Written by ssullivan on 22 Oct, 2012
For our week in Namibia, we rented a car to get around the country. Namibia is a fairly large country, and much of it is undeveloped and remote, making driving a more viable option than flying between destinations. Driving also allows visitors to see the…Read More
For our week in Namibia, we rented a car to get around the country. Namibia is a fairly large country, and much of it is undeveloped and remote, making driving a more viable option than flying between destinations. Driving also allows visitors to see the country at their own pace, and to experience parts of the country that they might otherwise miss. Namibia also benefits from a well-developed road system that connects its larger population and industrial centers to the nation's capital, Windhoek. However, this is still Africa, and while many Namibian roads are excellent by African standards, driving in this country is still quite different from travel by car in other parts of the world.The first thing to keep in mind when renting a vehicle in Namibia is that rentals here are rather expensive for anything other than a very small compact car. There is a lot of demand for rentals, and the rental fleet in Windhoek is not exceptionally large. You will find many of the large rental car companies (Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Dollar, Thrifty) have outposts in Windhoek, with some located at the airport, and others downtown. These rental operators show up on all of the major online travel websites, allowing for advance reservations to be easily made before your trip. I suggest reserving your rental as early as possible, as travelers who wait until the last minute may find that the choices are limited and prices are excessive.Where you are driving will help determine the best type of rental vehicle for your trip. While there are good paved highways leading out of Windhoek to destinations like Swakopmund, Etosha National Park, the Skeleton Coast, and Luderitz, most of the highways are not paved. If you are planning to stick just to major paved highway routes or the salt highway along the Skeleton Coast, a smaller car may be adequate. However, if you plan to visit Etosha National Park (roads inside the park are unpaved) or need to drive any routes that involve unpaved roads, at a minimum you will want a large car, and preferably, a crossover, SUV, or truck.The unpaved roads in Namibia vary from wide, well graded, dirt and gravel highways that are well-signed, with speed limits of up to 120 kmh (74 mph) to dirt tracks that are hardly marked and absolutely require a 4×4 SUV to transit. You will want to plan your routes in advance, so that you can choose an adequate rental based on your routes. To complicate this, many maps are inaccurate. The official highway maps issued by the Namibian government are mostly correct when it comes to properly color coding the nation's roadways as primary paved, secondary paved, primary gravel, secondary gravel, or 4×4 required. I say mostly correct because we encountered a glaring error on our map the day we drove from Etosha to Swakopmund. The highway from Khorixas to Uls, and then west to the salt highway on the coast, was all identified as paved secondary roadway on our map. However, it immediately turned to gravel, and remained so for approximately 220 km. The drive was incredible, taking us right through the heart of Damaraland and a very remote region. However, the unpaved highway slowed us down, and we were fortunate we had allowed ample time to be able to travel at a much slower pace and still arrive at the coastline in advance of sundown.Due to the varying road conditions, you should consider insurance on your rental vehicle that you might ordinarily not purchase. We rented from the Thrifty location in downtown Windhoek, and they offered us options of purchasing windscreen and tire insurance, both of which we accepted. This was a fortunate choice, as during our trip through Damaraland we encountered a large, sharp rock sticking out of the roadway as we crested a hill. We both saw the rock, but it was too late to avoid it, and it was directly in line with the right side tires of our car. Both of our right tires hit the rock straight on. We pulled over to stop on the side of the road, hoping we only had one flat and not two, as the only signs of life we had seen for the past 40 km were a few goats and a sole goat herder on the side of the road, and that was many kilometers behind us. Fortunately neither of our tires that hit the rock appeared to be losing air, so we continued on. However, the damage was done, and several hours later in Swakopmund we noticed a slight bulge forming on the rear tire where the tire's internal steel sidewall had been broken. We managed to get the car back to Windhoek and return it at the airport without any major issues, but the tire required replacement, and the insurance we purchased cost less than the cost of the new tire. We also picked up a few minor rock chips on the car's windscreen, so that insurance paid off for us as well. My advice is this — if any portion of your trip takes you off paved roads, even on the best of gravel roads you are likely to get rock chips, and tire damage is a real risk.Other important things to keep in mind before traveling across Namibia by car are that the distances in this country between settlements are often great, and what may appear as a town on a map may be nothing but a place in the desert with a name and a few families that live nearby. Given