Jaycees2012

Southern Namibia – A Great Trip – But We Miss the Elephants

56 posts in this topic

On 12/5/2017 at 5:33 PM, colbol said:

Great travel story so far am really enjoying this, Fish River Canyon and Orange river pic's are sweet.

The interaction with the klipspringers is something special in my mind, they are are an animal that intriques me and i have only seen them once before,thanks guys for sharing. 

 

The Klipspringers were a real bonus, even when we shuddered to a very abrupt (and dusty) stop having not expected to see them next to the road, they carried on calmly posing seemingly totally unbothered by us. We've never seen them anywhere near this close (or calm) before. :)

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Tuesday 11th October

 

We are up early this morning – we have booked a boat trip out of Luderitz harbour to go and see the penguins. For the one and only time this trip we grab the waterproof/ windproof layers of our coats and pack them into the backpack, and head to the harbour. We park up just opposite and head across to the catamaran. There is a decent breeze blowing already but it’s not too bad on land. There are around ten of us on the trip so there is plenty of room on the boat, and we head out of the harbour. The wind out here is really starting to blow and we need all of our layers (the boat will provide some heavy waterproofs if you don’t have your own). There are plenty of seabirds around, including African Oystercatcher, several varieties of Cormorants and Gulls. There are also Terns and the occasional pink Greater Flamingo. It seemed quite odd to have Flamingo’s and Penguins in the same place. Perched on one of the rocks is a good sized group of Fur Seals (the boat is really bouncing now). We are heading out to Halifax Island and the Penguins, but now the Dolphins arrive. They swirl along the front of the boat, riding in the front of the catamarans two hulls, occasionally leaping up into the air. These are very small Dolphins (apparently the second smallest type) called Heaviside’s Dolphins. They are really, really pretty to look at and really, really, really fast. With the boat bouncing so that it is impossible to stand and the speed of these guys there is no way to photograph them but there is such joy in watching Dolphins that I don’t really mind.

 

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The Penguins are out on an Island that is now protected. Last century there were a huge number of Penguins on the island, but there was also a huge amount of guano that had built up over centuries. The Namibians mined the guano and sold it to the fertiliser industry, and the Penguins were no longer able to build their burrows and suffered a massive decrease in their population. The islands are now protected and the Penguin population is now slowly beginning to increase (although it is still substantially lower than it used to be).  Whilst we watch the Penguins, which have taken over some of the old buildings, the crew serve hot drinks (really appreciated with the cold wind howling around). We head back, with the occasional Dolphin coming to play before gliding into the harbour by mid-morning.

 

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We drive out of Luderitz along the coast to both the North and the South. At Dias Cross J walked up to the cross – it was very windy, and he had to lean heavily into the wind to make any gain. I stayed down near the sea, once you could get out of the wind it was quite pleasant to sit and watch the sea. There were a number of Cape Wagtails running around on the seaweed, and down at the edge of the water were a large group of Turnstones – doing exactly what their name says. Along the route back there were a large group of Flamingos. We are told that this is one of the very few places in the world where you can see Flamingos and Penguins together (and thinking about it I can only think of the Galapagos as a place where we have seen both together before).

 

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We also took a trip out to Agate beach. It’s a popular picnic place for the locals, but to be honest we were not impressed and headed back to town. 

 

We were getting very hungry now and wanted to find somewhere (out of the wind) for lunch. We parked up back at the harbour and found the Garden Café. This is a really cute little place – through a big heavy gate and up some stairs you find yourself in a slightly dark room, but then you go out the back and into the garden. It’s lovely in here with a couple of large trees for shade, but plenty of space to sit in the sunshine if you want to. A large Tortoise wanders around making sure that the grass is trimmed, and various birds flit around including a lovely little Dusky Sunbird that wanted the nectar from one of the bottle-brushes planted around the garden. The sandwiches and cakes were very nice.

 

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We had bought a late pass for Kolmanskop (couldn’t do the morning because we wanted to do the boat trip). It is a bit more expensive but not too bad, so now we headed out to the old mining town. The wind has really picked up and it is blowing really strongly. The wind is shifting the sand across the road and it is swirling like a heavy fog. It makes Kolmanskop really ghostly, as the wind wails and groans through the broken windows and roofs. The sand is biting into us too, and the only way we can move around is by ducking our heads and running from building to building and then peeking round to take some quick photos. I would have liked to spend some more time here, but with the wind still picking up, and it being difficult to hold the camera’s still we headed back to Luderitz for our evening meal.

