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Atravelynn

Deserts, Dunes, Waterholes, Wildlife, Views, Vistas. Namibia.

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xelas

@@Atravelynn

 

Stunning photos indeed. And also stunning details!!

As we will have only one afternoon (for dunes) and one morning (for Deadvlei) it is so important to us to come prepared.

Thank you so much for answering my questions in such detail and with such patience.

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Bush dog

Another "Near Dune 45" (two this time) and trilogy of dunes, plus some spooky trees.

Excellent landscapes' shots, Lynn. I like the shadows and lights contrasts.

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madaboutcheetah

Stunning!!! Wow - you really brought out the beauty of all those landscapes that Namibia has to offer, Lynn. Great trip!

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Atravelynn

Thanks @@madaboutcheetah. I just missed a family of 4 cheetahs strolling near the dunes.

 

That spooky tree setting is so unique @@Bush dog.

 

@@TonyQ, the sandstorm could be real hard on cameras.

 

@@xelas, your time will be the same as what I had for the above (with the exception of some of the dunes my strip of photos). I communicated with a woman (forget who) online about a portfolio of dune photos and I couldn't believe she got all that in one morning. She confirmed it was just one full morning.

 

 

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AFTERNOON 18 JUNE ~ DUNES and the continuing SANDSTORM

 

03:15-05:15 We drove to Dune 45 and I climbed it, fighting winds. I feared taking my camera out for the climb due to all the flying grains of sand. Up and down took only about 45 minutes (coincidentally). Then I looked at the dunes a little farther down the road beyond Dune 45, wandering around outside the vehicle and toward the dunes.

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Me climbing Dune 45 about 3:30. Earlier in the afternoon there were fewer climbers than later in the day.

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Pied Crows around Dune 45

 

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Between Dune 45 and Sossusvlei

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Between Dune 45 and Sossusvlei

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Between Dune 45 and Sossusvlei

With the wind at my back, I was able to get good pictures despite the blowing sand. Some areas, like where I got these photos, there was less blowing sand than others.

Mulling over the early departure for the dunes—It is what one is supposed to do so I made sure we did. Bless him, Ian arranged it so we beat everyone to Sossusvlei by half an hour. If you want to climb the dunes at Sossusvlei and be up top when the sun rises, and head down before it gets too hot, then getting there very early is important. Also if you plan on catching the shuttle at the 60 km point/parking lot to go to Sossusvlei, and want to be on the first shuttle, then going early is logical. Or if walking in the last 6 km on foot, which requires more time, an earlier departure makes sense. Otherwise, a reasonably early start will assure you of nice dune photos whether in Sossusvlei or along the route to Sossusvlei. It is not imperative to be the first one to Sossusvlei in the pitch dark, in my opinion. I also found nice photo ops in the afternoon. I admit I was a little obsessed with the hype of a zero dark thirty arrival at Sossusvlei.

Edited by Atravelynn

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Atravelynn

EARLY MORNING 19 JUNE ~ DUNES and the continuing SANDSTORM

Today we were the last to depart the lodge and the breakfast bags we had ordered were missing. The procedure is to put out the correct number of breakfasts that had been ordered the night before, but the bags are not labeled with names or room numbers. If some people take more than one breakfast, the last arrivals lose out. The staff hastily assembled some items in a bag, so our delay was minimal.

 

05:30-09:00 Departed Sossus Dune Lodge. I wandered around outside the vehicle photographing dunes prior to reaching Dune 45. Further up the road, the dunes were obscured and the relentless wind that swirled and whipped the sand discouraged us from attempting the 60 km drive to Sossusvlei. We later learned that the area was actually closed by park authorities that morning due to the sandstorm.

 

I made use of the sandstorm and sun’s early rays.

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Areas with clear views. Between the entrance to the park and Dune 45. We did not go beyond Dune 45.

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Areas obscured

The ostriches endured the storm. But the Dune Larks were taking refuge so no sightings of this Namibia endemic. The conditions were not conducive to seeking out small desert creatures or insects and certainly no flightseeing planes were flying.

