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Ideas/Comments on itinerary for Namibia (and Botswana)

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I am planning a family trip to Namibia in late june/ early july for 5 weeks. We will rent a 4x4 with 2 roof tents. My family consist of me and my wife and our 2 sons aged 7 and 2(almost 3)

We have travelled to Africa (and Namibia) before, also with the oldest,so we know it will be a challenge to travel Namibia with kids. That is why we will focuse on the central, northern parts and caprivi.

But any comments and ideas on itinerary would be nice? Any feedback on some of the accomodation would be great and if there are some places which we shouldn´t miss would be nice too?

1 day. Windhoek ( depending on our flight and maybe to stock up on supplies )

2: Bagatelle Kalahari game Ranch

3. Sesriem camping

4. Sesriem

5. Sesriem

6-8 SwakopmundDunedin Star /alternative Space or similiar

9-10 Damaraland Brandberg White Lady Lodge

11. Gelbingen Lodge

12-17 Etosha 2 nights Okaukejo, 2 nights Halali, 2 night Namutoni all days camping

18. Groótfontein Roys Camp or similiar

19. Rundu any good places to stay?

20-21 Ngepi camping

22-23 Bum Hill Campsite or similar

24-25 Camp Kwando (camping)

26-29 Chobe safari Lodge (camping) maybe 1 day Vic Falls

30-33 ?? What will be the easist way back to Windhoek. And we really wanna see either Africat og Cheetah Conservation Fund, but their accomdations prices are way over our limits.

34. Waterberg (camping)

35. Back to Windhoek

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    Hi Jesron,

    I'm busy packing for a similar trip at the moment and I'll be leaving within the next few hours, so I don't have time to give you any detailed comments at this stage.

    Our 3-week trip with 5 people will be running a virtually parallel routing for much of the trip (Waterberg, Etosha, Tsumeb, Grootfontein, Rundu, Ngepi, Kwando) and I know the sections that aren't common to both (Sesriem, Sossussvlei) quite well.

    I'll be able to give you some current updates and suggestions when I return in 4 weeks time. Although I can already comment on some, it would be better to give you more comprehensive info, and tips on how to make the most of it.

    I may forget to post a trip report when I get back (16th Oct). If you are still keen to hear from me, try "bump" this thread, or contact me on a similar forum where I use the same nick.

    Enjoy all your planning. It's a truly awesome trip.

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    Hi jesron
    Looks like a great itinerary. I think Bushkido will be able to give you more up to date information than I can, but out of the places on your list I mention Ngepi, Chobe Safari lodge and a place near Rundu in my report from 2008:
    http://www.fodors.com/community/africa-the-middle-east/affordable-botswana---trip-report-aug-sept-08.cfm
    but if you want any more specific detail I'll try to help.
    I don't think you can go far wrong with guest house acco in Swakop.
    I see you're going north via Caprivi to Kasane - so the easiest way back would have to be the same way. But you could consider driving back through Botswana via Nata to Planet Boabab (camping) near Gweta and do a trip into Makgadikgadi Pans (maybe trip to see the meerkats?), then overnight again between Ghanzi (Bots) and Gobabis (Nam) and back to Windhoek on the B6 (we've stayed in a couple of places along this route if you do need more info). This doesn't allow you to visit Waterberg or Africat/CCF, though. I know Africat is very expensive but it's our one luxury when we visit Namibia, mainly because we get a private audience with our adopted leopard! You can visit CCF as a day visitor (best to book if you want specific activities, we just turned up and could only do a very basic tour), but not Africat.
    OR ... (but I don't want to throw a spanner too far into the works of an already very good plan)you could miss out Ngepi on the outward trip, do the Kasane-Nata-Gweta-Maun route as above, but then take the A35 up north via the Okavango Panhandle to Ngepi that way. Then proceed as planned back via Waterberg and Otjiwarongo.
    Hope this helps,
    Happy planning!

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    Just to make you aware of some options:

    I assume that you decided against the Chobe- Savute-Moremi- Maun Route
    Maybe you might want to show the kids some wildlife you don’t normally see. This is kind of the long way around.

