek a few minutes early at 10:15 a.m., after our overnight flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, from where we caught the short flight to Windhoek. Fortunately, we had both slept several hours on the overnight flight and were ready to go and beyond excited to finally be in Africa. We travelled with carryon luggage only, so it didn’t take long for us to leave the secure area and meet our guide, Francois, who was waiting for us. We went straight out to the vehicle and Francois drove us out of Windhoek by a back road, avoiding driving through the city. We stopped at one of the “tree” rest stops, and Francois gave us sandwiches, fruit, and personalized water bottles that he filled for us. He showed us the map, and we discussed the itinerary and our travel style. Coming from the Canadian foothills, we are used to long drives, so our guide knew we would be all right with taking the “scenic route” when the opportunity presented itself. (We learned from our guide that the sign is shaped to point to the side of the road where the rest stop will be. In this case, the rest stop will be on the right.) There was a huge corn cricket at the rest stop. This was my first "wildlife" sighting in Africa. I am insect phobic, so I was thinking, "Uh, oh. What have I let myself in for?" Fortunately, that was the worst thing I saw the whole trip. Our first night was booked at Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch. On the way, we stopped at a sociable weavers’ nest. We couldn't believe how busy and noisy it was, with all the birds and the bees. On the way, we also saw mongoose, steenbok, springbok, kudu, giraffe, a crimson-breasted shrike (aka “executioner bird”), a kori bustard, ostrich, elands, and termite mounds. We didn’t take many pictures, as most of the animals were a bit too far away for good shots, and our guide said we would have better opportunities later on. We also saw some people driving a “Kalahari Ferrari." At Bagatelle, we had a dune chalet, and it was gorgeous. It was spacious, beautifully decorated, and had a lovely view of the dunes and a small waterhole with springbok, donkeys, and an eland. There were ostrich on the property, as well. The chalet, the lodge, and the scenery were all so lovely that this is among the top 5 places I’ve every stayed, and I wish we’d had more than one night there. We got settled and then left the chalet. On our deck was a shovelnose lizard. Beside our deck, munching on a bush, was the lodge’s tame springbok, Skunky. We met the lodge’s guide and driver for the cheetah feeding. Bagatelle is part of the cheetah conservation effort, and they are host to two 14-year-old male cheetah that were “problem” animals and cannot be released into the wild for that reason. We went in an open-sided vehicle with a group, and once at the cheetah feeding site, we were allowed to get out of the vehicle once the cats were feeding. One of the cats does not do well with humans, but the other is approachable while he is eating. I got to go close to him and touch him. After the cheetah feeding, we went for a sundowner on top of a dune. John had a Meerkat Sauvingnon Blanc. I had water, as I don’t care for wine, and I was too busy taking pictures of the sunset, anyway. Afterwards, we had dinner at the lodge. Dinner was indoors, as it was too “cold.” (Note: winter in Namibia is warmer than summer where we live. Ha. Ha.) We had our first taste of African game: oryx and kudu, and it was delicious. Skunky, the springbok, kept trying to come into the dining room, and peered at us pleadingly through the window after he was banished. By this time, travelling and not quite enough sleep was catching up with us. We went to our chalet to sleep. I had one of the best sleeps of my entire life; it was so quiet and cool, and the bed was cozy. We slept almost 11 hours. June 12 We were up early for 7am breakfast, followed by our scheduled walk to a demonstration village with a San Bushman. On the way, we saw an eland who had a thin rope tied to his horns. We asked about that and were told he is sometimes "naughty" with the tourists. He certainly seemed to give us a mischievous grin. We were the only two who had booked the Bushman walk, so it was just us, Erastus (Black Mamba) the interpreter, and the San (!Koon (Tall Tree)). !Koon acted out some of the traditional ways that the San people survived in the Kalahari. He told us (using gestures and click language) about termite hills and anteater hunting, about snaring small birds, about the uses of the blackthorn tree (e.g. for stomach ailments), about caching water in ostrich eggs, and about trapping ostriches. He showed us how they started fire, and then we walked to the demonstration village. The women were sitting around a fire making beads from ostrich shell. There were children sitting with the woman and then playing. Then, Erastus brought us to meet the “chief.” He told us about foraging for caterpillars, making rattles, and the mini bow and arrow used for courting (still used today). There were three huts, and there was some ostrich shell jewellery on display. We bought an ostrich and porcupine quill bracelet. Then Erastus and !Koon walked us back to the lodge, and !Koon’s cute little daughter insisted on coming along. On the way back, we chatted a bit about our own heritage (Cree), and the commonalities among Indigenous people in Namibia and Canada. We really felt we had made a connection in our short time together, and it seemed that !Koon and Erastus felt the same. We had heartfelt goodbyes with both !Koon and Erastus, who both told us that they had sincerely enjoyed their time with us, and we said the same. We freshened up at the lodge, and then we were on our way to Sesriem. To be continued.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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!
