dlo

Namibia and Zambia 2015 - What could go wrong this time

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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 :huh: 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.

 

 

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@@dlo intriguing beginning - looking forward to it!

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f your picturescan do the talking they do all that's needed for me! Zambia and Namibia sounds like a great combination.

 

We has a Honda Civic in Namibia.... I can guess what those issues are going to be - my wife still hasn't forgiven me nearly 10 years on.

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@dio and @@pault what a relief to know that we were not the only people self-driving in Namibia in a 2 wheel drive saloon!-we had a Honda Ballade in 2000-but all the guide books -including the Brandt guide-and our then safari company we used said we would be fine. I still maintain that spending all night in a car in a dry river bed in Damaraland is fun! you both make me feel so much better. How about the cotton mud of Botswana in a mini?

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@@Towlersonsafari

 

That's the thing the guide books and our travel company say that you don't need a 4x4,and for a good part of the trip you don't. After a self inflicted bad start and the drive to Grootberg it's fine but that drive is rough. Etosha to Katima is good tarmac the whole way.

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Our long journey begins with 28 hours worth of flights and layovers to get to Johannesburg. I can't sleep on flights so this is the journey from hell, 11 hours Amsterdam to J-burg is a long time especially with a crazy man seated next to us with the shortest short shorts i have ever seen. I don't usually complain about security but Amsterdam takes it to another level. The guy in front of me and myself are pulled aside and patted down, well no big deal this the third flight in a row i've been patted down but these guys grab everything on both of us. The eye contact between us is priceless though and we bond about our shared experience.

 

post-48344-0-06532700-1441717945_thumb.jpg Leaving home it actually snowed 3 days later which is unbelievable in Maypost-48344-0-73888300-1441718120_thumb.jpg

 

We finally get to J-burg and being completely exhausted we take the shortest line through immigration which is of course for diplomats! A light scolding later they let us through and we walk through the airport to the City Lodge Hotel. My wife's food allergies are horrendous and other than a few snacks she brought from home she hasn't eaten much as she never got her special meals on our flights, so she eats a couple more of her 30 oatmeal packs she brought with her and we get to crash for 5 hours before our 6:40 flight to Windhoek.

 

post-48344-0-73103300-1441718749_thumb.jpg Breakfast at the Mugg and Bean.

 

I want to add that we met more people on this trip than all others combined and some were truly amazing. Mugg and Bean in the airport was a lifesaver for breakfast. There was a man sitting there who could see my wife looking under the weather and would not take no for an answer when he gave her his fruit for breakfast. You couldn't buy the fruit itself as it was his own and nothing else was open yet so it was a super nice gesture.It would actually be easier to list the things she isn't allergic to. We took the short flight to Windhoek and got our car from Bidvest, we couldn't get a sim card but the guy told us to grab one in Windhoek as there were network problems at the moment.

 

 

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After an early start we leave the airport around 9 and hop into our trusty VW polo for the approx 5 and a half hour drive to Swakopmund. My wife does all the driving and I do the navigating, as I have never driven a standard and she has only a few times this is mistake number one. The stick is also different than anything she has used so we get the pleasure of stalling about 25 times today :( The fun begins after kinda figuring out the stick with us of course leaving on the wrong side of the road (only time we did this so heh that's not to bad right?) stalling and waving the guy on our side of the road around us :) We are tired but we didn't want to waste a day in Windhoek so now we're on the highway to Swakop and we stutter into Windhoek itself to get water and a sim card but man do we suck. Panic is at an all time high and i don't know how we aren't rear ended as we stall on some hills a few times as we get a constant blare of horns at us. We just need to get out of here and we keep driving on the B2 which is paved the whole way when surprise the road takes a sudden turn to the right anw we are continuing on what is now the C28. The road is direct and shorter (wrong) so with Chris (my wife) rattled by car i say hey this is a direct route and Expert Africa doesn't know what their talking about (wrong again) we will stay on this road.

 

post-48344-0-86420500-1441751481_thumb.jpg The road to this point

 

Prediictably the road turns to gravel about 20 minutes later and even more predictably becomes the worst road we have ever driven on. We are the only car the entire day on this road with maybe 30 or 40 4X4's passing us.Lots of ups and downs with a few hills so severe we had to bad up and try them again with the gas to the floor and maybe doing 25. The one big benefit at one point is with no one around we stop and practice a little shifting and voila! she has it figured out and driving is a snap after this. Its at least 1 by now and we are still so far away and getting so thirsty with the heat that i'm thrilled when i see a vehicle parked on the side of the road. After emphatically exclaiming her to stop i go over to the South African couple who is coming from the opposite direction who's immediate advice is to turn around as we haven't even reached the worst parts yet. I ask if he's got a bottle of water as we are super thirsty and his wife is shocked at our terrible lack of preparedness, she brings us some food and 6 bottles of water and then tells her husband that of course we can make it. He promptly agrees with her and we decided to drive to the C32 and drive up to the B2. After an awful uphill twisting and turning section we get to the C32 and actually get the car up to 60 at times (hurrah)

 

post-48344-0-31064400-1441753045_thumb.jpg These horses and a few baboons is about our only wildlife today

 

Back on the B2 we have to race to beat the sunset and we pull into our only police checkpoint of the trip on the edge of Swakop. No problems here we now search for our hotel. We pull into Swakopmund Guesthouse but there is a problem with our reservations, they can't find it! Someone finally checks our voucher and of course we are staying at the Cornerstone Guesthouse :lol: What a couple of idiots we are. Fortunately the Cornerstone is right across the street and thanks to Robyn who helped us tremendously for the next 3 days we got sorted quickly. I had emailed some companies in Amsterdam so our activities were sorted and now all we needed to do was get some food. Robyn called a local restaurant to sort out any allergy problems and we decided to walk as it was only 10 minutes away.

