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Bush dog

In July 2011, I made a 3 weeks’ self-driving trip in.

 

Overview :

 

ENINGU CLAY HOUSE : 1 night

WOLVEDANS DUNE CAMP : 2 nights

SOSSUSVLEI LODGE : 2 nights

VILLA MARGHERITA (Swakopmund) : 3 nights

DAMARA MOPANE LODGE : 2 nights

KHOWARIB LODGE : 1 night

DOLOMITE CAMP (Etosha) : 2 nights

OKAUKUEJO (Etosha) : 2 nights

MUSHARA LODGE (Etosha) : 3 nights

OKONJIMA MAIN LODGE : 2 nights

THE ELEGANT FARMSTEAD : 1 night

 

 

Preliminary remarks :

 

Although I had basically nothing to reproach to the organization (Royal Tours Namibia in Windhoek) of it, this trip was not the best of my travels and for a lot of reasons:

 

- I had never been attracted by Namibia. I went there because my wife had expressed the desire to go. So I agreed on condition that a third of the journey was spent in Etosha. Etosha disappointed me.

 

- As I had never been there before, I accepted the circuit as it had been proposed to me. Some stopping places, in my opinion, were not right choices.

 

- The self-driving trip (4300 km) with a 2x4 vehicle was a bad choice. If I should go back to Namibia, I would not do it again that way.

 

- At Wolvedans, the tents were poorly designed, in case of high head wind.

 

- Finally, I had a problem with the vehicle, not so serious in itself, but by all major hassle that it spawned during the next 5 days.

 

 

Luckily, there was still some good times of which one was excellent and it also delivered some good photographic opportunities.

 

For those who plan to take a self-driving trip to Namibia, be very careful in your choices of the agent and his local correspondant, the car (a 4X4 without any doubt), the car rental company and the conditions of the car rental’s agreements.

 

The car I rented was a high clearance 2x4 Nissan X-Trail and the renting company was BUDGET. My agent rented the car through a broker, and not through his local correspondant RTN, because the broker covered what was not covered at all by any insurance of the renting company like towing charges (only covered in case of mechanical fault not for instances caused by accidents, undercarriage, water and sandstorms damages) and undercarriaged damage. They also covered serious tyre and glass damage which can also be covered by the renting company, but at an additional charge.

 

90 % of the roads in Namibia are gravel roads and therefore in some places, might be very surprising and dangerous, because they are convex and very deceptive. In some places the gravels are big and you might have the feeling that you are driving on marbles. I slewed round twice but I managed to keep the car on the road. If I ever have to go back to Namibia, I will rent a 4x4 or do it with a driver. Indeed a 2x4 is, in some places, on a C road, barely limited and on a D road, inadequate. When I reached a service station, I always filled up; the next station can sometimes be 300 kms further, pumps might be out of order (it happened twice during my trip) and the station tank might be empty (it happened one time). I had one flat tyre, but this can normally happen on such a trip.

There will be in this report more texts than usual, thanks to my wife’s notes and as usual pictures.

 

 

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In July 2011, I made a 3 weeks’ self-driving trip in.   Overview :   ENINGU CLAY HOUSE : 1 night WOLVEDANS DUNE CAMP : 2 nights SOSSUSVLEI LODGE : 2 nights VILLA MARGHERITA (Swakopmund) :

DAY 7   Continued   The lagoon gets narrower every year with the dunes gaining ground on the sea. There was small fresh water lagoons as well, but these are also disappearing under the moving dun

DAY 8   Once again, a driver collected us at our hotel at 8:00 am and drove us to Walvis Bay’s harbour, to embark on the “Catamaran Dolphin Cruise”. It’s a three to four hours tour in and outside t

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Geoff

It might have been a disappointing trip but you are off to a good start with those images.

 

For some reason Namibia has not interested me either.

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xelas

OTOH, and for a first-timer to Africa, to us Namibia has provided all what we wanted, in a way that we liked!

 

Mike, if you will ever need a driver in Namibia, just send me a note :). Seriously!

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Bush dog

@@xelas

 

Thanks a lot, I will keep your candidature in mind. You never know!

