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suggest tour companies and itineraries for Namibia / South Africa?

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May 21st, 2011, 06:44 PM
  #1
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suggest tour companies and itineraries for Namibia / South Africa?

Hi all

Can anyone suggest good tour operators for namibia/Botswana? My husband and I are hoping to spend two weeks in July and are looking for good, personalized service and probably a mixture of reasonable/splurge accommodation.

Also, what are the must-sees for these countries? We have been in Kenya and Tanzania so have done the traditional safaris. Also, husband is a keen photographer, thus Namibia.

Thanks so much!
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May 22nd, 2011, 02:13 AM
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www.windhoek-namibia.travel

good info for Botswana also.

travelzoo.com also monitor

runs some awesome sales with friendlyplanet.com

Happy Planning,
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May 22nd, 2011, 03:58 AM
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We had a fantastic time in Namibia and Botswana, arranged by Gemma Dry of Discover Namibia Tours

http://www.discover-namibia-safari.net/

In Namibia we did a self drive starting in Windhoek - itinerary was

Sossusvlei - 2 nights
Swakopmund - 4 nights
Cape Cross - 1 Night
Damaraland - 2 nights
Etosha - 3 nights
Rundu - 1 night
Caprivi - 2 nights
Chobe (Botswana) - 3 nights
Victoria Falls - 1 night

We did just as you said - some nights splurge/other nights modest accommodation. Gemma did a great job on the itinerary and bookings. Driving was part of the fun! (note we didn't have the vehicle in Botswana as it is cumbersome to take it across borders. So we dropped it in Katima on the Namibia/Botswana border and Gemma arranged a car and driver to take us to Chobe which was about 90 minutes away. Same thing to Victoria Falls)

Here is a link to our (unfinished) blog - we took literally thousands of pictures of sand! It was beautiful. Navigate on the right hand margin to Namibia.

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/africa/
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May 22nd, 2011, 06:16 AM
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The June, 2011, issue of National Geographic has an article on Namibia that you might consult for ideas. Also, if you're looking for a Namibian guidebook, consult an earlier thread in this forum. Having contributed to that conversation, I'll now add that I have just received Lizzie Williams' Namibia Handbook and am favorably impressed by her coverage. In Namibia, I have been to Sossusvlei, Swakopmund (recommend the air flight that you can take over Sossusvlei from there), Windhoek, and Caprivi Strip and commend all to you. I've been many places several times ---or more---in Botswana, but especially recommend Okavango and Moremi. ZZ
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May 22nd, 2011, 08:16 AM
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For safaris, the single most important attribute of an agent is his/her knowledge of the area where you plan to travel. An agent who has an understanding of how seasonal weather in specific areas affects game-viewing, an agent who has the first-hand experience of comparing different camps and lodges ... that's the type of agent who can make the difference between an average trip and a great one.
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May 22nd, 2011, 11:01 AM
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We did an air safari up the skeleton coast with www.skeletoncoastsafaris.com. Our pilot was one of the owners André Schoeman. this trip was amazing. you see cave drawings, relics left from hunter gatherers, himba people and all the color and beauty of Namibia from the air. you set down at several locations during the day and for staying the night. Actually you can pretty much arrange anything you want with this company. For a private look at namibia--absolutely the best!

In Botswana we stayed at Jacana Camp in the okavango. We stayed at others also but Jacana I would love to do again. We actually had a hippo and an 2 elephants who called our island their home. Jacana is amazing. we used [email protected] at wilderness safaris to book Botswana. we booked with Skeleton coast safari ourselves.
I'm jealous you are going!
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Feb 5th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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Hi Elizabeth, great blog and photos. Really stunning, except the money belt ones you commented on. I know what you mean about the midsection distortion from that item.

Anyway...you got all those desert shots and did all those desert activities spending only 2 nts Sossusvlei?

What were the specifics on the aerial viewing over the dunes? From where/how long/booked with Discover Namibia or elsewhere?

Did you do any tracking on foot in Damaraland?

How did you spend your 4 Swakopmund days?

Where did you stay in Etosha? Can you comment on the length of stay there?

Anybody else who wants to chime in and answer, feel free.

Thanks!
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Feb 5th, 2012, 12:58 PM
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Hi Lynn! I'm so happy to help you given all the help you gave us for Tanzania and Rwanda.

