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Patty & Mark's Namibia trip with a little bit of South Africa

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Sep 27th, 2007, 08:07 PM
  #21
 
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I want to go to meerkat alley! Those little critters were everywhere. You could really get up close and personal with them. The dog seemed to take it all in stride.

I wouldn't mind the 17-fruit fruit plate either.

Lovely horse shot.
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Sep 27th, 2007, 08:50 PM
  #22
 
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Patty, those are outstanding photos. I thought the desert wildlife was especially well-done. Someone has a very good eye.

Can you talk a bit about what the weather was like for you in Namibia at this time of year? Thanks!
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Sep 28th, 2007, 05:40 AM
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You should have told us you loved coffee, I would have recommended the Out of Africa coffee shop in Swakopmund. They have great t-shirts that say "Life's too short for a bad cup of coffee".
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Sep 28th, 2007, 05:59 AM
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Lovely pictures Patty. You really captured the beauty of the country.
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Sep 28th, 2007, 07:02 AM
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Thanks again, everyone!

Clem,
I don't know what the actual temperatures were, but it was warmer overall than I'd expected. I'd packed a lightweight fleece and a hoodie to layer over that but never needed them both and only wore the hoodie in Franschhoek and Swakopmund at night.

The hottest areas were around Sossusvlei and Wolwedans where it was really hot during the day from about 10:00am to sundown. Because of that we opted out of the full day activity at Wolwedans and went on a morning drive instead. Kuangukuangu was a little cooler during the day but not by much. In all 3 of these areas, I was comfortable in short sleeves in the evenings. Only in the early pre-dawn hour did I have on anything more than that and that was just briefly until the sun came up.

At Erongo and Kiripotib, it was warm to hot during the day and very pleasant at night. I was in long sleeves or a light jacket in the evenings. Near Windhoek, it was a little cooler overall.

Swakopmund has it's own coastal climate. It was breezy and the air was cool all day. We stayed at the Stiltz which is on the south edge of town and walked to restaurants at night and it was pretty cold. During the day, I was down to short sleeves because it was sunny on the days we were there. Had it been overcast, I would've needed a jacket during the day because of the ocean breezes.

The temperatures roughly corresponded to the elevations I recorded (except of course Swakopmund):

Etango - 5710 ft
Erongo - 3983 ft
Kuangukuangu - 4157 ft
Desert Homestead - 2925 ft
Wolwedans - 3620 ft
Kiripotib - 4319 ft

We also had several days of high wind. We were told August is normally the windiest month. If we did it again, I think I'd prefer to go in June or July which we were told were the coolest months, just because it got so hot during the day at Sossusvlei and Wolwedans. Of course, everyone's temperature tolerance is different and some might not enjoy the evenings and early mornings in June/July. I find that I can tolerate cold much better than heat.

Hope this give you some idea.

tuckeg,
I should have posted from Swakopmund!
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Sep 28th, 2007, 09:30 AM
  #26
 
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Patty, I loved the goat, the little sand creatures and the baby chameleon. The meerkats are a bit too cute though. Did you take them with you when you left? How could you kick Kalulu out of the car? There are so many beautiful sands and suns. Then there are some really important looking animals that are a bit blurry – blesbok. Thanks for sharing!
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Sep 28th, 2007, 09:50 AM
  #27
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Thanks, Nyamera! Hannetjie says she counts the meerkats every time a guest leaves Kalulu was quite unhappy with us kicking her out. I have an even blurrier pic of some well camouflaged red hartebeest and I missed the aardvark completely!

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Sep 28th, 2007, 02:57 PM
  #28
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Windhoek/Etango Ranch – Because we used AA miles for our intra-Africa tickets on BA/Comair, we went the long way from CPT to Windhoek via JNB (SAA flies nonstop to both Windhoek and Walvis Bay from CPT and Air Namibia flies nonstop to Windhoek). BTW maybe many of you know this but going from the domestic to international terminal at JNB if you have your onward boarding passes already and your bags through checked, there’s a security and passport control point behind the check-in counters of the departures level of the domestic terminal (take the escalator up) that leads right to the departures area of the international terminal (turn left after passport control). There were no other passengers using this check point when we went through and the security personnel thought we were lost at first asking us where we were headed. We said “Windhoek” and he said “you’ve come to the right place”. I think this saves some time over going outside the terminal to access international departures which I presume means having to go through the main security and passport control points that all other international departing passenger go through.

Upon arrival in WDH, Hertz has a counter inside the airport terminal. There’s also an ATM inside the terminal but it’s Visa/Plus only. Picking up our car (an automatic Nissan Tiida) took some time as the counter agent gave repeated warnings about the dangers of driving in Namibia and the agents outside where the cars are located spent a great deal of time marking every miniscule dent, scratch, scrape and chip on a form. We asked for a second spare but they said they had none available and even if we’d reserved one in advance, there would’ve been no guarantee they’d have one for us. We headed off with our car hoping for the best and knowing that we weren’t really going anywhere off the beaten path. We drove 4km to Etango Ranch (that was easy!) for our first evening. Robert and Carmen run the ranch and they have 6 guest rooms in 3 duplex buildings. The location is very convenient if you want to be near the airport and they offer a farm drive but we didn’t take part in that. I didn’t take many pictures here but I do have some photos of the accommodations if anyone is interested. We shared our dinner with a group of 6 Swiss tourists on their final evening in Namibia.

