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Namibia Photos June 2007 - Sorry no trip report yet

Old Aug 12th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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Namibia Photos June 2007 - Sorry no trip report yet

Iíve been back from Namibia and Botswana for a month now and havenít even managed to download all my photos yet, let alone write a trip report. Everyone on this board was so helpful in planning my trip, that I promise I will post an informative report (eventually) that will be helpful to others planning similar trips. My itinerary consisted of one week in Namibia and two weeks in Botswana, from the end of June to the middle of July of this year. In Namibia I took the Wilderness Safaris Best of Namibia Wing Safari, and stayed at Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp, Damaraland Camp, and Ongava Tented Camp. In Botswana I stayed at Duba Plains, Duma Tau, Tubu Tree, and Chitabe Trails. If anyone has questions about the camps or game viewing in these areas, please let me know and Iíll be happy to respond.

I have loaded my Namibia photos to smugmug. Because I downloaded from my camera into folders based on location, and smugmug allows you drop and drag an entire folder at a time, the photos are in individual galleries based on location. I also loaded photos from the scenic flight from Sossusvlei to Damaraland into a separate gallery. Sorry, but I havenít had time to add captions. With the exception of moving photos of the accommodations to the beginning of each gallery, most photos are in the order in which I took them.

The photos can be found by clicking on the links below. The first links are to the photos, the second to the slideshows. I will try to get my Botswana photos loaded within the next week or two.

Thanks again to everyone for all of your help. This was a fantastic trip and I could not have planned it without the expert assistance this forum provided.

Sossusvlei
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/gallery/3296408/1/183086725
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/photos/sspo...lbumID=3296408

Flight from Sossusvlei to Damaraland
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/gallery/3297137/1/183134684
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/photos/sspo...lbumID=3297137

Damaraland
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/gallery/3297598/1/183163880
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/photos/sspo...lbumID=3297598

Ongava/Etosha
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/gallery/3298103/1/183213910
http://DanaM.smugmug.com/photos/sspo...lbumID=3298103

I
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Old Aug 12th, 2007, 09:09 PM
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sniktawk
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It seems you were licky with the desert ellies!
 
Old Aug 13th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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Welcome back,
I was watching for a report. We are now in the process of talking to Bert. Are you still pleased with his services? Look forward to your report.
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Old Aug 13th, 2007, 07:50 PM
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Sniktawk - yes I was lucky with the dessert ellies. They were everywhere.

Cherbear - sorry I haven't posted a trip report yet. I just got my Namibia photos downloaded over the weekend. I'm now downloading Botswana. Then I'll do the trip report. Unfortunately I have been traveling alot for business, and after being gone for three weeks I'm still not caught up.

I'll be happy to answer any specific questions you have. Are you thinking of Namibia or Botswana? Bert was great. Everything, with one exception (which was not his fault) went off without a hitch. The only problem I had was in Namibia, when I was in a group with a horrible family. I will not book a group trip again (and would not recommend one to others) for that reason. It was probably just a fluke, and I told Bert that when he called to ask if I had a good time. When I told him what happened, he got all of the details and contacted Wilderness about it, even though I did not ask him to. Botswana was absolutely magnificent. I loved Duba Plains and Duma Tau. Duba is small and intimate, and I saw the most incredible buffalo-lion interaction as well as alot of other game and birds. Duma Tau is larger, but was not full when I was there. I probably saw more game here than anywhere, and the accomodations are awesome. I also really liked Chitabe Trails. It added the perfect all land activity camp to the mix. At all three of the camps the guides and staff were excellent. I also enjoyed Tubu Tree, although it was my least favorite of the 4. However, it is a very lovely camp, and I think the reason I was not as impressed as I was with the other is because I didn't particularly care for the temporary managers who were there. They were also short on guides and had to borrow one from Jao. I did like the fact that it was primarily water based activities. The mix of Bots camps that Bert recommended was perfect. The game viewing was varied, the areas very different from one another. I would definitely use Bert again. He is very attentive, has great recommendations, and based on what he recommended for me I know he was listening to my preferences.
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 01:29 AM
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"The only problem I had was in Namibia, when I was in a group with a horrible family. I will not book a group trip again (and would not recommend one to others) for that reason. It was probably just a fluke, and I told Bert that when he called to ask if I had a good time."
I wish there were some way to deal with this but it does seem to remain a matter of luck. I was very, very fortunate to have 3 others in a group with me on a recent Botswana mobile safari who were wonderful. We had similar interests and we were all companionable. I know how the reverse can be just awful. I don't have the financial means to do my upcoming Namibia trip on my own, unfortunately.
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 07:03 AM
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I will post the details in a trip report when I have a little more time. The family was two adults, and two boys ages 12 and 14. They went to Botswana before Namibia, which is probably the wrong order, and the boys were bored the entire time. The problem is that not only were they disruptive, whining that there weren't any animals, that they wanted to go home, etc., but they engaged in dangerous behavior. For example, they physically fought in the jeep and the younger boy almost fell out. He did lose his baseball cap over the side. When quad biking the older boy would not stay on course, following in line like instructed, trying to cut other people off. The father actually injured his wrist. Both boys threw rocks down a canyon when people were in the canyon below. They constantly made noises at the wildlife. These are only a few examples. I thought the guides, camp managers, or pilot/guide that accompanied the trip should have told them that if they did not behave they could not join activities. But, neither the staff nor the parents did anything. In fact, the parents readily admitted they could not control their children and ignored them. This was an extreme example, and unlikely it would ever happen again. However, I am not willing to take that chance. It is one thing to be with such a group at a single camp. It is another to be stuck with them for a week. I have been with many other children on safari, and yes they might get bored but they do not behave to this level.
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 07:19 AM
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P.S. I want to make sure my post did not sound like I was saying children should not go on safari, or that I do not enjoy their company. When children are having a good time, it is alot of fun to see the excitement in their eyes and talk with them over meals about their sightings. When they are not having a good time or are bored, they should at least be well behaved, or at the very least not endanger others.
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Old Aug 15th, 2007, 03:21 AM
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Understood that children per se were not the issue. You certainly got a bad break. (I know I read somewhere that operators have the right to bounce anyone who creates an unsafe condition, etc. They should have done something about this.)I was thinking more of being stuck with people who were simply obnoxious or annoying.
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Old Aug 26th, 2007, 05:27 PM
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The photos are beautiful. The unruly kids did not interfere with your photography. The settings for the desert eles and their activities make for some really different elephant pics. I saw part of your report on Botswana and will look for it again.