To answer your questions.....

"you got all those desert shots and did all those desert activities spending only 2 nts Sossusvlei?"

Yes - we arrived mid afternoon, driving from Windhoek and spent one full day on the dunes the next day, and left the day after for Swakopmund. Staying in the park at the Lodge gives you a big advantage for seeing the dunes....we left at 4:30 in the morning so we were at Dead Vlei well before others.

What were the specifics on the aerial viewing over the dunes? From where/how long/booked with Discover Namibia or elsewhere?

The flight over the dunes was arranged upon our arrival in Swakopmund by Discover Namibia. There are several operators and it seemed really easy to do it at the time

"How did you spend your 4 Swakopmund days?

We were 3 nights in Swakopmund....during that time we relaxed for one day, toured the area for another day and went dune buggy riding on the 3rd (must do!). Probably more than necessary but for us it was a nice rest.

"Did you do any tracking on foot in Damaraland?"

No

"Where did you stay in Etosha? Can you comment on the length of stay there?

We stayed in the park - one night at Okaukuejo and one night at Namutoni. We were there in the off season and didn't expect to see any animals....and we were right! So I can't really comment on Etosha.

After Etosha we went north to Caprivi which we really enjoyed....happy to answer questions about it if you are interested. Best Liz
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Feb 5th, 2012, 01:47 PM
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Thank you for all the quick answers Elizabeth!

Did you do an all-day dune buggy ride? Or for a couple of hours? Were there any dune buggy opportunities in Sossusvlei?

About how long between Cape Cross and Damaraland?

Did your blog end before Damaraland or did I just not see more? You should post the blog as a stand alone trip report. Very useful.

Thanks again.
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Feb 5th, 2012, 02:25 PM
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We did a half day dune buggy ride in Swakopmund (we drove our own 4 wheel drive with a guide) Didn't see any in Sossuslvei.

Between Cape Cross and Damaraland we drove to Palmvag Lodge .... so about 4 -5 hours (we had a flat tire ... something you should expect.... so it took longer

We haven't finished the blog!! We should and will....
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Feb 5th, 2012, 05:24 PM
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"We haven't finished the blog!! We should and will...."

The forum is waiting!
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Feb 8th, 2012, 02:25 AM
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We're in Buenos Aires now after 3 weeks in Brazil.....and going to Antarctica next month. Trying to get started on this blog!
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Feb 8th, 2012, 05:49 PM
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That's worthy of an extension, then.

In the meantime anyone else with Namibia knowledge, I am all ears or maybe eyes.
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Feb 8th, 2012, 09:28 PM
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There is quite a lot to do in Swakopmund - I can recommend a day trip to Sandwich Harbour and if you want a sense of space a daytrip into the desert - Turnstone Tours run good trips.

Swakop itself is pleasant for a days break to catch up on shopping, walking on the beach, the area around the lighthouse and esplanade is good to walk around. There are scenic flights, 4 wheeler trips into the dunes and dolphin cruises around Walvis Bay that can be good for birds.

3-4 days in Etosha is good, I've stayed at Okaukeujo, Halali and Namutoni.

I'm trying to decide whether to do a return to Namibia and have been in touch with Gemma at Discover Namibia who has offered prompt and invaluable advice. The new Dolomite Camp is tempting and there are some other interesting places,

Shamvura http://www.shamvura.com/ - Mark and Charlie have a very laid back camp in the Caprivi Strip and are very responsive to emails.

Kavita Lion Lodge - http://www.kavitalion.com/
Grootberg Lodge, Damaraland - http://www.grootberg.com/index.html
Frans Indongo Lodge - http://www.indongolodge.com/

Other places in the south:
Eagles Nest Chalets - http://www.namibweb.com/kav.htm
Hoodia Desert Lodge -
http://hammerstein.fridi.argon.websp...ch/index2.html
Sossus Dune Lodge - http://www.namibweb.com/sossusdunelodge.htm

Central areas
Camp Kipwe - www.kipwe.com
Mowani Mountain Camp - www.mowani.com
Erongo Wilderness Lodge - Erongo Wilderness Lodge
http://www.erongowilderness-namibia.com/index.php
Ai Aiba Lodge - http://www.aiaiba.com/
Mundulea Bush Camp http://www.turnstone-tours.com/mundulea.htm

I also posted some Namibian travel ideas on this thread last year, http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ves-kruger.cfm

Regardz,


Pol
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Feb 9th, 2012, 06:17 AM
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Exciting plans Treepol, thanks!

