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Bush dog

@@Atravelynn

 

The guide wanted to show us how strong are the jaws of the lizard and how difficult it is for its preys to escape. So, he put it like an earring on his ear and it stayed there until he took it off.

I did not suffer at all, why should I?

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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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madaboutcheetah

Mike, each installment of yours just makes me want to head to Namibia soon!!!

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Bush dog

DAY 9

 

The next six days were extremely disappointing.

 

This was a driving day from one point on the map to another. We first hug the coast to the north. Then we turned to the north east. On each side of the road, a stones’ desert, then a few shrubs and when we entered in the Herrero country, savanna. The road was not too bad. We arrived in the afternoon at Damara Mopane Lodge. The atmosphere of the lodge was quite cold. I did not like the place. Though there are vegetable and herb gardens around every room, the food was not really good.

 

View of the lodge from the hills.

 

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DAY 10

 

We went to visit the Twyfelfontein site where one can see rock engravings and paintings that were made on sandstone with rock crystal, by the bushmen, between 2000 and 6000 years ago.

 

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Then we went to see the “organ pipes” (basalt columns) and the “burnt mountain”.

 

 

 

DAY 11

 

This was again a driving day from one point on the map to another, but this section (the C39 to Palmwag and then the C43) was worse, more difficult and very dangerous, and not at all appropriate for a 2x4 vehicle, because of loose gravels, sand and sometimes rock debris. When we went through the Grootberg mountains, the road was of course sometimes rising up and the wheels slipped on the large loose gravels, making the passage of hillsides extremely hard. For the second time in this trip, the car spun round and again I managed to keep it on the road and to bring it back in the center line. After Palmwag, the road was well tamped and theoretically better but the heavy rains, once again, had caused damages by digging ditches in the concave parts. Before arriving to the lodge, the road was extremely wide but with large loose gravels.

 

We arrived at Khowarib Lodge for lunch. We were disappointed because the two interesting activities, the search for desert elephants and rhino tracking were full day activities. So we decided to make a “dolce farniente “ afternoon.The lodge is not far from Sesfontein, on the banks of the Hoanib River in the Khowarib Gorge. They also own very nice camping sites.

 

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This lodge, where we spent one night, is located west of Etosha and to enter the next day at Galton Gate, we had to go back to Palmwag and then take the C40 to Kamanjab and the C35 to Galton, a 400 kilometers detour. I still wander how could I be so stupid not to notice it when the trip proposal was given to me, even more that what happened the next day left me bitter regret.

 

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michael-ibk

@@Bush dog

 

I´m sorry that this trip was somewhat disappointing to you (with the worst apparently still to come), but up till now I´m with Hari - the photos scream "I´m Namibia, I´m wonderful, come visit me."

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xelas

OK, starting to understand your frustration(s), Mike. Those two lodges I do not know; we have stayed 2 nights at Grootberg Lodge ... and loved it. Driving 400 km just to do nothing, phew ...

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Marks

The Twyfelfontein animals look much more recognizable than many other similar sites I've seen photos of. Beautifully shot, as well; the texture of the stone really shows.

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Bush dog

DAY 12

 

We had just left the lodge and were still on the wide section of the road with large loose gravels when a vehicle came from the opposite direction, at a much too high speed and hurling stones in all directions. One of those stones smashed to bits the right rear window. Luckily, it was early in the morning and we were not far from the lodge. So I went back and they were kind enough to help me to fix a plastic screen on the window frame. The car was a small bus (more or less 12 places) that lodges and tour operators use. Unfortunately, it was so fast that I had no time to read the name of the lodge or tour operator. That kind of inconvenience can happen when you travel. What is not normal at all is the way BUDGET, a world known and considered company, managed the problem. In order not to pollute the next posts, I made here after the full report of events connected with this occurrence.

I first called the emergency number. I explained the all thing to the employee. When he was sure that I was not immobilized, he told me that the car was mine and I had to sort it out myself to go to a garage to make the repair. It was surrealist. It was my first visit to Namibia and of course I had to be familiar with the way everything works there?????? It was even more surrealist when they told me, at Windhoek airport on the day I left the country that they had to import the window from RSA, because there was no spare one in stock on the whole Namibian territory!!!!! I then asked the same employee if the car was still insured against theft. After a lot of hesitations, he told me that it was no more insured and if the car was stolen, I would be responsible for it. So I decided to phone my agent and explained him the all story. He contacted Budget at Windhoek airport. Those guys contacted me in the evening and explained me that they had no replacement car and that the next day I had to go to Outjo to replace the window, but also pay the cost of it to the repairer, so that he could after payment only, immediately order the window. Budget had a print of my credit card and those costs were covered by the broker, so it was difficult for me to understand this procedure.