Now would probably be a good time to mention that on many guest ranches and farms in Namibia, hunting is very much a part of life. The antelope that you see is often what’s on the dinner menu. This may seem a bit like stating the obvious, but I wanted to include it so that anyone who feels strongly about this can choose carefully. Actually, game meat is pretty much on the menu at almost every lodge and restaurant whether they source it on their own land or elsewhere.
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Sep 28th, 2007, 04:31 PM
  #29
 
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Your wind comment was helpful. I knew it was windy in other parts of southern Africa, but not sure about Namibia.
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Sep 29th, 2007, 01:54 AM
  #30
 
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hi, patty,

I've just e-mailed this thread to myself to keep the details safe.

I am not surprised that Namibia is wndy in wat would be their winter/spring period - they are after all facing west and therefore the prevailing winds at that time of year.

Here in Cornwall [UK] on a west-facing coast we regualrly suffer from high minds from October to February. the first Christmas we were here, I daren't let the kids out the front door for fear I'd find them in next door's fields. It sounds as if the wind didn't spoil your trip.

Regards, ann

[oops, it's late sept - neeed to go and batten down the hatches].
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Sep 29th, 2007, 11:03 AM
  #31
 
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Had to peek at the first couple of albums. Love the goat, the penguins, Damara dik dik, dassie with rock pigeon, the varied landscapes. Can't wait to read more about the trip itself.

Thanks Patty!
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Sep 29th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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Ohhhh, and how could I forget: Welcome home!
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Sep 29th, 2007, 04:09 PM
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Erongo Wilderness Lodge – The drive to Erongo was an easy 3 or so hours with the majority of the drive over paved roads which were in excellent condition. We made a brief stop in Windhoek to pick up 10 liters of water to keep in the car, came upon a road closure/detour, and got slightly lost before getting back on track heading north on B1. If we’d had a few more days, I would’ve liked to have spent some time exploring Windhoek. Upon arrival at Erongo, there’s a 2WD guest parking lot or guests with 4WD can drive right up to the lodge. I’d informed the lodge of our approximate arrival time so someone was there to pick us up, but otherwise, it’s only an 800m walk up to the lodge from the 2WD lot (though a bit steep).

We were assigned tent 10, an end tent with lots of privacy and a great view, with a family of dassies running around, one of which nearly got into a box of chocolates I picked up in Franschhoek and forgot was in my bag. Oops, can’t give those away anymore quot;> There are a couple of small waterholes by the dining room with many birds and small animals present throughout the day. Below the main lodge is a larger waterhole for bigger game. During our 2 days here, we spent most of our time just sitting and watching the activity. A partial list of what we saw include warthog, kudu, damara dik dik, black mongoose, dassies, dassie rats, ground squirrels, Namibian rock agama, southern rock lizard, guinea fowl, lovebirds, a variety of hornbills and doves and many more birds that I can’t even name. Porcupines came by in the evening and you could hear them approaching by the rattling of their quills.

Aside from waterhole viewing, the primary activities at Erongo are walks (guided and unguided) and an afternoon nature drive combined with a short walk up to Paula’s Cave to see rock paintings. This is followed by sundowners next to the cave. We participated in a morning walk and the afternoon drive and highly recommend both. We took one of the shorter walks along the “dassie trail”, and in addition to dassies saw some chacma baboons on the cliff face and some kudu. This walk can also be done as a self guided trail, but I recommend going with a guide (at least once) for their knowledge of the local geology, flora, insects and birds that they can share. On the afternoon drive we saw damara dik dik, kudu, grey duiker, oryx and warthog but the highlight was the rock painting. The lodge emphasizes that this isn’t a game rich area, but we were pleasantly surprised with what we saw.

Two tips here – the bathrooms are semi-open on the sides and when the wind blows it can get very cold taking a shower in the late afternoon/early evening as it blows right through the bathroom. A breeze would pick up by mid-afternoon which was very nice for sitting around but very cold for showering later. I don’t know if it’s just the time of year we were there and whether the wind pattern changes. The second tip is they make delicious fruit filled crepes drizzled with honey and yogurt for breakfast here. They’re called “fresh pancakes” on the menu.

Finally, one very interesting thing happened during our stay. While having lunch the second day, the guy sitting at the table next to ours asked us if we had been in the Mara in 2005. Turns out we had an overlapping stay at Kicheche camp in Kenya in November 2005. I couldn’t believe it. First of all, what a great memory (on his part) because he and Mark had only spoken briefly and it had been a full camp that night. And to live in different parts of the world and meet in Africa again, an amazing coincidence!
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Sep 29th, 2007, 04:21 PM
  #34
 
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Patty,I love reading your trip reports - I have gone back over the years and read them all. Your photos are always beautiful and give such a lasting impression of your travels. Thank you for sharing.
I am very interested in your NEXT trip (though this trip made me wish I had chose Namabia - but I understand I will be hooked and probably end up going anyway. You and Mark will be in Saeto Rock Lodge (sp?) and I have planned on Saeto Elerai next Sept. (as I was waitlisted on Tortilis - so what the heck, try something new!) I cannot wait to hear what you have to say about S.Rock as SXC recommended I add a couple of days there too. I envy your travels, but so happy that you share them! CC
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Sep 29th, 2007, 06:52 PM
  #35
 
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Now I've looked through all of your galleries and know about the goat reference. Your penguin shots were wonderful, especially the young one resting on mom.