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Tough old birds on the road just outside Sesriem

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Time to leave the beautiful dunes and look for meerkats.

 

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To be continued

Edited by Atravelynn

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Bush dog

Great, Lynn. I love the dunes with the pied crows and the ostriches in the foreground, also the spooky trees at dawn, in the sandstorm.

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Kitsafari

@Atravelynnn i'm just at post #30 and the horses are beautiful. the "loser" stallion is gorgeous with his shiny glossy dark brown and black coat. and that horse (female?) with a star is lovely.

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Atravelynn

17 JUNE ~ FARM NAMTIB, SESRIEM, SOSSUS DUNE LODGE & THE DUNES

.

.

.

.

Dead Vlei should not be confused with the Petrified Forest near Twyfelfontein by Damaraland.

Blasé

If anyone is a careful reader, I have a post-production correction and confession. I have no idea what the word Blasé is doing there. It is not a comment on the Petrified Forest, which I've never visited. It seems to have flown into that post on its own. I may have inadvertently Contol V'd and pasted something unrelated.

 

Not sure of the gender on the "star" horse. Unless their behaviors related to being male or female, I just forgot to check, @@Kitsafari

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Atravelynn

MIDMORNING TO EVENING 19 JUNE ~ MEERKATS and ROSTOCK RITZ

 

09:00-09:45 Left the dunes and headed north to where Ian remembered seeing some meerkats a few weeks earlier. He spotted them again. Yay!

 

09:45-11:15 They were about 30 meters off the road. Ian led me to as close as he thought the meerkats would tolerate, maybe 30-40 meters. For about 90 minutes as I tried to remain obscured behind vegetation, I watched several of them. They were very unaccustomed to humans and peeked out at me from their holes, intentionally keeping several thick bushes in the sightline between them and me. In contrast to the meerkats’ stealthy behavior, the ground squirrels seemed unfazed. Meerkats and ground squirrels foraged peacefully together.

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Not the greatest photos, but one of the more exciting happenings of the trip

 

Lunch at Café van der Lee at Solitaire. Ian made sure we stopped at this landmark that included a filling station, café, Moose McGregor’s Bakery (sadly Moose had just passed away), artistic junked vehicles, and ground squirrels.

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Ground Squirrel at Solitaire. Very accustomed to people.

 

Enroute to Rostock Ritz Ian asked me to locate the map we carried in the vehicle. “On no,” I thought to myself, “I hope our change in itinerary to include Rostock Ritz has not gotten us lost.”

 

“Look at the cover of the map,” Ian instructed me when I found it. It matched what I saw through the windshield!

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This view stretched in front of us and was also the cover of the Namibia map that sat on the seat beside me.

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Another nice view but not quite a map cover

 

We arrived at Rostock Ritz at 13:30 and after I settled into these lovely surroundings I turned my attention to the resident meerkats. There were three who made up a small colony that lived in a rehabilitation enclosure about the size of a US football field. There was a second smaller enclosure connected by a subterranean pipe. The meerkats had access to both areas. Much of the time they were not visible but they posed nicely in the afternoon sun.

 

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There were lots of nice hikes offered at Rostock Ritz, including one to see Bushmen paintings which is quite far. Or you could be driven there.

 

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Views from Rostock Ritz and a Mountain Chat

Edited by Atravelynn

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Atravelynn

20 JUNE ~ MEERKATS, HEROE’S ACRE and back to WINDHOEK

07:30-8:30 Drove back to the meerkat colony.

 

08:30-10:00 I observed meerkats from behind a rattle bush. Though a tripod would have steadied my camera against the winds, I did not want to add to my presence with more equipment, so I just used a monopod.

 

There seemed to be fewer meerkats today and we speculated that our presence yesterday may have spooked some of them and they relocated to a more distant part of their territory. But what remained included a mother and two young ones. I was able to see the mother with babies clutched to her as she peeked at me out of her hole. A curious juvenile was also entertaining as it took a wary interest in the odd creature behind the rattle bush.