Namibia's very dry and very hot climate, do not set out without a decent supply of water in your car. It's also a good idea to have some snacks too, just in case. This is not a country where you want to be stranded without adequate water and food to last you for several hours in the heat.Maintaining sufficient fuel is also important. We opted to try and keep our tank at least half full, and stop at the first gas station we encountered when the tank dropped below half. In some areas, this is less of a concern; the heavily traveled highway from Windhoek to Outjo, near the entrance to Etosha National Park, has lots of towns with petrol stations. However, other areas, like the gravel highway from Khorixas to Uls, have no gasoline or diesel available for long distances. Filling the tank in Namibia is a somewhat slow process, as stations are full-service only, and pumps can be slow. The station attendants who pump gas have a habit of overfilling tanks as much as possible, which does mean that you get a really full tank. It also slows down the process. These attendants also typically expect a small tip for their services, and cash payment is the norm for a tank of petrol.You also should closely inspect the spare tire when you pick up the vehicle, and make sure that it, as well as the four tires on the car, are all in good shape, properly inflated, and show no visible signs of damage or excessive wear. We came very, very close to needing to use our spare tire and would have been in a world of hurt had we not had a good spare. Also check to make sure that the tire wrench and jack are in the car. Finally, it's an excellent idea to ensure that you have a cellular phone that works in Namibia, preferably one with a local SIM card. Pre-paid SIM are relatively inexpensive and available at most supermarkets and convenience stores. An adapter to keep your phone charged is also essential.My last tip would be to consider washing your rental car before returning it. The gravel, salt, and sand highways mean that cars get very dirty very quickly, and most of the rental agencies do charge a cleaning fee for dirty cars. After several days of driving around Etosha, and then a multi-hour drive on a gravel highway, followed by a drive on the coastal salt highway, our white Hyundai Sonata was shades of brown and gray when we got up on our last morning in Namibia. Fortunately our friend we were staying with was more than happy to allow us to use his hose and car washing supplies to wash the car in his driveway. Had we not had his driveway available, it would have been beneficial to run the car through an automatic wash in Windhoek, as the cost to do so would have been less than the washing fee charged by the rental agency.Driving in Namibia is a fun experience, and our multi-day road trip across this amazing country is full of memories I will always cherish. However, it is important to go into such an adventure with the right attitude and precautions taken. Doing so will ensure that you have an enjoyable trip. Close
Written by Illion on 22 Feb, 2011
Strangely enough, it took us a bit more time to get used to driving on the left side of the road than it did in the UK or South Africa. The main reason: lack of traffic. It is difficult to wander off to the wrong…Read More
Strangely enough, it took us a bit more time to get used to driving on the left side of the road than it did in the UK or South Africa. The main reason: lack of traffic. It is difficult to wander off to the wrong side of the road in the congested traffic of London; you just follow the car in front of you. But when you drive around on empty streets, you sometimes forget which the right side of the road is and before you know it, you are driving on the right(hand) side of the road. Fortunately, there is so little traffic that our mistakes had no consequences. To illustrate the lack of traffic: when travelling from Aïs Aïs to Lüderitz, some 450 kilometres, which took us about 6 hours, we counted 98 cars, 65 trucks and 2 motorcycles. Namibia has a few tarmac main roads, but most roads are gravel. For African standards, the roads are well maintained, but don’t be surprised that you will have to pass a few stretches where you bounce around in your car. Even when the gravel roads seem fine, watch your speed. Renting a car in Namibia is expensive for a reason: hardly any rentals returns unscathed from a trip be it with a flat tire or as a total loss. We were fortunate enough to return with only a few dents from pebbles thrown at us by passing cars, but we have met people who had had four flat tires in one single day!So drive safely and enjoy the mesmerizing landscape. Close
Written by Raklak on 04 Jul, 2006
Many years ago I had watched a documentary entitled "The Shifting Sands of Namib" and was hooked on the striking landscape of the Namib Desert. With a trip to southern Africa planned for June, 2006, I had to include a…Read More
