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Trip Report Namibia Vacation October 2012

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We just returned from a fabulous self drive trip to Namibia. We spent 14 nights in country and then got a bonus 3 nights in Johannesburg due to hurricane Sandy (NOT!). Gemma from Discover Namibia put the trip together for us and almost everything was perfect. Our Toyota Hilux double cab with frig from Advanced Car Hire worked perfect after a minor adjustment to the fuel line. No flats, no damage and what a hoot to "wash your windows" every time you want to put on your blinker.

We flew from San Francisco via New York and Johannesburg on SAA. For those going through JNB, yes you do have to pass through a transit customs and they do stamp your passport. 1 hour and 15 min. was a tight connection with even a little really fast walking to make the flight to Windhoek. On return at Windhoek they informed us that our JFK connection was canceled and that they would "sort us out at JNB". Well they didn't so after 3 nights we bought tickets with Cathay Pacific routing through Hong Kong to get back to SFO. It involved back to back 12 hour flights with a 7 hour shopping layover in HK. We're hoping trip insurance will pay for the extra charges.

We spent the first night in Windhoek at Terra Africa and had dinner at Am Weinberg's.
2 nights Okonjima Main Camp (Africat) upgraded to view room
2 nights in Etosha at Halali (bush chalet)
1 night in Etosha at Okaukuejo (waterhole chalet)
2 nights Camp Kipwe in Damaraland (1 night in room 3 and 1 night in the suite)
3 nights in Swakopmund at the Stiltz (view room 7)
Dinners at The Tug, The Jetty and Kucki's upstairs wine bar.
3 nights in Sossusvlei at Sossus Dune Lodge (room 13 closest to lounge area and in front of waterhole)
drive back to Windhoek for 5pm flight

Highlights were many but here are a few:
In Etosha, 33 lions, 1 leopard in leaping distance from our open windows, 2 rhinos running through the pan, great elephant and giraffe sightings at the waterholes (a big thanks to Gemma for waterhole suggestions)
The suite at Camp Kipwe after a dismal night in room 3 (hint-the bathroom in room 3 is out the front door just below the public lounge area)
3 great dinners in Swakopmund and also a scenic flight and trip to Sandwich Harbor
3 wonderful nights in Sossusvlei with a brown hyena sighting at dawn at Dune 45
AND the highlight was celebrating my husband's birthday with a bottle of champagne and chocolate muffins at the very top of Big Daddy!

The roads were very good except for a little patch between Swakop and the Dunes. We saw the graders many times. The hardest part was keeping to Advanced Car Hire's 70km/hr speed limit on gravel roads. In some places the posted speed limit was 100 km/hr. The country is very scenic so the drives were mostly enjoyable. LOVE the frig in the back as we always had cold wine, beer and water available. We had a few hassles at the gas stations so next time we will not be from the USA. Gas was never a problem and we only filled up in Windhoek, Outjo and Khorixas. Returning the truck empty is a pain but I guess it would be hard for them to determine if it is full or not with the dual tanks. Advanced Car gave detailed instructions when we got the truck and it did have 3 spares, first aid kit, tow straps, tire gauge, pump, etc. Returning it took only minutes and we were then driven to the airport. The location of the car hire was extremely convenient and then we didn't have to navigate the big city of Windhoek.

Only 3600 photos to sort.

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