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toine

This trip report is long overdue, my apologies. I caught myself more busy planning my next safari instead of sharing my last one, so I feel obliged to share my trip report first, before asking questions for my next safari trip :).

 

We spend 27 days self-driving through Namibia and Botswana. We drove about 6,500 kilometres, mostly on gravel and sand, and camped at 16 different campsites. We hired a car from Advanced Car Hire in Windhoek and returned the car on the same 4 tires and with the same windows as when we picked it up.

 

We had booked our Namibia campsites through Travel2Namibia and most of the Botswana campsites through NDM Travel. Both agencies did a good job, although you have to be patient with communication and double check all details carefully. Only Magotho Campsite we booked direct with the Khwai Development Trust, as it turned out I got a response faster than my agent...

 

I travelled with Dio, my 17 year old son, and Stan, one of my best friends from university, a loooong time ago. My only prior Africa experience was a private 12 day safari to Tanzania 2 years ago with Dio, to see the great migration and Mara river crossings. That trip was completely organised by ATR. For Stan it was his first trip to Africa.

 

Here our itinerary and campsites:

 

Day 1 – Jun 19: Arrival Windhoek

Day 2 – Jun 20: Windhoek – Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft NP (Sesriem Campsite)    334 km – 4.5 h

Day 3 – Jun 21: Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft NP (Sesriem Campsite)

Day 4 – Jun 22: Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft NP – Swakopmund (Alte Brucke Resort)    346 km – 6.5 h

Day 5 – Jun 23: Pelican Point, Sandwich Harbour – Swakopmund (Alte Brucke Resort)

Day 6 – Jun 24: Swakopmund – Cape Cross – Spitzkoppe (Spitzkoppe Rest Camp)    295 km – 4.15 h

Day 7 – Jun 25: Spitzkoppe – Palmwag (Palmwag Lodge)    329 km – 6.0 h

Day 8 – Jun 26: Palmwag – Etosha NP (Olifantsrus Campsite)    213 km – 4 h

Day 9 – Jun 27: Etosha NP (Okaukuejo Campsite)    127 km

Day 10 – Jun 28: Etosha NP (Okaukuejo Campsite)

Day 11 – Jun 29: Etosha NP (Halali Campsite)    69 km

Day 12 – Jun 30: Etosha NP – Grootfontein (Roy’s Rest Camp)    299 km – 5 h

Day 13 – Jul 1: Grootfontein – Divundu (Ngepi Camp)    416 km – 5 h

Day 14 – Jul 2: Mahango Game Reserve – Divundu (Ngepi Camp)

Day 15 – Jul 3: Divundu – Kongola (Namushasha Camp Ground)    242 km – 2.5 h

Day 16 – Jul 4: Kongola – Kasane (The Big 5 Chobe Lodge)    261 km – 3 h

Day 17 – Jul 5: Kasane – Victoria Falls – Kasane (The Big 5 Chobe Lodge)     160 km – 3.0 h

Day 18 – Jul 6: Kasane – Savuti Campsite (Chobe National Park)    169 km – 4.5 h

Day 19 – Jul 7: Savuti Campsite (Chobe National Park)

Day 20 – Jul 8: Savuti Campsite – Khwai – Magotho Camp (Khwai Development Trust)    111 km – 5 h

Day 21 – Jul 9: Magotho Camp (Khwai Development Trust)

Day 22 – Jul 10: Magotho Camp – North Gate Campsite (Khwai Development Trust)    29 km

Day 23 – Jul 11: North Gate Campsite – South Gate Campsite (Moremi Game Reserve)    90 km

Day 24 – Jul 12: South Gate Campsite (Moremi Game Reserve / Okavango Delta)

Day 25 – Jul 13: South Gate Campsite – Ghanzi (Thakadu Bush Camp)    386 km – 5 h

Day 26 – Jul 14: Ghanzi – Windhoek    529 km – 6 h

Day 27 – Jul 15: Windhoek – Departure   

 

I'll add to this report as soon as I can, but advanced apologies if it takes a few weeks to get to the end...  I hope you enjoy the read, and obviously some of my photos.

 

Cheers, Toine IJsseldijk

 

 

Edited by toine

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toine

A particular thanks to @xelas, @Treepol and @DanielBme for input on my original itinerary.

Also thanks to so many others whose trip reports and comments elsewhere were instrumental in organising our trip, too many to mention..!