 

This day definitely went wrong but as the South African couple told us think of it as an adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

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An adventure indeed! Off to a great start; looking forward to your stories, which will hopefully be more amusing for you in retrospect. I'm already smiling as I read the beginning.

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Posted (edited)

Ok well if this is Day 1 then I can't wait for the next 20 plus days of hilarity! What an opener! 😃😃

Edited by KathBC
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I don't take myself to seriously so i'm always laughing at my stories.

 

@@KathBC Thank you for the compliment, I promise a couple of more things to allow you to continue to laugh at my idiocy.

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Posted (edited)

This is hilarious!

 

We had two Nissan Tiidas (first one had to be replaced mid-trip) and while we never stalled, we did go the wrong direction in a roundabout once (Mark was driving but it was based on my advice so I don't know whose fault it is)! All other traffic came to a complete standstill. No one honked. They all politely waited til we were out of the roundabout :D

Edited by Patty
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Bless the South Africans who gave you not one but SIX bottles of water! And I loved the husband's quick reversal when his wife said of course they can make it ha ha!

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Well @dio you are much braver than us as we wimped out of driving an automatic for our latest trip as we thought that was a distraction too far-neither of us has ever driven one.And we don't have the problem of driving on the wrong side of the road-or of course I should say that we drive on the correct side of the road as does South Africa and Namibia!!!!

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Well, I am enjoying your trip so far!

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@@SafariChick

 

They were so nice and after just 5 minutes with them Chris had seemed so frazzled was a lot more relaxed.

 

@@Towlersonsafari

 

In retrospect it wasn't worth saving a few bucks to get a standard. The Canadian dollar went from 95 to 80 cents and killed our budget so we had to save where we could. I refused to drop South Luangwa for Chobe though which would have made a difference.

 

 

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Little did I know when i woke up today my actions would have such severe consequences in 2 days but I'm back in Africa happy and ready to go. After the longs flights and drive we wanted a relaxing day to start with so we decided to go on a morning boat cruise and 4X4ing in the afternoon. The morning was hugely annoying at first as after 3 days without my contacts I'm ready to put in my brand new pair.I pop in the first one but I think I've lost it as I can't see a thing. Nope its in my eye but its all blurry for me and after trying the second one I get the same thing! I didn't even know you could get bad contacts but mine are garbage and I'm stuck with glasses for 3 weeks. After a really good breakfast at Cornerstone (we loved Cornerstone and would absolutely return) Tomorrow's our big day in Swakopmund but even though I don't like boats ( I always get seasick) and don't have huge expectations for our desert drive i might get to see Dolphins for the first time and I'm looking forward to seals.

 

We hopped on a catamaran run by Laramon tours and it was actually pretty good. The bird life is prolific with many catching a ride on the boat as well as 1 seal who flagged us down for a ride and some fish on the buffet. Literally 15 minutes into the cruise our first dolphins, a pair of bottlenose dolphins and they even came fairly close for us. The day is a success. A little while later we also got the benguela dolphins and though they didn't get super close I'm pretty happy.

 

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post-48344-0-22006100-1441831260_thumb.jpgpost-48344-0-40974100-1441831285_thumb.jpg

 

post-48344-0-52307000-1441831328_thumb.jpg

 

post-48344-0-70396100-1441831384_thumb.jpg

 

post-48344-0-72866800-1441831429_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

post-48344-0-01812400-1441831606_thumb.jpg

 

post-48344-0-89182200-1441831654_thumb.jpg

 

It was a very chilly morning when we left so I threw on my hoodie and did NOT bring sunscreen. Of course it warms up and off goes the hood, no big deal right. Well 2 days before we left home i decide my rapidly receding hairline needs a trim and i take it right to the wood. Hey i don't have to worry about hair so its all good. Off we go on our 4X4 adventure in the afternoon and i notice a little burn on my arms but nothing crazy and I think nothing of it for 2 days ( we'll get back to this later but you won't believe what happens). The 4X4 is in a word fun. Beating all expectations we're flying over dunes like we're in a Dukes of Hazard episode (A really bad 80's show) even failing once and having to make a second run at it. Lots of tracks but few sightings we get out and burn our calves climbing to the top of one dune and are rewarded by just a ridiculous sand sea before our eyes. The most amazing thing to me was some guy actually fell asleep bashing around on the dunes. A really fun time for most we went for beers with a couple from Monaco afterwords comparing trips past and present and headed back for dinner in Swakopmund.

