Wild Dogger

Desert scenery & survival artists

61 posts in this topic

The original itinerary was:
23 - 25 NOV 15 Okaukuejo, Etosha
25 - 28 NOC 15 Desert Rhino Camp, Damaraland
28 NOV - 1 DEC 15 Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

1 - 2 DEC 15 Okonjima Plains Camp (Africat Foundation)

 

It was booked with African Travel Ressource.

 

Unfortunately we received 14 days before we left the information, that the Desert Rhino Camp was booked for the first night although we had it confirmed by Wilderness Safaris.

Instead we stayed the first night at Doro !Nawas, before flying to Desert Rhino Camp.

 

We did not expect to see a lot of animals besides our stay at Etosha.
It was more a trip mainly to see the beauty of the arid Northwestern part of Namibia.

 

We flew business from Frankfurt to Windhoek with Air Namibia. The price was good and I was happy not to think about overweight hand luggage.

 

In Windhoek a representative of Wilderness met us and gave us the necessary information before we picked up our car to head north to Okaukuejo Camp in Etosha.

 

Having stayed there 3 times already we knew what to expect.

 

I like the Etosha very much. It is easy game viewing on the waterholes with less traffic than in Kruger NP for example.

 

We arrived in the afternoon and were to tired to go out on a drive and relaxed for the rest of the day.

At night we went to the waterhole and saw 5 black rhinos.

At the restcamps at Etosha nowadays you can´t do self catering anymore. There are no cooking facilities. You have to go to their restaurant, which offers buffet food for a reasonable price.
Main downside is their breakfast times. It starts at 6, at the same time when the gates open, and ends at 9. For serious safari goers really strange.

In the morning we just crabbed some cookies and bread, had a quick coffee and off we were for the rest of the morning.

 

We just cruised from waterhole to waterhole and had some good sightings.

 

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Black backed Jackal and puppy

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At Nebrownii waterhole we saw our first lions lying there.
Springbok and Oryx were watching the scene from a safe distance.

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Secretary bird

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Red Hartebeest

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We arrived at Aus waterhole, when a group of Kudu was walking in.
Claudia said, let´s just wait here and have a coffee and our toasts. We busy watched the waterhole
A few minutes later, she said: „Hey, Thomas, look there at the edge of the car park. Is that a leopard?“
And it was a young one. We were so busy watching the scenery on the waterhole 100 meters away, that we did not see that cat just 5 meters away.

 

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We never expected to see a Leopard. This was the first magic moment of our Namibia trip.

 

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We even had to show the cat to other cars arriving as they all just had their focus on the waterhole.

 

On our way back to Okaukuejo we stopped again a t Nebrownii.
What a scene! While the lions were gone, hundreds of Sprinbok arrived at the waterhole accompanied by Oryx, Zebra and Ostriches. A migration like scene!

 

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There are also Elephants ;)

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and Giraffe

 

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This was a great drive in the morning.

 

In the afternoon we decided to go to Aus again, but the leopard was gone and had left the place for a mating pair of lions.

Etosha is a great place!

 

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The antelopes have left Nebrownii waterhole, the jackals took over.

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Before dinner at the waterhole a group of Giraffes have arrived.

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After dinner the rhinos are back again.

 

We will do a short drive tomorrow morning before we proceed to the west for our desert adventure.

 

Stay tuned!

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Fantastic sightings and magnificent shots, Thomas - like always! Love the Jackal pup especially, the expression in the first Leopard pic and the first waterhole and herds shot - wonderful!

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Fantastic start, Thomas - I've seen a few photos on your FB page so I really look forward to the rest of this report.

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The number of game animals at the water holes in Etosha is quite amazing. @penlova, in her trip report from their stay at around the same time, mentioned that the numbers were exceptional this year. Did you have an opportunity to obtain any insight in that regard?

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PS - I really really hope this report doesn't get lost in the forum as a result of a lot of redundant/out dated threads being topped up in a heap!

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@@madaboutcheetah bookmark it! click the "follow this topic" above and it notifies you when something is updated in this thread. I'd forgotten to mention this to you.