The coincidence of meeting up again in Africa is quite amazing. It happened to me one time too.
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Oct 1st, 2007, 11:41 AM
  #36
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Thanks, Leely and chacheetah!

chacheetah,
Did SXC suggest how best to get to Satao Rock as I understand there are no scheduled flights? We'll be driving from Galdessa which isn't far but I'm currently trying to see if there's a way to get from NBO to Galdessa quickly and economically (the latter being the difficult part) as we'll arrive NBO in the morning after traveling for 30+ hours and I'm not looking forward to the 6 hour drive (but at least the road is much better than going to the Mara!). I need to email a pilot we flew with last year to see if he can do it for any less than our current quote of (gulp) $1150 for a charter. I can offer to fly most of the way and he only has to take off and land
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Oct 1st, 2007, 12:03 PM
  #37
 
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Hi Patty, unfortunately it was driving..but that was from Amboselli where I would fly into for the 2 nights at Saeto Elerai. I never asked how far it was by road since I have not decided whether or not I wanted to do the "Rock". I am sure they would give you the info; they have been very quick responding to me. I email with Maria at SXC. If you can contact JanGoss, she has been very helpful also working with me on my itinerary and she has stayed there - also going back in January I believe. Good luck and keep us posted. I am so excited you are going! Cc
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Oct 1st, 2007, 12:07 PM
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OH, I just noticed where you were offering to fly - so you are a pilot. Well then let's start our own charter co. I am going to try my hand at lessons; later this year! It'll be something if I succeed. ha
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Oct 1st, 2007, 12:15 PM
  #39
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I was just kidding. Alexis let me fly the plane last year (see my 2006 Kenya/Tanzania report) though I do plan to take some lessons before my next trip!
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Oct 1st, 2007, 04:07 PM
  #40
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Swakopmund/The Stiltz – We left Erongo shortly after breakfast for the drive to Swakopmund. As we were never quite sure how long it would take to go from point A to point B, we always left in the morning. Turns out it only took a little over 2 hours to get to Swakopmund including a petrol stop at Karibib. The majority of this drive was also on excellent tar roads. For the most part, we found the roads to be very well marked with clear signage, even the D routes, and outside of Windhoek, it’s actually pretty difficult to get lost, at least in the areas we covered.

At The Stiltz we had bungalow 7 which was confirmed to us at the time of reservation (different bungalows have different rates). Along with 4, 6 and 8, 7 is consider a sea view bungalow but 7 had the best view among them, particularly of the lagoon at the mouth of the Swakop river which I cared about more than the view of the ocean. This was where the flamingo and other water birds gathered which we enjoyed watching from our deck. Across the river are the sand dunes and to the right of the lagoon is the beach where the paparazzi with big glass would be parked at sunset shooting us on our deck. OK they were really tourists shooting birds but that’s what it felt like

The highlight of our stay in Swakopmund and one of the highlights of our whole trip was taking Tommy’s Living Desert tour. We were picked up at 8:00am from our lodge and along with 5 other passengers that day went on a fascinating tour of the dunes near Swakopmund. Among the desert life we saw were dancing white lady spiders, a Fitzsimmon’s burrowing skink, a palmato gecko, a Peringuey’s adder, different kinds of beetles and many Namaqua chameleons. Tommy showed us how to look for signs of life and what kind of animals made which tracks and burrow openings. He identified different types of plants and how they were used and everyone tasted some nara seeds as well as the bitter liquid that’s inside their thorny stems. We also did some dune driving and enjoyed the scenery which I found just as breathtaking as around Sossusvlei. The sand here is more of a golden color rather than the pinks, oranges, and reds in the south and has a beautiful iridescence. We were dropped back off at The Stiltz at about 2:00pm. Highly recommended!

The rest of our time in Swakopmund was spent walking around town and shopping and eating. We had dinner at the Grapevine and the Tug. We thought the food was better at the former and the latter was mostly a place to go for the view. We joked that at the Tug you can get your fish prepared any way as long as it was fried or fried and smothered with a cream sauce Actually that pretty much describes a lot of the food in Namibia. The preparations were definitely heavier than we’re used to with a lot of emphasis on meat (smoked meat, fatty meat, fried meat, meat with a cream sauce ) and vegetables an after thought. Halfway through the trip, even Mark commented he’d had too much meat, something I’d never heard him say in the 15 years we’ve known each other.

It was chillier in Swakopmund compared to everywhere else with the ocean breezes, cool air and sometimes overcast skies though we had mostly sunshine during our 2 days. Everyone we talked to on this trip hated the weather in Swakopmund, but we found it a nice change from the dry desert heat.
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