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Planning a trip to Namibia - advice please

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Dec 12th, 2007, 03:03 AM
  #1
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Planning a trip to Namibia - advice please

I travelled in Namibia with a girlfriend a number of years ago and have such good memories of the big skies, the silence, the roads with no telephone poles ! I'm considering another trip - this time with my husband and a bigger budget.
Although my first trip included the usual Nam highlights : Sossusvlei dunes, Swakopmund, Etosha - we were self-driving and did'nt have the time to get off the beaten track. This trip I'd still like to show my husband awesome Sossusvlei for example - but there MUST be a different angle. Yes I know I can see it from a balloon ! But basicallly I'd like to know what is differnt in Namibia since I was last there. And Would really like to compile ideas for an out-of-the-ordinary trip.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 03:52 AM
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If you loved the red sands of the dunes but want to explore that environment without all the other people, I would recommend a visit to Wolwedans (which offers chalets at the lodge or tents at the camp). It's in the Namib Rand Nature Reserve and is just beautiful! It's about an hour's drive south of Sesriem.

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Dec 12th, 2007, 04:27 AM
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Thanks, I've had a look at Wolwedans and would definately like to include. How many nights is enough. I have approx 10 days (maybe less) I'm obviously considering fly-in this time, but don't want to do the Wilderness Safaris circuit. Whats the best way to join the dots to include the 'must sees' as well as some of the lesser known places?
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Dec 12th, 2007, 04:27 AM
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I agree with Wolwedans. It is my favourite place in Namibia. Wolwednas offers the exclusivity of being in a massive reserve and not seeing anyone else. You have the red sand dunes and wildlife to yourself.

Another place worth a visit is Okonjima near Otjiwarongo north of Windhoek. Okonjima Bush Lodge or the new villa are awesome, and the cheetah tracking something special
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Dec 12th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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Regarding Wolwedans, the first time we visited (in 2001) we were there only 2 nights. We loooooved it but I cried when we left as I wanted to stay longer.

The second time we went was in 2004 and we were there for 4 days which was just wonderful. We just never bored of the incredible landscapes!

For some people 4 nights would be too long as there's not a high density of wildlife (though plenty to keep us happy).

I'd say 3 would be ideal, but 2 would be OK if you're flying in AND the flight times mean that you have time for one drive on both the arrival and departure day.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 06:09 AM
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Is Africat Foundation actally based at Okonjima ? I've heard good things about the project. I looked at Okonjima's website, that villa looks lovely , thanks Poppins! So if I was to go with Wolwedans for 2 nights and Oknonjima for 2 nights (not sure if in Villa or not at this stage) what rounting do you recommend ? I'd like to include Swakopmund - to give it a second chance actually. When I was last there it was overcast and a bit like a ghost town. Your thoughts ?
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Dec 12th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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I really enjoyed Damaraland and Kaokoland (sp?). Desert elephants were an amazing experience and the scenery is mindblowing. Regarding Okonjima - to me it seemed busy. Some good close encounters with cheetah and leopard but it did feel a little contrived.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 06:47 AM
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Hi Snowy77

Give 2 days for Swakopmund, half of one spent with Hata Angu tours getting to know the "other side" of Swakopmund - Mondesa, DRC, etc. Contact [email protected] or google them for their website. The other day spend going to Sandwich Bay with Turnstone Tours. 4x4 along the coast, birds, dunes, archaeological site, truly a lovely and unique day with top quality guides.

Also, when you're at Sossusvlei pop in to Neuras Wine Estate, about 50km east of Sesriem on the C19. Wine made by the proprietors of Springfield (Robertson, S Africa) and worth a stop.

3 nights at Okonjima is better. You'll want 2 full days to take in all the various options.

If you're keen to fly rather than drive I've heard good things about Atlantic Aviation (flynamibia.com).

Another remarkable spot in Namibia (among the many) is Harnas, north-east of Gobabis on the edge of the Kalahari. Wildlife rehabilitation centre and great accommodation in a great bush setting. Sounds like it's off target for your routing this trip...you'll just have to go back again!

A trusted agent I can recommend to handle any bookings is Louise at New African Frontiers in Windhoek. Among the most professional I have ever worked with.

HTH

Kurt
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Dec 12th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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Apart from Sossusvlei and Etosha there are 2 places we really liked from our Namibia trip.