 

 

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post-48344-0-29348500-1441833102_thumb.jpg Our good captain he was quite entertaining

 

post-48344-0-75839500-1441833133_thumb.jpg Some people actually fell asleep later while bird dropping fell all around them

 

post-48344-0-92291900-1441833208_thumb.jpg My missus with her new friend

 

post-48344-0-33426600-1441833285_thumb.jpg Quite a big surprise

 

post-48344-0-21426400-1441833309_thumb.jpg The sand never ends

 

post-48344-0-44251200-1441833354_thumb.jpg No way could i get a decent picture in this thing

 

post-48344-0-83803800-1441833640_thumb.jpg Our chariot for the day

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The photo of the guy with the seal on his lap is priceless! Was he expecting that or was it a surprise?

 

When in Namibia last year I took a day tour to Sandwich Harbour where the 4x4 drives along the shore between the ocean and the dunes when the tide is out. It was one of the highlights of the trip - incredible!

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Wonderful pictures and not what I expected to see at the start of this report! At the risk of asking the obvious, how was that (marvelous) jellyfish photo taken?

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@@Marks

 

Chris has informed me that if you take enough pictures you're bound to get lucky sometime. She just started working on her photography skills this year so while I always think all our pictures are great there is a vast improvement this year. I'm really curious what kind of pictures you were expecting?

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@@dlo I'm not that familiar with Namibia, so looking at the camp list that you have at the outset, I wasn't expecting to see so much aquatic/coastal wildlife. In case I wasn't clear, it was an entirely pleasant surprise. :)

As for the jellyfish, I meant how it was physically taken... i.e., was the camera submerged? Was it that clear from the surface of the water?

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@@Marks

 

Its all good I was just curious what you were thinking. We went to Swakopmund for the activities. The Caprivi Strip in the north was basically all water activities as well. I love hippos so its not a complete safari without them, so I was glad to get north and see them again.

 

We were just puttering along in the boat and the jellyfish was literally a foot or 2 away and the water was very clear.

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Feeling rested and ready to go, nothing will actually go wrong today. We are going sandboarding and quad biking today with time for skydiving tomorrow before the drive to Damaraland. We head out with Desert Explorers and are the only ones who can manage to get up early for the morning trip. Racing around on the quads up the dunes is ridiculously fun and after an hour we are on top of some pretty big dunes to begin sandboarding. Chris gets a little bruised on the first run but after that we use both runs and have a great time. The climb up the dunes are brutal though and i would kill for a ski lift. Our guide Helmut is a super guy and decides I'm probably to good at this :) so he gives me a ungreased board, I'm eating sand seconds later as I'm not moving at all after a few feet. Another fun drive back to their office and we get to meet Zeus and Maxi, a couple of South American parrots.

 

We spend the afternoon shopping, eating and wandering around Swakopmund. All today's and some of the earlier pictures were cell phone pictures.

 

post-48344-0-82522600-1441850793_thumb.jpg Our home in Swakopmund

 

post-48344-0-17506200-1441850841_thumb.jpg Some quad bike tracks

 

post-48344-0-98862000-1441850886_thumb.jpg The long climb back for another 5 second run down!

 

post-48344-0-35027300-1441850927_thumb.jpg Maxi the parrot, Zeus did not like us.

 

post-48344-0-23338700-1441851049_thumb.jpg There were a couple of guys here who we had a good time joking around with

 

post-48344-0-35031600-1441851119_thumb.jpg Yes it was good pizza!

 

post-48344-0-53200900-1441851558_thumb.jpg This was the hill we failed on our first attempt.

 

post-48344-0-03054800-1441851597_thumb.jpg I still have to go that far!

 

post-48344-0-90845000-1441851874_thumb.jpg Chris loved this little set up.

 

So an early start tomorrow with the hope of good weather for skydiving and we have just enough time to drive to Twyfefontein as long as our car mishaps are behind us, we are ready for some safari time. Things definitely go wrong tomorrow.

 

 

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@@dlo

OK, you have finally trumped all my chances to ever rent anything else (cheaper) than a Hilux in Namibia! And sorry, I will never hire you as my navigator. Not because you have taken the C26, it is a beautiful road, but because once over the worst part, you have done a huge detour on C32 to B2!! You see, is using a local agent (our was Discover Namibia) an excellent road map with highlighted route and some turn-by-turn written directions would be part of your welcome package.

No huge lens?! And how did you manage to get those great close-up portraits? Lovely photos!

I am so glad my wife is not into sand boarding :) as it looks to be hot on the dune! And poor you, without a hat, I can already imagine the colour of your temple the next day :o !

BTW, your trip report came just on time, to give a proper start to next (2017) trip to Namibia. Looking forward for more great stories.

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@@xelas

 

Thanks for the compliments. You're first report helped me to plan this trip and you're encouragement to write this are why I'm doing it. We had a decent map but that turn came up fast, I would definitely use a Tracks 4 Africa map next time. When I got sunburned I took my hoodie AND hat off. I must have noticed something and then I kinda just forgot to put it back on, stupid me.

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