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Trip Report Namibia - Camping Tour

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In 2013 my wife and I vacationed in Africa for 5 weeks. The last week we were to Namibia. We decided on a 3-day camping tour from Windhoek to/from the sand-dunes offered by Tenna Express. Its brochure stated that it was a 'member of the Namibian Tourism Board and TASA'. Later we learned that this statement was untrue. Our transport to Sesriem, Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and the dunes was a van suitable for 2 persons and their travel gear. Unfortunately, another couple with their travel gear had been assigned already to this van. Most of our gear had to be placed in the small, open trailer attached to the van. The trailer contained our camping equipment as well. Vehicular travel was uncomfortable for all. Our driver/tour guide, Gregory was a freelancer. He gave the impression that he would rather be somewhere else.
The scenery from Windhoek to Sesriem was great. Namibia is semi-desert and desert. We travelled through a small mountain range with a series of switchbacks to the desert floor. Although it is possible to fly from Windhoek to Sossusvlei, one would miss the marvellous terrain. We stopped for lunch at a lay-by in the mountains. The view was stunning. Not so our camping chairs and eating accessories. All were filthy with torn canvas and broken legs. The chairs were child size. Eating utensils were un clean, and hygiene completely lacking.
After setting camp at Sesriem, Gregory guided us into Sesriem Canyon. It was a fascinating walk. However we could have done without him firing stones at a pit viper which was only feet away. He then drove us to watch the sunset at Elim dunes. Upon arriving, he indicated the direction of a viewpoint, and left to visit with his friends. We missed the sunset, which was advertised in Tenna Express's brochure.
The following morning we drove to Sossusvlei, and on to the dunes to view the sunrise at Dune 45. This experience was worth the tour.
Gregory had us arise the next morning very early - still dark. He explained that we were to meet another Tenna Express tour van in Rehoboth, a town about 50 miles south of Windhoek. There we were to exchange vehicles, including the trailer and camping gear. Tenna Express seemed to be lacking camping gear. Perhaps it was mismanagement. Regardless, it behoved Tenna Express to inform prospective tour customers of the situation, and to have a reciprocal referral arrangement with another tour operator.
Upon arriving at Rehoboth, Gregory proceeded to have the tour van refuelled. Unfortunately it was refuelled with diesel rather than petrol. It was necessary to have a mechanic attend to drain the fuel tank of diesel. The exchange vehicle did not arrive from Windhoek for another 2 hours. And it was hot! After the transfer was completed, there was now more gear inside the van. Loose items became commingled. Gregory delivered us to our accommodation first. Everyone was exhausted.
Sometime later we became aware that we were missing a heavy jacket, a pair of overpants, and $US340. We sent e-mails to Tenna Express and the Namibian Tourism Board. Their failure to respond, and lack of concern were appalling. After several weeks without a response, we e-mailed the Canadian Consulate in Windhoek. Finally Tenna Express responded, but the reply was not helpful. And time was elapsing. We wished to communicate with the couple with whom we toured; however Tenna Express would not provide any information pertaining to their residence in Windhoek. End of tale.
Bottom line! Namibia is well worth a visit. Just avoid Tenna Express, and freelancer/tour guide Gregory. He is not suited for the job. Despite the shortcomings, the tour is not to be missed. Unfortunately for us, it could have been much better, especially as it was our last stop prior to returning to Canada.

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