Like Kavey and Poppins we think The Namib Rand Reserve is a fantastic place, with amazing landscape and very good wilderness experience.We had 3 days,i think 3 days are perfect but a combination of 2 with one in Kulala to visit Sossusvlei is also good
.
Have a look at my pictures from Namib Rand,the place and the animals..not the accommodation.

http://www.pbase.com/africawild/namibrand05

The other place that was FANTASTIC is Palmwag.This is really a wild place where you will have drives just for yourself with amazing scenarios and desert adapted creatures.The camp is also fantastic with basic tents,bucket showers and a wilderness feeling difficult to match.
Here are some pictures from our 2 days at Palmwag.

http://www.pbase.com/africawild/damaraland05

Paco.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 07:03 AM
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On our first trip we did 2 nights Wolwedans and then were DRIVEN up to Sossusvlei (as it's not very far) to overnight and visit the dunes the next day. That worked well but if you've seen Sossusvlei and don't have a particularly yearning to repeat it, I'd do the 3 days in Wolwedans.

I want to second the recommendation for Damaraland. We stayed at the Wilderness Safaris camp which we really enjoyed, especially because of the community ownership/ staffing. And those desert elephants were a treat indeed.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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You do not mention the time you have for this trip, however I assume that it would be around a fortnight and that your budget will allow you to enjoy a few flights in addition to driving?

I would suggest that if this is the case that you hire a pilot guide and initiate the journey by heading north and west. Routing you can figure out, but I enjoyed a circuit that took me through Kaokoland, particularly the area around Purros, where you have an excellent chance of seeing the desert lion, rhino and elephant. There is also a reasonably accessible and unspoilt Himba village not far away. During that sector of my journey I captured a stunning picture of giraffe in the desert.

You could extend up to the Kunene and check out epupa falls before turning tail and heading south toward Khorixas and the Twyfelfontein area. Here the attraction is the 10 - 20 000 year old san art, where there are hundreds of well preserved engravings and paintings depicting san mythology. BTW, if you are at all interested in ticking off some unique birds you'll find them here as well as the single species petromus typicus, which is neither a rat nor a mouse but something on it's own entirely.

Etosha, yes of course before heading back to Windhoek to pick up the car and do as all the others have suggested, Swakop down to Walvis around and about through the Naukluft finishing up at NamibRand. If you want to hang where the celebs do try their little known and exclusive boulders camp.

If time allows, after an early visit to the dunes (s'vlei) drive down to Luderitz (look out for the wild horses en-route) BTW: there are only about five wild "feral" horse species world wide and this is one of them. Then hit Kolmanskop etc, before making the long journey back to WDK.

THe last sector can be done by plane instead of a car, I have done both and admit that driving was by far my favourite, however that was almost another life away and at at time when time really didn't matter.

If you want I will be happy to share my lodgings, however am always reluctant on this board as it has do with personal choice and what appeals to me might well be abbhorant for you.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 12:18 PM
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What? An animal that is half bird half mouse! Vineyards in the desert ! thnaks for all the input, this is amazing.
I've heard of Bruno from Turnstone Tours and their great Sandwich Harbour tours. I'll look into Hata Angu Tours. Are any of the numerous excursions and acttivites offered in Swakopmund worth it. Damaraland looks special - I remember walking up a hill to see The White Lady. Can't remember is that in Damaraland ? I'm interested in a combination of fly-in and self-driving. thanks for air option Kurt. What if we had about 12 days ? Do you usually make your own booking or work through a travel agent ? Should I go with someone based in Namibia or South Africa ?
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Dec 12th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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the petromus is a mouse type creature, no relation to a bird.

The white lady is up the brandberg in the Tsisab ravine. This is technically in damaraland on the fringe of the skeleton coast national park. If you are after rock art there are about 20 other sights in the same ravine, but they are exposed and weathered, so you really can't make out too much detail.

Twelve days for a trip of that nature is fine, however totally dependent on flying between some of the more remote areas in the north and west. Now I do my own thing as I am from So Africa and have explored the area sufficiently already that I don't rely on expert opinion. However if I were to recommend a company to get you around and about it would certainly be Nature Friend, as far as I know other than the Schoemans, whose company name I have forgotten, there aren't any others that offer a pilot guide service.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Mkhonzo,
I'm sure your taste in lodging would not be abhorent to anyone. Maybe not their cup of tea, but not abhorent. Thank you for the Nature Friend tip. I had not heard of them before.

I've wondered about trying to see those feral horses. It seems to be somewhat out of the way and iffy. Can you tell us about your experiences seeing them? Time allotted and where you stayed? I won't be abhored, promise.

Care to tell us what celebs you've seen at the boulders camp? I'll likely never go on a Namibian celeb hunt myself, so your feedback is it for me.

Kavey,
I remember your comment about crying when leaving Wolwedans from past posts. To put that into perspective, where else have you cried when it was time to leave? I don't recall you mentioning other places.

No tears in the Antarctic. They'll freeze on your face!

LynneB,
Do you have a link to a report? I am especially interested in your comments on Okonjima and your experiences there. I am wondering if I'd feel the same way you do. I think I recall commenting on your trip, but couldn't find it.

Kurt_a,
You obviously think Okonjima is a special place if you recommend 3 nights. If I go, that's what I was thinking--3 nights. It seems like you know lots about Namibia. How do you feel about Okonjima being a little busy and contrived?