I am so sorry about your unfortunate situation. So what can you do if you are stuck with truly horrible vehiclemates like you had? In retropsect do you think demanding to talk to the Wilderness office would have helped (assuming contact could be made)? Would keeping a running tally of the refund you deserve have helped? Was the guide sympathetic to your situation?

Fighting in the vehicle, throwing rocks at people, and frightening the animals with noise is just unacceptable. How very disappointing. Maybe age 16 needs to be the minimum. Of course you can have problem adults on a trip too, but a higher minimum age could solve some problems.

That's good you were so pleased with Fish Eagle Safaris.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 08:40 PM
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Dana, I think you are being exceptionally patient and generous regarding that family. I would have asked to speak to the main guide alone and insisted they contact someone who had the authority to do something. Maybe the parents would figure out how to control their children if they knew they were about to be kicked off their safari for dangerous behavior. I wouldn't have put up with this for two days, let alone a week, a precious week in Africa. We happened to have a very rude, obnoxious group that included many children at a small camp in Namibia, and the staff did their best to help protect the other couples who were there for the tranquility. But if we hadn't of communicated with the management, it might have been worse.

Just curious, were they Americans?
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 09:48 PM
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Lynn,
Glad you like the photos. Yes, this family was the family from *&*[email protected](^*%$#. Believe it or not, I did ask to talk directly to WS, a couple of times, and I was told the complaint had been communicated. My cell phone did not work, so I was at the mercy of the pilot/guide who accompanied the trip to communicate my dissatisfaction properly. I voiced my concerns to everyone who would listen, including the pilot/guide, the vehicle guides and the camp managers at each camp, and in one case much to my embarassment a little too loudly so everyone at the dinner table could hear. Apparently the managers agreed with me, but still did nothing. I did not have to keep track of how much I am owed in a refund, because frankly, they should refund the entire Namibia portion of my trip and more. Somebody should have prevented these people from joining activities. Everyone knew what was going on, and they all turned a blind eye. In fact, when I left Namibia I vowed never to go on another WS trip again, but then Bots. I had a great time there so I am not as negative as I thought I would be. I have the feeling that Namibia and Botswana WS are very different operations. Bert is looking into the situation, so hopefully by the time I get to the Namibia portion of my trip report I will have something positive to report. That is why I only only posted pictures and am working on the Bots trip report first.
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 09:59 PM
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Clematis,
Yes, they were Americans, but so am I. I was embarassed to be an American in their presence.

See my note to Lynn above. I was not all patient. I complained to everyone who would listen, but nobody would do anything. In fact, at Damarland Camp I walked into the office and screamed right in front of everyone "they are ruining my vacation" and at the lunch table I said, again in front of everyone, "I refuse to go anywhere with anyone in that family" and I retired to my tent where I stayed the rest of the day. I told the pilot/guide that I would absolutely not board the plane to Ongava unless she guaranteed me I would not have to share a vehicle with those people. I was prepared to be stranded at D camp without a flight out if need be.