 
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Wednesday 12th October

 

Today we are leaving Luderitz – we briefly consider going back to Kolmanskop, but the wind is still blowing strongly and we decide against it. J opens all the doors of the car and takes a dry cloth and whisks our accumulated dust into the air. It is then caught by the strong breeze and blown out (a very efficient use of the natural environment). The result, whilst not as good as a professional clean, is a lot better than the thick layer of fine dust that previously coated every surface of the car.

 

We head out along the road – looking and hoping for a sighting of a brown hyena – which are supposed to be around this area. However the best we see is the road sign saying we are in a hyena area – ah well a good excuse to come back.

 

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We turn up the road to the Garib Wild Horses viewing point and waterhole. Through the binoculars we can see plenty of horses but they are all at a distance, so we sit and wait. Slowly the horses start to come down for a drink, and several of them for a paddle. It is amazing that they can survive in this arid, vegetation short environment, but here they are – and quite a lot of them. They look a little bit thin, and their manes are a little bit ropey and ragged, but they generally look well. There are a lot of Gemsbok around the waterhole too. The horses and the Gemsbok generally ignore each other. At one point two of the stallions consider a fight, but eventually calm down, having been ignored by the others. One of the younger Gemsbok considers chasing off one of the horses but it moves to its allies and the Gemsbok backs off. We stay with the horses for around an hour and a half but then head off as we still have a long drive ahead of us.

 

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We head through Aus, making a quick stop at the Aus Military Cemetery. J is quite a keen military historian and over the years we have visited France and the military cemeteries from the First World War on a number of occasions. This is the first time we have visited one in Africa. Here the graves from both the German and Allied sides lie on the same spot of land overlooking a fabulous view of Africa.

 

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After leaving the cemetery we turned off onto the C13. This is the second worst gravel road we have driven. It desperately needed grading – who knows may have been done by now – but it is really ribbed, and we have to slow down quite a lot as there is no route through. This is supposed to be a scenic route, but it didn’t quite catch us the way some of the other scenery does – so it feels like a long drive.

 

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We top up the fuel and ourselves at Betta(they have nice ice-creams and a shady outside area in which to eat them), and not much further along we come to the turnoff for Wolwedans the C27. Wolwedans is still a lot further on though. We drive on and after a lot more kilometres turn onto raw rock. Some of the big rocks have been cleared but it takes careful driving for around a hundred meters before we are back onto the sandy roads that actually are the entrance to Wolwedans.

The last bit of the drive into Wolwedans reception is lovely, the light is beginning to go down a bit and as we cross the open ground we are getting lovely light on some of the local residents including a small herd of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, and on the scenery which is turning a wonderful shade of pink for the evening.

 

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It has been a really long drive as we arrive at Wolwedans reception, and we are a bit later than we expected and absolutely exhausted. They offer to take our luggage up to the room, and us to join the sundowner drive which has already departed but we decide to head to our room. They load us into one of the Landrovers and take us up one of their tracks to the actual lodge. You are not allowed to drive these roads yourself and the cars stay down at the reception (so make sure you have everything you need before heading out to your room as you don’t return to your car until you leave).

 

The rooms at Wolwedans Dune Lodge are individual cottages built on stilts; they are a good size with a huge bathroom. There is a large zipped window at the front, which can be opened onto a platform which gives a wonderful view across the desert. 

 

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We have a relaxed shower and look at the view before heading back to the dining area for dinner. Dinner at Wolwedans is more formal than most of the other lodges, it is also slightly later at 8.00pm than most. Everyone sits at joint tables, and it is nice to meet and chat to other guests over the dinner. Wine is provided. The food is very good and there is plenty of it. After dinner we headed straight to bed as we had an early morning drive.

 
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Thursday 13th October

 

It was very warm overnight and we wake up knowing it is going to be very, very hot today. Our tea and coffee and biscuits are delivered to our room and we sip it staring out of the unzipped window at the sunrise whilst getting ready for our drive. 

 

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We are the only two in the vehicle and we have a driver guide as well as one of the Bushmen to take us out into the dessert. We head out and see quite a few Gemsbok against the bright red sand. We are shown a lot of the small insect life, including Termites, the hole of a Dancing White Lady Spider – who makes a trap door to catch its prey, and the Tok Tokkie Beetle which clicks as it races along amongst others. The landscape is incredibly harsh but also amazingly beautiful.

