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Fischwife

Namibia - Are We SOL? Other options?

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Edited to say that, of course, that should read "Are We SOL". Can't see a way to edit the subject line.

After spending some time researching, browsing these forums, looking at travel books, reading reviews, etc., my husband and I (well, mostly I, as I'm the trip planner in the family) made a decision for our first (and probably only) trip to Africa. (Yes, I know some of you will say we will want to return, and that may be true, but given our age and stage of life, it's not likely.)

We decided to do a 10-12 day tour of Namibia, including Soussusvlei, Damaraland, Swapkomund, and Etosha. We don't want to do self-drive, and I decided I would be most comfortable with lodges or permanent tented camps (but preferably lodges). I made a spreadsheet comparing a few small-group safaris (8 ppl or less), finally narrowing it down to a couple of top choices. Well, it turns out that these choices are fully booked until late October. We wanted to travel sometime between the beginning of May and the end of September.

So, it seems as if we may be out of luck for Namibia, and we are again considering other options.

  • Wildlife viewing and scenery are our top priorities. I love taking pictures. We may also be interested in indigenous culture. We aren't particularly interested in cities or beaches for this trip.
  • We would like to stay under $4200 Canadian (3200 US or 300 Euro) per person, excluding flights to Africa.
  • Our top choice is Namibia, but we would also be interested in Botswana and would consider Tanzania or South Africa.
  • Our time is fairly flexible, but we'd prefer to travel during dry season/winter, and if we can manage a somewhat less busy time (i.e. just before or just after peak season), so much the better.
  • As mentioned, I prefer lodges but would not completely rule out camps (the kind with real beds, though). I'm kind of a baby when it comes to camping, insects, etc., but I realize that in Africa, I might have to pull up my big girl pants. We aren't really fussy about luxury. (We like it, and that would be nice, but we don't necessarily expect it or want to pay through the nose for it.) We laugh at reviews where people complain about not having the right brand of tea or lack of wifi in the room or post a picture of a little hole in a sofa, when they are in the middle of the bush. We aren't that unrealistic. However, I don't want to sleep on the ground, and I probably wouldn't sleep well if there were, say, scorpions or venomous snakes in the room (as in a couple of reviews I've read). Part of the appeal of Namibia is that it is supposedly less buggy in dry season than some more tropical locations. My brother went there in September a few years ago and loved it, and said he was surprised by the lack of bugs at that time.
  • Our ideal itinerary would have us staying at least two nights in most places. Some Namibia itineraries I've seen change accommodations every night, and while these cover a lot of ground, I think that would wear rather thin. Living in Western Canada, it is nothing to us to drive for hours to get someplace, but I don't want to travel for hours every single day, unless it is on game or sightseeing drives. I also have zero interest in visiting wine country in South Africa. (I don't like wine, and, anyway, we often holiday in the Okanagan in Canada, which is a wine producing region.) I mention this, because many of the tours I've seen in South Africa include two or three days in the winelands.

    If you have experience or ideas regarding a trip that you think might appeal to me, based on what I've told you, I am interested in your suggestions.

    Thanks!
Edited by Fischwife

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Perhaps you are not SOL!

 

· Wildlife viewing and scenery are our top priorities. I love taking pictures. We may also be interested in indigenous culture. We aren't particularly interested in cities or beaches for this trip.

Most safari locales.

 

· We would like to stay under $4200 Canadian (3200 US or 300 Euro) per person, excluding flights to Africa.

For 10-12 days. That can be a tough price to match. There are some Namibia options below that fall in that range.

 

Check out some of these Lion World Travel itineraries and costs. Lion World is in Canada. I have known people to go with them and have a great time. I have never used Lion World.

https://www.lionworldtravel.com/safaris/specials

· Our top choice is Namibia, but we would also be interested in Botswana and would consider Tanzania or South Africa.

Botswana might be out of the price range. Escorted South Africa trips in that price range tend to focus on vineyards, cities, which you mentioned are not your interest.

 

Check out these AAC trips to Namibia in your price range

http://www.africa-adventure.com/safaris-items/11-day-diverse-namibia

http://www.africa-adventure.com/safaris-items/12-day-ultimate-namibian-safari

While I have never gone to Namibia with AAC, I have traveled many times with them—all great trips.

 

Check out Wild Dog Safaris to Namibia in your price range. This company specializes in Namibia and I’ve used them twice in the last few years—both great trips.

http://www.wilddog-safaris.com/safaris/namibian-experience-accommodated/

http://www.wilddog-safaris.com/safaris/game-deep-south-accommodated/

http://www.wilddog-safaris.com/safaris/namibian-explorer-accommodated/

 

 

 

· Our time is fairly flexible, but we'd prefer to travel during dry season/winter, and if we can manage a somewhat less busy time (i.e. just before or just after peak season), so much the better.

The above Namibia departures offer quite a few different dates.

 

Good luck with your new plans

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I agree, with the kind of money you're wanting to spend and the level of "luxury" you are expecting, Namibia and South Africa seem like the only feasible option

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@@Fischwife Title sorted for you. :)

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@@Fischwife

 

I can relate (not easy) to the part of not willing to drive yourself. But if any country I have been self-driving so far then Namibia is the one to start practising this option. Roads are wide and empty. Driving speeds are low. You can do exactly the itinerary you want to do, at your pace. And the cost, for the upcoming 23 days in Namibia, with 10 days in lodges, three persons, our budget is 4000 USD!! I don't think any other country (except South Africa) can beat that.