Paco,
I remember your great account of Namibia and photos!

I've had an excellent response from Cardboard Box over a couple of years of intensive questioning by me.

Snowy,
Please post your final itinerary when you decide upon one.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 02:04 PM
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Atravelynn.
I have seen the horses on three occasions, the first on the road between Aus and Luderitz and the other two in the Naukluft National Park. Nothing to report really, but a lifer seen three times on three different trips. the sighting alongside the road, was just that I drove up and there they were grazing peacefully about three hundred metres away. of the sighting in the Naukluft, one was great, at a water hole after some Gemsbok had been drinking, the horses (8 or so) pulled in and after a few minutes just wandered off. The other sighting was less spectacular, saw them in the distance, parked my car and walked out toward them...yes yes, broke the rules and so did they and took off.

I have a friend who flies in that part of the world, he delivered Charlize Theron to Boulders camp recently. Personally I have not paid too much attention to who has been and or not been there. Some time ago when the Jolies and Pitts were breeding in Namibia, they too enjoyed the serenity of boulders.

And yes perhaps I should have chosen a less vigorous adjective as you are right, my choice is not necessarily everyones cup of tea.

In most of my trips through Namibia I have been camping as the attraction had been the Kob run up the skeleton coast beyond mile 109 near the Ugab river mouth. So public sights with nothing but the stars above my pip. Occasionally when the fog would pull in I'd crawl under my car to avoid getting wet. Most recent trip stayed at Purros, Okiharonga Elephant watch camp. Mowani, Onguma Tented Camp, Wolwedans Dunes. I used my pilot friend for a day trip x 3 and flew from purros up to Epupa. Did a scenic over the Namib en route to Namib rand and then from there did a day trip down to Fish River Canyon and Kolmanskop....
Spectaaaaaaaculah!
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Dec 12th, 2007, 06:45 PM
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Hello Snowy,

I have posted some photos of Okonjima (Bush Camp) and activities here that you might find useful, http://picasaweb.google.com/Treepol/OkonjimaAfricat2005.

I am returning to Namibia in August 2008 and have decided to spend time at:

Bagatelle Game Ranch - http://www.bagatelle-kalahari-gameranch.com/

Swakopmund for shopping, Sandwich Harbour tour and a Desert Adventure tour

Hobatere Lodge - http://www.exclusive.com.na/hobatere.htm

in addition to Etosha, Windhoek and I'm not quite sure if I will have time for anything else yet.


Pol

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Dec 12th, 2007, 06:46 PM
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Wolwedans is a lot more than an hour south of Sesriem. to the lodgings, not the turnoff, you are looking at 2.5 hours driving at a safe speed.
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Dec 12th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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Thanks for the info Mkhonzo. Did you cry after leaving Wolwedans? Pardon my ignorance of Namibia accommodations, but is Onguma Tented Camp fairly close to Etosha? If so, I believe I read that it has good wildlife, but not a lot of people. What did you think of Onguma?
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Dec 12th, 2007, 10:26 PM
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Onguma Tented Camp is just outside Etosha, at the Eastern gate. Excellent value and just a lovely lodge

I have to agree that Okahirongo is an amazing spot. Once again so unbelievibly remote and great for visiting the Himbas. But you have to fly in.

I didn't find Okonjima crowded, but I was there out of the main season. The activities and AfriCat foundation blew me away.

If you have already seen Sossusvlei, then I would avoid it and do 3 nights at Wolwedans. In fact, 3 nights at most places is preferable if you have the time and money. Horrible to rush through and not enjoy the solitude and landscape.

Naturefriend Safari's is a great operation. They have a share in Wolwedans and their own flights, so a good option for good prices. And they run a top notch outfit.

A combination of flying and driving is a great idea. Gives you the best of both worlds.
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Dec 13th, 2007, 02:47 AM
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Tuckegm my apologies, I must be misremembering the length of the journey from Wolwedans to Sesriem.

Lynn, to be fair, during that first trip to Wolwedans we were also very lucky to have as our guide the conservation and guide training manager, Louise and to ourselves too as there weren't many other guests. We got on particularly well and so when we left for Sesriem she decided to drive us up there herself. Wolwedans was the first camp on the trip (after a loooong, looong journey) and was so magical. I shed a few tears on leaving Wolwedans and also on saying our goodbyes.

Can't think of many other places we've cried on leaving actually. That said, there was a HUGE sense of loss on disembarking from the Ioffe at the end of the Antarctic trip. Probably the only reason there were no tears is that we were with all the other folks being shepherded to the airport, many of whom had become friends. But I remember a couple of us discussing the palpable feelings of resentment that we had to give up "our" ship nad "our" crew friends to a bunch of usurpers who would board the ship a few hours later! Heartsick that the trip was over.
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