 

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By midday it is blisteringly hot. It is not supposed to get quite this hot at this time of the year but this area is having a mini heatwave and we are well into the 40’s. We head back to the camp for lunch (one of the other vehicles did an all-day game drive, but they did not see much more than we had and by the time they came back they all looked totally drained). We, after a pleasant lunch, headed back to our cottage and spent some time resting. At one point, whilst J was snoozing I heard a substantial crack under the cottage. A bit of careful investigation found that the local Gemsbok very much appreciated the fact that the cottages were built on stilts that were just about high enough to allow them to shelter from the heat of the day underneath. The load cracks could be heard when an Gemsbok forgot to allow sufficient head room for their truly substantial horns. Considering how shy these guys can be, as long as you were cautious you could get a really close look at them from on top of the balcony whilst they sheltered in the shade. So we, and the Gemsbok, just hung out until the day finally cooled sufficiently for them to head off to find their dinner, and for us to get ready for our sunset drive.

 

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We set out on our drive and not long after found a set of Chameleon tracks. Although our tracked traced them for quite a while, they suddenly disappeared. It was suggested that one of the local birds of prey may have taken the Chameleon. As a consolation we found a rather cute little Wedge-snouted Sand Lizard which sat still for a second before heading off at top speed. With the light going down the colours in the landscape grew stronger – and even the Dune Ants on the grasses were lit beautifully.

 

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We had another lovely meal with our table consisting of a German family of four, a German couple, a young Swiss couple and ourselves. This was pretty much the composition of all the tourists we came across in Namibia – around 80% - 90% German and the other 10% from other European countries (mostly France / Scandinavian countries) and no other Brits. It is really strange that the British have not really found Namibia considering just about everyone there speaks English and they drive on the same side of the road.

 
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Your sunset photos are marvellous ... as are the sunsets themselves. And NamibRand is the perfect place to enjoy them.

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I am enjoying your report a lot, the photos are outstanding! How interesting you can find Flamingos and Penguins at the same place. Particularly enjoyed the Kolmanskoo section - very moody. Looking forward to more.

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a great trip report, i enjoy it very much! 

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Real nice photos , "the only bit of shade" picture is fantastic. A majestic animal with beautiful scenery :) well capatured .

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@Jaycees2012, I still dream of Wolwedans, laying in bed with the tent flaps open at sunrise......

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Great report with beautiful photos throughout, @Jaycees2012 .Love the Kolmanskop set and of course the Namibrand sceneries!. Imagine finding a Gemsbok underneath the cottage...

(Are you sure about the Hartmann’s mountain zebras? I thought the ‘shadow’ stripes would indicate Burchell’s, but I may be wrong there...)

Looking forward to more!

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On 12/10/2017 at 0:54 PM, michael-ibk said:

I am enjoying your report a lot, the photos are outstanding! How interesting you can find Flamingos and Penguins at the same place. Particularly enjoyed the Kolmanskoo section - very moody. Looking forward to more.

 

Given how difficult the wind and drifting sand made our visit to Kolmanskop - our photos have come out much better than we expected. At times we were seriously concerned that the 'sand storm' would damage our cameras - but thankfully all was well. :)

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On 12/13/2017 at 0:31 AM, elefromoz said:

@Jaycees2012, I still dream of Wolwedans, laying in bed with the tent flaps open at sunrise......

 

So do we!! Especially after the ice and snow we've had this week.

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Friday 14th October

 

Anyway it was another really hot night – and we woke to our tea and coffee arriving. This morning we had a really short drive to our next stop so decided to have a later, more relaxed start. We sat on the balcony watching the light come up and simply relaxing.

 

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The vehicle came to fetch us and our luggage, and it was only as we were driving away that we realised one of the Gemsbok had decided to bags his spot in the shade early today, and was already standing under our cottage. So we waved goodbye to the Gemsbok and to Wowedans Dune Lodge and headed back down to the car.

 

We piled all our luggage back into the car, and headed out along the long road out of Wolwedans, back along the sandy road and across the bare rock, before heading onto our next destination near Sessriem.

