Namibia Vacation October 2012

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Nov 3rd, 2012, 06:16 AM
  #1
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Namibia Vacation October 2012

We just returned from a fabulous self drive trip to Namibia. We spent 14 nights in country and then got a bonus 3 nights in Johannesburg due to hurricane Sandy (NOT!). Gemma from Discover Namibia put the trip together for us and almost everything was perfect. Our Toyota Hilux double cab with frig from Advanced Car Hire worked perfect after a minor adjustment to the fuel line. No flats, no damage and what a hoot to "wash your windows" every time you want to put on your blinker.

We flew from San Francisco via New York and Johannesburg on SAA. For those going through JNB, yes you do have to pass through a transit customs and they do stamp your passport. 1 hour and 15 min. was a tight connection with even a little really fast walking to make the flight to Windhoek. On return at Windhoek they informed us that our JFK connection was canceled and that they would "sort us out at JNB". Well they didn't so after 3 nights we bought tickets with Cathay Pacific routing through Hong Kong to get back to SFO. It involved back to back 12 hour flights with a 7 hour shopping layover in HK. We're hoping trip insurance will pay for the extra charges.

We spent the first night in Windhoek at Terra Africa and had dinner at Am Weinberg's.
2 nights Okonjima Main Camp (Africat) upgraded to view room
2 nights in Etosha at Halali (bush chalet)
1 night in Etosha at Okaukuejo (waterhole chalet)
2 nights Camp Kipwe in Damaraland (1 night in room 3 and 1 night in the suite)
3 nights in Swakopmund at the Stiltz (view room 7)
Dinners at The Tug, The Jetty and Kucki's upstairs wine bar.
3 nights in Sossusvlei at Sossus Dune Lodge (room 13 closest to lounge area and in front of waterhole)
drive back to Windhoek for 5pm flight

Highlights were many but here are a few:
In Etosha, 33 lions, 1 leopard in leaping distance from our open windows, 2 rhinos running through the pan, great elephant and giraffe sightings at the waterholes (a big thanks to Gemma for waterhole suggestions)
The suite at Camp Kipwe after a dismal night in room 3 (hint-the bathroom in room 3 is out the front door just below the public lounge area)
3 great dinners in Swakopmund and also a scenic flight and trip to Sandwich Harbor
3 wonderful nights in Sossusvlei with a brown hyena sighting at dawn at Dune 45
AND the highlight was celebrating my husband's birthday with a bottle of champagne and chocolate muffins at the very top of Big Daddy!

The roads were very good except for a little patch between Swakop and the Dunes. We saw the graders many times. The hardest part was keeping to Advanced Car Hire's 70km/hr speed limit on gravel roads. In some places the posted speed limit was 100 km/hr. The country is very scenic so the drives were mostly enjoyable. LOVE the frig in the back as we always had cold wine, beer and water available. We had a few hassles at the gas stations so next time we will not be from the USA. Gas was never a problem and we only filled up in Windhoek, Outjo and Khorixas. Returning the truck empty is a pain but I guess it would be hard for them to determine if it is full or not with the dual tanks. Advanced Car gave detailed instructions when we got the truck and it did have 3 spares, first aid kit, tow straps, tire gauge, pump, etc. Returning it took only minutes and we were then driven to the airport. The location of the car hire was extremely convenient and then we didn't have to navigate the big city of Windhoek.

Only 3600 photos to sort.
wildlifepainter is offline  
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 07:21 AM
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Looking forward to the details. Happy BD to DH!

What made you choose October?

3600 is actually not excessive.
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 07:58 AM
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Glad you had a great trip. What was the hassle you experienced at gas stations? Looking forward to more.
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 07:21 PM
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Welcome back! Can't wait for another installment and to see some of your photos.

I sooooo want to go to Namibia!
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 08:44 PM
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My DH and I love Namibia, and I look forward to reading more about your trip and seeing some photos. Champagne and cupcakes on top of Big Daddy - now that is a memorable way to celebrate a birthday!

3 nights in Sossusvlei at Sossus Dune Lodge
(room 13 closest to lounge area and in front of waterhole)

We discovered on our second visit to Sossus Dune Lodge in 2012 that all of the tents have waterholes in front of them. The lodge staff enlightened us when I asked for tents overlooking the waterhole - we were a group of eight, and all four of our tents had their own personal waterhole. Springbok were frequent visitors, and would wander from one tent to the next. We also learned that the most important difference between the tents is that tents 1 to 12 overlook the mountains and Sesriem Canyon, while the tents numbered 13 or higher overlook the dunes - the latter have the nicer view.
CR
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Nov 4th, 2012, 05:34 AM
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Great start - looking forward to more! We also were in room 13! (and ate at Kuiki's)
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Nov 7th, 2012, 07:06 AM
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atravelynn, we picked October for very scientific reasons. Coming from California we started going to Africa in Feb/Mar to get away from our cold winters. But with only 1 trip a year, the bucket list was growing too fast so we added a second trip . October was the perfect month since it's after summer holidays and both of our birthdays are in October. I think it was perfect timing for Namibia. Etosha was fairly dry and visibility was great. It was warm during the day (which we like) and cool at night. I think it's a little past high season also. We did get a drops of rain when we were walking out to the plane on our departure from Windhoek. I usually end up with 9000 to 10000 photos so I'm thrilled that I don't have so many.

