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Latest Namibia + Botswana/Vic Falls itinerary - comments pls (Long)

Latest Namibia + Botswana/Vic Falls itinerary - comments pls (Long)

Oct 15th, 2009, 01:19 PM
  #1  
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Latest Namibia + Botswana/Vic Falls itinerary - comments pls (Long)

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 Namibia+.

We'll be in Namibia 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.

Our plan is a self drive (renting a Nissan X-Trail or similar) with a combination of "splurge" lodging and more modestly priced lodging.

Getting closer to a final itinerary - I've been working with a travel agent in Swakopmund who has been very helpful and her prices are lower than the internet rates on the various lodge websites. We have decided to go onto Botswana/Vic Falls, with the understanding that it's not the best time of year but don't have plans to return to the area for some time. If the rains and floods are really bad the agent will make adjustments in late January/early February if necessary.

So here's the latest 19 night itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Windhoek 10am and drive to Na'ankuse Wildlife Sanctuary - considered a number of sanctuary options and am very excited about this one
Days 2 & 3 - Sossus Dune Lodge - want to stay here to be inside the park gates to get to the dune for sunrise and before the other tours
Days 4 & 5 - Swakopmund - B&B TBD - maybe Cornerhouse - day trips (quad biking, bird watching, flight to Skeleton coast, etc)
Day 5 - Cape Cross Lodge - had originally planned to do as a day trip from Swakopmund but agent suggested leaving Swakopmund one day early and staying at Cape Cross this evening to reduce the driving on Day 6
Days 6 & 7 - Palmwag Lodge
Day 8 - Hobatere Lodge
Days 9, 10 & 11 - Etosha - currently one night in Halali and 2 in Namutoni but still considering Okaukuejo. In agent's opinion wildlife is better at other two camps at this time of year
Day 12 - Rundu/N'Kwazi Lodge
Days 13 & 14 - Caprivi - Mazambala Lodge - game drives in Bwabwatwa NP
Days 15, 16 & 17 - Botswana/Chobe River 3 night cruise - considering either the Zambezi Queen or Ichobezi . The former is more expensive but the schedule works better
Day 18 - trip to Vic Falls - have to do more research on this day - assuming we'll cross into Zimbabwe/maybe helicopter ride - staying in Livingstone - current hotel is Zambezi Waterfront Lodge but the TA reviews aren't great - will review with agent.....Robin suggested Stanley Safari Lodge - looking into it
Day 19 - return to Johannesburg - we get in at 3pm and our flight doesn't leave until midnight - agent has suggested a nearby B&B for the afternoon/evening (African Dreams Guesthouse). Might do that or just park ourselves in KLM lounge.

Made several changes based on comments from a previous post - thanks all!
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Oct 15th, 2009, 08:01 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 846
Hi Liz-This is Chris. I am going to again follow in your footsteps. next year Egypt-Planning South Africa 2012. Will look forward to your reports as they are the best. I have your Egypt copied in my Egypt folder. Thanks for forging the way-Chris
BeniciaChris is offline  
Oct 15th, 2009, 10:28 PM
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Hi Liz,

great Namibian itinerary!

I'd suggest Brigadoon in Swakopmund, it was a very friendly place and excellent value when I stayed there last year and just a block back from the beach. The place has been renovated recently so I'm not sure what the tariff is now, http://www.brigadoonswakopmund.com/ The self-contained apartments over the road from the B&B have fabulous views being on the waterfront. I also like the look of the Stiltz, http://www.thestiltz.in.na/

A night at Cape Cross is a great idea as its right on the coast. New accommodation has been built in the last 12 months I believe.

I still wonder about missing Okaukeujo - I was at Halali and Namutoni last August and there were 2 Egyptian geese at the Namutoni waterhole, that was all we saw and a herd of impala, a squirrel and a few jackals were all that came to the Halali waterhole when I was there.

I look forward to hearing about Bwabwatwa NP as not much is reported on this place.

We stayed at Lost Horizons Lodge in Livingstone and were very comfortable there, http://www.victoria-falls-hotels.com...dge_Zambia.asp I see its temporarily closed though.

Looks like a wonderful safari.