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@@Wild Dogger beautiful photos. the springbok are incredibly unique. love that shot when they are running, kicking up the dust in front of the oryx.

 

what a great sighting of that leopard, though it looks thin.

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This morning, we decide to go out early and come back to breakfast shortly before the restaurant closes.

We go West. We want to reach an area called Märchenwald. It is a boring drive to that place, no waterholes, just some Giraffes.

 

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Unfortunately we are running out of time, so we turn back via the Okondeka waterhole.
Lots of Wildebeest, Sprinbok and Oryxes crowd this place.

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After breakfast we quickly pack our stuff and leave the Etosha NP for our desert „adventure“. It´s almost 500km to get to Doro !Nawas.

 

We arrive at the Doro !Nawas Camp right in time for lunch.

 

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It is extremely hot with temperature around 45 ° Celsius. We get an idea of what to expect the next 6 days.

The camp is operated by Wilderness Safaris and serves together with the airstrip as Wildernesses hub for Northwestern Namibia. The camp comprises of 18 houses and is also used by „normal“ travellers.

We will leave our car here for the next 6 days when we´ll be flying to the remote camps further north tomorrow.
Activities are not included. They offer half and full day game drives as well as excursions to Twyfelfountain and the Petrified Forests nearby.
We got one free activity due to the booking issue and went on an afternoon game drive in search of the Desert-adapted Elephants in the dry Huab riverbed.

 

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In the afternoon a strong wind is building up, a sand storm.

 

On our drive we reach a little settlement in the Nowhere.
Some cows and goats, that`s it. Strange, how people can live here, we think.

 

It takes a while, but then we find the elephants!

They are busy walking in the river bed.

 

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It´s maybe the best elephant encounter I had in all my safaris!

 

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I was able, to get the shots I was looking for.

 

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We travel alongside the ellies.

 

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This little calf is afraid of us and turns his tals and runs in safe distance.
We get closer again and the junior is still crazy.

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Than we get a radio call, that another Wilderness vehicle has found the lions!
Wow, what good luck on this first evening in the desert!

 

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I am happy, that our travel plans had changed lately. They changed for good!

 

Due to the sand storm we go back in time to have the sundowner on the deck of the Camp.

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What an adorable jackal pup. You've already seen a good share of those survival artists. Great inclusion in your title. Waterholes are hoppin' for you. You're reporting on an area of great interest to me! Wonderful start.

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@@Wild Dogger I totally agree that Etosha is a great place!

 

I am following your TR closely as I have plans to vist the area west of Etosha on my next safari. Beautiful sequence of ele photos and I like the photo of the lions dwarfed by the high cliffs.

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@@Wild Dogger

What wonderful sightings and your photos are superb.

Another vote for the jackal cub - so cute

The variety of animals at the waterhole is amazing.

Excellent photos of the desert elephants

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Great sightings - and wonderful photos as always - but I have to confess the jackal cub has stolen my heart!

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Just to mention the camps in Etosha do an excellent packed breakfast so no need to delay your morning game drives. Pen

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@@Wild Dogger

 

Absolutely stunning photography, both for IQ and for composition! The one of the ellie reaching for the leaves, monochromatic is adding so much to the feeling of the arid environment where it has been taken.

 

Also noticed many of close-ups done with 300mm on a FF body; were animals closer or have you done some serious cropping?? (mainly first batch of Okakuejo photos).

 

Looking forward to enjoy the rest of your days in Namibia. As for the 45 degrees Centigrades, how did you fight against it?

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PS - I really really hope this report doesn't get lost in the forum as a result of a lot of redundant/out dated threads being topped up in a heap!

I agree with @@madaboutcheetah. When you make the effort to do an up to date trip report and then someone comments on a TR from 2,3 or even 4 years ago and it goes to the top of the country list it's very disheartening.

 

I know you can 'follow' a TR but that's not quite the point.