Many years ago I had watched a documentary entitled "The Shifting Sands of Namib" and was hooked on the striking landscape of the Namib Desert. With a trip to southern Africa planned for June, 2006, I had to include a few days at the dunes. Namibia, formerly known as South West Africa, is a sizable country, about twice the size of California. Five days is woefully inadequate amount of time to visit this striking, welcoming nation. But by limiting our wish list of sites, our five-day exploration left us with plenty of beautiful memories and a desire to return to see the many sites we had missed. Our self-drive trip began with a night in Windhoek at the Windhoek Country Club Resort, a lovely place, but a bit upscale. We headed out early the next morning for a drive to the Sossusvlei/Sesriem area in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Driving in Namibia is easy once one adjusts to driving on the left. (Our Budget rental car was also a manual transmission; if you are unfamiliar with this, ask for an automatic). The pavement ended in Rehoboth, but the gravel roads posed no problem. Beautiful scrub tree landscapes lined the road and occasionally we would spot birds and animals that sent us screeching to a halt. We located Kulala Desert Lodge and found it to be a lovely oasis on the rock-strewn bank of the dry Tsauchab River, overlooking the red dunes of the national park to the west. Our tent was elevated on a wooden platform with adobe walls and thatched roof. On the same platform was our son's adjoining tent. Both structures offered ensuite bathrooms with showers, and ladder access to the rooftop landing. Arrangements can be made to have sleeping bags placed on one's rooftop for a night under the stars. While we used Kulala's guides to transport us into and around the park dunes, there is an advantage to staying within the park that we were unable to take: campers here, and guests at the Sossusvlei Lodge have access to the dunes before first light, so those fabulous sunrise and sunset photos can be yours for the taking. Kulala's guides do have a private, shortcut gate by which they can enter the park at sunrise, but the drive to the dunes still takes 10 or 15 precious minutes. Climbing to the top of Dune 45 was a remarkable experience. The sand presents a challenging walking surface, but the beauty of the landscape below makes each upward step worthwhile. Driving further into the park one reaches a point where those in two-wheel drive vehicles must park and either walk or await a shuttle. The vleis - pans or depressions in the landscape that have held or occasionally hold water - are found at the end of the drive: Hidden Vlei, Dead Vlei, Nara Vlei and Sossusvlei. Of these, Dead Vlei presents the opportunity for striking photos. While at Kulala we also made a visit to Sesriem Canyon, near the official gateway to the park (where you can purchase gas and permits for entry into the park.) Here the Tsauchab River cuts a deep crevice in the sandstone, providing an interesting trail for a short hike. We had little more than one full day in this area, just time enough for the highlights. Then we began our drive on the C14 to Walvis Bay. The landscape changes as we moved on our northward route were subtle but beautiful. The grassy savannas with rocky outcrops around Sesriem gave way to barren rock fields which grew into scrubby undulating hills around Thr Gaub River. Continuing westward on the C14 across the northern section of the Namib-Naukluft Park, the sand dunes eventually return, but without the red colors of the Sossusvlei area. Walvis Bay lacks the old world charm of its neighbor Swakopmund (20 kilometers to the north) but is nevertheless a fine place to stay. I had anticipated the Bay to be a haven for birdlife, a place for walks in the sand with the sea lapping at our bare feet. Rather, paved sidewalks border the water in town, and industry claims much of the waterfront. Our base of operations for our two nights in Walvis Bay was the Lagoon Lodge, located right on the Bay. This proved to be a lovely 6-room B&B with fine hosts and pleasant rooms, especially fine for dog-lovers. I was less than enthusiastic about a proposed 3-hour motorboat tour of the bay with Mola Mola, but within minutes of boarding the boat was thoroughly entertained and educated about the activity and residents of Walvis Bay. There were about 14 guests onboard, and our guide, Wally, was quite a character. The mix of tourists on the boat made for interesting conversations. For those - like me - eager for a walk along the beach, drive north on the main highway to Swakopmund. Turnouts all along the highway lead to beach parking, where you can experience the dunes litterally running into the sea. We sampled the local pizza parlors in Walvis Bay and found Crazy Mamas to be adequate, and Harry Peppars to be fabulous! Across the main highway from Long Beach (or "Langstrand") – made famous by serving as the home away from home for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – is Dare Devil Adventure, where quad-bikes can be rented for guided tours through the dunes. This is a must for those who wish to experience the dunes while having a blast. The bikes are automatic transmission vehicles and easy to operate. Goggles are provided. While we never ventured far from the ocean on our one-hour tour, we immediately felt swallowed by the immensity of the landscape upon cresting the first dune. Our final day in Namibia was spent with a quick, drive-through look around picturesque Swakopmund. Then we began the paved-road trip back to Windhoek via the B1 and B2 highways. A stop at the open-air curio stands in Okahandja allowed us to pick up a few souvenirs before heading to the airport for our flight out. The Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park and Fish River Canyon are still on our wish list of Namibian sites to visit, but our memories of the shifting sands of Namib will remain. Close
Written by ThisOldHag on 11 Jul, 2005
I started my Namibian experience in the south at the remote and immensely appealing hamlet of Luderitz, a tiny fishing village forgotten by time.