I tried to explain it to the kids, I told the parents, I complained to the guides, I told the pilot/guide on numerous occassions, and I explained the situation to each of the camp managers in very explicit terms. They were all sympathetic, but more importantly, in agreement. I even asked to leave. I tried to get a flight out and they quoted me an astronomical price. I was willing to pay something reasonable (with no refund of the trip itself) just to be gone. Nothing was done.

I am generally an easy going person, and I tend to see the best in everyone. But, in this case, there was no "best" to be seen.

I had dinner with the pilot/guide after my return to Windhoek and she said she was writing in her report that children should not be allowed in a group at all. She obviously understood the problems with the whole trip, but she was apparently unable to do anything about it. That was the problem. Everybody listened, nobody did anything.

I usually keep negative comments to a minimum and share positive experiences as much as possible, but boy do I hope somebody from WS is lurking on this site
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 10:53 PM
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Seems to me you did every reasonable thing you could do about the bad situation. But you were OUTNUMBERED. You were only one person, easier to deal with only you than the family. As I mentioned before (trip report) that on my May safari in South Africa I was very annoyed by two honeymoon couples and their inane banter. (But it was very minor compared to your experience). When I mentioned this after my trip to my darling and usual companion Carolyn she said she would have backed me up about saying something. Now when next week I'm with Carolyn and my sister on safari and if we should happen to have such bad luck there will be three of us that will have a say. One other thing, and I hate to suggest this, but being a female you might have less "weight" in such arguments with management. (Certainly in some countries you would not be listened to at all). And then being a lone female even less. One of the disadvantages I suppose of traveling solo.

To explore this a bit more. You were in a group, right? How many persons total in the group? Was it just you and the problem family? Obviously I'm thinking if you and three, four, or five other persons joined together and raised holy heck that might have worked.

Sorry to keep this alive with you, I'm sure you'd rather forget it. As you may remember last June I started a thread here about camps having game drives for experienced guests. So this type of subject continues to interest me. IMHO, Wilderness should refund to you half of your cost for that portion of your trip. A refund, not just a voucher. But for companies to be this fair with customers is a rarity. Anyway, very happy that Botswana was great.

regards - tom
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Old Aug 27th, 2007, 11:20 PM
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Hi Tom,
You are correct. I was OUTNUMBERED. In fact, I used that exact term on the thread you posted about trying to group like-minded individuals together. I do remember your experience with the honeymoon couples. What are we to do? Perhaps we speak up, act like compelte jerks, tell the people to their faces what we think and see what happens? Good idea, but I also did that in Namibia and it did not work. The parents did not care. And please, don't open that "women are treated different than men" can of worms. I don't think that had anything to do with it. I am in a predominantly male business, and I hold my own quite well. I honestly believe it was the numbers. Let's see...piss of one person or piss of four...how much money is at stake? Sad, but true.

Yes, I was in a group. I will never do it again. It was a group max of 8, but ended up just me and this family. The real problem is that they "said" they had a private safari. The "said" that my group was cancelled and they were asked a few days before the trip if they minded that I come along. This information was not passed along to me or my TA. I think they were lying. But, I felt it was up to the pilot-guide to confirm or deny this statement because with it the family felt they had the right to do whatever they wanted. And I very specifically asked the pilot-guide if that were the case, and she confirmed what the family had said. I think she was wrong, but she gave them the ammunition they need to behave like complete jerks. Actually worse than jerks, but what I truly think of them is not fit for this board.

For WS to refund 1/2 of the cost of my Namibia trip is almost insulting. I haven't actually asked for anything, but my TA is looking into the situation. Compensation would be great, but, one week off work to me costs so much more than the Namibia portion of the trip itself, that the situation is unforgiveable. Not to mention airfare. Good thing I was also going to Botswana or I would definitely have hired an attorney by now (although honestly I am not the litigious type). I do think they need to make amends somehow, although I am not quite sure how. But, yes, Botswana turned it all around. I had such a fantastic time in Botswana that I honestly cannot believe that portion of my trip was with the same company. Check out my trip report on Bots. It was absolutely fantastic.

Please do not apologize for keeping this alive. I need it to be alive. I am a person too apt to "forgive and forget" but others need to know about this situation.

On that note, my suggestions to others is to make sure you have a cell phone that works (even if you have to rent it) so you can call your travel agent!
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 12:08 AM
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If you were not on a "group" tour but part of a private family tour then Wilderness misrepresented the type of tour to you. They should compensate you. Keep after your TA, this will be a test to see if they deserve more business from you. Good luck.

