Back from Safari in Namibia and Botswana...

Jul 2nd, 2001, 08:07 AM
  #1  
Kavey
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Back from Safari in Namibia and Botswana...

Hi All

I am back from one of our most special and wonderful holidays in Namibia and Botswana and will be attempting to write it up (not sure I can do it justice in words) and post it here on the Africa forum...

It will take me some time to write up (I did keep a diary though so that will help) and photos will also be a while since with 20 films I am trying to negotiate a deal with a good photoprocessing lab. I

Anyway, if you have got questions feel free to ask away here.

Kavey
 
Jul 2nd, 2001, 10:39 AM
  #2  
lisa
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Kavey -- I am dying to hear all about your trip. Am currently looking into safari options for next year, either Botswana/South Africa/Vic Falls or Kenya/Tanzania. Please don't spare any details! Am interested in everything from which airline you flew to where you stayed, what it cost (sorry, I know it's gauche to ask, but it's important!), what you ate, what animals you saw, etc.
 
Jul 2nd, 2001, 11:24 AM
  #3  
Kavey
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Lisa

I have already started typing up my report which I will post on this thread, but it will take me a while.

I will write in sections and post as I go.

But if you have any specific questions you want to ask sooner please feel free to email me at the address below removing spaces and Moos.

[email protected]

Kavey
 
Jul 2nd, 2001, 11:33 AM
  #4  
Kavey
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Itinerary

Leave London evening 15th June
Arrival (on BA from London) in Johannesburg, scheduled flight transfer to Windhoek (Namibia) and charter flight to Wolwedans Dune Lodge 2 nights
18th car transfer to Sossusvlei Lodge 2 nights
20th charter flight tranfer to Damaraland Camp 2 nights
22nd charter flight, scheduled flight and 2nd charter flight to Little Mombo Camp (Botswana) 4 nights
26th charter flight transfer to Little Vumbura Camp 2 nights
28th charter flight transfer to Chitabe Trails Camp 2 nights
30th charter flight to Maun, 2 scheduled flights to Johannesburg (via Gaberone) and BA flight home to London, arriving on 1st July.


I would add a note that this itinerary was exceedingly expensive, partly because we did stay in some stunning camps, but also because we had so many flights included, including scheduled ones and provate charters of little Cessnas between camps.

A similar holiday could be acheived for less by concentrating on just Namibia or Botswana, and Namibia is also popular for self drivers (though you should be aware the distances are big).

We even met people who were camping but we preferred our luxury options!!!
 
Jul 3rd, 2001, 12:02 PM
  #5  
Kaylee
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Kavey I like your style. Would you please give me an idea whether this two weeks cost US $5,000 or $25,000. We would like to do something similar next year
 
Jul 4th, 2001, 12:07 PM
  #6  
Kavey
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OK. I wasn't going to post price on here because although I usually do one week's holiday for the cost of one night of this one, I have seen many people flamed here for choosing expensive options, you know, the kind of comments along the lines of "Don't you know there are starving children in XYZ?"

It in the region of $14k.

But as I said, a large part of that is the number of flights.

If you just do Botswana and concentrate on 2 or 3 camps (Mombo is most expensive but far and away best for Game and for accommodation) then this should pull it down a lot. Likewise a lot of people just did Namibia and many self drive which is some long drives (but great views) but less expensive.

Kavey
 
Jul 4th, 2001, 12:07 PM
  #7  
Kavey
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That's US $
 
Jul 4th, 2001, 12:59 PM
  #8  
Robin
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Hi Kavey--

I'm looking forward to your report, and I have a couple of questions for now! How did you choose Namibia and Botswana? Have you been to other areas of Africa? It appears to me (as I have not been before) that part of the decision-making process is determining what types of animals interest you most. Is that fair to say? Any advice for narrowing down a portion of the continent to focus on? Oh, and I'm curious, if you don't mind, since you admit that making the effort to go to both countries increased the cost, what pushed you over the edge to do both? I guess that's more than a couple of questions, but this is one of my dream trips. Thanks for offering your expertise!
 
Jul 4th, 2001, 01:10 PM
  #9  
Kavey
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Hi!

I had been to Kenya and Tanzania before. THey were a great introduction to safaris but even when I visited in the early 1980s each time there was an animal sighting there would inevitably be about 20 jeeps surrounding the animal within moments.

Not only does this affect the feeling of being in the wild seeing the animals in their natural habitat, I have read that it can have a major impact on animal behaviour.

In Botswana camps are far smaller so this doesnt happen. In order to be able to do this Botswana has long opted to aim for the luxury end market in order to be able to make the same income.

Choosing is difficult. We chose these two countries because my parents did a similar trip, also incorporating Zimbabwe, 2 years back. We missed Zimbabwe because about when we booked they started massacring white farmers.

But I have to agree with my parents that they are a great combination because of the incredible contrast.

Namibia is visually breathtaking. You do see a reasonable number of birds and animals, and it is one of the only places you can see the very rare Desert elephants, but for me, it was about the landscape as much as animals.