 

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Meerkat location, viewed from behind the rattle bush

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Juvenile meerkat

 

We went back to Solataire and I had a famous Apple Strudel from Moose McGregor’s Bakery to celebrate my meerkat sightings. The strudel was deserving of its fame.

 

We drove through Spreetshoogte Pass on the way back to Windhoek. As a note to self drivers, the road is excellent, there was hardly any traffic, and it was not a harrowing drive at all. There were some scenic lookouts where we pulled over but the wind remained so strong that it felt like the door would blow off when we opened it, curtailing our scenic viewing.

 

We stopped at Hero’s Acre War Memorial for about 25 minutes. The murals at the top the stairs were very impressive.

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The Southern Namibia part of my trip had concluded when I got back “home” to Galton House.

Edited by Atravelynn

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michael-ibk

Lovely meerkat pics. Glad you found them after all, I guess you were very relieved.

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TonyQ

@@Atravelynn

It was great that you got to see the meerkat in the two different situations -those more used to humans and those not used to us. It is great to see the pictures of them. You deserved your strudel!

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Treepol

Really enjoying your TR and photos.

 

Those dune shots, especially the ones with the pied crows are memorable, as are the baby meerkats.

 

Have a great time in Manu and please say Hi to David for me. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the journey along the Manu Road and other places of course.

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Marks

Apple strudel and meerkats...does it get any better? :)

The first photo in post #55 is breathtaking.

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Atravelynn

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Dining Zebra

Food and Accommodation Comments

 

Summed up in a word: Marvy!

 

Galton House in Windhoek—Seems to be the choice closest to airport, even at a 30-minute drive. A perfect happy medium between the several Fancy Five Stars and Backpacker spots. Great food.

 

Bagatelle Strohbahle—Fine dining, loads of activities—a desert oasis. Lovely cottage a nice walk from the main lodge. If walking is a problem you could drive up to the cottages.

 

Klein Aus Vista Eagle’s Nest—Well, isn’t this amazing is the first impression. A hidden little retreat/chalet tucked into the base of the mountain far away from everyone. Drive time between my chalet “The Wall” and the main Desert Inn Lodge for meals was 10-15 minutes. If offered small plates at Desert Inn Lodge, go for that pared down option. I did not because for fear of missing out on their tremendous cuisine. But both Ian and I agreed that small plates would be completely adequate because there are so many delicacies on the small plate.

 

Farm Namtib—The extensive indoor lounge/dining area and outdoor lounges were decorated by someone with an artistic flair and love for the land. I believe owner Linn gets credit. Rooms were simple, charming and nice. The tasty homestyle meal we shared with Thorsten and Linn was delightful.

 

Sossus Dune Lodge—A beautiful place in a beautiful location. The golden mosquito netting around the bed gave the whole room a fairytale feel. Very good meals.

 

Rostock Ritz—The lounge and reception were very attractive with nice views, depending where you sat and looked out. The rooms were comfortable and cozy, also with great views. My #8 required several minutes of walking up/down stone steps, an easy stroll unless you had some trouble getting around. Excellent dining.

 

Okaukeujo Lodge – Nice rooms and very good meals. A waterhole view room means you can easily get to/from the waterhole throughout the night if you wish to check it out. I could see the waterhole area from the front porch of my Room 23, but I wouldn’t try to observe from there. From my room to the waterhole was a one minute walk. The best room in the complex (and it is a complex, almost like a mini-town) is #34, a 2-story with a balcony that overlooks all the action. Who knows what that costs or if there are limits on how long one can stay.

 

Halali Campground—The rooms here were the most basic of the trip, but very adequate and comfortable. I had #22, not far from reception. More good food.

 

Onguma—Gorgeous setting, gorgeous lounge and dining areas, gorgeous rooms, exquisite dining, exceptional service. I had waterhole view Room #1 that was indeed close enough to the waterhole (with no obstructions/fences) that I asked for an escort back in the evening.

