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toine

That was Swakopmund. There's a lot to do in the area and initially I found it hard to decide what to do. I knew months in advance that the tides were making a full day trip to Sandwich Harbour not possible, hence the half day. That's the only thing I might have done differently if I had to do it again and tides would have been right, but that also means adding a night. I would not have given up any night elsewhere from our itinerary... 

Edited by toine

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Towlersonsafari

Great photos and very interesting report so far @toine

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toine

Time to drive direct to Spitzkoppe, without the detour via Cape Cross to see the seals. We checked-in at Spitzkoppe Rest Camp and were free to drive around and find a camping spot. We had a late lunch and then drove around. We did not stop at the famous Arch, as a very large group of teenagers had confiscated the place. Spitzkoppe was one of my favorite camping sites and offers some of the most beautiful night skies in the world.

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toine
Day 7 – Jun 25: Spitzkoppe – Palmwag (Palmwag Lodge) 329 km – 6.0 h
 
Today’s target: desert elephants!
We left early, as we wanted to have as much time as possible to look for desert elephants somewhere along the way. I learnt about the desert elephants too late in my planning and could not change the itinerary anymore, otherwise I would probably have spent a night somewhere around Twyfelfontein. I was desperately hoping to see some, so today, although short of time with the long drive to Palmwag, had to be the day…!
 
In our quest for desert elephants and because I thought we wouldn’t miss much we decided to skip Twyfelfontein’s rock art, Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and the Petrified Forest. We planned to make a quick stop at the Damara Living Museum, but it looked closed.
 
The scenery along this road is absolutely spectacular, every single kilometre... Mind blowing!
Edited by toine

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toine

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In our quest for desert elephants and because I thought we wouldn’t miss much we decided to skip Twyfelfontein’s rock art, Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and the Petrified Forest. We planned to make a quick stop at the Damara Living Museum, but it looked closed.

We turned back towards the main road, when I suddenly recalled I read about desert elephants in the the Aba-Huab and Huab river valley. So we turned around again and drove to a little campsite and decided to ask there. To our excitement one of the guys working there said that they had seen a herd of elephants a day earlier and that they were moving north. He suggested to follow the road and look for tracks. Now we were really getting excited..! He pointed us in the right direction and off we were…

And 10 minutes later we were driving over a twee-spoor through this fantastic landscape, with not a single human being in sight, let alone another car... I have no idea why!

 

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Found some Welwitschia..! We didn't have time to see that around Swakopmund, so that was nice!

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Unbelievable scenery...!

 

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This is Africa :)

Edited by toine

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toine

Fast forward and a long story short, we drove around for about 2 hours, up the river valley, through dry river beds and eventually found tracks. We followed the track and a trail of increasingly fresh elephant dung, until we eventually found a breeding herd of desert elephants…! Words cannot describe the experience, I still get goosebumps and teary eyes writing this…! For 2 hours we hadn’t seen anyone else and here we were, off the map in a dry river bed watching about 20 desert elephants quietly feeding along the river banks… We looked at each other and simply couldn’t believe we found them..!!

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toine

Fast forward and a long story short, we drove around for about 2 hours, up the river valley, through dry river beds and eventually found tracks. We followed the track and a trail of increasingly fresh elephant dung, until we eventually found a breeding herd of desert elephants…! Words cannot describe the experience, I still get goosebumps and teary eyes writing this…! For 2 hours we hadn’t seen anyone else and here we were, off the map in a dry river bed watching about 20 desert elephants quietly feeding along the river banks… We looked at each other and simply couldn’t believe we found them..!!

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Elephant cuddling.

 

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This was our first time close to wild elephants without a guide or anyone else around. They came closer and closer, which is rather intimidating, the first time... As long as they continue to eat it's all good.

 

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This bull was a bit more curious and definitely wanted to show off a bit.

 

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Eating and a swagging tail: meaning he's relaxed and no threat.

 

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Watch your back..!

 

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Three in a row.

Edited by toine

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toine

After about an hour 2 safari cars from some nearby lodges arrived on the scene, clearly surprised some self-drivers found the elephants first…! We all followed the herd to a large water tank from a nearby farm, where they drank and dusted themselves for an hour, an unbelievable scene.

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toine

After 2 hours with the desert elephants it was time for us to leave and find our way back to the main road.

 

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Edited by toine

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toine

We arrived right before sunset at Palmwag Lodge at a rather luxurious campsite, where we had a quick dip in the ice-cold pool and a couple of beers to celebrate another unforgettable day... Desert elephants: check..!

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xelas

@toine, amazing photography, amazing storytelling, it gives also me goosebumps and misty eyes! Thre visits to Namibia, and even before reading about your adventures in Etosha I wanted to go back ... soon!

 

BTW I have checked the plates of our vehicles (all from Advanced) and , sigh of relief, we were not the culprits for that broken fuse :D.

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toine
3 minutes ago, xelas said:

@toine, amazing photography, amazing storytelling, it gives also me goosebumps and misty eyes! Thre visits to Namibia, and even before reading about your adventures in Etosha I wanted to go back ... soon!

 

BTW I have checked the plates of our vehicles (all from Advanced) and , sigh of relief, we were not the culprits for that broken fuse :D.

@xelas thanks! The Etosha part is coming up soon, we had some pretty good and unique sightings there...! It's an infectious place and it's again on my shortlist for later this year, possibly in combination with Kgalagadi. Thanks also to some of your reports...

