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Comments Pls on a couple of early Namibia itinerary options (long)

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Sep 19th, 2009, 04:06 AM
  #1
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Comments Pls on a couple of early Namibia itinerary options (long)

I've been reading a lot about Namibia for our 3 weeks (+/-) there in late February/early March 2010. I realize it's not the perfect time of year to go to Namibia - but it's when we're going to be in Africa and we really want to see Namibia.

Background - we leave Toronto for the winter and this year are spending 8 weeks in Africa - first 12 days in Tanzania (private safari with Nomad Tanzania to Crater and Serengeti) then 3 weeks in a rental house in Simonstown (south of Capetown), then 3 weeks for Namibi+.

Our plan is a self drive (I think we'll rent a Nissan X-Trail or similar) with a combination of "splurge" lodging and more modestly priced lodging.

Following are two itineraries I'm considering - the first is all Namibia and the second includes Botswana/Vic Falls. I have indicated hotels but have not done much research on the proposed hotels yet

Itinerary "A" - all Namibia

Day 1 Arrive Windhoek - transfer to Waterberg National Park
(alternative - the N/a’an ku sê Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary looks very interesting - might start there)
Days 2 & 3 Etosha Namutoni Camp
Day 4 Etosha Halali Camp (recommendation is to avoid Okaukuejo at this time of year as it's not as good for game)
Day 5 Kavita Lion Lodge or Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park
Day 6 Hobatere Lodge
Days 7 & 8 Possible fly in to Serra Cafema ($$$$) or Opuwo Country Hotel or Kunene River Lodge
Days 9 & 10 Damaraland -Palmway Lodge or Mowani Mountain Camp
Days 11 - 16 Swakopmund Self Catering - day trips and relaxing
Days 17 & 18 Sossus Dune Lodge
Day 19 Windhoek

We are still considering a Skeleton Coast fly-in, which Mr. Dow and Mr. Jones are working on right now! (Otherwise we would do at least a day flight).

Itinerary "B" - Namibia, finishing in Botswana/Vic Falls

Day 1 Windhoek (if arrival later in day)
Days 2 & 3 Sossus Dune Lodge
Day 3, 4, 5 Swakopmund - B&B probably - the Cornerstone looks nice or maybe splurge for the Stilz?
Day 6 & 7 Damaraland -Palmway Lodge or Mowani Mountain Camp
Day 8 Waterberg National Park
Day 9 Halali (Etosha)
Day 10 & 11 Namutoni (Etosha)
Day 12 Rundu - N'Kwazi Lodge
Day 13 Caprivi - N'gepi Camp
Days 14 & 15 Caprivi - Mazambala Island Lodge
Days 17 & 18 & 19 - Chobe National Park - Safari Lodge or alternative River Cruise (Zambezi Queen possibly?)
Days 20 & 21 - Livingstone - Zambezi Waterfront
Return to J'Burg and home

As you can see, the number of days is different between the two - we're very flexible for the right itinerary.

I really love the idea of adding Botswana and Vic Falls (which I had considered as part of the Tanzania portion). At the outset I said I realize it's not the best time to go to Namibia and we are prepared for that, but maybe visiting Caprivi/Botswana/Vic Falls area at that time is really pushing it? (i.e. wet, floods, mozzies?)

Really appreciate comments! Thanks.
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Sep 19th, 2009, 07:09 PM
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Elizabeth_S,

what interesting itinerary options. I've visited Namibia twice, in 2005 I was there in Oct-Nov and 2008 in July-Aug, so I'm afraid my comments won't be season specific.

If you can find a copy of Travel Namibia that was released in May 2009 with Travel Africa magazine you will find many useful ideas for travel off the beaten track in Namibia - I plan to make good use of this for my next trip in 2 years time.

I didn't find Waterberg particularly interesting and wouldn't include it in a future itinerary. I'd suggest a visit to Okonjima where the Africat project is headquartered. Photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/Treepol/...maAfricat2005# Kavita Lion Lodge and the Afrileo project have some connection with Africat, although I'm not sure what it is or if its still current.

Hobatere is a great choice, the property neighbours Kavita. With regards to Etosha waterhole activity Steve and Louise Brain at Hobatere might be able to supply some local seasonal knowledge. I've found both Halali and Namutoni to be very disappointing compared to Okaukeujo and I'm wondering if a quiet day at Okaukeujo is still better than a good day at the others? There are a few photos of accommodation at Hobatere, Namutoni and Halali at http://picasaweb.google.com/Treepol/Accommodation2#

You might also be interested to read Ivory Moon by Sally Henderson which is a recently published book telling of their year as WS guest managers at a remote camp - Palmwag was their supply and R&R base.