Cheers,


Pol.
Treepol is offline  
Oct 16th, 2009, 04:26 PM
  #4  
 
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Yep, what a great itinerary, lots of contrast, you're getting the most from your Africa trip! Can't add anything useful, just that I wish I were coming!
tockoloshe is offline  
Oct 17th, 2009, 03:50 AM
  #5  
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Thanks all - I am going to have another discussion about the Etosha plans and finalize a couple of hotels but otherwise I think this is it! Just had confirmation from Hertz that the vehicle we requested is available - theirs was the best rate of all, especially considering they do not charge a drop off fee.

Chris - happy to help Will be posting a blog link closer to our departure.
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Oct 24th, 2009, 10:25 AM
  #6  
 
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Couldn't agree more with Treepol. Missing Okaukeujo?? Two weeks ago, we sat at the Okaukeujo waterhole for two nights and a good half day with amazement. Of course people have different points of view about places but I think this place is an exception. And then we went over to Halali for the day. It has just a bit better setting, as the bush is nearer and the landscape is not as barren as Okaukeujo but it is a bit further away from the animals and the chalets and they didn't look that exciting to me as compared to the newly built chalets in Okau. We saw a few antelopes and zebras there. We also stayed at Brigadoon and it really was a very nice place and run by a charming lady called Margaret. We paid N$ 750 per night.
Rundu is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 11:27 AM
  #7  
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Re Okaukeujo - the issue as I understand from the Travel Agent in Swakopmund is the time of year we are going to be there - i.e. late February. I relayed the comments about it that I have heard here and her response was:

Okaukuejo is a dead stick at that time of year, you will just see Springbok and zebra if you are lucky a giraffe or 2. All the animals head east in the rains. You can drive there from Halali for the day if you like.

As near as I can tell - many people`s comments about Okaukuejo relate to their experiences at other times of the year so I am going with the local agent`s opinion here. I would really rather not do 3 different lodges in the park. So we will plan to drive there.

Thanks all!
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Oct 28th, 2009, 02:53 PM
  #8  
 
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Hi,

OK, I haven't been in Namibia at that time of year, but I think you will kick yourself for only spending one night at Hobatere. It's one of the best lodges in Namibia. I would drop a night in Etosha to make more time for it.

I also think you are short-changing your self in swakopmund. Have you looked at a trip to Sandwich Harbour with Turnstone Tours, or boat trips to see the marine life?

The drive over the dunes with Turnstone is one of the highlights of several trips I've made to Namibia.

And I also think some contingency needs to be built in, in case roads are flooded.

Lastly, try to get higher at Vic Falls - a microlight or plane will give you a better view of the Falls. The helicopter is exciting, but too close to the falls to get them in the viewfinder!

Sounds a wonderful trip. Its a beautiful country.
mcwomble is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 11:53 AM
  #9  
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mcwomble - thanks for your very helpful comments.

Re Hobatere - I'm interested to hear your comments - the reviews of Hobatere here are good but a bit up and down on TA (only 3 now and mainly for the treehouse). Would you drop Halali or one night in Namutoni?

Re Swakopmund - yes I have a nagging feeling about timing. We arrive about 1pm on our first day so I thought we could do the boat trip that afternoon then the Dune trip with Turnstone the next day and hopefully the Sandwich Harbour tour the day we drive to Cape Cross (a short drive as I understand it).

Re contingency - obviously it's hard to say where those days should be - but it is structured so the 2 nights in Mazambala could become one if we have needed a night along the way

Thanks again!
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Oct 29th, 2009, 02:45 PM
  #10  
 
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Hi,

Basically, staying only one night at most places is a waste of money, imo. Arrive in the afternoon, leave the next morning - what's the point?

I once stayed at Etendaka Mountain Camp, which was about 90 minutes on a 4x4 track from the main road. A german couple arrived at 6pm, and left at 8am, as they had a long day ahead. They saw virtually nothing of the 50,000 hectares. Hobatere is a similar size,albeit with easier road access.

Seeing animals is a lottery. While you are waiting for something to come into view, there are few more rewarding experiences,imo, than with a good guide. They can, literally, make pooh exciting! And Hobatere has some good guides.