 

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We did not head straight to Desert Homestead Outpost but instead headed into Sessriem. We grabbed a quick snack at the café/shop attached to the petrol station (it was absolutely packed) and then headed over to Sossusvlei Lodge. When doing our research for this trip (and as mentioned in other Safari Talk trip reports) we had seen pictures from a flight across the dunes and J had been really keen to do this. We popped into the office to see if they had any spaces. They had a few including a flight at 5pm, which basically meant a sunset flight. At the moment we would be the only people booked on the flight which made it very expensive, but they would try and find other people for the flight. We took a deep breath and booked it.

 

Now we headed to the Desert Homestead Outpost. It is another lodge with quite a long drive in, but the road is in better condition. The rooms are again separate little cottages, set out around the base of a large hill in a long straight line – and we had been upgraded to the room right at the end. It was blisteringly hot – even the manager was saying how uncomfortably hot it was, and the long walk in the blazing sun was hard. 

 

But oh the cottage was beautiful. Well it wasn’t really a cottage: it was effectively a private apartment. You entered the walled courtyard by a big heavy wooden gate. In the courtyard was a little patio with chairs and table, a woven nest in which you could hide from the sun, and our own private little plunge pool. The cottage consisted of a sitting room with a huge daybed, a couple of sofas and a small fridge. There was a large shower area with double sinks and a separate loo. Then along the corridor into the bedroom where there were two double beds placed together and a separate en-suite loo. The bedroom had double doors looking over the view and onto the courtyard.

 

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We flung the luggage into the rooms, and then moving as quickly as we could headed to the plunge pool. We tiptoed down the steps, squeaking as what felt like iced water hit our overheated skin – but once we were in it was heaven. We relaxed around the room until about 4pm before we headed out to Sessriem. Knowing we would have to drive back from Sessriem in the dark, the managers had given us some advice about the road - take it easy and watch out for the Gemsbok (apparently Gemsbok like car headlights and have a habit of leaping towards them), they also gave us a mobile number to phone them if we had any problems.

 

At the Sossusvlei lodge we were delighted to hear that Desert Air had found another couple to join us on the flight thereby halving the cost. We completed the appropriate paperwork and everyone bundled onto the vehicle to transfer to the airport. We have a short flight briefing explaining the route we would be taken and then the two planes headed out.

 

Shortly after take-off we flew over Sesriem Canyon, and then we headed out across the Dunes. The sun was starting to go down and the whole landscape was beautiful. We flew over Dune 40, and on towards Dune 45 and Big Daddy. We flew over Sossusvlei and Deadvlei before carrying on across the desert to the Atlantic Ocean. Here the dunes literally run into the bright blue sea and the crashing white waves. As we followed the coast and then turned inland the sun was really starting to go set, and we flew back across the bright orange desert before landing back at the airport.

 

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By the time we landed the light had already faded, and by the time we got back to Sossusvlei Lodge it was pretty much dark. We headed back to the Desert Homestead Outpost with our headlights on and carefully scanning for any light loving Gemsbok. But there was no sight of them. No sight at all until we finally turned to go through the gate for the Outpost when suddenly two large Gemsbok loomed into sight one each side of the gate – just like a pair of security guards. We stopped, they stared at us and we stared at them. It was a total standoff. Finally a couple of minutes later the Gemsbok seemed to realise there was a car ten feet from them and took off. We drove slowly down the long track to the Outpost (no more Gemsbok) and to a nice barbeque buffet meal before heading off to bed. Tomorrow would be a very early start to try and see the dunes before the day got too hot. 

 
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Saturday 15th October

 

We are up at just after 4am this morning – the plan is to leave just before 5am and be at the Sessriem gates for opening (or near as damn it). As it happens we arrive a bit after, and although there is a slight queue it does not take long to get through. The system for paying for entrance was really well thought out – they took the details of the car as it went in, but you paid on the way out. This meant that everyone was not trying to pay at the same time as they were rushing to get in ahead of the heat – a really sensible solution. 

 

We drove along the long tarmac road with the sun starting to rise, looking at the scenery (and trying to keep to the speed limit as we have heard of a number of speed traps being set up along this road – mind you everyone else was speeding). We stopped a couple of times to take some quick snaps but generally kept moving past Dune 45, where there were already a number of coaches and people climbing. 

 

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Then, onward onto the non-tarmac road. It is an interesting bit of driving, and I’m glad J had had some four wheel drive practice. The first bit is really deep soft sand – very very easy to get bogged down and for a couple of minutes we thought we had made a mistake but we got through it. After a couple of hundred meters the road firmed up a bit and we carried on along the road. We drove past the carpark for Big Daddy and Deadvlei and kept going through until we got to the Sossusvlei picnic spot. There was no one there – how amazing – we had the whole of Sossusvlei to ourselves (apart from the curious Gemsbok who obviously thought it would take a bit longer for the morning invasion to arrive).

