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  1. I 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.

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