    26 Ihaha campsite if possible
    27 Chobe safari Lodge (camping)
    28 Vic Falls
    29 Hwange – camp at Masuma Dam(fenced) visit Painted Dog Facility along the way
    30 Hwange Nantwich Camp
    31 Planet Baobab –to visit the meerkats, you would probably need 2 nites
    32 Khama Rhino Sanctuary
    33 Mokolodi Cheetahs
    34. Ghanzi
    35. Back to Windhoek

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    A couple of thoughts -

    - did you visit Cape Cross on your previous visit to Namibia? It's quite a sight!
    - in Damaraland/area we stayed at Palmwag Lodge, which has a range of accommodation including a lovely campsite with a pool and bar/restaurant (with delicious food, I might add) - but perhaps you are set on White Lady Lodge
    - re Etosha - we're not campers so maybe this comment isn't relevant, but I'm not sure you need to split Etosha into 3 sets of 2 nights - we stayed in Okaukejo and then did a slow drive to Namutoni. That way you could have 3 nights in two places...but as I say we're not campers and we don't like moving a lot
    - Outside of Rundu I highly recommend N'Kwazi Lodge - on the bank of the river. They have simple bungalows and a campsite and quite delicious food. Also, the owners support a local school and offer half day tour visits which you and your children might enjoy

    http://nkwazilodge.com/

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    Just to add that I second Palmwag Lodge, we camped there and it's a great site, but I thought it might be a bit too far north for you, we also bush camped on the concession on our own which was magnificent, but you might not want to do that with the kids!
    I'm having fun looking at some of your options which are new to me - Gelbingen Lodge looks nice as does Camp Kwando, you've got me thinking about another trip .... I'd never be bored with Namibia!

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    Thanks for the info and comments..

    luangwablondes and tockoloshe
    I really wanted to drive Botswana (and Zim) but that would mean moving too much round with 2 kids, so we do that another time :)...

    Elisabeth, we did see Cape Cross on the last visit, quite a sight (and quite a smell:) ) . But it would be great to see that again. My problem is that even though that we have 35 days, it seems that we won´t have enough !

    I will check nkwazi lodge out, I have had two travel agents trying two make an itinerary for us and the both included it on their second try...

    The two agents i am in contact with is Cardboard Box, used them last time and Chameleon Safaris. They both seems very prof. and are quick to respond. Are comments or info on them?

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    Looks like a great itinerary, not too rushed!

    At Sesriem I would recommend you take a guided desert walk to Deadvlei. It is fascinating! Sossus on Foot do a great one.

    Palmwag Lodge is a great place to Camp, but unless you head up the coast from Swakop via Cape Cross it might be a bit out of your way. They do some nice activities there including game walks and a day trip going out searching for desert elephants which are great. You can miss out the Himba excursion they offer there though as you will meet the Himba at Gelbingen.

    Alternative Space in Swakop is good, Dunedin can be a bit backpackery in June/July.

    In June/July I would opt for 3 days Okaukuejo and 3 Halali, or split the last 3 days between Halali and Namutoni. The waterhole at Okaukuejo and Halali are excellent at that time of year, whereas the one at Namutoni is less established so you might regret 2 nights there at that time of the year.

    For Rundu definitely N'Kwazi Lodge. Valerie there can organise a very interesting village and school visit which is highly enjoyable. I would go for the bungalows rather than camping that night though.

    It can get very cold at night in the Caprivi at that time of year. I have often woken to a frozen kettle so make sure you have a warm outfit for up there.

    N'Gepi Camp can be a bit rowdy in July as it is where a lot of overlander trucks stop off. It is more of a 'party' camp which is great if you are after that type of thing, but with younger children I would rather push on an extra 200kms that day and camp at Bumhill which would give you an extra couple of days to spend somewhere else.

    As you have already travelled that far I would certainly suggest you go the extra 70kms to Victoria Falls. It can be expensive and time consuming getting over the border to the Falls so it might be worth taking a day trip via the lodge as then they deal with all the vehicle paperwork etc. It will cost a little bit more but all the hassles are removed then.

    As above for the route back I would suggest Nata-Gweta-Maun-Ghanzi.

    As you can save a couple of days by skipping N'gepi you could do a mokoro day trip into the Delta from Maun or a day trip into Moremi? At Ghanzi they have some great bushmen activities you can take part in.

    Happy planning!

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    Hi Jesron,

    I'm back from one of the most exciting and fascinating trips of my life (and I do many).

