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Namibia: 16 days trip report, June 2006

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Yes, it was a fabulous trip with our 2 children aged 11 and 4 years. First of all I now whish to thank all fodorities who gave me their precious contribution to prepare this trip. I remember now safarilover (Leann), thit_cho (Michael), tuckeg (George), andybiggs (Andy), Kavey, Adeewebstr (Adee) and many others.

Although we are since always independent travellers and I make all lodging arrangements by myself, this time I accepted the great suggestion to make use of a local tour operator.
Lilly at The Cardboardbox Box Travel Shop (www.namibian.org) was really very helpful, and at the end, in addition to the reservation for the car rental, we put together the following 16 nights itinerary with family units lodging:

2 in Windhoek Charlotte’s Guest House
2 in Kalahari Anib Lodge
2 in Namib Desert Lodge
3 in Swakopmund, Seabreeze Guest House
2 in Igowati Lodge, Khorixas, Damaraland
3 in Etosha Park (2 in Okaukuejo and 1 in Namutoni)
1 in Waterberg Plateau, Bernabe De La Bat Rest Camp
1 in Windhoek Charlotte’s Guest House

6/12 Arrival at Windhoek
Upon arrival at Windhoek airport in the morning we realized that our Group B rented car (Toyota Corolla or similar) had been upgraded by Europcar free of charges to a larger Volkswagen Caddy, higher space for passengers and much larger room for suitcases ! At the end of the trip we stated that it had been the perfect car for a family !
So we moved to our Guest House in Klein Windhoek to leave the luggage and after refreshing, immediately to downtown. We found very delicious having our lunch at the Gourmet, Post Mall, and that was our place for lunch the next and last day. In the afternoon we did some walk in the main street to stretch our legs from the flight (only 1 hour earlier jetleg with Italy !) and some first shopping. In the evening we found a great place for steaks at the argentine restaurant El Gaucho ! Once again that was our place for dinner the next and last day !

6/13 Windhoek
Our first encounter with african animals was at the beautiful Daan Viljoen Park, just 18 km west of Windhoek.
We were very impressed to see our first giraffes, zebras and kudus ! We spent the whole morning there, then back to downtown in the afternoon for additional shopping

6/14 Windhoek – Kalahari
Left Windhoek at 09:00. The B1 was perfectly paved to drive. Just one stop to get a picture at the Tropic of Capricorn sign, then we were at the lodge by lunchtime. The two units 34 and 35 were really nice and our kids appreciated very much to have their own entrance door. We fixed the sundowner drive from the lodge on the same day, 2 and half hours drive on dunes. The guide explained the trees, bird nests and more. Just to stay within the cold range of 1600 m altitude, cold drinks were served at sunset !!
Some french women enjoyed more than one gin tonic after having said: “… but only because it is too cold ! “
That kind of red coloured sand of those dunes was not found again in the rest of our trip, although our kids collected and brought home a total of 14,1 kgs (about 28 lbs) of sand samples !!

6/15 Hardap Dam game drive
Sprigboks were new to us. We also saw some orix and ostriches. Those trees in the water at the edge of the lake gave us the idea of the aridity of that area ! Very impressive !
Two times I had a bit of difficulty to pass some pathholes mixed with sands with the car but I went back a few meters, then took the speed and made it at the second attempt without any damage at the bottom of the car. !
We had lunch at the local restaurant which was very next to close, as we were the only guests !
In the afternoon we went to Mariental but we even were not encouraged to get out of the car, so went back to our lovely lodge !

6/16 Kalahari – Namib Desert
After the town of Maltahoehe the C19 road becomes gravel and dusty, but nice to drive. We proceeded west through the spectacular Zarishoogte Pass ant then up to the deviation to Sesriem. We drove further north as our Namib Desert Lodge was located about 60 km north of Sesriem, just before and close to the Namib-Naukluft Lodge. The view of this unlimited landscape is really stunning !! There has been much more rain than usual this year in Namibia between January and end of May !
The result is high yellow grass, which will then make a bit more difficult to spot wildlife in Etosha Park, but is perfect for wonderful pictures ! We loved the combination of the four colours: red dune sand, yellow grass, green trees and always blue sky !
The lodge is next to red dunes which have fossilized during thousands of years and made several red sandstone cliffs ! We did a nice afternoon walk to the first dunes,close to the lodge and our kids were again very happy to collect additional and different red sand in plastic bottles !

