Namibia and SA trip report

Old Dec 5th, 2008, 02:09 AM
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Namibia and SA trip report

Hello all!

We got back yesterday. Our itinerary was as follows:

Nov 14 Cape Town Welgelegen overnight
Nov 15 Windhoek Olive Grove overnight
Nov 16-17 Soussevlei Wilderness Camp
Nov 18-19 Okanjima Bush Camp
Nov 20-21 Desert Rhino Camp
Nov 22-23 Ongava Lodge
Nov 24 Mondior Concorde Johannesburg overnight
Nov 25-26 Phinda Rock
Nov 27-28 Phinda Vlei
Nov 29-Dec 1 Londolozzi Pioneer
Dec 2 Cape Town - Cape Cadogan
Dec 3 return home

First stop Welgelegen. People were very nice but I did not like the place. The three things I didn't like were the location of the room -- right by the front door which they would not close until 11:00 at night and - with jet lag - I wanted it closed when I was going to sleep. They are on the premises but often people get called away for things. That they wouldn't let me close the door bothered me. Also I did not like the step up bathtub in the room. And -- as little as this may seem -- there was a hair dryer and the only useable outlet was behind a night stand you had to move to get to and you could not see a mirror anywhere near it.

Olive Grove was very nice and the staff is truly great! The only thing I didn't like was that we had room 1 -- and it is next to the gate which is noisy -- it is electric and you hear it every time someone comes and goes.

We used Rhino Africa as a travel agent. I had never used an agent before. My personal feeling is that they should have known these places and not made a general reservation but chosen the particular rooms for us in both places. At Olive Grove we did ask to move but they were full and the other rooms were reserved. Although the itinerary worked well, it is the little things I want an agent to think about and do without my having to ask -- making seat reservations -- another thing they did not do. The things were small but that to me is the difference between a really good agent and an ok one.

On to Soussevlei Wilderness Camp -- we were flying Scenic Air -- and were met at the airport by Sefofane -- seems the two work together so we were never sure which carrier we were on but never a problem -- one of them always showed up! And most pilots were 21 or 22 years old. But all the flights were great -- never a problem.

Soussevlei was HOT! The plunge pool was used -- but it was in the direct sun so had to be careful as sunscreen did not stay on for long. All vehicles we were on in Namibia had a canopy and -- I liked them! They were high enough to stand and kept the sun off. The Dunes look like something Walt Disney would do -- a straight road for miles with dunes on either side. We also did the balloon ride and thoroughly enjoyed it -- truly an amazing site from on high!

Okanjima. We did not like that all inclusive meant that we still had to pay for drinks (even bottled water) except when we were on drives. That said, we really had a great guide here -- Jaques is so enthusiastic about what they do -- that we really enjoyed it. We stayed in Bush Camp -- which is very nice. The main lodge is much larger and more like a hotel. I saw a lot of duplex units there. I preferred the openness and privacy of Bush Camp. Food was excellent here. We saw a kudu in the tree that a leopard had killed on the morning drive --and that night we had kudu steaks for dinner! Not sure who climbed the tree but nice of the leopard to share her kill!

The game drives here are different. You are in fenced areas and the gates are opened and closed bu the guide. The animals have radio collars so you track them that way (still not nearly as easy as it sounds) But the big thing here is the cheetahs and the work they are doing. Several of them cannot be released and the guide feeds them -- you get to see them growl and beg and behave as big cats. We enjoyed it here.

Then on to Desert Rhino Camp -- which was my favorite. Here the trackers go out ahead of you in the morning to track the black rhino. When they find one they call you and you park maybe a half hours walk away and then go in on foot to find them. The first time two of the trackers walked right past the rhino -- remember they are always on the move also!

The word that describes both Soussevlei and Desert Rhino Camp areas to me is texture -- there is nothing soft in texture there. Very rough tree bark, golden grass, sand, rocks -- colors are beautiful and there is a lot of light and dark contrast. Hard to explain as I have never been enamoured of the desert but this was beautiful. Guide we had was Himba so we did learn a bit about their culture. We really enjoyed him also.

My regret is that we did not find a way (and money) to fit in Serra Cafema in the Himba area or Skeleton Coast camps. But there is always nest time!

On to Ongava. We were booked in the lodge with air conditioning -- but it is larger than we liked so we asked to stay at the tented camp. It was not available or they would have accomodated us -- as it turns out, I am very glad it wasn't available.

On the afternoon game drive on Ongava's property, it turned out that the resident lions hung out at the tented camp -- literally they were in the parking lot. I like seeing them and do not mind them walking through the camp but I am not so sure I would want to have to have a guard everytime I left the room!

In the afternoon, the drives are on Ongava property. In the morning the drives are Etosha Park. Went to bed that night looking forward to Etosha -- never made it! At 3:15 in the morning I woke up and proceeded to get violently ill -- unfortunately more than once. By 6 when they wake you I had been ill 7 or 8 times -- I lost count. I did not have a fever -- just got ill every 30 minutes - hour. Wilderness Safaris was great to us. My husband found the manager at 6 and told him. They determined that we needed to go back to Windhoek as the closest doctor was 100k and would not see me on a Sunday morning. Within 15 minutes, the charter was scheduled to get me at 9:30 and they had made reservation for us in Windhoek (the Olive Grove again which was fine with us) They had a taxi waiting for us in Windhoek (they took care of the taxi for us) and they let us call back to the states to alert the travel insurance company people -- they paid for that call as well.

I went to the medi clinic in Windhoek and they were excellent. Took me right in -- no waiting -- and didn't ask for paperwork until after they were treating me. As it turned out, the doctor had seen 13 cases of this in the past week -- a virus that was going around and lasted for 24-48 hours. Problem was with the heat and not being able to keep even a sip of water down, I was dehydrated. They gave me fluids and antinausea medicine intravenously and some prescriptions as well. Was back at Olive Grove by 1:30 and slept through the afternoon and night. I was fine to continue on but it took several days before I really felt like food. I had been concerned about gaining weight on this trip -- didn't happen

We were very pleased with Wilderness Safaris handling of this incident. They called the next day to follow up on how we were doing as well.
mpkp is offline  
Old Dec 5th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Tough to be sick on vacation, looking forward to the rest of the report.
Glad WS handled it so well.
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Old Dec 5th, 2008, 08:15 AM
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Welcome back! Sounds like a great trip other than you getting sick. Please post some pics when you get the time.
matnikstym is offline  
Old Dec 5th, 2008, 06:21 PM
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What a great itinerary. Glad most of it was enjoyable and not much you can do about illness. Wilderness certainly handled it very well. Thanks for that account.
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Old Dec 5th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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In Okonjima when you went into the enclosures for your drives, were the fences usually visible or was the area so large that you were not in visual contact with the fences most of the time?
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