 

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We wandered around Sossusvlei for around an hour enjoying the dunes and the trees that still grow around the vlei, when finally a safari vehicle turned up carrying around ten to fifteen people – they walked straight through the vlei and headed off to climb up Big Mama.

 

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We retreated to the car park and had a quick breakfast looking out at the view. A large number of sparrows turned up looking hopeful, so I put a small bowl on the floor which was mobbed before I managed to pour any water into it. Having gently shooed the sparrows away I managed to pour some water in – and we and the sparrows enjoyed a refreshing drink before we headed on.

 

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We drove back down the four wheel track (I suspect at some point they are going to have to create a proper road for this bit, because everyone drives wherever it seem firmer under tyre and the tracks spread out like tributaries from a river). This time we did better and found a firmer route and headed back to the carpark for Big Daddy and Deadvlei. Deadvlei is only around a kilometre and a half walk from the carpark but it feels a lot longer. It is hard walking over the dunes and the soft sand as you slide around one step back for each two steps you take forward. We were really lucky with the weather today – there were more clouds in the sky which meant we were getting much longer with the lovely soft light. There were a lot of people walking out to Deadvlei, but a lot of them turned around once they got there. We headed across the vlei looking at the shapes the dead trees made against the white vlei and the orange sand.  We stayed for a while and at one point found that we were in a lull, and there were very few people on the vlei – absolutely beautiful.

 

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I headed back to the carpark and the car, but J wanted to climb Big Daddy. There is a lovely big tree with a bench to sit on, so I sat looking at the view, and admiring  the various birds that came to look at the tourists – a few more sparrows, a familiar chat and a couple of others, until J headed back.

 

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I asked J about his climb up Big Daddy, and the first thing he said was “It was hot!” After a little pushing he said it was a shame that the trip up was so much slower than the trip back. Climbing up it took two steps for every pace forward. The technique most people used to come down was to take a step, keep their balance through the long slide of the shifting sand before taking another step. Each step therefore covered several meters. However overall he said he was glad to have made the climb and that it gave some fantastic overall views of Deadvlei.

 

We did the last bit of the four wheel track, following one of the safari vehicles and managed to totally miss the deep sand that had made us so nervous going down the road. At the carpark we took a short break. There is a beautiful wooded area here which seems to get ignored by a lot of people, but we had a short wander around. Some hooded crows had found something fascinating so we watched them for a while before heading back down the main road. 

 

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The clouds had now cleared, and it was starting to really heat up. We stopped off at Dune 45, which was now abandoned by people (although a Latakoo Fiscal appeared to be resident and considered J with a very quizzical expression), and took a few photos before heading back towards the entrance gate.

 

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At the gate we paid our entrance fees and then headed to the petrol station for a late lunch (around 2.30 pm) a quick sandwich and ice-cream later we headed back to the Outpost. As we arrived the managers greeted us carrying a jar which contained a scorpion (Black Hairy Thick-tailed Scorpion) that had been found in one of the general areas. It was being gently but firmly re-located. We followed along to see it released back into the grounds.  It wasn’t quiet as hot today as previously but J decided to have a short siesta and I headed for a dip in our little plunge pool before curling up in the woven nest with a drink and a book and enjoyed the view and a few birds, until we had to get ready for dinner. After another nice dinner we headed to bed for a good night’s sleep (now that the stifling heat had reduced somewhat).

 
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Sunday 16th October

 

We had a nice breakfast this morning, before heading back to our cottage to pack all of our bags, take a few more photos of the view and some of the birds and then headed out for the next leg of our journey. We had a fairly short journey today down to Rostock Ritz lodge, so we took it easy.

 

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We popped into Solitaire on the journey north, but were a little disappointed as there did not seem to be any ground squirrels here at this time. We had a piece of cake and a drink before moving onwards once more.

 

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We arrived at the lodge and settled in – we spent a little bit of time out on our balcony looking out over the view of the land, before heading down to sit around the pool for a couple of hours. At one point J felt something at his ankle and looked down to find a Meerkat leaning against him. We knew Rostock had a Meerkat release programme, but hadn’t expected to find them wandering around the lodge quite so oblivious to the tourists who paid to stay there.

