Planning a trip to Namibia

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Dec 25th, 2005, 06:30 PM
  #1
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Planning a trip to Namibia

Last year we spent 3 weeks in Africa, traveling to Capetown, wine country and Mala Mala. We stayed at 3 camps in Botswana, and spent several days in Livingstone. It was a spectacular trip. While we were traveling, various people told us that Namibia was an exceptional place to visit.

We have a special anniversary this year and are looking for a really wonderful trip.
Can anyone suggest an itinerary for a 3 week trip? Should we self drive or go with Wilderness Safaris? Should we combine Namibia with another destination?

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Mollybee
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Dec 26th, 2005, 11:41 AM
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Mollybee: Namibia is spectacular and would be a great place to travel for a special anniversary. I went there for part of my honeymoon trip in November 2004.
Trip report is here:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4
Pictures here:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slidesho...Uy=5juz4u&Ux=1

I only had about 10 nights in Namibia so you will be able to do much more. I would recommend doing some self drive and some fly in.

We did a simple circuit from Windhoek to Sossusvlei to Swakopmund up the coast on a drive and then over to Damaraland. Then to Little Ongava/Etosha, and back to Windhoek. I recommend that you go to all of those areas. With more time you will want to be sure and go to Skeleton Coast camp and/or Serra Cafema -- these are both supposed to be amazing experiences and you have enough time to make it there.

Finally, in general Namibia is incredible for it's scenery and people. Wildlife is incredible too, but in many areas it will be desert specialized and not diverse which is very different than the last experience you had. Etosha area is loaded with animals though and delivers great viewing. With that in mind though I would recommend that you make your way over near the Okavango Delta area within Namibia(I don't have any recommendations to make) or perhaps save a couple of days at the end of the trip to maybe shoot up from Joburg to Madikwe for 2 or 3 nights of full on wildlife viewing. I loved Namibia and hope to return but I think adding a couple of days of wildlife viewing beyond Etosha would really make for the perfect trip.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Sorry link to trip report is not correct. Just enter Trip Report - Namibia, Mozambique in the search and it will pop up.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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Mollybee,

I spent most the summers(NH) of 2003 and 2004 in Namibia and may be able to answer some of your questions but can you tell me a little about what you like to do? Do you want to hike, bird watch, photograph, or do something else? Are you interested more in wildlife, landscapes, or native culture? Luxury accomodations or something else?

Self-drive is practical, but you must take it easy on the gravel/dirt roads. On the short stretch where I was staying south of Sossusvlei there were two fatal accidents and several other serious ones in a couple of months. All were due to tourists driving too fast. I almost joined them, but managed to avoid an accident. After that I went at the speed suggeested by locals and had no further incidents.

George
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Dec 27th, 2005, 02:56 AM
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MollyBee
We chose to renew our wedding vows in Namibia last year, I'll try and share a bit of information with you next time I'm online - no time now.
Is budget an issue - that may govern whether you do a fly-in safari or a self-drive - or is the decision to be based purely on preference?
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Dec 27th, 2005, 03:34 AM
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Hello

I have been to Namibia at least ten times in the last twelve years. It's just a great place and independent travel is easy.

If you like to be on your own, it is easy to do a self-drive, but as tuckeg mentioned, you will probably be driving on gravel roads at some point, and you have to take it easy on these roads. Both gravel and tar roads are maintained fairly well and good maps are available.

Food is simple, but good, and I've never experienced any health problems associated with it. Fish is readily available, particularly near the coast. The water is also good in most places, but you might feel safer sticking with bottled. South African wines are readily available; however, in Namibia they are imported and consequently are more expensive than in SA.

All the places mentioned by the other writers are wonderful. I didn't like Swakop at first, but now look forward to going back each year.

In addition to Little Ongava, you could also spend a few days at Okaukuejo Resort in Etosha. If you can book a luxury bungalow by the waterhole, you will see an abundance of game all day and can also do your own game drives. Etosha is very open and flat, so the game is easy to spot--absolutely marvelous. You might also consider driving through the Caprivi Strip, working your way to Chobe (Botswana) and Victoria Falls.