    This is a bit of a summary of our 3-week routing and some thoughts and some experiences, although it would be impossible to put everything into a single report. So this is not comprehensive by any means ... Both countries are so vast and diverse that it really takes at least 2-3 weeks each to do them justice.

    I think your option of roof-top tents makes for a great opportunity to explore Bots and Namibia well (more flexibility and routing/accommodation opportunities).

    The trip I finished yesterday was a lodge based trip (I did some camping to reduce costs), so 4X4 vehicles were generally not required (but would have been useful in places). The guests were enthusastic birders, so there was always something interesting in sight.

    To summarise our accommodation:

    - Waterberg Resort (1 night)
    - Waterberg Guest Farm (1 night)
    - Etosha Safari Camp (2 nights)
    - Makalani Hotel, Tsumeb (1 night)
    - Ngepi Camp, Western Caprivi (1 night)
    - Nunda River Lodge, Western Caprivi (1 night)
    - Lawdons (Drotsky's Cabins, Shakawe) (2 nights)
    - Kwando Camp (Eastern Caprivi) (2 nights)
    - Toro Lodge, Kasane (1 night)
    - Senyati Camp, Kasane (1 night)
    - Planet Baobab (2 nights)
    - Crocodile Camp, Maun (3 nights)
    - Koro Camp, Tuli Game reserve (1 night)

    Most of the accommodation was chosen on a high-value/low cost basis, and I believe we achieved a good balance. We also had to be able to drive there with a standard vehicle (most of my trips are 4X4, which give more flexibility). Most of the lodges and camps provided excellent service, and great activities. I'll mention some highlights/lowlights below, but if you want more detail, ask away ...

    We visited the folowing parks and attractions:
    - Waterberg Plateau Park
    - CCF (with Waterberg Guest Farm)
    - Etosha (2 days)
    - Hoba Meteorite
    - Popa Falls mokoro trip (with Ngepi camp)
    - Mahangu National Park (with Nunda River Lodge)
    - Buffalo Game Reserve (Western Caprivi)
    - Mudumu National Park (with Kwando Camp)
    - Chobe
    - Vic Falls
    - Makgagikgadi Pans
    - Moremi (full day game drive with Afro Trek)
    - Okavango Delta (3/4 day mokoro trip with Afro Trek)
    - Tuli Game Reserve

    Etosha's game viewing proved exceptional (as always). I've never been disappointed, at any time of the year, and this trip was no different.

    Waterberg was a first for me, and I loved the place. Interesting birdlife and animals, and fascinating geology.

    The Caprivi area was also a first for me.

    I would have loved to visit Nkwazi Lodge, but they couldn't accommodate us.

    I was not overly impressed with Ngepi, and glad we only had one night there. It was a busy camp, and there seemed a slight air of neglect around the place. I wouldn't recommend it if you want some peace and quiet, and facilities that work well. That said, birdlife is magnificent and the mokoro trip to Popa Falls was great.

    A far superior option is Drotsky's Cabins. The campsites are large, spotlessly clean, well-laid out and private, the ablution facilities immaculate (and one ablution block to two campsites). There was no danger of overcrowding (a vast difference to Ngepi). Probably the one of the best campsites I've ever stayed at. The guests stayed at the newly constructed Lawdons Lodge - very impressive and great value. Food and service were fantastic. The border crossing at Shakawe was quick, friendly and efficient, and one of the nicest border experiences I've had in Africa. Definitely worth nipping into Drotsky's.

    Nunda River Lodge and Kwando Camp were really great and I can recommend both. Other lodges I visited were Rainbow Lodge and Divali Lodge near Divindu (very different budgets, but both recommendable). I tried to see the Popa Falls rest camp, but they wanted to charge me an entrance fee to see a chalet, so I left. I dropped into Namushasha Lodge (Eastern Caprivi). Nice camp and at reasonable rates. Both Namushasha and Kwando had very nice camp sites, as well as chalets.

    Toro Lodge has done some refurbishing and their chalets are comfortable enough. I can't recommend their campsite. Unfortunately, I still think they have some management issues to sort out. We were going to spend two nights at Toro, but I moved the second night to Senyati Camp, about 15km out of Kasungula. I love Senyati, but be warned that you can come into very close contact with big wildlife (elephants are a regular feature in the campsite, and we sat and watched about 200 buffalo drinking at the waterhole about 30m away). Hyenas, leopards, baboons, etc. are common place.

