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Jaycees2012 posted a topic in NamibiaI largely wrote this trip report shortly after we got back – however due to having a really bad year it got put on hold. However things are calming down and we have finally got a bit more back on track – so here is our trip report for Southern Namibia September/October 2016. Wednesday 28th September It is four o clock in the afternoon and I’ve been in work since quarter to eight this morning – so now I can put the out of office on, turn the phone to voicemail and lock the laptop in the cupboard. I grab the bag carrying my travelling clothes and get changed in the ladies room before waving goodbye to my colleagues. That’s it, no more work for three whole lovely weeks – I’ve a tube to catch to Hatton Garden where I meet J and then we head off to Heathrow to catch our South African flight to Johannesburg. Thursday 29th September It’s an overnight flight from Heathrow, arriving around nine in the morning, and we head off through transit – only to come to a grinding halt. Johannesburg airport are carrying out some new biometric procedures which mean that (like the USA) they are taking photos and fingerprints – and it is slow; slow, and even slower. The queue is barely moving at all – they actually have someone walking down the line pulling out those who have transit times close to departure and moving them up to try and get them through quicker, but it’s making the rest of the queue move even slower. We have nearly four hours for transit and are actually grateful for the long transfer. It takes over an hour to get through the queue. We still have nearly three hours left so we head to the business lounge and pay our entry fee, and settle down to have a wash up in the bathrooms and a nice meal, before heading off to catch our flight up to Windhoek. So finally we get to Windhoek - about three pm. We head to the Avis desk in the airport to pick up our car. We hand over our paperwork and J signs all the various paperwork (in blood) – confirms that we have a second spare tyre (pre-paid for), and that we need a letter to take the car across the South African border. (They seem to have forgotten the letter but once reminded they prepare it immediately without any argument – so no problems.) We were expecting a Toyota Hilux, but are told that we have been upgraded to a Toyota Fortuner. The car, which was South African registered was almost new, there was 14840 kilometres on the clock, and in fact it was a new model which had only been released fairly recently (according to various people we ran into). Even so it already had one small-ish ding, and a number of other little issues on the paintwork. We made sure that all of the marks were annotated on the documentation and also took a number of photos so that everyone was clear what condition we collected the car in. We had to chase the second spare tyre and as it was not brand new took photos of that as well. We checked that we had a jack – roads in Namiba are notorious for eating tyres – and indeed there was one – but dear lord it looked pathetic when you consider the size and weight of the vehicle. We hoped we wouldn’t need to use it often. Then we headed off out of Windhoek airport and down towards the city, and our first night’s accommodation at The Olive Grove. The Olive Grove is a pretty little hotel, with secured parking, and a nice little patio area with a small plunge pool. We are allocated room 10 which is down on the ground floor. We repack the bags for the actual holiday (rather than airport travel), and then decide we will go out for dinner. The last time we were in Namibia, just over three years ago we arrived into Windhoek a lot earlier in the day, did not stop in Windhoek – and therefore did not have a chance to go to the famous “Joe’s Beer House”. The Olive Grove is fairly close so we booked a taxi and headed off to see if it could possibly live up to its reputation. It does. The place is amazing. On a Thursday night it is packed. It is a largely outdoor restaurant, although most of the tables are covered by thatched umbrellas. It is lit with candles and lanterns and buzzes with the energy in the place. We sat at the bar while waiting for a table and chatted briefly with another couple who had just finished their tour. Within five minutes we were seated at a big round table with a number of other people, mostly German, but also with a group who were working in Namibia. We chatted about the roads, and some suggestions for things to do whilst we ate. I had a beautiful Gemsbok steak (the only complaint was that there was a bit too much meat) whilst J had the Jaegerscnitzel. Joe’s has a reputation as a great place to go before and after safari – and it is certainly a well-deserved reputation. It’s also reasonably priced - our meal and drinks came to less than N$350. Back at the Olive Grove we tumbled into bed – exhausted from lack of sleep but excited for the real start of the trip tomorrow.