I have stayed at a wide variety of hotels, lodges, guest farms, etc., in Namibia and can probably give you some advice/recommendations if you are interested.

Good luck. Namibia is a beautiful country full of natural beauty. Please keep us posted.

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Dec 29th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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Thanks so much for all the information.It's very exciting to hear about the adventure that might be in store for us.

We like scenery, wildlife, nature, local culture. We would like to do some hiking. We became interested in birds when we went to Botswana and my husband took some wonderful photographs. I guess we really enjoy everything.
We want to stay at luxury places.

My husband likes to drive, and after reading the posts, I think we could look into a trip which combines self driving with flying. Starting in Windhoek, should we head over to the coast or should we travel northward? Is there any problem dropping off a car? Can we hook up with tours to some of the more remote areas from Swakops or Etosha?

Can anyone recommend a tour company?

Mollybee
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Dec 30th, 2005, 01:24 PM
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Hi, Mollybee

Starting in Windhoek, I would recommend you drive south to Sossusvlei. Then drive back via Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. From Swakopmund you can drive north along the Atlantic Ocean, visit the Cape Cross Seal Colony and then head inland on the gravel road across Damaraland toward Etosha.

Namibia doesn't have the luxury accommodations of South Africa and Botswana except perhaps for Ongava, but it does have some unique places to stay. I have stayed in many different hotels, lodges, etc., and always found them to be clean and efficiently run with good wholesome if not gourmet food. If you like to eat game such as springbok or kudu, it readily available. The German tourists, and there are many, seem to like it.

Ongava is one place where I have not stayed because I much prefer to stay in the park and do my own thing. One note about Okaukuejo's "luxury bungalow," the luxury here is the space (they are two-bedroom with a kitchen and lounge area) and the location right at the waterhole. There are luxury lodges at Sossusvlei and some first-rate hotels in Swakopmund and Windhoek. There is also a new luxury hotel at Cape Cross.

You can drive all of this easily in a regular sedan. However, if you want to do the Skeleton Coast or the very remote areas of northern Namibia, then you might want to book a tour. Otherwise, you can book everything yourself via the internet. Namibia tourism has a great network of websites.

I usually book through one of the major car rental companies--Hertz, Europcar, Avis, etc., and have not had a problem with a pickup in one city and dropoff in another.

You do want to book early. Namibia is getting more popular all the time and the prime accommodation fills early.

Sorry for sending some of this message twice. I think I hit the "post" key by accident. Any other questions?

Safarilover

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Dec 31st, 2005, 10:38 AM
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Sararilover - going from Cape Cross Seal reserve across Damaraland to Etosha - what road(s) do you take?
 
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Dec 31st, 2005, 12:30 PM
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Do they drive on left or right side of highway???
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Dec 31st, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Left
 
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Dec 31st, 2005, 04:01 PM
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Bummer!!
Thanks.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 07:09 AM
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I agree! We went to England a couple years ago and started out on a 3 hour drive as soon as we arrived. Between my husband trying to drive on the left and the navigator (me) dozing off, the first day was quite an adventure! However, we learned out lesson and will stay in Windhoek for two nights before taking to the road. I don't know if my husband will do any better at the beginning, but at least I will be awake to give him advice on driving! (If he doesn't get mad and ditch me....)
 
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Jan 1st, 2006, 07:05 PM
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safarilover:

Can you recommend any particular websites?

Also, is it worthwhile to visit Wolvedans?

Mollybee
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 02:48 AM
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Mollybee
If you do a search on "Wolwedans" and work back through the threads you'll find my comments on one of my very favourite places. We first went in 2001 and again, to renew our wedding vows, in 2004.
Note that management (but not ownership) has changed since my trip so I don't know if standards and warmth are the same, though I do hope so.
On our first trip we started in Wolwedans, went on to Sossusvlei and then visited Damaraland (staying in the wonderful Damaraland Camp). Then we went on to spend a little over a week in Botswana.
On our second trip we just stopped one night in Windhoek and then 4 at Wolwedans, having spent 8+ weeks in South Africa and Botswana before hand.
We booked via a UK agent but I have read good things about Cardboard Box, a local Namibian operator. Not used them myself though.
Kavey
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:42 AM
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Hello and Happy New Year

Here are a few more thoughts on Namibia.