    We crossed into Zimbabwe for a day to see the falls. The border crossing wasn't too bad, although it was a little busy. Because there were 5 of us, it wasn't that expensive per person (the vehicle charges ran at about $160.00 or so), and then the visas were $30 each and the entrance to the falls $30 each. Bit expensive for 2 hours at the falls, but they were spectacular ...

    Planet Baobab has always been a favourite camp of mine, with good chalets and campsites. The camp was very busy one night, and very quiet the next, but service is always good and there's a nice vibe at the lodge. Gweta Lodge in the town is an alternative, but there's always noise from the neighbouring village (barking dogs, partying local folk, etc.). If you're self-sufficient (4X4 camping), Kubu (Lekhubu) Island is beautiful and unforgettable, but can become a bit crowded in peak season.

    We stayed at Crocodile Camp in Maun this time. Very nice and pleasant and their food was awesome. The facilities at their campsite were a little shabby (but better than others I've seen in Maun).

    The guests did a full-day game drive into Moremi with Afro Trek Safaris, and were most impressed, particularly after spending 30 mins with a pack of wild dogs. Their guide (Teenage) was particularly good. Unfortunately, their mokoro trip into the delta the following day was not so impressive. One guide (poler) was fairly good, the other was surly and agressive, demanding cigarettes, water and food, and generally being unpleasant. The mokoro trips are exceuted by "community" organisations (not the safari operators), and I've rarely had a good mokoro experience with the Maun-based operations. Anyway, after two hours of mokoro-ing, I'm ready to get out and swim home (but that's purely a personal take - lol!).

    Our final night was in the Tuli Game Reserve at Koro (Korro?) camp. We changed the routing at the last moment, and it proved a great decision. Koro must be one of the most beautifully sited tented bush-camps I've seen. Absolutely remote and unspoilt. The Limpopo River ran past my door, and the birdlife and animal life was stunning. We had the camp to ourselves. I rate it as one of the best value tented lodges I know, and owner-run by passionate wildlife enthuiasts. I've never been a "luxury" lodge type guy, preferring to spend my money on experience, and this was a memorable one.

    And so ... that's a bit of an overview. Not comprehensive by any means.

    The routing was also constrained to normal vehicle access. When I'm using 4X4 vehicles, some of my favourite routings include places like Kubu/Lekhubu, Nxai Pan (South Camp), Kaziikini (outside Moremi), Third Bridge (Moremi), Magotho Camp Site (Khwai concession area), Savute, Ihaha (Chobe). But those are stories for another day ...

    By the way, Jesron, if you're looking at routing Maun to Windhoek (as we were going to originally), rather try get the most travel done the first day, and cross the border. I hate having a border crossing when I'm running against time (too many unknowns). There's very little in Ghanzi to make it a worthwhile stop-over, and I prefer to stay in Gobabis (I like a lodge called Sandune). Please try not to drive the Maun - Buitepos road at night or dusk. It is one of the most dangerous roads I know (cattle, goats, donkeys).

    I hope all this helps. Let me know if you need any specific info, or have any questions.

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    Hello Bushkid0...

    Great to hear from you...

    Thanks for your travel report, it sounds like a great trip:)

    It is very useful for me to have some new info about the places. I hope to make a booking in the next 2 weeks so this report comes a the right time....



    Just to be curios, what did you see in Etosha?

    And do you know how much Afro Trek Safaris charge for a day trip to Moremi and is it possible to book that when we get to Maun?

    By the way, our itinerary have changed a bit since this one, but it is on another post..

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    Hi Jesron,

    I saw your other post, but haven't really had the chance to comment. I've just arrived back from a trip to an amazing bushcamp (called Umlani) in the Timbavati game reserve (part of Greater Kruger).

    It was a journey back in time for me. The moment I saw it, I realised I was standing in exactly the same spot as I did over 20 years ago - an experience that ultimately changed my life.

    I'll post again on your other thread (about Etosha) later this week. I don't think Afro Trek would appreciate me posting their rates on the open site, but you could mail Alan on sediahotel@gmail.com and ask him (possibly the best address to use - sometimes the others don't work so hot). It's probably best to book in advance.

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