Namibia Itinerary

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May 1st, 2005, 10:21 AM
  #1
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Namibia Itinerary

Well we're planning the next trip to "safari" Africa (although Costa Rica is being mentioned more and more). We're hoping to go to Namibia in October so would really appreciate some help with the itinerary.

The great news is that Air Namibia is due to start direct flights from London Gatwick to Windhoek from mid July, saving considerable time and money. So thoughts on the itinerary so far are as follows:

1 nt Windhoek - Villa Verdi

2 nts Sesriem - Desert Homestead or 1 nt Kulala Desert Lodge

2 nts Namib Rand - Wolwedans Dune Lodge (Kavey's influence)

2 nts Swakopmund - Hansa Hotel

1 nt Damaraland - Mowani Mountain Camp

1 nt Etosha - Ongava Tented Camp

2 nts Etosha - Aoba Lodge

1 nt Okonjima Lodge

Back to Windhoek and home.

Would appreciate any help on the number of nights & the accomodation in each area. This is already pushing the budget so we may need some compromises.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

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May 3rd, 2005, 09:29 AM
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ttt - any advice appreciated.
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May 3rd, 2005, 10:27 AM
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From the research I did for a trip planned for 2002, which we didn't take... you've done well. I pressume you'll be driving yourselves? Are you booking all yourselves, thru a UK operator, or one in Namibia?

I recall that Celia had a great trip report from her adventure driving thru Namibia - do a search for that. It had lots of good information. I can't see where you can save money in that you are not staying at the most expensive places - though maybe Mowani (but it's so beautiful) and Okonjima (I wouldn't want to miss this). The car rental is rather expensive with full extra cover, but you can't do any less.

Would suggest you rent a cell or satelite phone in case you get lost or find yourselves delayed. And be sure all the accommodations you'll be visiting know your itinerary; if you're not somewhere on time, they'll send someone out to find you.

The only thing I recall from our planning was that some of the drives were long, but that's relative. Especially so, when we've always had someone else do the driving.

Three (3) trips in one year, or is a little over a year?. Good for you.
 
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May 3rd, 2005, 11:29 AM
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I do hope you love Wolwedans as much as we did.

The only note of concern I can offer on that front is that the three on-site managers (guiding/ conservation, general operations, maintenance) ALL left their posts within months of my last visit.

Let me stress that this was not down to dissatisfaction about the job but pure coincidence. Louise had been working in Africa for over 15 years and had decided several months previously that she wanted to return to the UK but had stayed on beyond her initial intentions at the request of the owner. Ralph, the general operations manager was, on our 2001 visit, the chef and was leaving to work with the owner on a new project to set up and manage a cookery school in Windhoek aimed at chefs for places like Wolwedans. The maintenance guy (whose name I forget) had also been wanting to move on for a long while and stayed on longer than intended as a favour to the owner. That's the understanding I got, anyways.

So the management team in place now are presumably all new. I don't know whether the owner chose to promote within the existing staff or bring in new people from outside.

For me the magic is the setting itself, the simplicity of the accommodation - it's all about letting you really enjoy the setting rather than fancy for the sake of it, the pleasure of learning and seeing new things about the environment and animals within it and of course, the dining and company (of wonderful staff) too.
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May 3rd, 2005, 11:31 AM
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Should read:

Ralph, the general operations manager was, on our 2001 visit, the chef and had left once but returned to serve as general manager (as per our 2004 visit) and was shortly to be leaving to work with the owner on a new project to set up and manage a cookery school in Windhoek
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May 3rd, 2005, 01:17 PM
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You may also want to consider staying within Etosha instead of outside at Aoba. We visited Etosha in August 2002, and stayed one night at Ongava and one night at each of the three rest camps in Etosha. They are admittedly much, much, much less luxurious than Ongava, but the game viewing within the park was much, much, much better than at Ongava, and by staying at Okakuejo, the best situated of the lodges, you have access at night to their waterhole, which is amazing -- you get to see a lot of animals at night, when otherwise you'd be hanging out at the lodge, and we saw plenty of elephant and rhino at the waterhole. Its very inexpensive to stay within Etosha and its nice not to have to flee the park before it closes.

Michael
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May 3rd, 2005, 01:36 PM
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Thanks for the help, sounds like the itinerary is pretty close now.

Sandi, yes we are self driving & haven't decided on who to work with yet. Sunvil came through on our Zambia trip so we'll probably try them, but also Cardboard Box in Namibia and maybe one or two others for an initial quote before finally deciding. (and it's not really 3 trips in 12 months - if we wait until October then it's really 3 trips in thirteen months )

The benefit of using Sunvil, a UK operator is that they get preferential air rates when they book the total package (evidently the airlines give them bigger discounts if they can hide the true pricing in a total package).