I have only stayed at Okaekeujo (sp?), so can't comment on the others. Personally, I'd try both.

re. Swak. If I recall, it's about a 2 hour journey to Sandwich Harbour, lunch, walkabout, explore the dunes....and you are likely getting back about 3pm. I would check with Turnstone about the detail, and I think its about 50 miles to Cape Cross (good road). (I'd say CC Lodge is one of the few where a one-night stay would not be wasteful. A longer stay may be more relaxing, but 1 night is fine).

However, I see that now means there's no scenic flight in your trip. Again - that has been a highlight of my trips. here are a number you can do, but I would suggest a triangular flight, either to Sossusvlei and back to the coast (seeing old diamond mines, shipwrecks, the Dune wall, and the huge sea of dunes) or north around Spitzkoppe, and the amazing Ugab river, and then along the coast.

Decisions, decisions....
mcwomble is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 03:48 PM
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Elizabeth,

the accomodation at Hobatere is not lux. The ensuite rooms are clean and comfortable and decorated in a style and colours that complements the surroundings. I'd return in a jiffy! Hobatere doesn't have spas or chocolate coated strawberries and dinner is a buffet with a strong British influence (I think I remember a roast, Shepherds pie, there were other choices. Hobatere also has Steve and Louise Brain who have managed the concession for around 15-20 years. There are some photos here, http://picasaweb.google.com/Treepol/Accommodation2#. Also some of the rooms at Halali and Namutoni that might interest you.

My top tip for a 2 night stay at Hobatere is to ask for a game drive with Steve Brain. Steve has an international reputation as a top ornithologist and has lived at Hobatere for about 20 years. More details in my trip report, http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ugust-2008.cfm

Cheers,


Pol
Treepol is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 11:12 PM
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Elizabeth,

I've just made the settings on my Namibia 2008 photos 2008 public, and there are some Hobatere wildlife photos available, http://picasaweb.google.com.au/Treepol/Namibia2008#. This was an unintended technical glitch last year when I was photo editing.

Enjoy,



Pol
Treepol is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2009, 02:40 AM
  #13  
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Thanks again - I am considering adding one night to the itinerary for Swako (giving time for the flight - which is budget TBD) and perhaps making Hobatere two nights and dropping the single night in Halali.

Great pics - I've looked at them often during this planning process!
Elizabeth_S is online now  
Nov 6th, 2009, 01:20 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Since you have been reading the 3 comments on TA pay good attention to Snapper77's comments on Accom and Game Drive. It’s a very good description of the place. I was there a few weeks ago and thrilled to have stayed one night only. Accommodations: very low standard to any other lodges we stayed in, in Namibia except for another B&B. Gloomy rooms, Really bad single beds; too soft and squiggie. Mosquito net was full of holes and we spent quite sometime patching them up with Elastoplasts before went to bed. Later, spent a quite sometime slapping the mosquitoes, which got through the holes in the middle of the night, using torchlight, as there was no electric light to turn on!
Game drive was just a circular drive just pointing at animals. Yes, we also heard how to spot the difference between the different zebras. Dinner was good but Breakfast service was very haphazard. No doubt, about Hobatere is in one of the most magnificent locations with beautiful surroundings and abundant wildlife BUT it is not one of the best and comfortable lodges in Namibia.
Rundu is offline  
Nov 12th, 2009, 05:41 AM
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We stayed at the Stiltz in Swakupmond and really liked it. We were in the end unit overlooking the water and had a little balcony.

I do recommend a plane/helicopter flight over Victoria Falls. We didn't have time for the drive from Namibia to Livingstone, so took a charter plane. It was amazing seeing the mist from the falls as we got closer, then the pilot circled around the falls for us - so glad we got that perspective. We viewed the falls from the Livingston side and did not go into Zimbabwe. DH and I had both seen the falls from the then-Rhodesian side many, many years ago, and ending liking the Livingston side better.
bellhouse is offline  
Nov 12th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Liz
I haven't read all of the posts....just in case you need to have one more inout:

ONGUMA FORT! Ethosha.

Have a look at it.

Friends stayed there 2 weeks ago and they were blown away by the accommodation, service, staff, just...everything. Landscape is wonderful as well!

And it doesn't cost A fortune!

Happy planning!

SV
spassvogel is offline  
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