 

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Rostock rescues Meerkats that have been purchased as pets – they don’t actually make great pets as once they get to around a year old they tend to spray their environment, and despite them being incredibly cute they have very sharp teeth. Rostock has a huge fenced enclosure where the meerkats start off, meeting other Meerkats to become a group and then learning how to survive in their proper surroundings. They ignore the people wandering past (unlike the ones we saw out in the wild which, as soon as they saw people, stuck their tails in the air and headed away in the opposite direction at top speed). You can watch these Meerkats digging, catching their food and then sitting crunching it either inside their fenced area, or indeed outside. One thing that became very apparent was that the Meerkats could get in and out of the area, so the only thing the fence did was keep the tourists out.

 

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The food at Rostock is fine, but maybe not quite a nice as the food we had at the last couple of places.

 

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On 12/13/2017 at 0:21 PM, PeterHG said:

Great report with beautiful photos throughout, @Jaycees2012 .Love the Kolmanskop set and of course the Namibrand sceneries!. Imagine finding a Gemsbok underneath the cottage...

(Are you sure about the Hartmann’s mountain zebras? I thought the ‘shadow’ stripes would indicate Burchell’s, but I may be wrong there...)

Looking forward to more!

 

@PeterHG Thank-you for the 'heads up' on the Zebra photo.  :)

 

 You are correct that the 'shadow stripes' indicate Burchell's Zebra as these are not found on the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. 

 

Reposting photo with a corrected title.

 

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Stunning photography throughout, both the aerial shots and the ‘ground’ photos!

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Agree, beautiful photos!

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@Jaycees2012 - fantastic report and beautiful photos. I'm helping my mother in law plan a self drive through SA's West Coast, South Namibia and then back via the KTNP - this is proving very useful!

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It is fantastic read and even better photography! I thought I know the Sossusvlei gooe enough, after 2 visits, but you have showed me there is more to see/photograph there. Clouds do make a difference!

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On 12/17/2017 at 8:39 PM, lmSA84 said:

@Jaycees2012 - fantastic report and beautiful photos. I'm helping my mother in law plan a self drive through SA's West Coast, South Namibia and then back via the KTNP - this is proving very useful!

 

Glad you're finding the TR useful - self-driving in Namibia (and SA) is really easy - so we hope your mother-in-law enjoys her trip.

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On 12/18/2017 at 8:48 AM, xelas said:

It is fantastic read and even better photography! I thought I know the Sossusvlei gooe enough, after 2 visits, but you have showed me there is more to see/photograph there. Clouds do make a difference!

 

Thank-you for your complements. We have read some of your earlier TRs and thought your and Zvezdana's photos of this area are also great. :)

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Monday 17th October

 

This morning we are up really early (again).  Rostock is known for its walking trails, and although we are not enormously keen walkers, we planned to tackle one of the shorter walks whilst the morning was still cool. We walked past the Meerkat compound but they appeared to still be asleep, and popped into reception to let them know we were heading out – before walking to the start of the trails. Sitting just by the start of the trails was “dog”. Dog belongs to the managers of the hotel, and had clearly figured out that the tourists made wonderful companions to his explorations. So we and dog set out along the trail to Lion King Rock (which as you would expect looked like the rock from which Rafiki the mandrill shows off the young Simba in the film The Lion King). It is a superb view overlooking a huge plain. We stood looking but dog took off racing across the plain, and proceeding to chase the grazing Zebra all over the place!

 

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We continued on our walk through the dunes. Dog raced ahead of us, really taking his own walk, but I guess he wanted us along so he could blame us for his chasing the wildlife. We occasionally got glimpses of him through the vegetation, and on one occasion saw him flying along behind a herd of fleeing springbok.

 

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After the walk we had a good breakfast (felt we had earned it this morning), before heading down to the covered pool area to while away the middle of the day. We had booked a half day four wheel drive / trip to the bushman paintings which started at 3pm.

 

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The drive out to the bushman paintings started on a tarmac road, however we pretty soon headed off road. And this was real four wheel driving. The road (what road), the trackway barely existed, and you had to hold on tightly on a number of occasions as the vehicle manoeuvred along at some very strange angles. J said it was like being on a masterclass of what the vehicle and a skilled driver could actually do. Along the route we found some more Ground Squirrels, a dancing Ostrich and much to the driver’s surprise J spotted a small group of Kudu.