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toine

Day 1 – Jun 19: Arrival Windhoek

 

Upon arrival in Windhoek we were picked up at the airport by Advanced Car Hire and drove us straight to their place to pick up our Toyota Hilux Double Cab, with 2 rooftop tents and complete camping equipment. We picked up a local SIM card along the way, for basic internet access and local phone calls. All went fairly smooth, although there were a couple of issues with the car; first the back lights were not working, due to a broken fuse. Later during the trip it became obvious that there must be short-circuit or so, as the fuse kept breaking; we bought half a dozen spare ones and used them all... Also one of the spare (used) tires was completely worn; they kindly replaced it with a better one. What we also did not realize is that there was no external power cable for the Engel fridge. This became a very annoying issue during the trip, as we were not able to plug in to external power for the fridge and the car batteries do not last long enough to keep the fridge cool from early evening to the next morning.

From Advanced Car hire we drove straight to Maerua Mall for shopping groceries for the next couple of days. We then filled up the car’s double fuel tank and drove to our apartment we had booked for the night, downtown Windhoek. We had some dinner around the corner, the only one of 2 or 3 dinners we did not cook ourselves during our almost 4 week trip...

Can't wait to hit the road tomorrow, very early morning..!

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toine

Day 2 – Jun 20: Windhoek – Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft NP (Sesriem Campsite)    334 km – 4.5 h

 

We left very early morning, as we wanted to see sunrise outside of town and had decided to have a picnic breakfast along the way. We drove via Spreetshoogte Pass and Solitaire to Sesriem. According to the experts this route is about 1.5 hours longer than the direct route, but much more scenic. We bought fire wood just before Sesriem and arrived at the campsite early afternoon. We checked-in and then checked out our allocated camping spot. We found a better vacant spot and claimed that by putting up our table and chairs there and informed the reception. No problem. Less than half an hour after arrival we were back in the car, on our way to explore Sossusvlei and particularly Dead Vlei... I had done so much research and seen so many photos that it felt like I’d been here before, a very strange feeling indeed. What a complete surprise: when we arrived at Dead Vlei there was only 1 other car. We walked into the vlei and only saw 3 other people leaving the vlei, which we then had entirely for ourselves the rest of the afternoon, until we had to leave to catch sunset at Dune 45.

 

 

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Let's first put faces to the names - Toine, Dio and Stan. 

Edited by toine

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toine

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Edited by toine

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toine

Day 3 – Jun 21: Sossusvlei, Namib Naukluft NP (Sesriem Campsite)

 

As advised, early morning we lined up at the entrance gate just before the official opening time, for a head-start to Dead Vlei. It wasn’t too busy yet, about 10 cars had lined up. We drove straight to the 4x4 parking of Dead Vlei. We were the first car to arrive and therefore the first ones to start the climb of Big Daddy. Do go all the way to the top, as the views are much more spectacular than anywhere below the summit, particularly the view of the mountains to the west. From the summit of Big Daddy we ran down barefoot to the bottom of the actual Dead Vlei. We really enjoyed this and as little kids we jumped and tumbled down the dunes. What an amazing feeling, this fine and cold sand…!

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toine

After Dead Vlei we explored Sossusvlei and settled down under the trees for a relaxing mid-day break, lunch and a little nap, surrounded by the dunes, some bushes, birds, squirrels and mice. The first relaxed moment of the trip. We spend the afternoon driving and walking around Sossusvlei, before heading to a dune just east of Dune 45, where we enjoyed sunset without anyone else around.

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Edited by toine

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toine

After Dead Vlei we explored Sossusvlei and settled down under the trees for a relaxing mid-day break, lunch and a little nap, surrounded by the dunes, some bushes, birds, squirrels and mice. The first relaxed moment of the trip.

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Edited by toine

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toine

We spend the afternoon driving and walking around Sossusvlei, before heading to a dune just east of Dune 45, where we enjoyed sunset without anyone else around.

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Edited by toine

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Peter Connan

Lovely photos! I am looking forward to this!

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toine

Before driving to Swakopmund we drove one more time into the dunes, enjoying sunrise and the ever changing colors. We had a relaxed picnic breakfast at Sossusvlei and walked and drove around a bit hoping to perhaps find brown hyena or some oryx, but without luck.

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Edited by toine

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toine

While we drove back to the tarmac visibility deteriorated very fast. Initially we thought it was the famous fog blowing all the way from the coast, but soon it turned out that we got caught into a full-blown sandstorm. Within a matter of minutes we could hardly see more than 30 meters… That was quite an experience! Imagine if you arrive at Sossusvlei and you have only a few hours, right when a sand storm hits…! That would be extremely unfortunate. I had never read about sandstorms in the area…

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Edited by toine

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toine
13 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

Lovely photos! I am looking forward to this!

Thanks @Peter Connan! I'm warming up with the report, one day at a time...