I don't know anything about the Caprivi area but am contemplating a Botswana-Namibia safari via Caprivi in 2011. Both Mamili NP and Bwabwatwa NP receive good write-ups in this years Travel Namibia. Also on my list is Shamvura Camp for good birding in the Caprivi.

I've heard good first-hand reports of Etendeka Mountain Camp http://www.natron.net/tour/etendeka/ from self-drivers and have it on my list. Cape Cross Lodge looks very inviting right on the beach.

Of the 2 itineraries, the first one provides the best options for seeing the diverse landscape of Namibia, whilst the second includes a peek at Botswana. I'd suggest option one and keep Botswana for another trip.

Happy planning,


Pol
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Sep 20th, 2009, 08:16 AM
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Pol - thank you for such a thoughtful reply ..... lots for me to think about.

I haven't been able to find Sally Henderson's book available via North American websites (just Australian) but will keep looking - it sounds terrific.

Thanks again!
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Sep 20th, 2009, 08:31 AM
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Hi Elizabeth!

For Swakopmund, I would recommend the Beach Lodge and for the dunes, I would recommend Kulala Wilderness Camp. For a cruise on the Chobe, we spent two nights on the Ichobezi and loved it. In Livingstone, we loved Stanley Safari Lodge.

See the following photos and trip reports for 2008 - it is all one (6-week) trip - but broken into two reports - the first is a self-drive through SA and Namibia (beginning in Cape Town and ending in Swakopmund) and the second is Botswana (including Moremi, Chobe, Vic Falls, Livingstone and the cruise on the river for two nights). Many of the places you are considering are included in the reports. Robin

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...61053054_KcDbR

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...18318816_Pyvk6
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Sep 20th, 2009, 09:13 AM
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Thanks Robin - I'm a bit embarrassed to admit how many times I've read your trip reports - a large part of the reason we are so excited about Namibia!!!!!!
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Sep 20th, 2009, 03:21 PM
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Hi Elizabeth

I would also go for itinerary A, especially if you think you'll have the chance to visit again. I haven't been in Feb/March but we did go in April/May this year and we couldn't do much of the trip we'd planned in Caprivi because of flooding so had to abandon that route. The lodges on the Kavango River were flooded around Rundu (can't say for sure if N'Kwazi Lodge was, but N'gepi Camp defintely was). The main route through to Kasane and Chobe was passable but we decided that if we couldn't stop to explore it wasn't worth it. That isn't to say that there will be as much rain next year, maybe someone with personal experience of that time of year can add their advice. A second consideration is that if you'll have 'done' a safari in Tanzania then Namibia would be a good contrast.

I agree with Pol and would swap Waterberg with Okonjima/Africat. It's well placed between Windhoek & Etosha.

I think at least one night in Okaukuejo is worthwhile just to see the floodlit waterhole, we've never been disappointed with the night-time action there.

We loved Palmwag but we camped, and you could only drive on their concession with a 4x4 (although they offer game drives). We couldn't believe that you could see so much wildlife outside a park, and the scenery was beautiful. But I have to say Mowani looks stunning, no personal experience though.

Swakopmund is good for relaxing, plenty to do. We also liked Beach Lodge, but I'm not sure they have self-catering? Do take a boat trip, we thought it might be a bit lame but you might get a seal jumping into the boat to be fed, great fun!

Looks like a great trip whatever you decide to do!

By the way, if you decide to rent a 4x4 (Toyota Hi-Lux or similar) you'll find that the addition of the camping equipment adds very little to the cost ... even if you "don't do camping" it's worth a go just for the experience, even if you only actually use it a few nights (and you could 'splurge' a bit more if you save on some lodge acco) and perhaps you'll need it in Etosha if reservations are hard to come by. Give it a go - you've read Robin's reports so you know it's fun!

Pol, I haven't been able to locate 'Ivory Moon' either in the UK, but have written to the publisher to try and get it, sounds like my cup of tea!!!
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Sep 20th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Thanks Elizabeth! What a lovely comment! I must say that I am envious that you manage to escape much of our Canadian winter!! You will love the crater and the Serengeti - we had such a good time at both and saw so much.