Is 5 nts Etosha--one night in a convenient place upon arrival, 2 nts Okaukeujo, 1 nt Halali and 1 nt Namutoni excessive?

It would be in August. I'd also include Sossusvlei for 3 nts (1 more than usual) and Damaraland for 3 nts (2 seems standard).

Treepol, is there any reason you have not contacted Cardboard Box?

I want to spend several hours with the Cape Cross Seal colony. In Aug you can't get into that reserve until 10:00 am.

Also want to see flamingos in Walvis Bay and believe you do that on foot.

So seals and flamingos is how I'd spend my time near Swakopmund. I'm thinking of staying at Cape Cross Lodge for the seals one night then staying somewhere in Walvis Bay as opposed to actually in Swakopmund, which I think is 19 miles away from Walvis Bay.

If you have thoughts on that, please share.
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Feb 9th, 2012, 07:47 AM
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Last July/August we took a Namibia/South Africa trip with our family of seven. We flew from the US to Windhoek and then started our safari in Ongava, just outside of Etosha and then had a driving safari down through Namibia, seeing all the important sites and ending in Cape Town. The trip was designed and planned according to our needs and budget by Tristan Cowley of Ultimate Safaris - Namibia. It was fabulous! He worked with us each step of the way to plan a great trip. Our guide and driver, Perez, was the most fun and had incredible knowledge of every natural wonder there is to see. We stayed in very nice lodging and had a very comfortable vehicle for our drive. Please contact him to plan your trip. [email protected]
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Feb 9th, 2012, 08:44 AM
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Hi Lynn - we stayed one night at Cape Cross Lodge and really enjoyed it and seeing the seals - still remember the odour!

In Damaraland we stayed at Palmwag Lodge and also really enjoyed it - especially the staff....although that might have been strongly influenced by their invaluable assistance purloining a replacement tire from Hertz Windhoek!

Staying at Cape Cross breaks the drive up nicely from Swakopmund to Damaraland. We left Swakopmund late morning, arriving at Cape Cross Lodge before 2pm so had the afternoon for the seal colony and left the next morning for Palmwag.

Re Etosha - we were there in February (the rainy season) and the waterholes were deserted which we expected. We found the notion of waterhole viewing less satisfying than a safari drive (we were in Namibia after the Serengeti). Have you experienced water hole viewing before?

Re Cardboard Box - I found they were a little more expensive and Gemma and I clicked from the first email, but they are certainly highly regarded. Are you planning to self drive?

Best

Liz
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Feb 9th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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No self drive. Thanks for info, Liz! I can almost smell those seals now.
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Feb 9th, 2012, 10:13 AM
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And thank you MarySch!
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Feb 9th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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Re self drive - there is the ongoing discussion of 2 wheel versus 4 wheel drive - we come down clearly on the side of 4 wheel drive. We rented a Kia Sportage from Hertz which was ...... OK, but (as so artfully described by our saviors in Palmwag) "the tires are shite". Meaning the car was fine but the tires weren't up to the road conditions either in durability or proper inflation. Also I had read that one should request a second spare tire from the get go .... the fellow at the Hertz counter in Windhoek talked me out of it (arrrghhh) and of course we needed it. (I presume they didn't have one at the time....) Ultimately Hertz had to drive a second tire up to us in Palmwag which we refused to pay for, and that worked....but I would still have rather had the tire in the first place.

Before we went we did a complete tire change drill at home....remember to chalk the tires, take the lag bolts off symmetrically, etc, etc....we put the skills to good use and were very glad we had reacquainted ourselves with changing tires. This is not meant to put you off self driving - just the opposite. We had such a wonderful time and somehow the flat tires have just become part of the fun! Truth be told both times we had a flat (!) people appeared to help (without any expectation of remuneration although we offered - they did accept cold water) and it was just part of the overall experience.

On the subject of water - we bought a cooler in Windhoek before we set off and always had 6 one litre bottles of water in ice....we literally drove for hours without seeing another sign of life and water is essential on the road.

Jealous you're going to Namibia - one of our favourite places! Is Caprivi Strip in your itinerary and Botswana/Chobe?
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