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-   -   Patty & Mark's Namibia trip with a little bit of South Africa (https://www.fodors.com/community/africa-and-the-middle-east/patty-and-mark-s-namibia-trip-with-a-little-bit-of-south-africa-738916/)

Patty Sep 25th, 2007 04:58 PM

Patty & Mark's Namibia trip with a little bit of South Africa
 
Let's start with some photos!

Our itinerary:

Sep 2 - LAX-ATL-AMS-CPT

Sep 3/4/5/6 - Akademie Street Guesthouses, Franschhoek
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...0&y=nnb15c

Sep 7 - CPT-JNB-WDH, Etango Ranch

Sep 8/9 - Erongo Wilderness Lodge
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...0&y=1028pp

Sep 10/11 - The Stiltz, Swakopmund
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...0&y=gx3zh6

Sep 12/13 - Kuangukuangu
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...0&y=jf662r

Sep 14/15 - Desert Homestead
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...0&y=4mb55t

Sep 16/17 - Wolwedans Dune Camp
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&y=-d40y96

Sep 18/19 - Kiripotib Farm
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...0&y=gsp0qz

Sep 20/21 - WDH-JNB-CDG-LAX

Trip report to follow...

moremiles Sep 25th, 2007 05:53 PM

Gorgeous photos and I love your accommodations. Those chameleons are my favorite.

atravelynn Sep 25th, 2007 06:40 PM

The chameleons are fantastic. You saw so many. I've looked at Swakopmund and Desert Homestead. Beautiful dunes.

Welcome home!

OnlyMeOirish Sep 26th, 2007 03:01 AM

Welcome Back Patty!!!!!

Those photographs look amazing! And pet meerkats!!!!
I can't wait to read your report.

Imelda

cynstalker Sep 26th, 2007 05:41 AM

Beautiful photos Patty! I loved the goat in the alcove, and the chameleons are great. And I'm with Imelda - PET MEERKATS!! WoW!

Looking forward to your report. Did you feel that your desert locations were "too" similar? Were you happy with the game you saw?

<font color="green">Cyn</font>

andybiggs Sep 26th, 2007 06:15 AM

Welcome back, Patty. And thank you for sharing the wonderful photos. I cannot wait to get back there next September!

sandi Sep 26th, 2007 06:48 AM

Pics are great. thnx.

thit_cho Sep 26th, 2007 07:28 AM

What a great set of photos from Namibia -- you even had a photo of the place where I stayed (Sossosvlei Lodge). A really nice shot of a porcupine -- I've seen a few, but haven't been able to get a photograph of an African porcupine (I did get a photo of a porcupine in Denali this Summer).

Michael

Patty Sep 26th, 2007 08:07 AM

Background: September 2006, I was one month into planning a Zimbabwe trip. Paul (kimburu) and I were emailing each other about our upcoming Kenya trips when out of the blue, he brought up something about his trip to Namibia next year. Namibia? The thought of Namibia never even occurred to me and I knew nothing about the destination (other than thatís where the big dunes are). The next few email exchanges started the ball rolling with very dangerous little snippets coming from Paul such as:

<i>Sounds like a nice trip to Zimbabwe... but let me tell you that you could be in BIG trouble. Namibia is a wonderfully attractive destination, and I'm afraid cost is not going to be an issue - it is perfect for you - just full of places like El Karama and Petra's place.</i>

<i> If you don't want to go there yet, stay away from information....</i>

<i>You're doomed once you get the Bradt guide and get planning.<i>

How could I resist such a sales pitch from someone who hadnít even gone there yet? ;)

During this time, it was also taking the Zim people a while to get back to me and I found my Zim trip gradually morphing into a Namibia trip. When the Namibia planning started in earnest, we knew that wanted an approximately 2 week self drive and initially Iíd come up with several itinerary permutations hitting the usual places (i.e. Etosha, Damaraland, Sossusvlei) until I realized this would entail some marathon driving that we werenít really up for.

We decided that we would concentrate on the south and save other locations for another trip (the dunes and desert scenery being what initially intrigued us about Namibia more so than the game viewing) and limit our drives to no more than 3-4 hours. On this front, we succeeded in our planning on all but the drive to our last destination which took 6 hours. But we also had a couple of drives which were only 2 or so hours in length and one of those wouldíve been even shorter had we not had to stop 3 times along the way to re-wire our trunk lid shut!

Since we were using miles for our airline tickets and the closest we could get to Namibia on Skyteam was South Africa, I couldnít resist adding a few days there. After entertaining a few possibilities we settled on Franschhoek which seemed like the perfect place to relax, get over jet lag, see some sights, eat some good food and drink some wine while slowly easing into our vacation.</i></i>

Patty Sep 26th, 2007 08:13 AM

Oops, I messed up the formatting. How I long for an edit function!

Thanks for the nice comments, everybody!

Cyn,
No, each location was so different from the other that I didn't feel that way. See my first installment re:our thoughts for this trip. Game viewing wasn't the priority but we saw more than I thought we would.

Patty Sep 26th, 2007 08:14 AM

Argh again on the accidental smiley.

ekscrunchy Sep 26th, 2007 09:20 AM

What a great beginning to what promises to be a classic report! We are headed for Akademie Street Guesthouse in two days so I am interested in your comments on your stay in the area..where you ate, what you did while there, etc.

Waiting to read more!! Thanks for the amazing photos!!

kimburu Sep 26th, 2007 11:07 PM

The first photo I saw was &quot;retrieving one of our hub caps that was rolling down the road&quot;. You enjoyed that road too, then? ;-)

I like the pictures a lot. I'm not sure you need a trip report.