  6. Sunbird from one of the camps in Etosha, but wich one of the sunbirds is it? Thank you for any help :-)
  7. 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...
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 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
  21. 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.
  22. 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/
  23. Reports www.namibian.com.na To read the full article click here. What are your thoughts about fencing Etosha?
  24. Namibia has such variety that it is hard to narrow down the choices. For this first trip I was pleased with where I ended up going and with Wild Dog Safaris, who took me there. A solo, privately guided safari is not real common in Namibia because it is easy to self drive and because there are lots of group departures, including several by Wild Dog. But I wanted more time at the various locations than any of the group trips offered and did not want to self drive. WHAT I HOPED TO SEE 1. Animals at waterholes both day and night. Chodup Waterhole, Namutoni area Okaukeujo Waterhole at Lodge Okaukeujo Waterhole at Lodge Okaukeujo Waterhole at Lodge 2. Big red sand dunes in nice light. 3. Dead trees on a cracked white surface in front of a sand dune. Me in the tree All of these photos except the top left were taken in the morning at Sossusvlei, the area 60 kms down the road from Sossus Dune Lodge. Top Left is near Dune 45, which is 45 Kms down the road from Sossus Dune Lodge and the entrance to the park. 4. Desert horses of Aus. (The only “wild” feral horses on the African continent are in Namibia). Garub Waterhole, 20 kms from Aus 5. Meerkats. Meerkats at Rostock Ritz 6. Rhino, and with luck maybe even rhino at a waterhole. Luck was with me at Moringa Waterhole, about a 10 minute walk from Halali Campground. Black rhino. 7. Nice scenery (Southern landscapes have the edge in scenery over Etosha region.) Near Rostock Ritz Lodge in Southern Namibia 8. Desert environments (Kalahari, Namtib Desert, Dunes) Oryx in Namtib Desert Red Hartebeest in Kalahari (Bagatelle) Oryx in Kalahari (Bagatelle) Black backed jackal behind small dune at Sossusvlei in sandstorm 9. In Okonjima tracking a cheetah on foot. (Morning and afternoon cheetah trackings were offered when I was there. Cheetah and leopard outings may alternate, so check in advance.) Very pregnant cheetah viewed on foot in Okonjima. She had just killed a kudu in a wooded area, in anticipation of eating before giving birth in this area protected by brush and trees. 10. Also in Okonjima, it is possible to see a porcupine at night, viewed from a blind next to a waterhole, which I was hoping to see. Mr. Porcupine showed up! Okonjima Hide After getting to Etosha, Guide Ian informed me that another goal had to be finding a white elephant. We found several. They are white due to the light color of the sand from the pans. "White Elephants" Near Okerfontein Waterhole in Namutoni "White Elephants" Near Okerfontein Waterhole in Namutoni These Top 10 are relatively easy, especially in the dry season--with the exception of the porcupine, which is seen on about half of the night hide visits. Rhino (Etosha population is about 30% White, 70% Black) are usually seen if a couple of days are spent in Etosha. Waterhole sightings of rhino at night at Okaukeujo (j is y sound like in Spanish) are fairly common and I saw about 6 rhinos and even witnessed interactions between them. Daytime waterhole sightings of rhino are not as common but I saw one at Moringa Waterhole at Halai Lodge and one at a distance at Nebrownii Waterhole in the Okaukeujo area. Meerkats can prove to be elusive, which was the case this trip. Black rhino near Nebrownii Waterhole in Okaukeujo area To be continued
  25. Just back from 3 weeks in Namibia. This was my fourth visit to this country that is blessed with jaw-dropping scenery, desert, plains and wetland wildlife and friendly people. I re-visited some favourite locations such as Swakopmund and Etosha as well as making a first trip to the Caprivi, a land of rivers and floodplains in the northeast of the country. Special sightings included Carmine Bee-eaters, sable and roan, wildlife action at Etosha's waterholes and flamingos at Walvis Bay. The full length Namibia trip report begins at post #38 in this trip report in the Botswana forum.

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