Botswana, whilst beautiful in scenery too was, for me, much more about the game viewing, with Mombo blowing my mind in this respect.

The 1st installment of the trip report is almost done.

This bit is easy to write as I am just polishing what I wrote at the time in my diary. The less of my diary is more just a record of what we did and saw so will take me more time to convert into something which really conveys the trip.

Kavey
 
Jul 5th, 2001, 04:20 AM
  #10  
Kavey
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First Installment ready... but the othres may not be this descriptive!


16th June 2001

After a day in the office and a twenty hour trip involving the London Underground and 2 tiring British Airways flights I stood at the Windhoek airport baggage carousel waiting for our bags and contemplating the 3rd flight of our journey. “Could a remote camp at the edge of the Namib Desert be worthy of such an epic and convoluted journey?” I wondered.

Twenty minutes later we soared up into the sky in a tiny Cessna 210. Our little craft danced through the air, buffeted by the warm thermals, our spirits lifted and our fatigue drifted away.

We looked down at the arid land, criss-crossed by long, straight dirt-roads, carved up by zig-zagging, dry riverbeds, and punctuated by rugged hills jutting up randomly from the flatness. The tiny green bushes sprinkled over the dusty orange dirt somehow made the landscape look even more barren.

Finally we could grasp what the statistics had not fully conveyed: Namibia has a land mass 6 times that of England and a total population of only 1.4 million. She is truly vast and shows little sign of man’s habitation.

As we continued the earth became redder and the landscape below us evolved into a mass of eroded hills, their corrugated contours like the folds of full gathered skirts. The vista was so immense that from our sun drenched viewpoint we could see a string of clouds floating in the far blue distance and their vast dappled shadows on the ground some thousands of feet below.

Now the landscape became pale again, flat and blonde with inky-black, hills jutting up here and there. If you let go of the scale for an instant it looked like nothing more than a corner of a pale sandy beach dotted with dark jagged pebbles half submerged in the sand.

Finally a series of vivid red streaks appeared in the blondeness ahead. These were the tips of the terracotta sand dunes of the Namib desert. It was only as we began to descend that we could see that the blondeness between the red stripes came from the swaying grass concealing much of the sand after this year's exceptional rainfall.

Our accommodation for the next two nights sat atop the dunes surrounded by the terracotta sands and grass of the NamibRand Nature Reserve. As the Cessna swooped down towards the tiny airstrip we could see more clearly the multitude of mysterious and perfectly circular bald patches where no grass grew. During our stay at the Wolwedans Dune Lodge we would learn much more about these fascinating Fairy Circles as we explored the striking beauty of the Living Desert.
 
Jul 5th, 2001, 09:31 AM
  #11  
Robin
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Kavey--

Thanks for your helpful "analysis" of your choices-- it does give me something to work with.

And regarding your journal...Wow.
 
Jul 6th, 2001, 12:20 AM
  #12  
Kavey
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Robin

Thanks!

I am intending to write a lot more about the actualy accommodations and practical matters, and this will be much more in the form of regular, informative write ups rather than the more poetic piece above, but this was what I wrote into my diary after a shower and meal at Wolwedans, with a little work on the descriptions, as I had left a few blanks where I couldnt find the words.

I thoroughly recommend Wolwedans, and the Wilderness Safari camps, Damaraland, Little Mombo, Little Vumbura and Chitabe Trails but would not stay again in the Movenpick Sossusvlei Lodge, instead choosing the Wilderness Safari property in the area.

Kav
 
Jul 8th, 2001, 12:38 AM
  #13  
kavey
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16/ 17 June 2001

Wolwedans Dune Lodge

I would never have imagined that the huge, wonderfully sweet and thirst-quenching watermelon I have always known is a descendant of the tiny, often bitter Tsamma melon of Southern Africa. The size and shape of an orange with the same variegated green markings of the larger watermelon it grows in surprising abundance on the sands of the Namib desert and makes a beautiful contribution to the table decorations at dinner this evening.
 
Jul 8th, 2001, 02:13 AM
  #14  
Kavey substitute
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The meal itself is a revelation, a gourmet effort worthy of any top
restaurant in Paris, London or New York. The starter is a beautifully
presented dish; a precisely formed pile of crisp apple and smooth avocado
salad, pierced with a few upright strands of crispy, deep-fried spaghetti
which cage long, twisting gratings of raw carrot, and surrounded by thin
slices of rich smoked beef. This is followed by a tender braised rack of
lamb served with a delicate potato gratin and a vegetable ratatouille.
After this we still manage to avail ourselves of dessert: petite, hand-made
orange ravioli served with a caramel sauce and caramelised nuts and
decorated with a shining ball of spun sugar.

We share the meal with fellow travellers, an American couple revisiting
their honeymoon destination for their 10th anniversary, a German
photo-journalist enjoying his 9th visit to Namibia and a Indian gentleman
with a self-declared passion for Africa which he indulges annually. Our
hosts also join us for dinner: Hermann, the Wolwedans manager, a poetic
soul who revels in the extra touches which make the lodge so appealing and
creates hand-made cards for each guest on the day of departure; Louise,
another manager, a dedicated conservationist and our personal guide during
our stay, this petite and attractive English woman made her home in Africa
some 17 years previously and her passion for the Reserve shines through;
Ralph the young and intensely serious German chef whose creative menu we
have so enjoyed, responsible for training and overseeing the team of local
kitchen staff. His colleagues express much admiration for his dedication to
his team and we all experience their success.

