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Namibia 2017: firsttimers a bit rushed trip


garito01

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Dave Williams

@garito01 When I first saw your planned agenda for this trip I thought you must be mad trying to fit it all in with such a short time to do so much driving but you seem to have maximised your opportunities and appear to have seen much more than we did in a month! I think the time of year helped, you might not have had clouds in the sky to enhance your pictures but you actually saw the stars, you might only have had a short time in Etosha but you saw more of the bigger mammals than we did in 10 days there. We were in Swakopmund for 5 nights and didn't see those views of the salt works and then there's Spitzkoppe, the list goes on about what we didn't do.

All I can say is.....well done! There is more to come and I'm looking forward to reading about it.

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Day 3   We woke up at 6 am to be able to depart as soon as the gate was open, which at this time was 6.30. We were first trying to reach Nebrownii, but about 2 km before turning right in its

And that was our tented chalet at Mushara:     When we woke up it was extremely cold. By extremely cold I mean a temperature around 5 degrees Celsius. Shortly after breakfast

Let's continue, then. Once we left the saltworks we proceeded onwards and entered the Namib Naukluft Park. All the time Jaun was feeding us with interesting info on the area and I have to say he'

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garito01

Dave,

 

I remember your words from the first page concerning the warning which our trip should be to the others attempting to unnecessrily rush like us. Good that the report proves it was still doable.;)

Joking aside, though, I entirely agree with you and strongly advise all soon-to-be in Namibia to take some time, read the fora beforehand and benefit from the hints of other users who share their invaluable experiences. That we were lucky this time, does not guarantee we would follow this pattern next time round. But indeed, still we do consider ourselves quite lucky.

 

Thanks for comments.

Greg

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michael-ibk

Some spectacular landscape shots - Bravo! While there are some areas where Klippspringers are not that difficult (Northern Serengeti or Augrabies where I´ve seen them) I would certainly label them as "special sightings".

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garito01

Let's continue, then.

Once we left the saltworks we proceeded onwards and entered the Namib Naukluft Park. All the time Jaun was feeding us with interesting info on the area and I have to say he's extremely competent. He shared with us plenty of details as well as general background stories and did not let us get bored for a second. We were driving in a 4.8 l Toyota Landcruiser and it was awesome. Both comfort-wise and power-wise we were not missing a bit. Here's the beast:

 

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Getting closer to the ocean we were passing by some baby dunes which only in 200 thousand years time will turn into mature ones. :P

 

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After we made our first track prints in a softer sand 

 

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we asked Jaun if there was any chance of seeing a web-footed gecko somewhere around. He said he would try his best and started leaning out of the window and looking for specific marks on the sandy surface. After a while we stopped and Jaun started digging in the sand, but to no avail. In fact he found a gecko's tunnel, but it was abandoned. So we continued further and in less than 5 minutes we stopped again. This time the search was successful.

 

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We could see a gecko in the hands of Jaun. He was very delicate and cautious with her (yes, it was her as Jaun explained us). We did not want to stress the animal and told Jaun to let her go whenever he thought it was time to do so. But Jaun concluded she was very relaxed and only care should have been taken not to expose her to sunlight too long. So, we watched the gecko for 2 minutes or so and then she was released.

 

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Initially Jaun wanted to drive between the dunes and the water but the tide was pretty high and it was too soft for a safe cruising. We even saw one of the vehicles stuck in-between and waiting for the water to recede. That's way we went up on a dune and observed the scene from there.

 

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Next we experienced some serious driving over the sand dunes. Boy, is Jaun a great driver! We all were delighted with his skills and not for a moment did we feel unsafe. He showed us a couple of tricks and even in some more challenging places he kept his composure all the time. Driving in this sea of sand was something I would not forget for a long time, if ever. Adventurous ascents, brave descents, unbelievable angles, tilted driving - we had it all, with lots of adrenaline.

 

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But we could also stop in a couple of places and I could take some shots of the dunes. And I do not have to tell you I was taaaaaaaaking my tiiiiimeeee.:D

 

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At around half past 4pm Jaun decided it was time to eat something. He found a nice sheltered spot among the dunes and we had our late lunch there. Jaun is a very entertaining guy and it was a real pleasure to talk to him. We covered a lot of topics and it felt like talking to your old time friend. And the meal which was prepared for us was yummy as well.