Maybe you weren't the culprit for the broken fuse, but it was your comments that convinced me to use Advanced :). Just kidding. They're very reliable and I'm sure we were just unlucky, in the middle of peak season. I'll use them again in the future, for sure.

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xelas
2 minutes ago, toine said:

The Etosha part is coming up soon

 

Great; you have time till Thursday ....

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toine

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

 

Rhinos or Himba?

Yes, you can meet (see?) Himba on your way to Etosha, at the Otjikandero Himba Orphanage Village or a Himba village walking distance from Toko Lodge, both near Kamanjab. Reviews clearly indicated this was not for us, so the only real option for us was to drive up north towards Khowarib and beyond and try to meet some Himba there. Not enough time it seemed, so we decided for a game drive through the Palmwag Concession and perhaps see our first rhino… Besides, yesterday we had seen a few Himba selling souvenirs at the nearby Vet Fence, so we planned to stop there on our way to Etosha and briefly meet some Himba there.

 

Here a couple of impressions of the Palmwag Concession.

 

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toine

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Time for breakfast! All clear, only rocks: all safe to get out of the car. That's what we thought... 

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I got out of the car to prepare for breakfast. No animals in sight and only a single bush in a landscape of rocks. I opened the back of the car and all of suddenly from the corner of my eyes I saw movement behind this one single bush and all of a sudden this spotted hyena couple was standing there, about 8 meters away and clearly as startled as I was. They must have had a nap in the shade and didn't expect any visitors... We looked at each other for 10 seconds and they then decided to find another bush a bit further away; what a moment! 

 

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I'm not sure who scared who the most, but wow, this was a memorable experience..!

 

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Edited by toine

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Tom Kellie

~ @toine

 

The pure landscape images from the Palmweg Concession are lovely.

 

Thank you for posting them.

 

The balanced composition and richly warm colors are so easy on the eyes.

 

Tom K.

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toine

So that was the Palmwag Concession. We spend 4 hours in the park, and didn't see any other car, which was pretty cool... It's a bumpy ride here and there, but that's all part of the experience. No rhinos, although we could completely visualise some standing there, in the middle of the plains of rock. So we left it with that. All together we really loved the park; wildlife is still very rewarding and the rocky mars-like landscape is spectacularly unique.

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toine
16 minutes ago, Tom Kellie said:

~ @toine

 

The pure landscape images from the Palmweg Concession are lovely.

 

Thank you for posting them.

 

The balanced composition and richly warm colors are so easy on the eyes.

 

Tom K.

@Tom Kellie thanks Tom, you're reading faster than I can write...! Yes, it's a beatiful landscape, absolutely peaceful and without any other car in sight it is almost surreal.   

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toine

Suggestions:

Spend 2 nights in Palmwag and drive up north to some Himba villages, north of Khowarib. You can actually camp inside the concession, something I had been considering for a long time. That must be an awesome experience...! Next time...

Drive via Khowarib through the Khowarib Schlucht to Estosha and spend a night camping in the schlucht. This is really off-road, through a spectacular canyon and river bed.

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toine

As mentioned, there were some Himba selling souvenirs at the vet fence just south of the concession and lodge. We bought some souvenirs and took some photos, but next trip I definitely want to go up further north and spend a lot more time with them.

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We don't do this very often as it never feels comfortable if you're in a rush, but we had to get some culture into our trip...

Edited by toine

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Tom Kellie

~ @toine

 

What is placed in the hair of the adults?

 

It glistens. Is it mud mixed with other materials, or something else?

 

Tom K.

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toine
11 minutes ago, Tom Kellie said:

~ @toine

 

What is placed in the hair of the adults?

 

It glistens. Is it mud mixed with other materials, or something else?

 

Tom K.

 

@Tom Kellie  it's Himba cosmetics, a mixture of butterfat and ochre pigment, sometimes perfumed with an aromatic shrub. It's like a clay. They also cover their bodies and it protects them from the hot and dry climate as well as against mosquitos. For the Himba red symbolises earth and blood, both the essence of life. What is less known is the fact that most this hair is not their natural hair, but actually hair extensions woven into the usually relative thin hair of the Himba women. The entire hairdo takes a few hours.

 

Oh, and a piece of calfskin to top it off :)

Edited by toine

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toine

Just after 12 we left the vet fence, through again a spectacular scenery, particularly from Palmwag over the mountain pass towards Kamanjab.

 

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We made a quick stop in Kamanjab for some shopping and to fill up fuel and were finally really on our way to Etosha, the park that inspired me to forget about my plans to visit South Africa and Kruger and visit Namibia instead. Yeah…!!

 

We arrived at Etosha’s Galton Gate at 15.30, perfect! First stop: the Renostervlei waterhole.

 

Edited by toine

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toine

First impressions of Etosha... Nothing to put on a wall, but just to share these first moments driving into this spectacular park. 

 

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Edited by toine

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Tom Kellie
3 hours ago, toine said:

First impressions of Etosha... Nothing to put on a wall, but just to share these first moments driving into this spectacular park. 

 

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~ @toine

 

A scene of such surpassing beauty would be welcome on my wall.

 

Utterly lovely photography and composition.

 

I'm greatly enjoying your images and storytelling.

 

Tom K.

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