 

Some old TR have out of date information included, roads have been built, lodges changed hands, park rules changed etc. They are still of value to read of course but maybe comment, at this late stage, in a pm to the author. Pen

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Just to mention the camps in Etosha do an excellent packed breakfast so no need to delay your morning game drives. Pen

Thanks for the information, I did not know that.

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@@Wild Dogger

 

Absolutely stunning photography, both for IQ and for composition! The one of the ellie reaching for the leaves, monochromatic is adding so much to the feeling of the arid environment where it has been taken.

 

Also noticed many of close-ups done with 300mm on a FF body; were animals closer or have you done some serious cropping?? (mainly first batch of Okakuejo photos).

 

Looking forward to enjoy the rest of your days in Namibia. As for the 45 degrees Centigrades, how did you fight against it?

 

You really get close to the animals. They are used to cars and not at all skittish.

 

Nonetheless most pictures are cropped more or less. Mainly for composition purposes. Cropping is for me the substituation for not being able to zoom. ;)

The yawning Leopard is cropped a bit more as well as the little jackal and the playing jackals. Luckily the IQ of the 5d and the 300 2.8 allow a still good IQ also on cropped pics.

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Posted (edited)

26.11.2015

 

We are scheduled to fly from Doro !Nawas to the Desert Rhino Camp, North Damaraland, in the late morning.

We are able to sleep out. Luckily the night was not so hot, that´s the desert.
The Doro !Nawas Camp is build on top of a little mountain and the silhouette reminds of the surrounding mountains.
The silhouette also reminded me a lot at the saloon in the movie "From Dusk til Dawn" with George Clooney.
Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of it.

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Doro !Nawas Camp

 

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View from our house

 

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The storm has also stopped although we were told, that he most likely will be back in the afternoon.

And the temperatures have dropped significantly! It´s time to breathe again.

 

We fly over the beautiful Etendeka Mountains (I think, that´s their name),

 

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stopping at the Damaraland Camp, where we pick up some more guests.
It is a group of tour operators.

 

After arrival we are welcomed by our guide. It´s a 30 minute drive to the beautiful Desert Rhino Camp.

 

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Desert Rhino Camp lies amongst rolling, rocky hills of the 450 000-hectare Palmwag Concession.
The camp works closely together with the Save the Rhino Trust.

 

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The Camp looks a lot like the Little Makololo Camp in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

 

We were told, that we would make a sundowner drive in the late afternoon with other guests who would arrive later.

The other couple, dutch/german, then decided not to come, because they had a long way to travel here and were a bit tired.

 

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After a while we again find some elephants in the river bed.

 

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Our guide says that these guys are a bit more aggressive than those in the Huab river area.

Nonetheless we go close.

 

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After this sighting we enjoy our sundowner in this beautiful rocky area.

Say "Hi" to my better half Claudia :rolleyes:

 

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The landscape is totally different to the one at Doro !Nawas.

 

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While it was very sandy there, here it is rocky.

 

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Before dinner we get a briefing for the upcoming tracking of desert-adapted Black Rhino tomorrow.

There will be 3 guys who will try to find a Rhino. They will have a head start of 30 minutes and stay in touch with our guide.

We are only allowed to track one rhino on foot. If we are lucky, we can get up to 100 meters to this animal. They have very strict rules comparable maybe roughly with Gorilla tracking.

The concession is devided into 6 sectors. Everyday they use another sector. Therefor they don´t stress the single animal too much.

At the dinner table we enjoy the best of namibian hospitality.
All of the staff and even the food are amongst the best you can imagine in a place like this. They identify completely with their camp and especially the Black Rhino. They realize and appreciate that this animal is the one who gives them work in this ecology of hostile land environments. There is nothing to grow here, no food for life stock.

 

After a beautiful namibian day we go to bed and are excited about the adventure to come.

Edited by Wild Dogger
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Hi, Claudia! :)

 

Stunning vistas! Looking forward to the Rhino trek.

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Hi Claudia! Cin cin!! :)

 

Beautiful landscapes, indeed. And the aerial shots are so detailed.