Prologue Our first trip to »black Africa, to Namibia in 2014, impressed us deeply, and as written in our previous TR (http://tinyurl.com/q9u7lrm ) we have made plans to return already while flying from Windhoek to Johannesburg, on our way back home. Making of the itinerary was easy enough; returning to Namibia, to see and experience/explore the other part of it, south. To add the wildlife component, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was also an obvious choice, specially after reading so many great TR here. There was some minor changes during the following months but final itinerary was very similar to our initial ideas. Here it is: Apr 17 flight MUC-JNB-WDH Apr 18 arrival WDH, transfer to Villa Violet, afternoon guided tour of Windhoek Apr 19 pick up the rental car, driving to Barchan Dune Retreat Apr 20 driving to Sossus Dune Lodge via Solitaire Apr 21 driving to Namtib Desert Lodge via D707 Apr 22 driving to Fish River Lodge Apr 23 driving to Mesosaurus Fossil Camp Apr 24 driving to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kalahari Tented Camp Apr 25 game drive Auob riverbed, Kalahari Tented Camp Apr 26 game drive Auob riverbed, driving to Nossob Camp Apr 27 driving to !Xaus Lodge Apr 28 driving to Twee Rivieren Camp Apr 29 game drive Nossob riverbed, Twee Rivieren Camp Apr 30 driving to Kalahari Farmstall May 1 driving to Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch May 2 driving to Windhoek, Villa Violet May 3 flight WDH-JNB-MUC All bookings were made by Discover Namibia, mrs.Gemma Dry again did her job perfectly. The rental car company and the car itself were the same as last year; a Toyota Hilux Double Cab with 2 spare tires and Engel fridge, from Advanced Car Hire. As we have had some unpleasant experiences flying last year with Qatar Airways, we have decided to use South African Airways for this trip. There were some more affordable options, both pricewise and logistically, yet none of those other airlines allowed us to book the complete trip, to Windhoek. With SAA this was possible. The »price« we paid for that was a 5-hour car drive from Ljubljana to Munich. That should be a pleasant drive through Austrian mountains ... if not for the heavy rain. The flight itself was OK, and on time. Our photo equipment was even larger then last trip; this is what we used: Nikon D610 & D7100 bodies, AF-S 20mm f/1.8 ultrawide lens, AF-S 16-85VR DX zoom, AF-S 70-200mm f/4 zoom and AF-S 300mm f/4D telephoto lens, with TC1.4 attached. Sony RX100II for my pleasure, interiors and videos. A tripod and a bean bag. With enough SD cards to last for 10.000+ RAW images (9100 was the end result, splitted D610 – 3300, D7100 – 4800, RX100 – 1000). During our 14 days/15 nights trip we have covered 3150 km, and consumed 270 l of diesel fuel. Majority on gravel roads, and we have absorbed also our first proper 4x4 sand trail drive, without problems. No tyre, windscreen, or other part of the vehicle was damaged during the making of this road trip.
1) Name of property and country: Canon Lodge, Fish River Canyon, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www2.fishriverlodge.com.na 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Low/Green season, March, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I read about this property on TA and we wanted to see the canyon. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research and then contacted Discover Namibia who arranged everything. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 4 times 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? A more modern version of Grootberg Lodge. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, but there wasn’t too much around to be worried about. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 9 cabins 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had amazing views from each cabin. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were large, comfortable, well furnished and clean. Unfortunately the wind was incredibly and sleep depriving. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was ok. Great food for all the meals 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? Very good, plenty of fresh food. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open air with a canvas roof. 19) How many guests per row? 2 guests 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Self guided walks, full day canyon drives and half day safari drives. 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? Very quiet and remote. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 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. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings. Antelopes 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent guide 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: 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were very happy and helpful. 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: Just like everyone else we too were thankful we had a 4WD after completing the last 19km to the lodge but that pales in comparison when you walk through the doors and see the view. The staff, facilities and rooms are fantastic at Fish River. The only downside is the horrific and sleep depriving wind that we endured the first night. We took a day trip down to the canyon floor which was hard work but amazing and very scary during certain stages. I am yet to edit the film footage we took from our GoPros which I am sure still won't show how incredible some of the drive is. Our guide was unbelievable and a very safe driver. The food was delicious and it was so nice to see all the staff entertaining everyone with their amazing singing/dancing during our meal. This was well appreciated. 2 nights is fine for a stay but be prepared for the wind and use the ear plugs. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
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