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Six days off road in Kakoland and a return to Etosha West to East - A Self Drive adventure in Namibia like no other


penolva
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We love to self drive in Africa, we love to camp out in the wild, we love adventure. Our friends and family think we are nuts!

 

To drive in Kakoland you have to have more than one vehicle in your group. Its deserted, desolate, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful. We wanted to see desert adapted elephants, search for the desert lions, search for Dr Flip Stander. Well one out of three isn't bad :rolleyes:

 

We were rewarded by far more than 'wants' we were given the gift of peace, quiet, friendship, wide open vistas, fresh unpoluted air and animals that survive in the most challenging conditions.

 

We turned left after Epupa falls and drove off road. We didn't return to proper roads for six days driving over mountains, across desert, through dry river beds and taking 6 hours to drive 5 miles! We camped beside a river with Angola on the opposite bank. At the top of a mountin. Beside a dry river where desert adapted elephants walk. Under skies so clear you could see the milky way and, it seemed, every star that it contained. Shooting stars and meteors every night.

 

It was amazing, fantastic, life changing and then we spent a week in Etosha NP travelling from west to east. And that was pretty amazing as well.

 

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Top of Van Zyl's Pass

 

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Camping in Marienflus

 

 

 

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Pen, I am really looking forward to this, and one day, I want to do something like this myself!

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@@penolva I was excited to see your latest TR as I have been wondering about a visit to Kaokoland in my next safari. Love the desolation of Van Zyl's Pass and the night sky is amazing.

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Fantastic Pen. We drove the area a few years back and loved it. We were solo, but at the right time of year (i.e. colder months) and did have a few plan B's - i.e satphone (and someone to call), a LOT of spare water etc, two spare tyres, tyre repair stuff, etc etc

 

I recall clearly catching up to desert adapted elephants in a rather unpleasant way... we were in thick sand in a dry river bed, stationary, engine off and watching elephants calmly browse when two cars with a local 'guide' came down towards us at speed. Boxing in the elephants. People then proceeded to get out on foot and 'sneak' up to take pictures of the elephants while one car pushed closer and closer to them.

 

The inevitable happened and the elephants got pi$$ed off and of course ended up coming towards us (and not their pursuers) at speed and with intent. Not fun.

 

Like Mana, the lack of rules and regs and freedom is a double edged sword. For every responsible visitor there are a few that spoil it for others.

 

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@@KaingU Lodge totally agree some people just spoil it for others! We only saw one or two other vehicles the whole time. Pen

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For information we booked the trip to Kakoland direct with Kunene Tours and Safari's and I can recommend Caesar Zandberg the owner and chief guide very highly. He is funny, very experienced and professional. He looked after us very well.

 

He has done tours for up to 14 people and has several vehicles so if you are a family or friends travelling together and prefer to be driven by him its a great option. We chose to follow in our own 4x4, he provides 2 way radios. We tended to keep a mile or so behind to feel we were out there on our own and to avoid being in his dust trail. We also had our own Garmin with all the main points loaded on. It worked perfectly as it was easy to follow his tyre marks out there with no one else around!

 

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We hired the 4x4 from Classic Car Hire in Windhoek and Peter there booked all the other accommodation for us in Etosha etc, except the little B&B in Windhoek, Londiningi Guesthouse.

 

Londiningi is run by a lovely couple, she is French he is Namibian. They support a local orphanage and we managed to take a suitcase full of warm clothes, books, crayons etc for the children. The knitting was done by some local ladies here in Cornwall. I recieved this lovely photograph of the children on our return home.

 

If you go to Windhoek please consider staying at Londiningi, its very nice, great food and inexpensive and perhaps put some things in your luggage for the children. They really appreciate it.

 

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The following day we drove north and visited Cape Cross and the seal colony there. This was out of our way but we wanted to see the seals as we had missed them on our last trip to Namibia. It was facinating to see and hear them. The noise is tremendous. There was no smell perhaps because it was a very cold and windy day. We stayed overnight at Cape Cross Lodge.

 

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The next morning we set off for Khowarib Lodge in northern Damaraland where Caesar starts his tours and has his base there. He lives in Swakopmund and buys most of the supplies for the trip there. He has a local butcher who provide excellent meat but if you are vegetarian he also has a supplier for very fresh veggies. He is a great cook and can cater for most diets.

 

www.kunenetours.com.

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Those first two images "are not for real." Wow!

 

Worth going out of your way for all those seals! Great stuff.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Looking forward to this report. Great start.

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Very promising start and I really like the sound of this trip - can't wait to see that scenery.

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@@penolva great detail here, thanks.

 

Did you stay at Cape Cross Lodge when you were travelling with Caesar - was he picking up other guests or the supplies for your safari?

Edited by Treepol
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The two intro pictures are outstanding, so very beautiful! Really looking forward to this adventure of yours, though I hope the roads were usually a bit better than that one Kainge Lodge showed us here. :)

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@@penolva great detail here, thanks.