The barren beauty of the desert landscape offsets the colonial architecture, revealing its Bavarian history as the first German settlement in Southwest…Read More
I started my Namibian experience in the south at the remote and immensely appealing hamlet of Luderitz, a tiny fishing village forgotten by time.
The barren beauty of the desert landscape offsets the colonial architecture, revealing its Bavarian history as the first German settlement in Southwest Africa (the name Namibia was formerly known by). Luderitz was initially a trading post and a fishing port; then, the first diamonds were found in a small town nearly and Luderitz enjoyed a swift rush of riches. Now, after the depletion of diamonds, Luderitz again finds itself shrouded in solitude between the encroaching tangerine-colored dunes and the inhospitable South Atlantic Ocean attacking its shores.
My first notion of Luderitz was that of a slightly run-down, middle-aged lady. Its appeal comes from the various selections of brightly colored colonial homes, churches with tall spires, and buildings complete with steeples, gables, and bow windows.
Heading a few miles out from Luderitz toward the ghost town of Kolmanskop, I became mesmerized by the sand blowing over the road, and it made for difficult driving conditions, as I could not see where the desert began or the road ended. Once home to several hundred wealthy colonists who lived in grandness, Kolmanskop is now abandoned. The numerous grand and elegant dwellings which remain are now eroded by the winds and are steadily being shrouded and eaten into by the Namib sands.
Further south and some distance inland is the spectacular Fish River Canyon. At its base, the Fish River twists and turns, its clear water tumbling over rocks. In the early morning, you can hear the bark of baboons echo around the rocks and small bucks darting up gullies. Wild life teems in the area -- kudu, leopard and mountain zebra, whose tracks you may come across, but seldom see, secret themselves away from humans. From the top of the canyon the view can only be described as breathtaking. There are no shops or kiosks, only a bench in the shade. You may find your camera unable to do justice to this natural magnificence.
From the Fish River I traveled north and found the famed dunes of Sossusvlei, home to the world’s highest dunes. Viewed from a hot air balloon at sunrise, I could see why this country was considered a photographer’s dream as around me, and beyond the horizon rose immense apricot colored dunes. Below I saw a lone antelope making its way up a dune, when he reached the summit he tossed his head then stabbed at the sky with gigantic horns. As I passed overhead, he looked up, snorting defiantly at my intrusion.
Further north is Namibia’s summer capital, the old coastal town of Swakopmund--one of the most otherworldly spots in the country. Approaching the town at sunrise, I witnessed the arrival of the morning fog, born out of the sea. It washed over the beach, then rolled along the sleepy town’s roads, first obscuring the gutters, then the sidewalks, and finally blurring the buildings themselves. The mist had a distinctive seagull smell about it, and my line of sight was shortened, which made my heart uneasy when all I could see were the Bavarian spires and the only sound was the constant boom of the sea. But the sun soon dissolved the fog and revealed a town whose architecture was an unusual Bohemian and Bavarian mix. I was captivated by its people, though – a melting pot of young, old, rich, poor, artists, miners, fishermen, and Herero women dressed in their everyday clothing of Victorian dresses. Swakopmund is a little corner of old Bavaria wedged between a barren wilderness and an inhospitable coastline.