 

With 6400 USD, I am quite sure you will be able to hire a car&driver for 12 days. More of a problem will be getting rooms inside Etosha, yet with a driver staying outside of the park (like close to the Anderson Gate) is a feasible option. You should contact companies mentioned by Atravelynn, or any of the local travel guides. Me (and a couple of other ST members) have been very happy with services given by mrs.Gemma Dry, Discover Namibia.

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Thank you for the replies, assistance, and suggestions. :)

I will check out the options you've linked to, Atravelynn. I've seen one of them before, but not the others.

xelas, I realize that self-drive is supposed to be a good option in Namibia; it's what my brother did, but it is not a good option for us. Neither my husband nor I want to do this. We wouldn't enjoy it at all, and we aren't comfortable with trying to drive on the "wrong" side of the road or possibly dealing with vehicle malfunctions in an isolated area, etc. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

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I hear you on the self drive. I think it is a wonderful option that saves money and allows you to be completely in control, but I also know it is not for me if I want to maximize my enjoyment on a safari.

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You could go direct to Cardboard Box in Namibia. They are able to put together a trip based on your price and have all the information on all the accommodation on their website. You could also try Africa Travel Resource as they break down costs for you so you see exactly what your are paying for. Might help put things into perspective. Namibia and South Africa are going to be the best options for your budget. Have travelled extensively in both and we are in the 'well over 60' age group! Pen

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Update. We are going to Namibia in mid-June!!!! I am beyond excited and a little bit nervous.

I ended up booking a privately guided tour that includes Bagatelle/Kalahari (1 night), Soussusvlei (2 nights), Twyfelfontein (2 nights), Swakopmund (2 nights), Etosha (2 nights) and Erindi (2 nights). Based on our guide's recommendation, we are not spending the night in Windhoek on either end, so as to maximize our time in the other locations, instead. Our flight times have been booked to accommodate this. This might be a bit of a challenge on our first day, as we fly overnight from Frankfurt to Jburg (from where we transfer to Windhoek), and then from there, our guide takes us to Bagatelle, but we will have spent three nights in Frankfurt beforehand to adjust somewhat to the time difference. Hopefully we can get a bit of sleep on the flight to Jburg, at least.

We are paying a bit more than I'd hoped, but we are also staying in nicer places than I was expecting, and with a private guide, we will have more control of our time and activities, so it will be worth it, I think.

Thank you so much, everyone, for all your replies and suggestions. It was the information I received here that helped me to find a tour in June. I'm sure I'll be posting again with more questions.

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That is a great news, @@Fischwife . Swakopmund is probably after Sossusvlei?? For such a short time you will cover a lot of Namibia, luckily you will have your own drive. If you will stay inside Sossusvlei (Sossus Dune Lodge) do use their pre-sunrise tour to reach Deadvlei. In Swakopmund, we have enjoyed 4x4 tour to Sandwich Harbour, and the Living Desert tour with Batis Birding; others recommend kayaking with seals. Anyway, you will enjoy your (first) trip to Namibia.

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Unfortunately, we will not be staying at Sossus Dune Lodge. That was my first choice, and the tours I tried to book included that lodge. I think that was a major limiting factor in being able to book the tours I initially wanted, because my understanding is that there are not many accommodation units in that lodge, and it is very popular. However, we will be staying at Soussusvlei Lodge right near the main gate, so we should be able to get a pretty early start, although not as early as inside the park, of course. Our own guide will drive us, which is nice, because then we can spend as much time as suits us and maybe even go back late afternoon, if we wish. We are going to go on a cruise at Swakopmund and do a scenic flight. I've heard the Living Desert tour is good, too. I'll have to see if we'll have time.

Thanks.

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My wife and I self drove some of Namibia in June last year for two weeks and also did a short 4 day private tour to Sossusvlei/Swakopmund. Your itinerary will give you a reasonably good Namibian experience - Erindi is very good - game drives there are well organised and some nice action around the lodge - Wild Dogs a good chance at Erindi. Personally 2 days only in Etosha is way too thin for my liking - we spent 6 nights and would have easily stayed more! We saw Leopards, Cheetah, Lions, Hyena, and much much more at Etosha. Good move not to stay in Windhoek - nothing really to see or do. You will love Namibia - wide open spaces - some wonderful scenery and amazing wildlife - hopefully your guide provides full days in Etosha - moving between camps and visiting multiple waterholes is the way to go. Have a great trip! We did!

 

David T

Australia

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My blog will be finished by the time you go but for advance info:-.

Do consider the Living Desert half day tour, it was the highlight of our trip. 700NR pp.

The Sandwich Harbour tour combined with the catamaran trip was 1800NR pp and was OK. The boat was informative and also featured trained but still wild pelicans and seals coming on the boat for fish. The drive in the dunes was exciting on occasion but too long. 110kms in sand in total.

If you are on a limited budget you might find scenic flights one to reconsider. a 2 hour flight was 4000NR pp. We decided against it.

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Your new plan looks good too.

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