Yes, they do drive on the left. If you haven't done this before, Namibia is a good place to start. There isn't much traffic as, say South Africa. Even Windhoek is a relatively small city. So I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Adeewebstr,

To drive across the desert from Cape Cross:

From Cape Cross drive south toward Swakopmund. Just north of Hentiesbaai turn left on to the C35 toward Uis Mine. At Uis turn left to continue on the C35 toward Khorixas. The last fueling station is at Hentiesbaai. Uis is just a crossroad, so there really is nothing else until Khorixas, so make sure you have a full tank and pack a lunch. It is about a 5-hour drive from Swakopmund and gravel all the way, but worth doing. The tar road begins again just past Khorixas where there is also food and fuel. At Khorixas you can pick up the C39 which is tar and goes to Outjo, the last town before Etosha--about 60 miles from there to the main gate into the park.

I have done this drive several times. It is most dramatic if you drive from Khorixas toward Swakopmund because you leave rolling countryside with mountains in the distance and drive into a misty, desolate, flat area with absolutely no vegegation that I can only describe as driving on the moon. The first time I did this, of course, I had no idea what to expect and consequently thought it was quite an adventure. We didn't pass another car the entire way! Now the area is a little more populated and there is more tourism traffic; hence, a few other cars.

Mollybee

Yes, I haven't actually stayed at Wolvedans, but have been in that area twice. The first time I stayed in Camp Mwisho, a very small tented camp somewhat south of the Sossusvlei area, but we did it because they had the hot air balloon flights from there. We loved the place and thoroughly enjoyed the balloon. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! The next time I was traveling with a friend who was on a budget and we stayed at Betesda Rest Camp. The location was much better than Camp Mwisho. The rooms were fine, but the food left a lot to be desired and there was only solar hot water which ran out when we were there. There are other high-end places in the area, and they are very expensive, but worth it.

Once you enter the Namib Naukluft park itself, it is about a 40 mile drive to Sossuvlei itself. As of two years ago when I was there last, there was just a little building that served as a place to pay the entrance fee and get a cold drink, ice cream, bag of chips, etc., not much else so I think everyone pretty much survives on snacks until dinner. Really, there is just nothing else in the area, but as far as I am concerned, it adds to the adventure.

The drive from Namib Naukluft back toward Walvis Bay and Swakopmund is also a long one on gravel roads, but incredibly scenic and worth doing. Again, make sure you have a full tank of fuel and some snacks and water. You won't find much along the way.

My own opinion of Walvis bay is that you drive to the lagoon to see the flamingoes and then head to Swakopmund. The drive between the two towns goes along the coast, so the ocean is on one side and the dunes on the other. I usually make a few stops along the way for photos.

In Swakopmund I highly recommend you take the desert tour (if you can take any more desert) run by George Erb of the Swakop Tour Company. George is incredibly knowledgeable and is passionate about the desert. He can answer any of those questions you might have and I think his tour is fascinating. Try to book him when he doesn't have any other clients, so you will have a private tour. His mother also has a camel farm just out of town. It is a little like taking a pony ride, but if you haven't done this before and can get into the spirit of the thing, it is lots of fun.

I think that's about it for now. Next time, I can mention a few places to stay in Swakop or Windhoek. Right now my brain is in Tanzania as I am leaving for there in two weeks and need to do some serious packing really soon.

Bye for now.

Safarilover


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Jan 2nd, 2006, 06:11 AM
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Hello again,

Okay, I should be doing other things, but I just can't let this go.

Check out these websites:

http://www.namibiagetaways.com/index.htm

http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/index.htm

Namibia Getaways has an annual print copy that I try to pick up each year. I find it an invaluable resource for selecting accommodation and always found their descriptions and pricing to be accurate.

Namibia Wildlife Resorts is the umbrella name for the national parks accommodation.

Safarilover
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