North of Swakopmund are the golden dunes of the Skeleton Coast, home to an immense seal colony, flocks of flamingos and skeletal shipwrecks -- the strong currents, treacherous fog and shifting underwater sandbanks marooned many early explorers. Most of these relics are strewn along the misty, unending stretch of coast – a gripping sight and spectacular photography.
I treated myself to a few days of luxury at the Serra Cafema Camp, located in the extreme north of Namibia, bordering Angola. Sipping champagne and languishing in my private pool I contemplated the sunset, rugged mountains and sand dunes about me and felt certain this had to rank as one of life’s ultimate indulgences. Serra Cafema is built on an island of Albida trees and overlooks the Kunene River -- home to Africa’s rarest bird, the Cinderella Waxbill. This peaceful and spacious rustic camp is one of the most remote in Southern Africa and has a Himba settlement nearby, allowing interaction with some of the last nomadic tribes in Africa -- an unforgettable cultural experience.
The next morning at breakfast, the camp’s guide, Moses, advised the small Japanese tourist group and me that we would all be going for a boat ride down the Kunene to watch crocodiles basking on the river banks. Knowing the perils which lay ahead, I took the sensible precaution of aestheticizing myself with several glasses of red wine, a suggestion I shared with my fellow travelers, who were all unusually subdued when climbing into the boat. I felt certain we were all quietly aware that this very morning, we would all meet our certain deaths. All with the exception of Moses, who clearly feared nothing. By the time we returned to camp, I was almost calm. The Japanese tourists, now exhilarated, continued with numerous activities – quad biking on the dunes and a 4x4 safari game drive. I opted for recovering next to the pool.
The following evening, I boarded a light aircraft bound for Gobabis, which is on Namibia’s eastern border with Botswana. The flight itself was without incident, but a perplexing problem arose when the pilot could not find the runway on which to land. He was convinced someone had forgotten to switch on the runway lights before going home. After numerous fly-bys, an alarm sounded, soon followed by an audible "oh-oh", which was by no means comforting as the alarm indicated a fuel shortage. A moment later the pilot shrieked and announced that he had found the runway. He tilted the plane so steeply that I sometimes still sit upright in bed at 3am thinking about it. I was again comfortably certain that I was going to die, and then I saw the runway. The plane landed hard and felt as if it was broad-siding. For a long and frightening moment, I felt certain the plane would disintegrate, but the pilot held it together. After a small eternity, we came to a stop just outside of a hanger, and that was where I made a silent promise--a promise that however many years were left to me and wherever my travels took me, the only way I would ever be killed by a light aircraft is if one fell on me.
Still feeling a little weak, I slowly walked towards the chauffeur and vehicle parked adjacent to the hanger, sent for me by the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary. Harnas is the only sanctuary of its kind in Africa and runs a working guest program, which was especially designed to fulfill most ecotourists' dreams of working in the wild. Harnas is located on 100 square miles of land as has been fenced by its international patron, Angelina Jolie, who has a house on the sanctuary’s land.
In the morning a San-bushman guided me to the waterhole where we silently observed numerous wild animals converge to the waters edge. He told me of the animals the sanctuary saves, rehabilitates and then releases back into the wild. We walked past the nursery and I watched in amazement as one of the working guests bottle fed a frisky lion cub.
My last day in Namibia was spent in its cosmopolitan capital city, Windhoek. This is a city that has successfully combined innovative modern constructions with old German colonial architecture. The town centre is a pedestrianised walkway with shops and market stalls. Several sidewalk cafes in this area make for great ‘people-watching’. In fact, I found there to be such diversity, I could easily have sat there all day. As capital cities go, this is one of the safest and most relaxed in Southern Africa and a perfect place to start or finish a Namibian holiday.
I left Namibia with a little sand in my pocket and a full appreciation for her beauty. There's much more to experience and many places to see, but for this middle-aged traveler with now somewhat frayed nerves, I needed to head home. This was an extreme vacation I would definitely repeat.