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xelas

@@Bush dog

 

Great photography, Mike! Back in the office I thought they were a tad too dark but on my iMac screen they really shine! Looking forward to see many more!

 

I will drive you around and you will teach me photography ... fair exchange?!

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Peter Connan

Stunning photos as always Mike!

 

Sorry to hear Namibia dissapointed you.

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Bush dog

I think I need to give some explanations concerning my disappointment. Namibia is a beautiful country, the landscapes are stunning, especially from the sky, but I am more focused on wildlife in remote places, far from the madding crowd and on this matter it did not fulfill my expectations. The troubles spawned by the vehicle's problems have to be add to this. It did not, of course, put things right.

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Bush dog

DAY 1

 

We came with the daily direct Air Namibia flight Frankfurt/Windhoek which lasts 9 hours and 40 minutes. The plane was old. Actually they use new aircrafts, 2 Airbus A330-200. We arrived at Windhoek airport early in the morning and went, after the immigration formalities, to the Budget Rent-a-car desk to take possession of the vehicle but also of the vouchers and the road book. We changed some money and left the airport. The outside temperature was -1°C. Though the weather was dry and the sky so blue, there was a nip in the air. We went east and after 2 kilometers, turned right on a good gravel road.

 

We arrived at Eningu Clay House at 9 am. The owner, a Swiss lady, welcomed us warmly and after the welcome drink, led us to our room. The lodge is built with clay bricks and blend very well with the Kalahari sands’ colors. The lodge is quiet and full of serenity. For those who want to stay outside of a city like Windhoek, it’s an ideal place to rest just after or before a long flight. In the morning, we made a 1 hour and a half walk on a nature-trail and in the afternoon, we fell asleep on our books. We were the only guests. In the evening, we had an excellent dinner, at the fireside.

 

 

 

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@@Bush dog

 

I have to say the vehicle advice is pretty bang on. I'm sure you would be shaking your head at me for renting a Volkswagon Polo but looking back I would probably do a 4X4 next time.

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Marks

I have to agree with @@Geoff; the first few images you've shown us look great. The kudu make for an especially nice photo.

 

Always a shame when a trip (of any kind) doesn't live up, but hopefully you can squeeze some more enjoyment out of it even now by sharing with us!

Edited by Marks
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Bush dog

DAY 2

 

It took us six hours and a half to cover the 430 kilometers to Wolwedans. As we had a hearty breakfast, we skipped lunch. The only segments of tarred road were found close to the cities, in fact more market towns than cities with just a few shops and a lot of “bottle stores”. For the rest, it was in turn well tamped gravel and unstable loose gravel roads. The road (D854) after Büllsport got us a bloody surprise. Suddenly, the car began to spin round. I managed to rectify the path after a few full locks and kept it on the road. Fortunately, there is not a lot of traffic on those roads. We came off lightly, only with an awful fright. The scenery along the last 40 kilometers of the C27, with gemsboks, springboks and zebras on each side, is fantastic and has something moonlike. Then we left the road at the gate of Wolwedans and arrived at the farmhouse/reception after a 20 kilometers’ trail. We left the car at the reception and our guide, Lister, drove us to the camp and to our tent. The camp is located on the edge of a high dune, overlooking bluish mountains.

 

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We went out to have our sundowners on the highest dune. The view from it is gorgeous. It looks like a dry yellow surface but it is, in reality, wide grassland covered with tall bushman grass.

 

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We had dinner with a nice German couple and their driver-guide.

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fictionauthor

Beautiful photography. And I'm interested in this story because it promises some drama.

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madaboutcheetah

Mike, your post #11 itself makes me want to go to Namibia!!!

 

I'm intrigued by your comment up front - am I right to assume, that you were more disappointed with the Etosha segment? as you maybe were more used to Botswana and other countries for the wildlife specific game drives and the like......

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xelas

The loose gravel trap ... it pushes the adrenaline level high even when the car is not starting to spin ... but you calm down perfectly for another set of fabulous photos!

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Bush dog

@@madaboutcheetah

 

It's only a appetizer, before Etosha, most of the pictures are gorgeous landscapes and desert!!!

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Bush dog

@@xelas

 

You are perfectly right, it is not only pushing the adrenaline level high but also the concentration. If you want to enjoy the scenery, you have to stop.