 

Did you stay at Cape Cross Lodge when you were travelling with Caesar - was he picking up other guests or the supplies for your safari?

@@Treepol no we went there on our own. Caesar met us at his lodge in northern Damaraland. I will tell you how it all worked in the next post. He will pick up guests from Windhoek etc at extra cost so you don't necessarily need to rent a vehicle. Pen
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We drove up to Khowarib Lodge through Damaraland an area we had visited last time. Its very beautiful and rugged.

 

On the road in Damaraland

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Caesar had been delayed so we did not meet him until the morning. We had a lovely evening at the lodge which is simple but comfortable. It is set on a small river and we could hear frogs singing as the sun set.

 

John took a few night sky photographs for fun and a Swiss chap who had a very expensive Canon camera was very interested. @@Peter Conan you would laugh! when John showed the chap how to get the night sky with his own camera and he got a great shot he hugged us both. He had no idea he could do that.

 

Evening at Khowaib Lodge

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Next up starting the adventure proper!

 

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As I said Caesar operates out of Swakopmund, his home. He will arrange trips to any part of Namibia. He has worked with Ray Mears, Africat Foundation, Safari Drive and a large group from French TV. He knows the country like the back of his hand.

 

The following week he was driving a German couple who would be travelling in his vehicle. He had arranged pick up for them from their lodging in Windhoek and would bring them to Khowarib Lodge and take them back after their trip so they didn't need a hire car at all. We were going onto Etosha after so it worked for us to drive ourselves for convenience and more so for the adventure.

 

We had decided against a trip into the Skeleton Coast instead of Kakoland as we read that almost the whole time the area was covered with a thick sea fog. We experienced this fog when we were Cape Cross Lodge and the Amspoort area and its not pleasant. It tends to roll in land and then retreat to the coast after sunrise and will often stay there. Caesar said he has done whole trips where its foggy and cold every day!

 

We met Caesar at breakfast and he briefed on how the trip would work. He had all the fresh food and camping gear loaded and we just took a couple of bed rolls in our vehicle. Ado would set up camp and keep it tidy and Caesar would cook all of our food, three meals a day. He does not include alcohol in his package but does include water and soft drinks. We took our own wine which we bought at Henties Bay.

 

We drove to Opuwo which is a real frontier town full of locals, tourists, Himba in their traditional clothes and Herero women who wear Victorian dress. We fueled up there as it was the last proper fuel station for 6 days. We both had duel fuel tanks and although we were off road for so long we only drove around 1750 km. But boy were those km tough in some places.

 

Final prepartions

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On the way to Opuwo and some photographs taken there

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We all set off for Epupa Falls for the night. We had added this in to the trip at the last moment as we decided we shouldn't come all this way and not go there. Some people found it dissapointing but we thought the falls were lovely. They are in a very beautiful location with Angola on the opposite bank. We stayed at Omarunga Camp which is right on the river.

 

Epupa Falls and the river from Omarunga Camp

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Edited by penolva
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Welcome back, @@penolva! What a great adventure, self driving the Kaokoland. @@Peter Connan, if and when you will head that way, remember, two cars in a convoy are obligatory :) .

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@@xelas, I will be sure to invite some ST people!

 

I think you can guess who?

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@@Peter Connan

 

Let me try. The person invited would be @@penolva ... because she knew the road and is a great cook :D ?!

However count me in also! I will gladly take the rear position in that convoy taking care that nothing and no-one will be left behind ... except myself ... occasionally ;) .

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If only we had known, you both could have made a group with us as you are brave enough to do it unlike our family and friends! :D Oh yes and I am also a great cook, of course. :rolleyes:

Edited by penolva
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@@penolva thanks for the information. I remember that derelict house in the first photo in post #15.

 

Opuwo looks an interesting town, and the colours at Epupa are incredible.

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Love seeing Himba walking down the street with the other 2 girls in their trendy cuffed jeans!! Such an interesting contrast.

 

Your night shot is gorgeous!

 

Looking forward to more.

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Everything looks great so far.

That nighttime photo in your first post...words fail me, it's just so gorgeous.

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We have been as far as Khwoarib Lodge but no further and i have always wondered what is up there. So now I'm glad you are showing us a part of Namibia that few venture in and come out changed.

Love the Milky Way shot, did you light up the trees for this pic?

Can't wait for the ellies and more.

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@@Peter Connan

 

Let me try. The person invited would be @@penolva ... because she knew the road and is a great cook :D ?!

However count me in also! I will gladly take the rear position in that convoy taking care that nothing and no-one will be left behind ... except myself ... occasionally ;) .

@@xelas, you and @@penolva would head the list (not for the cooking, my wife is a great cook), and somewhere we would have to find open seats for @@Tom Kellie and @@PCNW. I think I would learn a lot about photography on a trip like that, never mind Namibia.

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Gosh, you're driving a long way each day. I just looked at a map and Opuwo is a long way from both Swakopmund and the Angolan border. A real expedition.

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