 

Okonjima – I got upgraded to a Plains View Room because the Plains Camp, where I was booked, was behind schedule and I missed its grand opening by one day. The endless vista extends out right from your bed. Quite a sight. This place offers a luxury getaway in all respects: accommodation, fine dining, personal service.

 

I really took advantage of the personal service here. Because the wifi had been unavailable at Onguma and I had a June 30 work deadline, I needed to do some serious work while at Okonjima on June 28. Wifi was available in the lounge but not the rooms. I asked if I could just remain in the lounge after the night hide activity until I finished my work, which might be 2:00 am. The manager told me that guests head back to their rooms after the day’s activities and the staff retires too and no one was allowed in the lounge alone. I arranged, with an agreed upon gratuity, to have the uncle of the manager accompany me in the Wifi-enabled lounge until I finished. Fortunately for me, I was able to complete my work by 2:00 am and fortunately for him there were exciting World Cup games to watch. The uncle escorted me back to my room to wrap up the night.

 

Namutoni's Restaurant – Delightful lunches, served promptly.

Farm House Restaurant in Otjiwarango – They were a little off kilter at this place for lunch. I had to track down my pizza which was delayed or something and when it was served the crust was not cooked. But what was on top of the crust was just fine.

Kari’s in Otjiwarango – Great with roosters strutting around.

Van der Lee Restaurant/Cafe at Solitaire – Great, open air but covered, and I got to listen to Neil Diamond on the sound system, something I had not expected.

Galton House – Breakfasts and evening meals were both delicious.

Moose McGregor’s Bakery at Solitaire – Their strudel is worth the trip, wherever you originate.

 

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Dining Ground Squirrel

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Atravelynn

The day by day itinerary on Page 1, Post #18 is entirely accurate. June 20 and 21 are off by a day in the narration. I typically lose track of time on about Day 4 of a trip, so I am remaining true to form in my report.

 

ETOSHA - 2nts Okaukeujo, 1 nt Halali, 3 nts Onguma in Namutoni Area

 

Place of dry water; Great white place; Endless white pan; The place where no plants grow. Lots of translations for Etosha, all descriptive.

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Nerownii Waterhole, Okaukeujo

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Black Rhino right off the bat at Nebrownii Waterhole, Okaukeujo. This guy is often nearby.

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Herd near Ombika Waterhole, Okaukeujo. Getting close to park closing time at sunset.

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Sunset at the Okaukeujo Waterhole

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Atravelynn

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Morning reflections at the Okaukeujo Waterhole

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Black backed jackal at Okaukeujo Waterhole Pale Chanting Gosshawk in Okaukeujo Area Social Weaver at Okaukeujo Waterhole

It's all happening at the Okaukeujo Waterhole; remaining shots in this post are at the waterhole mid morning until 1 pm.

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First night at Okaukeujo Waterhole:

8:45 - 9:00 pm, 1 Elephant, 2 giraffes, 1 black rhino that stayed until 9:15, 2 black backed jackals

Midnight - 3 rhino, I think 2 black and 1 white. Not one other person was at the waterhole, giving it a different perspective.

Edited by Atravelynn

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Atravelynn

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Near Ondeka Waterhole, Okaukeujo

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Puff adder -- before the sun goes down while the ground is still warm

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Back at the Okaukeujo Waterhole

Second night at Okaukeujo Waterhole:

8:00 -8:45 pm: 3 elephant, mother and calf black rhino, 3 jackals, some giraffe, 2 black backed jackals

Around 9 and around 11 pm a couple of lionesses came to drink I was told. I did not see them.

Edited by Atravelynn

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Atravelynn

I was up at 5:00 am checking out the waterhole. I saw only a few other people and a couple of jackals. About 6:30 I headed to breakfast.

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The above photos represent my final morning at Okaukeujo until about 10:30, when we left for Halali.

 

 

Nebrownii Waterhole in Okaukeujo was active. The remaining photos in this post are from Nebrownii.

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Edited by Atravelynn

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Atravelynn

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Salvadora Waterhole, in Halali Area

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The nose and foliage are the same color. Side of the road Halali.