6/17 Sossusvlei
Plans were to get up early for the sunrise on Sossusvlei dunes but we had already realized that it was not realistic for us staying at that lodge.
The Sesriem gate was scheduled to open at 06:30 so we left the lodge at 05:30 as we had to backtrack the C19 south for 60 km from where we were coming the previous day.
The Sesriem gate then opened at 06:40 and we still had to buy the park permits and paying the fees which took about 25 minutes. It was cloudy, the first and only cloudy day in the whole trip !! So we did not loose nothing as even if we stayed inside the park for the night it would have been not possible to see the sunrise from the dunes ! The good news for drivers were than the additional 64 km road from Sesriem to Sossusvlei has been perfectly PAVED this year between march and may, so it was superb to drive !! We reached the 2x4 parking area and got the 4x4 shuttle to the 4x4 parking area, about 4 km further.
From there we climbed a dune on our right side. It was still cloudy, cold and windy ! We reached the place where we said this is our today’s place to stay.
The view from there was incredible and spectacular ! At 09:45 we had some breaks among the clouds and the sunshine was really welcome ! I did some nice picture of the dunes partly in the shade and partly with the sunlight ! One of them is now in my desktop ! Some dunes were orange, some others pink, others yellow !!
Some people was sandboarding down ! Our kids played with the sand ! Soon the heat was very high and we decided to go back down when almost everybody else was already gone !
We did a stop at Dune 45 but it was really too hot to make another climb, especially for our kids so we just did some pictures, had our lunch boxes and drove away to our lodge after a very short stop at Sesriem Canyon.
In the afternoon we had the sundowner 4x4 guided drive from the lodge up to the dunes near the lodge, where we had walked the previous afternoon. The view was even more stunning from above. It was nice to talk to the other lodge guests while having again some cold drinks !
That was a memorable day. My wife said it was one of the best place she has ever visited in all 5 continents and I admitted she was right. She would love to come back, staying in that area for more days doing much more dune climbs !

6/18 Namib Desert Lodge – Swakopmund
Again on C19 north up to Solitaire, where we stopped at the gas station and local curio shop. It is a nice play to stay ! Then on C14 we did a deviation north-east up to the Spreetshoogte Pass from where we had another spectacular view of Namib ! Back to C14 to walvis Bay, after a stop at Dune 7, another really nice dune with a different colour and palm trees around !
We gave a look at Walvis Bay lagoon and saw flamingos but a bit far away from the coast.
Then to our Guest House in Swakopmund after that long drive.
Thanks God our kids are well used to travel many consecutive hours on planes and car !

6/19 Swakopmund - Welwitschia Drive
We spent the morning downtown Swakopmund doing some shopping and buyng permits for the Welwitschia Drive which we did in the afternoon.
It was my mistake forgetting to watch at the fuel level before leaving Swakopmund. When I did this we were already at Moon Landscape, very impressive and the highlight of the day !
While temperature in Swakopmund was 23 grades, in Moon Landscape it was 38.5 grades !!
My wife had some breathing problems when we got out of the air conditioned car !
I was not sure we would have made it with the fuel to go further to the Welwitschia Plains. As I did not want to take that risk we drove back to Swakopmund to the gas station but then we decided it was a bit too stressing to drive back to Welwitschia Plains so we gave up and went to walvis bay instead !
What impressed us is that people there but in general in Namibia does not walk outside in their free time along the sea. It seems everybody stays at home after work ! No young boys playing or staying outside with that wonderful weather !! Do they just watch tv and use computers ?