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Tom Kellie

3I3A0017.jpg.3f9c20e0a2d652250ccedc175b1307ba.jpg.295fb4e40b0590edf6696e2df2a8fd70.jpg

 

 

~ @toine

 

What a powerful image. It's evocative of many feelings and memories.

 

Thank you for sharing such beauty here. 

 

Truly classy photography.

 

Tom K.

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toine
7 hours ago, Tom Kellie said:

3I3A0017.jpg.3f9c20e0a2d652250ccedc175b1307ba.jpg.295fb4e40b0590edf6696e2df2a8fd70.jpg

 

 

~ @toine

 

What a powerful image. It's evocative of many feelings and memories.

 

Thank you for sharing such beauty here. 

 

Truly classy photography.

 

Tom K.

@Tom Kellie thanks Tom! It still gives me goosebumps, looking back...! I was initially concerned that the fast increasing crowds undermine the entire experience of Sossusvlei, but as 98% of the crowd seems to follow exactly the same itinerary and time schedule it's still very easy to escape the crowds and get completely absorbed into this unbelievable landscape..!

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toine

With the dust settled it was time to drive to Swakopmund, of course with the compulsory stop at Solitaire to see the car wrecks and have some apple pie. What I liked most of all in Solitaire were the ground squirrels and yellow mongoose behind the restaurant, so make sure to check that place out!

 

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toine

It’s a relative long ride, but the scenery is fantastic and keeps changing. Make sure to check out the bird sanctuary lagoon left / south of the road when nearing Walvis Bay, as we saw hundreds of flamingoes and our first jackals.

 

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toine

We arrived late afternoon at Alte Brucke, checked-in and then walked straight to the Tiger Reef Bar, next to the Swakop river estuary, for sundowner beers. It was very misty though and turned out to be the only forgettable sunset of our trip.

Our 4th day in Namibia came to an end, with an excellent braai at our camping.

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toine

Day 5 – Jun 23: Swakopmund (Alte Brucke Resort)

 

In the morning we went on a sea kayaking tour at Pelican Point, followed by a half day Sandwich Harbour tour. At Pelican Point the wind was blowing hard and the seas was unusually rough according to our guide. He gave us a good brief about the conditions, as he knew not everybody would be comfortable under these conditions, so the first question was actually whether or not we wanted to canoe. It was freezing cold, choppy water and the wind was almost blowing my ears off... We saw another group half a kilometer down the beach, and they decided to not go into the water. And so we went in; it was hard work to canoe into the currents, so we warmed up fast. We ended up getting pretty wet but had a great time with the seals.

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toine

Day 5 – Jun 23: Swakopmund (Alte Brucke Resort)

 

In the morning we went on a sea kayaking tour at Pelican Point, followed by a half day Sandwich Harbour tour. At Pelican Point the wind was blowing hard and the seas was unusually rough according to our guide. He gave us a good brief about the conditions, as he knew not everybody would be comfortable under these conditions, so the first question was actually whether or not we wanted to canoe. It was freezing cold, choppy water and the wind was almost blowing my ears off... We saw another group half a kilometer down the beach, and they decided to not go into the water. And so we went in; it was hard work to canoe into the currents, so we warmed up fast. We ended up getting pretty wet but had a great time with the seals.

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toine

No photos from the water, as it was too choppy to take any risks... 

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toine

Half way back to Walvis Bay we met our guide who would drive us towards Sandwich Harbour, for some spectacular desert dune sand driving. The scenery is spectacular, but the large number of jeeps driving around takes away a lot of the feeling to be really out in the outdoors.

 

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toine

And that was day 5. In the evening we stocked supplies for the entire next week, to last us until Grootfontein.

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toine

Day 6 – Jun 24: Swakopmund – Cape Cross - Spitzkoppe (Spitzkoppe Rest Camp)    295 km – 4.15 h

 

Yesterday we decided to give up today’s planned detour via Cape Cross, saving about 3 hours driving, as we felt we had seen enough seals at Pelican Point and this gave us the opportunity to do a half day Living Desert tour instead. I believe this was an excellent decision. You can do both if you’re planning to overnight at Spitzkoppe, but we wanted to arrive early afternoon in Spitzkoppe to make sure to have a nice camp site and then fully enjoy the surroundings. We only had the afternoon and evening there, as we had an early start the next day to Palmwag. So, early morning we were picked up again for a desert tour, in search for desert-adapted wildlife in the dunes around Swakopmund: Sidewinder or Peringuey’s adder, Fitzsimmon’s Burrowing Skink, Namib Web-footed Gecko, Namaqua Chameleon, Shovel-snouted or Sand Diving Lizard, Namib Sand Snake, Namib thick-tailed Scorpion, the fog basking Tenebrionid Beetle, etc.

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toine

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