 

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Then there was even more driving and I could shoot to my heart's content. Jaun was choosing places and I was just looking for a good subject and framing. A delicate play of light and shadows on the dunes was something I particularly enjoyed on this afternoon.

 

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Time was passing quickly, though, and we finally had to come back. Last sunset over the ocean pic and that was it.

 

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tbc

Greg

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Atravelynn

The origin of the avatar becomes clear!

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xelas

Careless tourits?! Tourons more likely :angry:! The water level in Zebra pool shrinked but the colour is better. Salt pans from above are truly colourful? Who needs Sossusvlei when there are dunes like on your photos ?? Have you usd a ND filter for some of them.

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garito01

@xelas, I might have removed some dust spots for the saltworks pics, but otherwise no colors added which were not there. They are enhanced somewhat, but I was also susprised to see this location so rich in various shades and colorful. As to ND filter, I was carrying two of them all the time with me, but never used them, in fact. There were no clouds at all over 2 weeks and we did not see any flowing water either. So, there was no trigger for me to resort to NDs whatsoever.

 

Greg

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xelas
13 hours ago, garito01 said:

There were no clouds at all over 2 weeks and we did not see any flowing water either.

 

Looking at your fabulous sand dune shots I have got the impression of "flowing sand"! One photo technique I have to try next visit.

Having no clouds is bad; having too much clouds is worse :D.

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garito01

Thanks @xelas for your acknowledgment. My dunes shots were inspired by Georg Erb. He's running a business in Swakopmund and you may check his facebook. Some superb stuff as well.

 

Greg

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Great pictures and great tour ! I have a doubt: you wrote that you reached rock bridge at Spitzkoppe by car at sunset time. Did you go there by car also for the night shooting ? Is it not dangerous ? How far is it ? Thanks

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garito01

Thanks Levante. Yes, I went to the bridge by car after sunset. It was before 9 pm, so pretty much in the dark. I would not say it was dangerous. I was just moving slowly and carefully in order not to lose a way and not to have any encounters with animals. It's about 4,5 km from the lodge itself. Hope this helps.

 

Greg

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Thanks Greg. So, I presume it is allowed to travel within the park in the night. Any restrictions ? 

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Kitsafari

what a gorgeous beautiful gecko it is! you got those vibrant brilliant colours so well. Love the dunes as well.

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Day 8

 

From Swakopmund we wanted to leave relatively early since we wanted to arrive at Sesriem around 4 pm. We really did not know what to expect on the way and how tiring it would be, but we had a good rest, hence we left in good mood. It was about 8 am when we got to our Fortuner.

 

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It was quite foggy on that morning and one could hardly see the sun through a misty veil. It was pretty chilly as well. What I forgot to say is that the day before upon arrival at Swakopmund we did not realize how cool it became compared to temperatures we experienced around midday, which was an hour worth of driving to Swakop. Not until we got out of the car did we feel a cold breeze and we immediately put on some fleece. The temperature from approx. 30 degrees dropped to 18. Quite shocking.

Closer to Walvis Bay all the fog was already gone and we could enjoy a regular clarity, which was so common during our trip.


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Up until Kuiseb pass the drive was boring, but we knew that would be the case from all the descriptions we could read beforehand. Not to say that we disliked it, yet it was hard to be excited by such monotonous views that were stretching ahead of us for so long. The Kuiseb pass itself was quite interesting and we stopped a couple of times there to be able to appreciate the landscape. What was surprising was that it all appeared out of nothing. You travel through flat surfaces and suddenly you almost dive into those ravines, canyons and gorges. 

 

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Next, rather obvious stop we made when crossing the Tropic of Capricorn.

 

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From this point the landscape was more diverse, but quite different compared to what we were seeing until now. 

 

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What we truly appreciated was that road conditions here were much better than in Damaraland. Honestly, anything out of Damaraland was a treat even if not recently graded. All four of us had the same opinion in this respect. Given that we were able to arrive at Solitaire quite early. It was about half past noon when we stopped at he filling station in Solitare. Then we immediately headed to the Desert Bakery to try the legendary apple crumble. The pie lived up to our expectations and even topped it by some margin.