Written by Linda Hoernke on 14 Jun, 2007
The population of the coastal town of Swakopmund is around 25,000 and considered a destination for vacationing South Africans. There are many activities that can be booked here from a quad-biking adventure over the dunes to a dolphin cruise on Walvis Bay. We signed up…Read More
The population of the coastal town of Swakopmund is around 25,000 and considered a destination for vacationing South Africans. There are many activities that can be booked here from a quad-biking adventure over the dunes to a dolphin cruise on Walvis Bay. We signed up for the dolphin cruise and checked into our bungalows for the next two nights. Swakopmund Rest Camp offers either a two-bedroom cabin, a four-bedroom bungalow, or A-frame chalets which sleep up to six people. The camp area is fenced and secure. There are laundry services and the beach is a couple blocks away. We walked to the town for dinner at Swakopmund Brauhaus in the evening and had breakfast the next morning at a German pastry and coffee shop. A driver picked us up for our dolphin cruise. Flamingos and pelicans were at the waters edge. The boat went onto the water where the sandy coastline of Swakopmund could be seen. Old boats were in the harbor that looked like they shouldn’t be on the water with their rusted hulls and holes in the sides. The seagulls were flying above us in a series of acrobatic stunts. Sea lions played in the water along side the boat. The driver slowed down and all of a sudden one of the seals popped his head out of the water at the back of the boat. Next thing I knew, he was in the boat. He sat on the boat looking like he was so important. We rubbed our hands along his silky coat and touched his flippers. I had not realized before that seals had actual nails on their feet, very strange looking. He jumped off the boat and we again traveled over the waves of the Atlantic. Wind picked up but the sun was warm. A lighthouse in the distance stood on the edge of a strip of sand that jutted out into the ocean. Sea lions frolicked and played and flamingos added a light pinkish hue to the golden sand. We slowly passed the remains of a shipwreck partially buried in the sand. There was a huge platform built in the ocean for birds to nest on. Thousands of birds filled the structure. People go out with huge wires and scrape the bird poop or guano off the platform. It is then exported and sold for hefty prices for fertilizer and other uses. We watched bottle nose dolphins leap from the water and arch their way into a dive. The “captain” of our boat stopped off shore and served us fresh oysters, snacks, and champagne. We returned to shore and had the van driver drop us off in town. I walked through the town, along the beach and out onto the pier. What a wonderful town this is with its German architecture sitting on the edge of the ocean. Waves crashed against the pylons and up onto the pier. I walked along the oceanfront and onto the beach. we stopped at the aquarium but it was small and not of much interest. I continued along the beach until I was almost out of town. Swakopmund is a place where the desert meets the ocean and it makes a good place to explore both. Close
The Petrified Forest National Monument in Namibia became a park in 1950 and dates back 260 million years. The 50 petrified trees that were in the park did not originate from this area but were carried to the area by floods. The guide pointed out…Read More
The Petrified Forest National Monument in Namibia became a park in 1950 and dates back 260 million years. The 50 petrified trees that were in the park did not originate from this area but were carried to the area by floods. The guide pointed out a strange looking plant called Welwitschia, a plant that is actually considered a living fossil. Some of the plants live 1000 years and longer. The turn-off to the site of the Petrified Forest is signposted as 42km from Khorixas on the road C39.We drove to Twyfelfontein where Bushmen rock art date back over 5000 years. Twyfelfontein is the largest known concentration of Stone Age petroglyphs in Namibia and there are around 2500 of them in the area. There were natural mountain springs that were a water source to these ancient people. The Bushmen of this day still use those springs. Much of the scenery resembles my home in Utah with the red cliffs and strange rock formations. The petroglyhs are very different, showing giraffe and other animals of this desert area.This rock art site can be reached taking the following roads: C39 from Khorixas, turn left on the road 3254 and right on 3214. There are signs along the route. Close
Etosha translates to mean The Great White Place. Located in Namibia, Etosha Pan became a park in 1907. We entered Etosha through the Anderson gate at the east end of the park. Set camp up at Namutoni. We walked to a flood lit water hole…Read More
Etosha translates to mean The Great White Place. Located in Namibia, Etosha Pan became a park in 1907. We entered Etosha through the Anderson gate at the east end of the park. Set camp up at Namutoni. We walked to a flood lit water hole and sat and watched. There was a rustling in the reeds and two wildebeest appeared…next were a couple of black backed jackals. They are the thieves of the African animal kingdom. One came into our camp and stole a plastic bag. Another ran away with meat, another group was getting ready to cook and another…he took a shoe that was sitting outside a tent. Took a slow drive through the park. Zebra and gemsbok were eating and we could see a leopard in a tree in the distance. The wildebeest mingled with the zebra. A small bat-eared fox stuck his head up from the tall grass and black backed jackels ran about. We saw two rhinos in the brush and the little white birds that accompany them. The weavers were darting in and out of their nests on the trees and ostrich were walking through the plains. I noticed that one of the ostrich were a much darker color and found that these were the males.