6/20 Sandwich Harbour
We fixed that tour the day before in Swakopmund with Mr. Francois Loubser.
He is from Walvis Bay but picked us up at 09:00 in Swakopmund.
He told us we had to wait for the low tide before attempting to pass with the car between the sea and the high sand dunes !
So we did a tour around the bay where some seals colony have their residence just on the ocean side, opposite to the lagoon.
Then we had a cold lunch on a sand dune before we went south to Sandwich Harbour.
The sea was still coming very close to the car and I was a bit concerned that we would have been stuck very easily but this did not happen and we passed that narrow path !
The beach was very large and we parked there, then we started walking along the sea having the sea on the right side and high yellow dunes on the left.
Some small lagoons hosted some birds and pelicans. One seal just fixed the sea and did not take care of us !
We could have walked for hours on that endless beach. Francois walked with us, while some other guides just wait the guest at the car. He showed us some gekos and other insects. On the way back we saw our first jackal and I got a nice picture of it with the sunset lights as background.
We learned a lot of things from Francois. He told us that a lot of people just rent 4x4 vehicles and approach that area without the basic knowledge of how to use the car and the timing of the tide flows, so some people get stuck in the sand and afterwards the sea with the high tide just takes the car away !!! Of course they have to pay for a new 4x4 !
At sunset he drove up to a dune for nice pictures and brought us back to Swakopmund !

6/21 Swakopmund – Cape Cross Seal Colony – Khorixas
before heading north we went again to Swakopmund for the last shopping.
We had heard that there had been some polio cases at the beginning of june with some deceased people, although Namibia had been declared polio-free since over 10 or 15 years !
The Government decided to offer free polio inoculation to ALL people of any age, even those adults who had inoculation already many years ago, like us. That was the first day of public inoculation. We just did the line at a pharmacy among locals and we had our inoculation, after having been assured that also for the kids there were no side effects to do it twice !
It took a few minutes.
Then we headed north to Cape Cross. Thousands of seals were there, swimming or sleeping or playing. It was really very impressive, like the orrible stinking air we felt as we opened the car door.
It took more than a while to get used to it but we made it and stayed a haf hour to see that wonderful interaction of animals !
The C35 road from north of Henties Bay to Uis offers the most arid and flat landscape I have ever seen ! Far on the right side we saw the shape of the gross Spitzkoppe. We stopped at Uis for a coffe and then proceeded to Khorixas with a loop on D2319 via Sorris Sorris.
The Igowati Lodge, in the town of Khorixas had a very nice family room for us but the location is right on the C39 main street, where people used to play high music till over midnight and that was the only down side of that place. By the other side it was perfect as base for the next day visit to the surrounding area.

6/22 Petrified Forest and Twyfelfontein
At Petrified Forest, in addition to the 260 millions old petrified logs, we could also see some Welwitschia plants, that we had missed at Welwitschia Drive near Swakopmund.
We completed the tour to Twyfelfontein within the morning and had our lunch boxes there.
Before going back to the lodge we stopped at Burnt Mountain where we collected some strange and nice stones and had a coffee with cheesecake at Twyfelfontein Country Lodge.