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Before we left I took a couple of minutes to take pictures of the old cars that in my opinion complement an atmosphere of this place quite well. I just wonder how much time it will take for the paint to go off, because when it happens Solitaire will be far less colorful.:(


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We continued our journey undisturbed and already at half past 2 pm we showed up at Sesriem gates. We paid the park fees there and decided we would go to the Sesriem Canyon first. Outside it was about 30 degrees and we thought coming down to the canyon would be a good idea. There were plenty of cars at a parking place. We were afraid it would be crowded, but it turned out we were wrong. The canyon stretches quite a distance and all those people were kind of spread over a larger area, so it was nice to walk down at he bottom. And indeed, we could feel it was cooler by good couple of degrees compared to a parking area.

 

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Then we went to the Sossus Dune Lodge. We parked at a place under a canvas shade and did not wait long until the NWR vehicle appeared to get us to the lodge. After a welcome drink we were shown to main areas and finally went to our chalet. We liked an entire lodge very much. The setting is stunning and we could already see some dunes in a distance. There was a distinct scent which was pervading around the lodge area. Later we figured out it was coming from the bushes that were growing just beyond our chalet's terrace and elsewhere as well. It was most intense during a day, while almost not discernible both in the evening and in the morning. Since we have not asked a question to anyone at the camp we're clueless as to what plant it actually was. Having unpacked and rested a little we wanted still to see the Elim dune before sunset. So we packed some stuff and moved out of our chalets. At a reception we saw one of the lodge guides and asked him how much time we would need to climb the Elim dune. He said about 10-15 minutes. The dune itself is only about 5 km from the SDL so to get there was quick. We started to climb the dune at half past 4 pm.

Jeez, was the guide wrong !!!   It was really a hard work to go to the top of Elim. Not only did we fail to climb it in 15 minutes, but we were still not there after 40 minutes. We drank plenty of water on our way up as we were sweating profusely. The sand did not feel too compact and two steps up were always followed by sliding one step down (at least). When for a moment we thought we were reaching the top some new higher sections could be seen and this repeated a couple of times. I'm not even sure if we have reached the very top or not. But it was getting already late and we decided not continue any more upwards. Instead we just admired the landscape around from the place where we stopped. Again the views in the late afternoon light were something special.


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At half past five we started our descent and reached the parking place pretty quickly. It was almost dark when we were back at the lodge. The dinner was excellent and that made our day.

 

tbc

Greg

 

 

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On 31/8/2017 at 10:23 PM, garito01 said:

Not that I know of.

 

Greg

Sorry Greg to insist on this subject. Did you pass / open any gate going from the Lodge to the Arch in the night ? Thanks

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Hi @Levante, no problem at all. Yes, we had to pass the gates, which are normally closed. We got the key at a reception and we kept it with us.

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  • 3 months later...
garito01

Hi again,

It's been very long since I've posted last time, but let me just say I suffered from a couple-of-months serious illness and it was depriving me of any motivation to do anything in general, not to mention making my input in here. It's been a hard time at work recently as well and I had to recap with gazillion of things. Now I'm on a home stretch, so hopefully I will be able to finish my report barring some disaster. Even my kids were asking why I had not posted for so long, which I took as a kind of encouragement to speed things up. Let's go then.


Day 9

It was going to be THE day. I craved for visiting the red dunes for so long that the prospect of seeing it in a couple of hours seemed quite surreal. We were woken up by the lodge staff at 4.30 am and immediately upon dressing up we were ready to leave. On the way to a dining area I quickly checked I took all the necessary equipment with me and it turned out I had to come back twice to pick up whatever I forgot to take with me. So, despite being quite refreshing outside (around 5 degrees) I was already sweating before starting the trip. Having had an early breakfast and warm drinks we left for the dunes slightly after 5 am. There were 10 of us in the lodge vehicle inclusive of Sammy, our guide.

 

I would not say driving in the dark was particularly exciting, but around half way towards the dunes Sammy spotted something on the road. It occurred to be a porcupine that first got a bit frightened and when we pulled over it hid under the vehicle, go figure. A moment later it decided to flee from the place and it disappeared in the darkness. The drive took us around 50 min to tget to the 2WD parking lot. Obviously, we were the only ones there. We started our last leg in the sand and after about 400 meters we saw a vehicle flashing its lights in front of us. We approached it and stopped to see what was going on. In fact it was the car from our lodge with some people who, as we learnt, left on the previous day to see the dunes. But that was quite late in the afternoon, so they did not have too wide a window of opportunity to succeed in making that trip fruitful and getting back to the lodge in due time. In fact they decided to drive themselves to the 4WD parking lot and that was going to be done with a sedan type of vehicle (I think it was Hyundai). As they told us they only managed to try to move for something like couple hundred of meters before realizing they would not make it. By then they decided to turn around and that was their last decision since they got stuck in the pile of sand. They were virtually the last people in the area and there was no one to help them out. They were forced to spend a night in the car out in the desert. What a bummer. But it was entirely their fault. They acted recklessly without any sound reflection on what could happen. Sammy told us these were the Americans who were missing from the lodge. The staff tried to get in touch with them in the evening but to no avail.