The following day we drove to Okaukuejo, our campsite within the park for our second night. The site was sand and not much to see but within walking distance of a water hole. We set up camp and walked to the pool at a nearby resort where we all spent the next few hours. There was another game drive scheduled but I decided to skip it and spend the time at the pool. On the way back to the campground I stopped at the water hole. I was the only one there. I could hear a noise in the distance and noticed a huge cloud of dirt coming toward me. All of a sudden I realize what was stirring up so much dust…a herd of elephants running toward the water hole and me. The scene was so amazing. They stayed in the water hole for almost an hour. I watched the young elephants lift the water in their trunks and then try to coordinate the trunk into their mouths. Most of the time they missed just like a small child trying to put food in their mouths for the first time.
The sun was starting to set and the shine on the backs of the elephants picked up an orange glow from the water. It was dark when the elephants walked back into the bush. I returned to camp and revisited the water hole after dinner. They had flood lights set up to make it easy to view the hyena, jackals, and birds that visited. Wildebeest came down to drink. The scene of the elephants running toward me will always be imprinted in my mind…this is what I came to see.
That night hyenas and jackals were running through our campsite howling and screaming and making all sorts of noise. They were brushing up against the side of the tent and kept waking me up. In the morning, I crawled out of the tent to find they had left their scat all over the place. Looked like they had a party. Packed up early and walked to the waterhole one more time before leaving Etosha. A few wildebeest came for a drink. One was running toward the water at full speed when all of a sudden he stopped and laid down. I can only guess that he figured he ran far enough and decided to take a rest before continuing on. Five zebra showed up and followed the trail around the water. Their reflections became distorted from small birds drinking at the waters edge. A springbok walks past and a few hyena can be seen in the distance as the pink lavender sky lit up the land from the rising sun.
Back on the truck we drove through Etosha and toward Damaraland. We spotted giraffe in the bush and more impala before leaving the park.
Ngepi Camp is situated on the Okavango River, the third largest river in Africa. We reached the end of a dirt road and unloaded the truck to carry our packs and camp gear to the edge of the Kavango River. Members from the Ngepi Camp…Read More
Ngepi Camp is situated on the Okavango River, the third largest river in Africa. We reached the end of a dirt road and unloaded the truck to carry our packs and camp gear to the edge of the Kavango River. Members from the Ngepi Camp were there to cart us across the river to the camp since the river had flooded the road. We traveled by traditional mokoro canoe until the boat couldn’t go any farther. From there we carried the gear above our heads and waded to shore where we had to hike up a short trail to our campsite.
The campsite is beautiful and they have a number of activities from a walk to a village to fishing on the river or birding to view the over 500 species of birds that inhabit the area. The camp can arrange boat safaris on the Kavango River along with truck safaris into the Okavango Delta. They also have a nice open air bar to sit and enjoy the company of the other campers. Once the gear was in place and our tents up, some of us went for a walk to the village of Divayi. A very poor village on the edge of the river. The children were happy to see us and we walked through their way of life. Children fishing at the rivers edge and mothers cooking something in little pots near their reed and adobe homes. One of our group brought a bag of balloons of which we showed the children how to blow them up. It was great fun and we all found laughter as our common language.
