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Namibia


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In October 2007 I flew to Namibia for a nice long holiday (around 5 weeks). The trip was to be divided into two parts - the first being a normal safari and the second being a trip to see a conservation project being set up by Lise Hanssen in the Caprivi regio of Namibia. This trip report will cover the first half of the trip.

 

I landed at Windhoek airport, and after clearing customs etc I met up with Lise Hanssen who was there to meet me and then joined the long queue for a hire car. Once that was all sorted it was a short drive to Windhoek for a spot of breakfast then on to her house for a few hours. I'd brought over a load of reference books and other equipment (including a digital SLR camera plus lenses etc) as a donation from Predator Conservation Trust, so it was an opportunity to hand them over and lighten my luggage considerably.

 

The first night I stayed at the Olive Grove guest house in Windhoek - I always stay in Windhoek the first night rather than having a long drive ahead of me after a long flight. The Olive Grove was a lovely place, just down the hill from hilltop house in a nice quiet area, and a short walk into the centre of Windhoek. Went into the shopping centre and picked up a Tango pay as you go SIM card so I could have a Namibian phone number for the duration of my stay - its a lot cheaper than using your UK phone on a roaming arrangement, and means you dont have to worry about people phoning you on your UK number and you picking up the call charges for the international part of the call. The phone would be used to keep in touch with lise and as an emergency backup only.

After a good nights sleep and a lovely breakfast it was time for the long drive to Etosha where I would be spending the next 2 weeks.

The drive to Etosha is around 7 hours on good tar road all the way. I always stop at Okahandja and stock up on some bottles of water for the journey - its always a good idea to have a few litres of water, especially in case of a breakdown. After that the next stop was Otjiwarongo to fill up with fuel, then non-stop to Etosha's Anderson Gate (near Okaukuejo camp). I generally try and avoid stopping for fuel at Outjo as you tend to get mobbed by youths trying to sell you a carved makalani nut, and in the past I've had 7 or 8 of them trying to sell me one at the same time while the filling station staff take no notice.

On arriving at Etosha there was the usual paperwork to fill in at the park gate then it was a short drive to the rest camp.

Okaukeuejo has like the other Etosha rest camps been rennovated recently, and the first change came at the office when you check in - you now have to give a N$500 key deposit which you get back when you check out as long as the room is still intact and nothing is missing. It seems a bit off really especially as none of the private lodges do this, but I can only assume they had a lot of thefts in the past.

 

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The rooms look beautiful now, and come with mosquito nets but there are problems - the fridge is in the bedroom and is noisy which makes it hard to sleep, and the shower area sometimes floods the bathroom. Generally though the rooms are nice, and I was lucky enough to have one with a view of the waterhole. The restaurant and shop facilities havent improved and poor service is the norm. There are lots of newly built or refurbished areas but signs that basic maintenance is still poor - leaking pipes waste water and never get fixed. Near the waterhole the dirt/grass areas have been covered with gravel which gives the whole place a dull grey feel, and this gravel is very noisy as people too lazy to follow the paths walk across it.

 

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The Okaukeujo waterhole is the main reason for wanting to stay here as it is always busy - lots of springbok, elephants, kudu, oryx during the day and black rhino, giraffe, lions and elephants at night.

Once I'd had a short rest, it was time for a quick game drive before sunset. I headed to Okondeka waterhole where a pride of lions is resident, and was pleased to see two large male lions sleeping in the shade at the top of a ridge. After watching them for a while it was time to check out another of the waterholes where I've had good sightings in the past. Nebrowni waterhole is just off the main road from Okaukuejo to Halali and Namutoni, and lions are often seen there as they sleep part of the day in a culvert that passes under the road. When I arrived there were two elephants drinking and 100m away, a lioness waiting for them to leave before she could drink (elephants dont normally tolerate lions around them). I noticed that several vehicles were grouped on the road a few hundred meters away and went to investigate (for people who havent been on safari before, seeing several vehicles stopped on the road normally means there is something worth seeing there). They were watching a spotted hyena which had clearly suffered some injuries in a fight (probably with the nearby lion) as it was limping very badly.

That night I went on a guided night drive - one of the new options being offered in Etosha now. You go in their vehicle which is the usual landcruiser with several raised bench seats and the night drive lasts for around 3 hours. The problem is that the staff try and drive and operate the spotlight at the same time rather than having two staff members do it (as most private lodges do) to cut costs, and this means they dont do a very good job. We saw a couple of elephants, a spotted hyena and some black rhino, but nothing really close - the animals were all skittish.

The next day was a dawn start (always a good idea as more animals are active then), and I came across some jackals which I watched for a while before they trotted off. I then found a group of around 10 ground squirrels which were playing by the side of the road and which were great fun to watch. Its easy on safari to just look for the bigger animals but the smaller ones are great to watch sometimes. After breakfast I headed off to Gemsbokvlatte which was packed with springbok and zebras.