LyndaS Sep 26th, 2007 11:24 PM

Welcome back Patty!

I've looked at two of the sets, wonderful pictures! Those spiders gave me the creepy crawlers when I was researching Namibia before going - I am SO glad I never saw one! They were definitly one of the reasons I opted not to climb up Dune 7, I was terrified I would fall down in the sand and find myself face to face with one!

Patty Sep 27th, 2007 12:05 PM

Before I go further, why didnít anyone warn me about the coffee in Namibia :(( We found bad coffee, marginally drinkable coffee, and that whole other category of coffee known as instant :O Had I known almost every place we stayed had water boiling facilities in the room (and the ones that didnít brought a thermos of hot water each morning), we wouldíve brought our own French press and coffee. We thought about buying some in Swakopmund but not being familiar with any of the brands, didnít think weíd have any better luck that way. OK coffee rant over.

Planning: Our trip was self booked. I reserved a car online through hertz.com and emailed each lodge directly starting in October of last year. The majority of our itinerary was finalized in November and we had no problems getting our first choice of accommodations by booking this far in advance. Starting in early August I emailed each lodge just to reconfirm and ask a few questions, everything was in order and things went very smoothly throughout the trip.

Franschhoek/Cape region Ė We arrived at CPT on the KL flight around 9:30pm to find that one of our bags didnít make the flight. No problem as we still had the other bag and packed stuff in each others bags. 2 days later, the missing bag caught up with us. BTW CPT has the friendliest and politest baggage reps Iíve ever encountered. Outside customs, we were met by John from Big Blue Sky Tours (recommended by Katherine at Akademie Street) for the transfer to Franschhoek. We were pretty late exiting due to the baggage issues and I think he was a bit worried about us. I got some ZAR from the ATM and off we went. It was close to midnight by the time we arrived at Akademie Street where Arthur welcomed us and showed us to our cottage, Gelatenheid.

Gelatenheid is the largest cottage at Akademie Street, two stories with an upstairs bedroom, an indoor and outdoor bath tub and a small, private pool (which the other cottages also have). Our accommodations were even better than I expected based on the photos Iíd seen on their website. Arthur and Katherine are wonderful hosts and have really paid attention to the details, including such items as a cell phone in each cottage for guestís use, fridge stocked with drinks and fruit and snacks in the kitchenette (all included and replenished daily), a printout of the weather forecast when we arrived, and many other little things that provide convenience and make your stay more enjoyable. The breakfasts here are great starting with yogurt, muesli and a plate of fresh fruit. One morning I counted 17 different types of fruit on the plate! After that, itís whatever you want. I asked for a cheese plate one morning and got a nice selection of different local cheese. Hot breakfast items cooked to order are also available including different types of local sausages. I could go on about this place but suffice to say that they know how to take good care of their guests!

Patty Sep 27th, 2007 12:16 PM

On our first full day, we just walked around Franschhoek (Akademie Street is in the village), did some shopping and browsing, went to a potterís studio (there are several arts and crafts studios and galleries with a map highlighting these places available locally), and relaxed in our cottage with a long, hot bath.

The next day, John took us on a tour of Cape Town and Cape Point. The day started out with heavy rain but cleared by mid-morning and we had the most beautiful skies. On arrival, Mark had mentioned to John that he builds guitars, so John had made arrangements for us to stop and visit the workshop of Marc Maingard (a quite world renown luthier and friend of Johnís). Marc had recently relocated to just outside of the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve and was gracious enough to meet us there, even though he hadnít planned to be there that day, to give us a tour. Aside from that, of course, we went to the usual tourist sites but that was the highlight of Markís day.

On our third day, we toured the Winelands with John. I had mentioned that I didnít really know wine and that the difference between a good bottle of wine and a great bottle of wine would be lost on me, so asked to include a couple of locations that were either particularly scenic or had some other elements. We ended up going to Fairview, Muratie and Waterford and I was very happy with the choices. John actually had one other location picked out for us where they do olive oils tastings, but we cut our tour short so we could head back to Akademie Street early and enjoy the place as itís such a shame to spend time away. The day was warm and sunny enough to sunbathe by the pool.

As for restaurants, we dined at the Tasting Room, Bouillabaisse, and Le Bon Vivant. Out of the 3, our favorite was Bouillabaisse in terms of food quality and preparation. The restaurant is very small so itís essential to book ahead. I posted more restaurant comments in this thread if anyone is interested http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34947213 There youíll find many differing comments about the same restaurants which may be helpful (or just confusing) as people tend to disagree on such things and any place can have an off night.

Our 4 nights in Franschhoek were the perfect beginning to our trip!

Patty Sep 27th, 2007 01:14 PM

ekscrunchy,
Hope you enjoy your stay as much as we did! You'll have to report back on what restaurants you tried and what you thought of them.

Paul,
Where have you been???

Thanks, Lynda!

annhig Sep 27th, 2007 02:48 PM

hi, patty,

really loving your report so far. WE have the beginnings of a plan for namaqualand and namibia in our heads, so I'm very interested to read how you got on.

regards, ann

panecott Sep 27th, 2007 03:53 PM

Wonderful photos, Patty. They brought back memories of my trip to Namibia last year. And I'm enjoying your report. Thanks for sharing.

Treepol Sep 27th, 2007 08:43 PM

Hello Patty,

welcome back. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos - loved the meerkats. I haven't seen any of these in Africa yet which is all the more reason to keep going back. Great report too.

Cheers,


Pol.


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