Back at camp I swam in an area of the river that was enclosed by a cage. The current of the river was so strong that I kept swimming in one spot. Signs on the sides of the cage warned of hippos and crocodiles in the waters outside the cage. After dinner, a group from the village we had visited earlier came into our camp. They formed a half circle…the men started drumming and the women danced, sang, and clapped hands. They invited us to join their circle and most of us were clapping and dancing with them. A night where a little bit of Europe and America was joined with a little bit of Africa.
Directions: Take the B8 from Rundu towards Katima, 200km; 10km south of Divundu on Mohembo border road turn off left for 4km.On the Windhoek - Vic Falls Intercape bus route (called Bagani on the ticket), get off at Divundu and call for a FREE pick up.From Maun, head north via Shakawe through the border post, 15 km., Ngepi on the right.
The driver in his 4x4 Landrover sped down the dirt road and over a series of bumps…at times we actually became airborne. We reached a point in the desert where two huge balloons were being filled and the light of day was bringing the views…Read More
The driver in his 4x4 Landrover sped down the dirt road and over a series of bumps…at times we actually became airborne. We reached a point in the desert where two huge balloons were being filled and the light of day was bringing the views into perspective. We climbed into the basket of one of the balloons and it slowly lifted off the floor of the Namib Desert. We floated above the landscape where the sun began casting shadows across the distant dunes. The balloon rose and I noticed movement across the desert floor. A group of oryx were foraging for food. The land is flat and extends as far as the eye can see. There are strange circles in the landscape caused by either a dying plant or a fungus. Or, as our balloon pilot states, "the fairies made them." He is quite a character…looks like he could be a relative of Crocodile Dundee. We sail silently toward a stretch of trees that turn out to be a dry river bed. Ostrich run from the shadow our balloon is casting. The dunes glow in the morning sun and we drift over small hills and waves of sand. We follow close to the ground and land in the middle of the desert. A few trucks show up driven by local Namibians. They park and start running around, unloading the trucks. They were so organized I was amazed in watching them pack up the balloons, set up a long table with linens and china, fill the table with all sorts of food and pour champagne into crystal glasses. We make a toast to each other and to our trip together before sitting down to croissants, fresh breads and jams, fine cheeses and meats, crepes and fresh fruit. The best part was the atmosphere.
Reservations can be made through:Namib Sky Balloon Safaris, P.O. Box 5197, Windhoek, NamibiaPhone: +264 63 68 3188Fax: +264 63 68 3189E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Linda Hoernke on 21 Jun, 2007
Cape Cross Seal Colony is one of 23 colonies along the Namibian coast. Cape Cross usually has around 80,000 full time sea lions and up to 250,000 at different times of the year. During breeding season around October the bulls come to mark their territory.…Read More
Cape Cross Seal Colony is one of 23 colonies along the Namibian coast. Cape Cross usually has around 80,000 full time sea lions and up to 250,000 at different times of the year. During breeding season around October the bulls come to mark their territory. They consume up to 8% of their body weight daily and most of their diets is of non-commercial fish. The smell is horrible and the noise consumes your thoughts. I walked down to the beach where a pup was suckling on his mother. Others were fighting for their place on the beach and more swimming in the surf that was crashing against the shoreline rocks. The antics were amusing…one sea lion fell asleep with one foot in the air, another kept scratching his face resembling a disfigured dog. The colony is open from 10am-5pm. There are toilet facilities and a small shop. There are no accommodations and pets are not allowed in the area. We visited the graveyard of sailors within the Park that had lost their lives in the water. The cemetery was small but sat on the edge of the coast where the Atlantic had taken their lives. The Skeleton Coast is called by the Bushmen “The Land that God Forgot.” The desert of no or little vegetation meets the waters edge. Boats would get stranded or capsize because of the currents and if they did make it to shore, they were sure to die because of no fresh water or food supply. Cape Cross is easily accessed by driving north from Swakopmund on the C34, then the D2301 past Henties Bay.The Seal Colony is open from 10am until 5pm each day, and there is a small entrance charge. Close