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Bush dog

DAY 3

 

Early in the morning, rock martins on a tent.

 

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We left the camp for a whole day drive with the German couple and the guides and began with the exploration of the dunes. Even if the wildlife is not spectacular (leopard is well present but extremely difficult to spot), there are a few gemsboks here and there, life is present on and in the dunes. Lister showed us a spider that lives in the sand, the “white dancing lady”, dung beetles, local crickets and grasshoppers. We found some traces of the dunes mole that literally swim under the sands’ surface looking for its preys. It catches the slightest vibration, amplified by the grains of quartz. With a magnet, it’s possible to separate the iron (60% of the sand’s density) from the sand.

 

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The going down from the red dunes to the wide grassland was breathtaking. We passed then along the mountains, sometimes grassy and yellowish, sometimes rocky and violet. We had lunch in the shade of a boulder. After lunch, as we were far from camp, it took us the whole afternoon to come back.

 

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We went out again to have our sundowners on the highest dune.

 

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In the meanwhile, the wind had risen and the tent was already vibrating. The camp was now full with the arrival of a South African family, on the way to Cape Town, and a Dutch couple with their pilot, on the way to the Skeleton coast. The pilot was one of Louw Schoeman’s sons, founder of Skeleton Coast Safaris and pioneer of the tourism of discovery of the northern part of Namibia. When we left the restaurant, the wind was blowing very hard and so it did until 2 am. In the tent, the sound was intense and the vibrations incessant. It was like being in a train. We had earplugs but they were useless, both wind noise and slamming of the canvas being important. I stayed awake almost all night.

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Treepol

@@Bush dog I am so sorry that you don't have good memories of Namibia.

 

Your beautiful photos take me right back to this country of amazing scenery, wide open spaces and desert wildlife. I am going to enjoy re-living Namibia through your TR.

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Peter Connan

The landscapes are just absolutely stunning!

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xelas

@@Bush dog

 

You did managed to catch the essence of Namibia's dramatic landscapes!

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Bush dog

DAY 4

 

Few people slept! Before breakfast, I watched, with my binoculars, a wild cat trying to catch a bird near a made-up pond. Missed, but what a jump!

 

We left the lodge after breakfast. The distance between Wolwedans gate and Sossusvlei Lodge is short but once again the road was difficult because there was not enough grip of the wheels on it. We arrived late in the morning. The luxurious desert resort (45 rooms), located outside the Sesriem Canyon gate is built with adobe bricks. We booked, for the afternoon, a helicopter tour, and for the next day, the trip to Sossusvlei.

 

The helicopter ride was the highlight of the trip. Because of its specificity, it offers much more possibilities than a plane, especially the hovering. It was so fantastic that I was ready to do it again the next day. I had the chance to be sitting near the pilot. My wife and a nice couple of South Africans were sitting on the back row.

 

In 2011, the rains had been very heavy, the intensity of those you meet once every twenty years. The green spots on some of the pictures are vegetation that also appears accordingly at the same frequency.

 

The helicopter had just taken off and one can see the last mountains before the dunes, south of the Aub river.

 

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Then we flew over the Sessriem Canyon and the Tsauchab River.

 

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The Tsauchab and further the Aub River and the mountains.

 

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The Aub River and the mountains. One can see the first dunes.

 

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The helicopter turned west to follow the southern dunes.

 

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Dune 45.

 

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To be continued

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Marks

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Hell of a sundowner spot.

 

Nice gemsbok, as well!

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Sangeeta

ALL these images are incredible!! Wow, @Bushdog, what a treat to be able to admire these images. Regardless of what you think, we are delighted you did this trip :D

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Bush dog

DAY 4

 

Continued

 

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The helicopter ride continued following the southern dunes.

 

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Thirty minutes after takeoff, it arrived above Sossusvlei and turned around Deadvlei.

 

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Then, it went north and north east and began to fly over the endless dunes’ zone north of the Tsauchab River.

 

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To be continued

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xelas

Deadvlei from the bird's perspective looks very different than from the ground; less impressive, If I might add my opinion. OTOH the dunes looks more impressive. Great photography, again!

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