The accommodation itself is romantic, luxurious and incredibly peaceful.
The lodge is built on wooden platforms, and sits on top of the red sand
dunes at the edge of the Namib Desert. Both the chalets and the public
areas are constructed of solid wooden frames and ceilings, some wooden
walls, and some large canvas walls that can be left completely open to the
panoramic views of the desert beyond.

The main complex, built on a stilted platform, consists of a bar lounge, a
dining room and a study, the canvas walls on at least one side of each room
left open onto the large area of decking. In one corner of the decking is
an intimate fire pit surrounded by chairs.

The twelve chalets sit in two groups on either side of the main complex.
Ours is reached via a long, stepped, wooden walkway that crosses over a
large sand dune, hiding the main complex from our chalet, and then a short
walk across the sand. Each time we cross the walkway we examine the new
tracks of birds and animals which mark the shifting sands. We are the only
guests staying in this group of chalets and are slightly unnerved and
thrilled at the same time by the total silence surrounding us, interrupted
only by the sounds of singing birds, scurrying beetles and occasional
animal visitors.

 
Jul 8th, 2001, 02:15 AM
  #15  
More fake Kavey
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Each of the spacious Chalets sits on it's own stilted platform, providing
warm, wooden flooring underfoot. The large bedroom is dominated by
beautiful wooden beds dressed in soft white linen, and draped with a
romantic mosquito net, knotted and twisted to hang decoratively above the
bed since there is little problem with insects at this time of year. There
is also a wood-walled, open-windowed, en-suite bathroom, well equipped and
environmentally friendly - the water run-off from shower and sink feeds a
tree next to the chalet's solar panel and water tank. From the private
verandah you can admire the blonde grass, red sand and mysterious Fairy
Circles and the Tsamma melons growing on their ground-hugging vines.

The bed sits up against one wall and the opposite wall we leave completely
open all day and night. The night is cool and we sit on the verandah,
admiring the night sky. We are unaccustomed to seeing such blackness lit up
by so many stars, and are awed by the clarity of the Milky Way Galaxy. M
ars, bright overhead, is also a sight we see rarely at home. We get into
beds warmed by well insulated hot-water bottles and sleep the sleep of
angels.

We wake up to a sunrise at the foot of our beds, creeping up over the
distant mountains and racing across the sand towards us.This is a
magnificent start to our first full day in Namibia and, after a hot shower
and breakfast, we look forward to exploring the NamibRand Reserve.



For more information on Wolwedans and the NamibRand Nature Reserve please
visit www.wolwedans.com and www.wolwedans.com.na.

 
Jul 8th, 2001, 02:18 AM
  #16  
Kavey- the doppelganger
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For the avoidance of doubt the last two postings were Kavey's text pasted in by me because she couldn't get the forum to work She takes fullresponsibility for every thing expect my cackhanded ness
 
Jul 8th, 2001, 02:38 AM
  #17  
Kavey
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Thanks Sheila for posting my article for me...

(If this post adds OK I am going to throw up my hands and give up any attempt at understanding the vagaries of technolody).

Satisfied that post 2 is safely here I will start on the next one.

As this may take time if anyone has questions about any aspect of the itinerary please email questions here.

Kavey
 
Jul 13th, 2001, 06:12 AM
  #18  
Andy
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Hi Kavey

I'm looking forward to the Botswana write up as I've booked a trip there this November.

We chose Gametrackers Safaris over Wilderness so do you have any experience or info. on them?

thanks
Andy
 
Jul 14th, 2001, 03:10 PM
  #19  
Kavey
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Andy

I am sorry, no, I have not come across Gametrackers safaris.

The advantage for us with Wilderness is that they own/ run many very good camps themselves AND have a very good relationship with a charter air company (Sesofane) AND orgamise whole itinerary so it works out very cohesively.

I wanted to ensure one company was responsible for the whole trip so if anything went wrong there would be no passing the buck, just a concerted effort by all to resolve it.

I am being a bit slow writing up the rest of the trip because I have a day jobn, am helping my husband develop some new websites (he has his own company) and also trying to work on improvements to the website we created for my mum's recipes recently!

As I am leaving for SF in less than a week I probably won't get a chance to carry on writing the trip report up until I get back, end July.

Please feel free to ask specific questions before then (except 21 - 29 july).

Which camps within Botswana are you visiting?

Kavey
 
Jul 17th, 2001, 12:18 AM
  #20  
Andy
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Kavey

Gametrackers is owned by Orient Express group and they are handling the whole safari bit including all flights between camps and other ground arrangements.

Their camps are Savute Elephant camp, Eagle Island Camp and Kwhai River Lodge.

Do you know these?

Andy
 

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