 

The next day, they told me that I had to go To Otjiwarongo, 100 kms further than Outjo and in the evening, what a surprise, that I had to go to Windhoek. With regard of their great willingness to solve the problem in an unprofessionally and not commercially way, I decided to ask my agent to send them an e-mail saying that if the car was stolen, I could not, at all, be considered liable for it. He copied it to the management of BUDGET South Africa. The next morning, o miracle, they announced me that they had found a car, and coincidently another X-Trail, and it will be delivered to me the next day in Okokuejo. It took them more than 3 days, and a lot of delays, excuses and pathetic speeches, and only after some intimidation from me and telephone calls that cost me 700 USD, to find a solution to the problem. I was not expecting an immediate solution, I was not in North America or in Europe, but at least more professionalism, consideration or consistency in handling such problems. I must say it was pitiful.

After, from discussions with friends and other travellers, I learned that issues like that, and even minor (extra tyre not working, not the appropriate equipment to change a tyre,….), are common in Namibia. Lots of car rental names, like Budget, Avis, Hertz,….. are not part of the worldwide network, they are local franchisees. So it’s better to work with local companies as for example, Gecko Car Rental, Advanced Car Hire, Camel Car Hire,……………..

 

We reached Galton’s Gate later than expected but nevertheless before its closing. Until 2014, the entrance to Etosha at Galton’s Gate was only permitted to travelers with previously booked accomodation for Dolomite Camp. On the road (45 kms) to the camp we did not see a lot, not a very good start !

 

Dolomite Camp was the first camp built in the western part of the park. It is set on a dolomite hill. There are 20 thatched chalets (brand new, when we were there) on each side of a walkway that rises to the top of the hill. The landscape view from the top is stunning.

post-48450-0-97678900-1438875013_thumb.jpg

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xelas

"Lots of car rental names, like Budget, Avis, Hertz,….. are not part of the worldwide network, they are local franchisees." - exactly the same situation as in Costa Rica! The "big names" are way worse than small local companies.

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madaboutcheetah

Oh no ........ Now I can understand why this trip didn't stand well in your books. Sorry you had to endure this........

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Bush dog

DAY 13

 

We went to almost all the 15 waterholes of the eastern part of Etosha and we saw almost nothing though we were supposed to see high concentrations of wildlife, including white and black rhinos. The majority of them were dry. A young lion had been seen at Klippan that is supposed to be the best one. When we arrived there, it was already gone. We just saw a journey of giraffes and a few Hartmann’s or mountain zebras. This specie only occurs in this section of the park. The vegetation of mainly mopane shrubland and karstveldt is different to the rest of the park. At the end, one more disappointing day.

 

As most of the sightings occur around the waterholes, like in Kgalagadi, a lot of pictures will show drinking animals. In the Kgalagadi, where I’ve been 10 years ago, I did not see a lot of visitors, but it might have changed since then, while in Etosha, some waterholes were so crowded that they looked like a drive-in.

 

DAY 14

 

On the road to Okaukuejo, near Olifantsrus (still in the eastern part), we had our first lions’ sighting - two females and two cubs of about one year old in the tall grass, some thirty meters from the road – not a good sighting but yet a sighting.

 

A bit further, I noticed that I had a flat tyre.

 

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Then we drove directly to Okaukuejo and went to the garage to repair the tyre. Our room was close to the waterhole.

 

In the afternoon we went out on game drive. We saw an elephant and a lot of zebras,

 

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Also a drinking giraffe and black-faced impalas.

 

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To be continued

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michael-ibk

Oh wow, the broken window situation really must have been infuriating. Have you told this story before somewhere here on ST? Now that I've read the details it sounds somewhat familiar?

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Bush dog

@@michael-ibk

 

Yes, I already told the story here on ST but I do not remember where. It was a topic opened by someone that was asking information for a first trip to Namibia.

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Atravelynn

"Lots of car rental names, like Budget, Avis, Hertz,….. are not part of the worldwide network, they are local franchisees." - exactly the same situation as in Costa Rica! The "big names" are way worse than small local companies.

I had copied the same thing for repeat. Definitely bears repeating. I would never have guessed. How very deceiving.

 

Lots of car rental names, like Budget, Avis, Hertz,….. are not part of the worldwide network, they are local franchisees. So it’s better to work with local companies as for example, Gecko Car Rental, Advanced Car Hire, Camel Car Hire,……………..

 

Glad you did not suffer an accidental piercing (ear) along with all this other stuff.

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Marks

That sounds like a major frustration, I imagine you weren't thrilled.

 

Great detail on the zebra.

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Bush dog

DAY 14

 

Continued

 

Pale and a dark chanting goshawks and a jackal.

 

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In the end of the afternoon, we went to the waterhole. An elephant was waiting for clean water before drinking.

 

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In the evening, we saw a black rhino and a wounded lioness. During the night, at 2:00, we went back to the waterhole because we heard a lion roaring. We were alone. The roaring became louder, that lion was coming to the water and then another lion called. We stayed more than one hour, they never appeared. Before going back to our room, we saw three elephants and four giraffes. I wanted to go back at 5:00 but I had to abandon this idea because of a blackout. As a consequence, the spotlight at the waterhole was switched off.