 

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Once we arrived at the bushman painting site we had quite a clamber up the rocks to get to the actual paintings. It gave a fantastic view, and the Kudus came past to see what we were looking at. The paintings are interesting if somewhat faded (hardly surprising considering their age). I particularly liked the paintings of Ostrich. On the way back we stopped for a sundowner, but it was actually getting a bit cool and quite dark, and it was starting to drizzle.

 

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By the time we got back it was dinner time, and the sky was actually looking as if it might rain some more. We ate dinner and sat out on our balcony looking at the dark sky for a while before heading off to bed. Tonight was really the final night of the trip not back in a city.

 
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Tuesday 18th October

 

We have a later start today – we are driving back to Windhoek via the C26 – the scenic mountain route through the Gamsberg Pass. The sky is really clouded over and it looks like there is rain on the way – a great relief to everyone who lives here as they have not had any rain for a very long time. We sit out on the balcony watching the sun rise and the general scenery, and then become aware of a small furry creature scrambling around in the rocks below the balcony. In fact there are two. We think we know what they are but the one we can see does not have the tail we would expect for a Dassie Rat, in fact it does not appear to have much of a tail at all  - is it a new different creature? Finally the second one comes out and it does have a tail. I assume the first one must have lost its tail in some kind of accident. The Dassie Rats don’t seem to notice us, so we gets some lovely shots of them scrambling amongst the rocks hunting for their breakfast before we head off for ours.

 

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After breakfast we load the car, wave goodbye and head off on the last major leg of our route round the South of Namibia. We stop very briefly at the Tropic of Capricorn sign (after all we are tourists) and then back on our route.

 

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This is a really good route to finish off the trip. The views out across the mountain pass (even with the light not as good as you might hope) were spectacular. J had found two viewing points, and had marked them as way points on his electronic mapping app (just as well because they were both really tight turns up narrow, four wheel only, tracks). But they did give splendid views – well off the roads. At one point a big male Kudu stood looking at us from the side of the road – our last sighting of big wildlife this trip.

 

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And now after weeks of driving on gravel roads, we reached the tarmac again.

 

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We arrived back into Windhoek just after two in the afternoon and gosh the traffic!! - which we had not noticed  when we first arrived seemed really busy. We headed back to the Olive Grove for a quick snack. We got the same room back and started the clearing of the car. It’s amazing how many places you find to tuck stuff. J was going to take the car to be valeted. Avis will charge 750 rand if you return the car in a grubby state (and the car was absolutely covered in dust), however when he asked about somewhere he was told one of the staff would do it for a tip. J promised him a good tip if he cleaned it well (inside and out). The car was spotless, the promised tip was provided and all parties were happy.

 

We decided to head to Joes again for dinner, and both of us had the Gemsbok steak which was delicious. It seemed a bit quieter tonight and we weren’t quite as lucky with our dining companions who only spoke a few words of English. So we headed back to the Olive Grove for our last night in Namibia.

 

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Wednesday 19th October

 

We had a long day today, so we took advantage of a long lie in before breakfast. I had mini pancakes with banana and berries (absolutely delicious), we packed and then lounged around the pool area for an hour before heading to the airport.

 

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Along the road we took extra care to avoid hitting the baboons playing alongside the road (a baboon shaped dent in the car would definitely have incurred extra charges) and handed over the car to Avis. As J handed back the keys, I was finally allowed to say “and no punctures”. Any attempt to say those words previously, even on our arrival back at Olive Grove had been firmly stymied by a hand across my mouth. The roads in Namibia are generally good – even the gravel ones, but punctures are a reality of life there, and one thing all of the hire companies should look at is providing decent jacks – neither of us were looking forward to the challenge of lifting the heavy Fortuner on the pathetic little jack provided as standard for this car.

 

The flight out of Windhoek was on time, and this time they were not collecting fingerprints and photos at Joburg so we got through with no delays. Finally we boarded the long flight back to London and home.

 

Southern Namibia does not have the wildlife that most people would expect from Africa, although you do see bits. We were both glad that we went to KTP. There are some fantastic sights – Fish River Canyon, the Orange River, the dunes at Sessriem and the vleis to name but some. We really enjoyed our trip. Over the three weeks we covered 4,350 kilometres (2,700 miles) at about 12km per litre of diesel. I am sure that we will head back to Namibia in the future, it is a great country, very easy to self- drive and very safe, but for us we will probably head more to the North and the Etosha area. We miss the elephants!

 

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