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Wonderful aerial photos (& the rest of course )

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Magnificent beauty lies in namibia. ..stunning scenery with plenty of wildlife

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Posted (edited)

27.11.2015

Well, that was a cold night! Desert at its best.
Yesterday it was already about 10 °C cooler than in Doro !Nawas, but today it seems to stay fresh.

We are scheduled to leave for our Rhino adventure at 6.
The trackers are not ready in time and they need an headstart of 30 minutes.

So we start 20 minutes delayed. Not a big thing, if we find what we are looking for (I always say „we find“, but in case we „let find for us“).

Hopefully they find a Rhino for us and hopefully it is one with full horns.
Lot of the rhinos in the concession have the horns cut off to prevent them to be poached.
I don´t know, if this precaution still works. I heard from reports that the poachers also kill these animals. They don´t want to track that animal again „for nothing“.

 

We slowly proceed and enjoy the great scenery.

 

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Selfie :P

 

 

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poisonous Euphorbia

 

 

 

 

There´s not much animals beside the obvious Oryx.

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We see some Giraffe and Elephants far away in the riverbed.

We pass the Southern Cross.

 

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Still no signs of Black Rhino.

 

We have a short coffee break on top of a mountain and enjoy the view. It is still cool.

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In the far distance you can see the fog over the Skeleton Coast.

 

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Our guide sees some Rhino tracks but they seem not to be fresh.

 

Then the desired call: Rhino has been sighted!

 

We still have to drive 10 minutes until we see the vehicle of the trackers.
One of the trackers is waiting for us while the two others are following the rhino on foot.

We still have to drive on rocky ground until we see the other trackers.

But where is the rhino?

We leave the car and walk up the hill to the trackers.
We still don´t see the prehistoric animal.

 

Reaching the trackers they point out a big Euphorbia bush and we see a big grey back.
R H I N O !

 

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The animal is far away, maybe 300 meters.

Our guide reminds me to take pictures as it might be the closest we´ll get.
Oh my gosh, hopefully not.

 

Then the rhino with two big horns comes out of the poisonous bushes!

 

 

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Black Rhino is one of only two animals which can feed on this plant without any harm.

It returns back into the poisonous bush.

Oh no, come back!!!!

 

The mother just picked her calf up and now the show can begin.

They slowly trot towards us and come closer and closer.

 

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Life is good!

 

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I shoot.

 

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The guide uses my spare camery and shoots me.

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And I shoot

 

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not realizing that the animals are getting maybe too close for comfort.

 

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That happens often to me, when I photograph something I am excited about.
The bad thing about that is, that I also forget to check my camera settings.

Luckily, there are the trackers around. Before the animals get too close,
they clap in their hands.

and off they go.

 

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What a sighting, what a thrill!!!!!

 

All of us are happy. This was, why we came here and we were not disappointed. This for sure was the highlight of our trip.

 

The disappointment came later, when I checked the pictures. None of them were as sharp as I supposed them to be.
Something went wrong.
It must have been a mixture between my inability, the use of the 2 x teleconverter and the atmospheric conditions (although it was not hot).

Everything was set for the perfect Rhino picture, mother & calf walking towards me in a beautiful surrounding.

At home I did my best to get something out of the pictures and it was not as bad as I thought it would be.

 

After this great experience we go back to our car, ready for picnic lunch in the desert.

On our way to the Picnic area we see in the far, far distance 2 more Black Rhino, again a mother with a tiny little calf.

 

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These two pictures are heavily cropped. The rhinos ere on that mountain, unreachable for us.

 

We see some Oryxes and Hartmann´s Mountain Zebras, but the sun is already too high for a decent picture.

 

There is also water in the desert.

 

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On our way back to Camp we step over a little group of Elephants and some Giraffes.

 

Beautiful Desert Rhino Camp

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Sundowner at Camp with Nancy McDaniel who will go with us to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp the next day.

 

At dinner the staff dances and sings for us.
Another great Namibian day is history.

 

The next day we will make a short nature walk before leaving to Hoanib.

Edited by Wild Dogger
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@@Wild Dogger I think you are being too hard on yourself - they look very good on my iPad....

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These photos are simply outstanding!!!

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