We probably won't finalise until later this year as we're waiting for Air Namibia to post schedules and prices - this could make a substantial difference to cost for us.

Kavey, yes I read your previous post about the staff changes at Wolwedans, but the setting looks so incredible that we really want to stay there.

thit_cho (and anyone else who has been there), can you elaborate what it's like at the camps inside Etosha. We're worried that it may be a bit too much like a zoo with the flood-lit waterholes and also be noisy with people sitting on benches almost partying while the animals come down to drink. Not sure it's really like this but some of the pictures I've seen give this impression. Also, can you descibe the differences between the three camps - which was favourite?

Finally, does anyone have any comments on the Desert Homestead lodge near Sesriem? Also, can we drive ourselves to the Dunes or do we need to go on a guided tour in a 4WD to see them propoerly? If so, how much extra might this cost?
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May 3rd, 2005, 02:13 PM
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Ruthie: That looks pretty good. I would suggest if possible to stay 2 nights in Damaraland (Mowani). By the time you drive in from Swakopmund you will have a short afternoon, especially if you take the Skeleton Coast route and see the Cape Cross Seal colony (recommended) and then a morning before you take off for Ongava. The morning you will want for a desert elephant drive and there is rock art that you may or may not be able to squeeze into the afternoon arriving. The area is just so unique and spectacular I don't think you want to be so rushed if possible. I know that will drive up the budget some. I think one night in Swakopmund is enough -- everyone I have talked to found it to be a strange place. Not sure how to describe that, just a little odd. Good for an overnight and a seafood dinner but I would rather keep moving and spend more time in the spectacular areas. I did not stay in Etosha but as recommended the Okakuejo Camp/waterhole gets very good reviews and could save you enough for that extra night in Damaraland.

There is a tarred road (lots of potholes) into the dunes area. You can access a lot of the dunes yourself -- Dune 45 is right off the road and is the most climbed in the park. With a guide in a 4X4 you can go further in and avoid most of the people and experience the true enormity of the Namib.
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May 3rd, 2005, 09:05 PM
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If your budget is tight, you can rent 4x4's all kitted out with equipment and rooftop tent. Around $100/day and then its just camping fees for accomodation. The campsites are good most places and gives you lots of options to do different things. Pretty difficult to get lost with what you have in mind, but a garmin gps and a map with coordinates, you can take tracks instead of highways.
This is not unusual means of touring.
At the Dunes it will become apparent.
One last thing, when driving,be sure the vehicle is parked at your destination in the evening. Driving into dusk is idiotic unless you like to have a kudu attached to your bonnet.
Thats on tracks and highways.
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May 3rd, 2005, 10:53 PM
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Hi RuthieC, the bungalows at Okaukuejo are quite basic (bedrrom w/single beds, bathroom, kitchenette, and small sitting area)and not luxurious in the least, however most people feel that they're worth it for the advantage of staying inside the park and being close to the waterhole. There will be people sitting on benches around the waterhole and bbq'ing at the bungalows nearest the waterhole, but usually everyone keeps relatively quiet and so I wouldn't compare it to a zoo. It's an amazing site to be there after dark when the waterhole is full of animals and never at a zoo would you see antelope, zebra, lions, rhino, elephant, etc all drinking from the same waterhole.

I agree with the other comment as well about staying 2 nights at Mowani if you want to do the desert elephant excursion. You can only do this first thing in the morning, so the only other way to do it would be to plan to arrive at Mowani the first day by lunchtime, then spend the afternoon there, do the elephant excursion the next morning and leave for Ongava around lunchtime to get there before dark.

As for Swakop, I think there's plenty to do and one day wouldn't be enough. There's a fantastic seal & dolphin boat tour, you can do sea kayaking in the lagoon(w/a guide, very safe), quad biking in the dunes, 4x4 trips thru the dunes down to Sandwich Harbor where the dunes literally fall into the water, and just sightseeing/shopping in Swakop is very nice for a morning or afternoon.

Desert Homestead Lodge near Sossusvlei is great because it's one of the closet lodges to the dunes (just 21km from the entrance to Sossusvlei). It's kind of what you would've expected to find in the 'old west' in the US. All of the bungalows are made of stone, they're quite comfortable but there is no air conditioning and the pool is like a basic plunge pool, good value for money but again nothing luxurious. If you want a/c I would recommend Le Mirage which is also quite close to the park entrance or another good option slightly more comfortable than DH would be the Sossusvlei Lodge, which doesn't have a/c but is right at the entrance to the park.

Hope this helps...
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