 

Sammy told them to wait for another vehicle from the lodge (which he alarmed) that would pull them out but we had to continue onwards. And so we did. In about 10 minutes we were getting off the car. The sun was still below the horizon but it was getting brighter and brighter. We rushed to the Deadvlei, then. We decided to split. I was heading directly to the vlei and the rest of the group was going to climb the Big Daddy with Sammy. Although I'd love to see a sunrise from top of the dune it was more tempting for me to stay in the vlei and wait for the sun to lurk into it. So I turned right to the valley and they started to do the climb:

 

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I really hurried as we lost some time with the Americans and I wanted to maximize my time in the location. It took me only a couple of minutes to find a right place for my timelapse, so I placed my tripod on the ground and mounted a camera with a lens on it. I started a sequence with an intention of shooting with it for 2 hours. Next I grabbed my second camera and commenced exploring the area.

 

What a joy this was ! I was just alone in the Deadvlei and it was all for me. I know this is kind of selfish but nothing can beat that feeling when you can associate with nature and her into the beat of your heart in such amazing circumstances.

I covered a lot of ground in the vlei and was swapping lenses quite frequently to catch a diversity of this beautiful place. It was absolutely out of this world to watch the scene unfold and witness the sun to do its spectacle in the valley. Gorgeous and magical !

I took a lot of pictures but it took me even more time to cull them back at home and choose those which I thought were best. Here's a sample of what I got there:

pre-dawn

 

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and then with sun showing up


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After about an hour and a half the rest of the group came down to the vlei and they took their round within its perimeter. My son snapped a few pictures of the sunrise atop from the Big Daddy with the phone and that's enough reason for me to come back once again to the Deadvlei and see it for myself.

 

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At half past 8 am we all headed back to the parking area.

 

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But we were not leaving just yet. Sammy prepared for us a breakfast in the shade of the trees among the dunes. It was all yummy especially with all those recent experiences and emotions in the back of our heads.

 

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By the way, the bad-luck Americans also made it to the vlei :) They were given a lift by the lodge vehicle that pulled them out. Yet, they were pretty late.

 

tbc

Greg

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michael-ibk

Sorry to hear about your (hopefully resolved) health issues, and happy to see this report continue. Gorgeous photos of the Vlei. A porcupine is a great sighting. Wow, spending a night out in the car can't have been fun at all for these people.

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xelas

I wish you a full recovery, @garito01, and continuing this trip report might be just the thing you need ... and for sure I need it also!

 

Excellent photos from Deadvlei, new perspectives. Tourons were really lucky that Namibians are generally very friendly and helpful; without any doubts, in the States if they would do such stupid and illegal act in one of their National Parks, the fine would be hefty at least.

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garito01
11 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

Sorry to hear about your (hopefully resolved) health issues, and happy to see this report continue. Gorgeous photos of the Vlei. A porcupine is a great sighting. Wow, spending a night out in the car can't have been fun at all for these people.

 I hope it's been ultimately resolved and not coming back. 

Glad that you liked the photos from the Vlei.

 

Greg

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garito01
50 minutes ago, xelas said:

I wish you a full recovery, @garito01, and continuing this trip report might be just the thing you need ... and for sure I need it also!

 

Excellent photos from Deadvlei, new perspectives. Tourons were really lucky that Namibians are generally very friendly and helpful; without any doubts, in the States if they would do such stupid and illegal act in one of their National Parks, the fine would be hefty at least.

Thanks for the wishes, @xelas. What I need is to go back to Namibia at some point :P

 

Thanks for acknowledging the pictures. Havings seen dozens of photos from the Deadvlei makes it extremely difficult not to take shots that would not resemble what you have already seen. Honestly, I do not think I was particularly creative, but there are so many emotions related to each and every shot I got there, that I do not care too much if all the captures were repetitive or not.

 

cheers

Greg

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