Patty, the hassle at the gas stations was once they reset the pump and wanted to charge us more and another time when we told them that we were from the US, they wanted to talk about our very rich country. And talk Obama, sell us crap or give them $$$ bills. Next time we will say we're from Canada. Except for the 2 gas stations though, the people were amazingly friendly and helpful and very proud of their country.

KathBC, we actually loved it more than we expected to.

canadian_john, I didn't realize all the tents had waterholes. Our had a light at night but it was pretty dim. We also liked it because it was close to the lounge area.

I'm still sorting photos and will get back to the report over the weekend.
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Nov 13th, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Thanks for the Oct info!
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May 26th, 2013, 02:52 PM
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I know there have been no posts for a while so I'm not sure if you're still looking, but if you are, I was wondering if you could tell me about how much it cost to fill your gas tank(s) each time you stopped? I'm trying to estimate expenses...

Your trip sounds like it was wonderful and I'm looking forward to seeing Namibia for myself some day soon.
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Jul 18th, 2013, 05:19 AM
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This sounds like the perfect itinerary for our first trip to Namibia. Your post was really helpful. Can't wait to see the pictures.
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Jul 19th, 2013, 08:30 AM
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CarrieT I will ask my husband about the cost to fill the dual tanks when empty. The rental company told us how much it was supposed to be and that helped. Of course every time was different because we never let it get near empty except when we returned it. (Terrible policy to send out and return empty.)

You know I forgot that I didn't ever post my photos. Shame on me. I will do it this weekend!
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Jul 20th, 2013, 12:26 PM
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Thanks, yes, if your husband remembers what it cost to fill when empty that would be a great help. Also, if you know what it cost over your entire trip, that would help me too.

And that IS a horrible policy! It's usually opposite - you have to return full. Haha - I can just see myself driving around in circles trying to empty the gas tank before returning the truck!
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Jul 21st, 2013, 05:06 PM
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Here is the link to the itinerary:
http://s290506560.onlinehome.us/Afri.../Itinerary.asp

And here is the link to the trip report and photos. You have to click on each link to see all the photos in each section.
http://s290506560.onlinehome.us/Afri...tripreport.asp

Enjoy!
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Jul 22nd, 2013, 05:30 AM
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Great photos! Thank you for posting the photos and trip report. I really liked the baby lions and baby elephants. Also, you got some great shots of the cheetahs and leopards. Question: how hard was it to "spot" the animals yourself as opposed to having a guide point them out to you?
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Jul 22nd, 2013, 07:14 AM
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Thanks Carrie T. Spotting the wildlife was fairly easy (though I've watched my guides for many years and learned from them) as it is pretty wide open. It helps to know animal behavior like when they drink and what they eat etc. Watch where the prey are looking. Check for cats in the shade later in the day. If a waterhole has no one drinking, see if a cat is nearby. Cheetahs like open spaces and leopards like trees. Then when you think you have it figured out, the opposite happens. Probably mot important is to start early and give it time.

You also asked about disel. For our dual tank Hilux 4x4 the intial fill up was 135.65 liters or N$1488. Other gas station stops were for 29.61 liters (N$325) and 77.57 liters (N$843). Total cost for gas for our 2 week trip was N$2656 all paid in cash.
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Jul 28th, 2013, 10:06 AM
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Thank you very much for the total gas price. I'm doing a similar trip (maybe a couple extra days) so it should be close...of course, I'm planning 2015 so who knows what gas prices will be then!

Ha, yes, spotting the animals is unpredictable but I think that's what makes it fun. Hopefully, I'll be able to be observant enough! It will help if I can bring someone along with me of course so I have another pair of eyes that don't have to be on the road. That's still up in the air.

Thanks again!
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Jul 29th, 2013, 01:29 PM
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Wildlifepainter, I love the trip report. The activities you did is in line with what we want to do as well. Thank you for the detailed information and the pictures. How was the weather?
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Aug 10th, 2013, 11:20 AM
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Wildlifepainter, can you tell me about your car hire and what the "excess" is and which choice you made? I'm very confused on the whole excess issue...it seems that the cheaper rate is with zero excess which seems to indicate that nothing would be covered if there was damage, right? You'd have to pay the cost of the whole vehicle? The most expensive rate has the most "excess." Do they hold that amount on your credit card? That might actually be a problem for me because I really don't have many credit cards (I use my debit card for everything) and the ones I do have are very low balance cards...I think R30,000 excess would be more than $3,000.

I think I've just confused myself again as I was typing this!
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Aug 10th, 2013, 11:58 AM
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I'm going to answer my own question - I was looking at the charts and things and I see now that the "zero excess" column is ADDED to the amount per day. It may be worth it to me to pay an extra R200 per day so I don't have to worry about windshield or tiers (especially with all the gravel there).
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Aug 10th, 2013, 12:24 PM
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Just be sure tires and windshield are covered in the Excess - we rented from Hertz and they were ADDITIONAL !!!
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