6/23 Khorixas – Etosha, till 6/26
We had been waiting for this day since many months. So we left Khorixas at 08:00 and were at Andersson Gate at 11:00 !
We fixed two nights at Okaukuejo luxury bungalow, definitely not luxury for the inside furniture but just for a closer location to the waterhole. At lunch time we were there and it was a very busy place for drinking and so much animal interactions !! Really incredible ! Zebras, gnus, springboks, orix and some jackals. We were completely astonished and excited for that view, especially the two kids !
We got our first pictures and then we had our lunch at the local restaurant. As we were out of the restaurant and ready to start our trip inside the park I realized that the tyre was flat !!
After the first disappointment I changed my mind and said: better here than outside the gate, far away from the camp, where we cannot get out of the car as some predators could join me !
I just changed the tyre there and drove 100 metres to the gas station where the broken one was repaired in less than 5 minutes. A small screw was the cause of the flat !
So we left the camp for our selfdrive itinerary within the park.
At Olifantsbad waterhole there were about 20 elefants, adults and babies.
Another 10 came after a while all in line from our right side and they just passed so close to our car !! I did the pictures while my son did the video ! Since last year he improved a lot not to shake the videocamera too much and it was very helpful as I could not do everything at the same time !!
Gemsbokvlakte waterhole was almost desert and Aus, as well, just a giraffe.
On the way back I saw a cheetah just crossing the road.. As it realized that our car was coming it just disappear in less than 2 seconds.
My son was disappointed that he could even not see it, although he was sitting in front of the car, beside me !
Time had passed so fast ! We had to be back at the camp within 5:25pm latest due to local regulations, so we did.
Still some action at Okaukuejo waterhole in the late afternoon, but less than at lunch time, when we had arrived. After dinner the lights on the waterhole were already on. In the rest of the evening three black rhinos came to drink. I did not have the tripod and could not do decent pictures of them !
One of the three rhinos was a baby and all of them just disappear very fast when they realized that a lion and a lioness were approaching the waterhole to drink !! They wanted to protect their baby !
The lion tried an attack to a springbok but had no success and it was very funny to see how he gave up so fast after a very short run !! He was probably wait for a waiter, or better waitress to bring him the meal !! ??
The next evening these two fellows came again to this waterhole and we were also there to watch from the benches after dinner.
At 8:20pm, the lioness (the waitress) did the attack to a springbok from behind while it was drinking and no way to run away forth but only left or right.
He choosed to turn left but the lioness cut the road on the same direction and got his rear leg !!! We saw the kill !!! Only at that point the lion came to claim a part of the meal thet they joined together !
My little daughter was tired enough not to realize completely what was going on just in front of us. Even we and the other guests all behind the protecting wall (a bit too short I would say) still could not believe what we had seen !My son was very impressed but not shocked at all and very happy that I had taken the whole video of that event !! He took the video of the rest of the meal and is very proud of it.
However we explained our daughter that nature also consists of kills and that predators also have to feed themselves and their babies !
The nexts 2 days we drove again around the park between Oakukuejo, the next camp Halali and Namutoni where we spent the last night. The 4 beds room was in the tower, just below the observation deck. I would say the less comfortable accommodation we had in the entire trip, but after all we have never been looking for luxuty ! It is not our priority !
At the end we had seen a lot of wildlife in Etosha. Our kids had been in high competition, who was able to spot animals first from the car, receiving a Namibian coin as prize each time, but not valid for springboks and giraffes that were anywere, and this kept them alerted most of the time and hours we spent in the car around the park !
We will never forget that place !
My son was very excited but still a bit disappointed that he had not seen any leopard or cheetah !
Our daughter on the last day at the airport began to cry ! She did not want to leave but staying longer among the animals.

6/26 Etosha to Waterberg Plateau
We had decided to stay as long as possible in the park to see as much more wildlife as possible, so we did, but, again, time passed so fast that at 5pm we were still at Andersson Gate and we had to reach Waterberg Plateau.
The largest lion we saw was just 2 minutes before exiting the park at the gate !
He had just killed a springbok and was carrying it around and stopped under a tree.
It was really a big big lion !!
We then arrived at Waterberg at 8pm, very tired but happy !

6/27 Waterberg Plateau – Windhoek
We had fixed the early morning scenic and game drive on a 4x4 with guide.
I cannot describe how cold it was at 5:30am on that open vehicle !
Later on the view from the top was nice but our guide was completely right: as regards game viewing, those coming from Etosha will just be disappointed !
At 10am we were back at the lodge for check out. At 1pm we were at our Gourmet restaurant in Windhoek, then shopping and dinner at El Gaucho, as we ad planned since the beginning !
6/28 Windhoek – home
We delivered the car back to Europcar at the airport and flew Windhoek – Joburg - Frankfurt-Italy !
Useless to say that our daughter, once home, saw the dvd The King Lion 1, 2 and 3 for at least 10 times each in 2 weeks !!

That’s all folks !!
We definitely want to come back as many wonderful places and spots had to be skipped this time in that area !!
This forum will help me a lot, as usual.
Thank you

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