The Moringa Waterhole is about a 10 minute walk from reception at Halali. There are signs to direct you.

 

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Moringa Waterhole at Halali Campground

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Moringa Waterhole at Halali Campground. How nice there was a black rhino drinking and scratching.

I did a night drive at Halali and committed a safari deadly sin. I was late because my watch had stopped, I think while I took a shower even though it is waterproof. Ian knocked at my door and anxiously told me to come out for the night drive we had booked. I was just leaving and reassured him I still had 10 minutes. Wrong! I was 5 minutes late. Yikes. I'm glad Ian was looking out for me.

 

The 7 pm - 10 pm open vehicle night drive produced many steenbok, 4 black backed jackals, and most interestingly a hyena that the guide surmised had scavenged the leftovers from the leopard we had seen in the afternoon. Her kill was near the road but no trees were in sight. By 8:00 pm it was very cold and I was thankful for all my layers. I was also thankful that the vehicle was full for more warmth. It was 3 across and I believe there were 4 rows. So it can be a full house on the night drive and we were full that night. But the drive almost took off minus one--me.

Edited by Atravelynn

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michael-ibk

Wow, fantastic sightings at the waterhole, and terrific pics to go with it. Love all the reflection shots, and that "final morning" pic of Okaukeujo is just stunning. Your lists are really useful, give a very clear picture of how many animals are around. That puff adder looks huge!

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Marks

Enjoying your sparring springbok and your puff adder. Also glad you made the night drive.

For your lists, if they're done when you get back, do you base them off of notes or the timestamps on your photos? (Sorry if you explained that in another post and I missed it!)

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TonyQ

@@Atravelynn

More wonderful photos! The sheer number of animals at the waterholes is amazing. The Zebra, with reflections - superb. (and the baby!) I love the Oryx -and the rhino. Beautiful pictures.

 

Working until 2am and fitting all of this in - wow. (Although I did see you slacking with some down-time before the night drive :) )

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xelas

My pick are the zebra's reflection in post #65 and the beautiful sunset light on ellies in post #66. Yet all of them are exceptional.

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Atravelynn

@@xelas,

Getting right light and low wind so reflections can occur can be fleeting.

 

Your lists are really useful, give a very clear picture of how many animals are around. That puff adder looks huge!

 

That's a big reason for doing the lists. They show volume and also that there can be chunks of time without much activity even if the overall viewing is great. The Puff Adder was plump but not really very big. His behavior is just like our snakes here at home that love to sun themselves on the park paths. I just played crossing guard for a small brownish garter snake yesterday afternoon on our bike path. Weather is turning cool in Wisconsin and the snakes are seeking some of the remaining warm rays.

 

Enjoying your sparring springbok and your puff adder. Also glad you made the night drive.For your lists, if they're done when you get back, do you base them off of notes or the timestamps on your photos? (Sorry if you explained that in another post and I missed it!)

 

I scratch in #s and abbreviations onto a paper form like what is posted. For the photos I match up the times. The best photos, I remember and likely will never forget where/when, etc. Often I'll adjust time settings on the camera to local time but I did not on this trip. So I just add the difference in time zones. In another trip report I was joking about my game spotting app--pen and paper with a spare pen.


Working until 2am and fitting all of this in - wow. (Although I did see you slacking with some down-time before the night drive :) )

That's really funny you noticed my inactivity. I was looking at it too when I posted the chart. I think there might have been a short nap involved.

 

Not my first choice to be up poking at a laptop until 2 am, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I am just so thankful that Okonjima had a perfect wifi connection and that I was able to arrange a babysitter for myself so I could remain in the lounge until the wee hours to finish. I asked about the wifi and work setup when I arrived at my briefing and it was nice that the mgr assured me something could be worked out for me. That made my afternoon cheetah tracking activity much more enjoyable and actually possible to do at all. Good service like this makes all the difference in the world when there are issues to be dealt with.

Edited by Atravelynn

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