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madaboutcheetah

When I eventually get to Namibia, I think I shall avoid Etosha - Thanks again, Mike for your candid report with all the stunning images...... Definitely all the scenic places from your report stands very high on my list.

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xelas

@@madaboutcheetah

You should not skip Etosha just based on the fact that in July of 2011 Mike has had such bad luck; wildlife is out there, for sure, just sometimes it decides not to be seen. An example, both penolva and Tdgraves has had excellent big cats sightings in February and in March, while ours in April was only from far away.

I can only imagine the thrill of being driven by a driver and a spotter to the tree where the leopard has taken its prey; but I will remember forever the thrill of spotting my own leopard all by myself while self driving in Etosha.

 

@@Bush dog

The sightings might be slow but your photos are continuing to rock ... The old b&w elephant is a hang on the wall stuff!

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Bush dog

@@xelas

 

Thanks again for your generous words. Of course, wildlife is there but the chances to have good sightings of some species are low, too much trees and vegetation around some waterholes and when there is something, the crowds are there and the conditions of the good sighting are poor. You were very lucky to see a leopard. In 7 days I did not even see one so much so that I asked myself the question : Are there leopards in Etosha?

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Bush dog

@@madaboutcheetah

 

Hari,

 

Personally if I were you I would combine the scenic places of Namibia with Kgalagadi. Kgalagadi is organised the same way as Etosha or Kruger but is far above Etosha in terms of sightings. Wildlife is also concentrated around waterholes but the space around them is wide open with just some trees and shrubs, allowing you, if there is wildlife around, to have all the chances to spot it. Kgalagadi is the place where I saw the most spectacular cheetah kill ever.

 

Talking of scenic and remote places, I would add, to the places I saw, the Skeleton Coast and the Kunene area and do some desert lions (with Dr Philip Stander) or desert elephants tracking.

 

Here are some websites. WS is also very active in that part of Namibia.

 

www.skeletoncoastsafaris.com

 

www.kcs-namibia.com.na

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madaboutcheetah

Thanks @@xelas and @@Bush dog

 

I think re Namibia particularly, I don't see myself going there more than once - so, with limited time will want to maximize some of the unique experiences on offer there - Skeleton Coast etc etc.,

Re Etosha - I do realize game viewing is all luck of the draw ..... but, to me the Namibia experience might be more about the "great outdoors" in general and the landscapes ... Won't be searching for cheetah ;)

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Bush dog

DAY 15

 

Electricity had not been yet restored, only a cold breakfast was available at the restaurant. At 7:30, the new car was delivered but the tank was quasi empty and, as the pumps at the station were not working because of the blackout, we were condemned to stay in the camp. The driver was kind enough to go to Halali (150 kms return) to fetch a 25 liters’ jerrycan. In the meanwhile, we went to the waterhole. There, it was an endless stream of animals, mainly zebras, wildebeests, kudus, springboks, impalas and gemsboks in and out the water, with many jackals around. The tension around the place was palpable. The slightest movement spooked tens of browsers and grazers and they stampeded in and out the water to soon come back, and so on.

 

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To be continued

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Bush dog

DAY 15

 

Continued

 

Around 11:00, the driver was back with the jerrycan. Not having a funnel, he used a piece of folded cardboard to pour the petrol in the tank. Ten minutes after, the electricity was restored. We filled up at the station and went on game drive.

 

We stopped at Okondeka where the pan stretches on 200 kilometers to the east. We were looking at the gemsboks, ostriches and wildebeests in the haze and dust, when I noticed that some of them were a bit worried and watching a specific point on the dune. Some gemsboks coming to the pan suddenly turned right and left to bypass this point. I did not see it, but I’m sure that there was at least one lion there. We stayed one hour but nothing happened.

 

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We continued our way to Adamax and saw a greater kestrel,

 

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and an African wild cat, a bit worried in the beginning but very comfortable after a while.

 

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Can someone identify this bird?

 

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On the way back, we met this elephant which made us understand that it had the right of way.

 

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In the evening we went to the waterhole and saw four black rhinos, one of them being a young one.

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Wonderful look at the wildcat. I imagine it was difficult to spot in those surroundings.

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Bush dog

Wonderful look at the wildcat. I imagine it was difficult to spot in those surroundings.

 

Thanks a lot for all your generous words. Well in this case, not really, the cat just crossed the road fifty meters ahead of us.

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Bush dog

DAY 16

 

Soon after our departure from Okaukuejo, on our way to the eastern part of Etosha, we spotted the head of a lonely lion on the right, in the tall grass. We were about to continue our way when it stood up and began to walk parallel to the road in the direction we came from. We made a u-turn and followed it. It then crossed the road and went in the direction of the pan. It was obviously hungry and thirsty. Thanks to a small road on the right, a cul-de-sac leading to a viewpoint (Kapupuhedi) on the pan, we were able to keep on following it with the car and then only with the eyes until it disappeared in the background.

 

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Some sightings along the road following the pan’s shores.

 

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To be continued

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