Good idea about having a cell/mobile phone. Assuming it would work where you are. In my case so far I'm always associated with a camp so phones are common.

regards - tom

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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 12:19 AM
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Tom,
I think the problem is that I was on a group tour and the other four members happened to be a family. I think the pilot-guide got it wrong. She, the camp managers, guides, etc. were responsible for telling these people to behave. Even if they were on a private safari they should not have been able to behave this way. But I do not believe they were on a privae safari, and I am sure they knew it. They were just trying to get away with something and the camps let them.

Yes, I will keep after my TA and see what he comes up with. I am just as interested, however, in figuring out what to do if this ever happens again. Not that I will ever book another group trip. But what about even for a few days at a particular camp? I fear that the camps think most people are only there once, and therefore there are no repercussions.

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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 12:27 PM
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Well, as solo travelers we are probably on the bottom of the pile The last one that a camp/tour/group will care about. However the/your TA is not "solo" but represents many clients so they should have the most leverage. Of course it may come too late to help much.

One option that comes to mind is to insist and have it in writing the the tour group is all adult. No one under 18 yrs. This I would think lower the probability of the problem you ran into, excepting of course the adult(s) who is juvenile. At least I'm going to do this. If I ever get involved with a tour group to know that is is all adult.

Problems can still happen at camps, as we hear about occasionally. With my above (minor) problem I requested to change vehicles and did. Also most of the camps I go to (thus far) are personally acquainted with my TA and I feel this might have some weight should I have problems. But who knows. Sometimes we get stuck with a sh?t sandwich and just have to take bite.

Do you recall any other threads about this subject and how it was handled successfully? I know people say "Well, I'd do this. . ." or "They wouldn't get away with that with me . . .". But saying it and getting results are not the same. I can't think of anything else you could have done except making a phone call. And the way it was going that probably would not have helped. Ask your TA, ask that if you had called them at the time if they (TA) could have helped any. Or how they (TA) would have handled the problem if it were happening to them.

regards - tom
ps - our discussion about this is getting buried here under your original topic. Would you mind if I break it out with some of our exchanged replies into a new thread with this topic. Or better yet, would you like to do it?
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 06:43 PM
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Dana, I am so glad you gave more details. Tom, I don't see a new thread yet, so I'm posting here for now.

Dana, I'm quite proud of you to hear how you spoke up for yourself. We must do that, even if the result (at the time) isn't what we hope. It will help you get compensation later, for one thing, and it also gives you some peace of mind that you did all that you could. Yes, sadly, nothing can make up for your lost time, the time taken off work to have the dream trip.

The fact that WS did a good job in Botswana should not have any impact on this disaster that the Namibia portion was for you. This was horrendous and now to hear that you let them know how bad it was, how you wanted to fly out, and yet nothing was done for you at the time to help save your vacation. They didn't provide another guide, or option for you is very sad.

I'm also American, lest anyone think I was targeting American children, I wasn't. On our travels in Africa, our encounters with American children have been fine.

We also had a bad experience involving children in Namibia, but nowhere near yours. Ours was at a small lodge. I do agree with Tom that making certain no one under 18 is allowed is a help. Unfortunately, surprisingly, many camps and lodges do not have an age restriction, or if they do, it breaks younger, like 12. Read the descriptions carefully (I'm advising to anyone reading) because some camps will use language that makes it sound as if it caters to adults but in fact they may have no age restriction. We were surprised to see children at Phinda Vlei, for example, when they have larger camps like Forest.

Dana, I understand wanting to stay positive, but travelers appreciate hearing all sides. Your experience posted here may help some other person traveling in the future and save them from being stuck with the family from @Q$([email protected]

Please keep us posted with how the company will make this up to you.
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Old Aug 29th, 2007, 12:30 AM
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Dana,

Great photos from Namibia....loved them!!!

Co-travellers like the ones you mention, i fear....any one of us could have been at the camps that they went to! it's a pity that you had to put up with them IN THE SAME VEHICLE!!! I think camps should allow kids, but, must require that the family book a private vehicle....

Most parents are responsible for their kids, and the attitude and stand-offish behavior of both kids and parents speak volumes!!! Shame on them!!!

Hari
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Old Aug 29th, 2007, 09:58 PM
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Another thought about avoiding the family/kid situation. Stay aware from those periods during the year when families are likely to be on vacation/holiday. I imagine, not sure, that July and August would be the months most likely to have families. At least American families Followed by the major holiday times. As a minor example, when we were at Kruger last September 2006 in camp Mopani it was very quiet, not busy. I asked at the desk if this was typical and they said yes since it was not a weekend nor school holiday. During school holidays they are booked 100%.

regards - tom
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