I will also vote for Okonjima - go for the bush camp if you can afford it - we were upgraded to it and the tents were lovely. I have fond memories of our stay there.

Beach Lodge does offer self-catering but, if you do stay there, have a least one evening meal in their dining room - the meals are fabulous - it is where all of the locals eat. In Swako, be sure to do the Sandwich Harbour tour - a great day trip.

I did a search for the book (Ivory Moon) and could only find it in Australia or NZ (with a $15 mailing charge to Canada - half the cost of the book). Will keep looking! It sounds like an interesting read.

I too would be inclined to itinerary A and leave Botswana to another time - perhaps combined with a trip to Zambia. Robin
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Sep 21st, 2009, 03:31 AM
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Elizabeth, you are most welcome to read my trip report:
http://www.funkymunky.co.za/namibia.html

I understand that since we were there Namparks have increased their prices drastically, but to counter that a whole lot of lodges have sprung up at the various entrances to Etosha.

I also agree with previous comments, Waterberg Park is nothing special.

Highlights are Sossusvlei (I really wanted to do a hot air balllon trip over the dunes), if you drive by Solitaire, their apple pie is world famous, take the Mole Mole boat trip in Walvis Bay, the Ghost Town "Kolmanskop" near Luderitz, we camped at Shark Island in Luderitz.
Feel free to ask any questions
Peter
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Sep 24th, 2009, 04:48 AM
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Elizabeth_S and Tockoloshe,

as you are interested in books, you might also like to read Tammie Matson's Dry water about her years researching elephants in Namibia.

She has a new title due out in Australia next month called Elephants dance - better luck with locating these titles.


Cheers,


Pol
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Oct 14th, 2009, 11:08 PM
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Hi guys - I found this conversation while googling and thought I'd say hi! Thanks Pol for recommending my books "Dry Water" and "Elephant Dance". Unfortunately neither my books or Sally Henderson's are available in the UK or US, but you can buy them through our websites and we'll happily post them over to you. My website is www.tammiematson.com and Sal's is www.sallyhenderson.com.au
or contact us by email on [email protected] and [email protected]

Elizabeth, both your itinerarie options look fabulous! Wilderness Safaris' Serra Cafema camp is my favourite in all of Namibia. I lived in Etosha for two years and you can't go wrong with Okaukuejo camp either. But then again, you don't want to miss Chobe for all those elephants! March is a hot time of year but great for big storms and baby animals, plus you don't have to compete for space with so many tourists. Don't hesitate to drop me an email if you'd like a chat about Africa!
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Oct 15th, 2009, 03:57 AM
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Tammie - thanks for posting - I'll order from your website (and presume upon your kind offer of an email).

We've pretty much decided on option B to add Botswana and will be posting a new itinerary shortly. Do you agree with posters above that Okaukuejo is equal or better to Halali and Namutoni? Still noodling around the Etosha portion.
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Oct 15th, 2009, 01:28 PM
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Elizabeth_S,

We are going on a 10 day customized privately guided safari the last ten days of January 2010. We didn't want to have to drive, so we could concentrate on our experience and photography. Our itinerary is as follows: Day 1-Pick up at Windhoek Airport, Olive Grove Guesthouse tour of city, Day 2 and 3 Etosha- two nights Okaukeuejo Lodge, Day 4 Damaraland--one night Palmwag Lodge, Day 5 and 6-Swakopmund- two nights Central Guesthouse, Day 7 and 8-Sossusvlei--2 nights Desert Homestead Lodge (they have horseback riding, if you so desire), Day 9--balloon ride over dunes and return for one night Olive Grove Guesthouse in Windhoek and day 10- get delivered to Airport for flight to Capetown for a couple of nights and then catch a cruise ship that does the eastern South Africa coastline and Mozambique for ten nights with day safaris along the way. We used Charl Grobler at Uyaphi.com for the safari, but booked the ship and air ourselves.
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Oct 15th, 2009, 02:01 PM
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Thanks narob - that's a nice sounding itinerary.

I've posted an updated version of ours - here - these two posts are now competing with one another!

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...s-pls-long.cfm
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Oct 16th, 2009, 03:16 PM
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Thanks Tammie, appreciate the info! Added to my list!
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Oct 21st, 2009, 12:26 PM
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Elizabeth_S,

You will be glad you added Botswana. The delta is great place!
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