During the heat of the middle of the day I relaxed around the camp and watched elephants bathing in the waterhole along with zebra, kudu, oryx and springbok - all having a drink and cooling off at the waterhole. The afternoon drive was fairly quiet but after dinner the camp waterhole was busy again with 5 Black Rhino visiting along with elephants, giraffe, jacksls and a spotted hyena. The jackals often raid the restcamp and during the evening I saw and heard several of them, calling to each other and tipping over dustbins to raid the contents.

 

The next day was a fairly quiet day, but still plenty of wildlife to see. The night though was special. At around 9pm a lioness came down to the waterhole to drink then walked off and lay down out of sight be a fallen tree. For the next hour nothing came to the waterhole except for a group of black rhino. Shortly after 10pm a single Oryx came down slowly towards the waterhole. It seemed nervous so may have caught a smell of the lion but it needed to drink so came on. It walked within a few feet of the fallen tree and carried on unscathed to the waters edge where it started to drink. I was then wondering if the lion had in fact slipped away unnoticed as I'd expected it to attack the oryx, but a few moments later all became clear as I spotted the lioness slowly stalking towards the oryx which was drinking at the waters edge. The lion crept closer then with a sudden burst charged the oryx. The oryx sensed danger at the last moment and bolted into the water but barely manged a few steps before the lioness brought it down and quickly got a stranglhold on its throat. Once it was dead the lioness dragged the carcass back to the fallen tree to eat its meal in privacy. It was fantastic to see the stalk and kill - only the second one I've seen in 8 years of travelling to Africa on safari, but even better was the fact that I'd caught it all on video.

 

The next morning there were two lionesses walking away from the waterhole and nothing remained visible of the oryx apart from a few scattered scraps that the jackals were busy grabbing and eating. later on the waterhole got very busy with wildlife, and there was constantly something to watch, including two zebra stallions having a brief fight.

In the afternoon on a drive, I saw a monitor lizard lying at the entrance to a hole, and I watched it for a few minutes until a passing vehicle startled it and it vanished backwards into the hole.

That night two male lions came to the waterhole separately to drink and then later started roaring with them being on opposite sides of the camp to each other. The roars are amazingly powerful and even inside a building they could still be heard clearly.

 

The next morning started as usual with a dawn game drive after which I gave in to temptation and visited the new internet cafe. The connection is painfully slow, and the machines arent all configured the same so some machines wont let you access certain sites (I think its java or javascript that wasnt supported) while other machines do. Still it did let me check my emails and send a few to friends.

That night the waterhole was busy with 11 giraffe and then later on more black rhino came to drink as well as a couple of spotted hyena.

 

The following day I left Okaukuejo to head for Halali rest camp. The check out process involves you having your room checked (and the spoons etc counted) after which the staff radio reception to tell them the room is ok and you can then head over there to get your key deposit back.

 

On the way to Halali I saw a yellow mongoose near the road and watched it for almost an hour. This is only the second time I've seen one in all the times I've visited Etosha, and it was great to sit and watch it. None of the other vehicles stopped to look - they all drove past looking for the big animals.

 

Some photos of the yellow mongoose

 

At Goas waterhole, near Halali there was a black rhino that was lying at the waters edge, and possible part-submerged (it was hard to tell from the road). Around 100 metres away three lions slept in the shade.

After checking in to Halali I returned to Goas and arrived to find the rhino was dead and it had just been dragged out of the water by parks staff who had also removed the horns. The carcass was now in an open area which would be easily visible to tourists (and by putting it away from any shade it maximises the chance that carnivores other than lions will visit it. As I watched, one of the lionesses got up and walked over to the carcass. After staring at it from a few metres away she tentatively approached and swiped it a few times with a paw to make sure it was dead, not just asleep. Once she was satsfied, she then started trying to get into the carcass - not an easy job as the skin is like armour plating ! The other two lions then arrived and soon all three were trying to get into the carcass. They all targetted the rear end where they had the best chance of getting through the skin.

 

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On returning to Halali I booked a place on that nights night drive. The night drive was excellent - we saw an african wild cat and a spotted hyena before we reached Goas, then found the lions were still there - with the rest of the pride. There were ten or eleven lions all trying to get into the carcass. The only visible change was that the ears had been torn off and eaten. The carcass was already smelling fairly strongly. The guide was one of the staff members who had dragged the carcass earlier that day and he told us that it had died of anthrax.

 

The next morning came and a dawn visit to Goas showed the carcass was still there but the lions efforts had turned it through 180 degrees so instead of its head being towards us it was now facing away. The backside had been enlarged to a hole large enough for a lions head, but other than that the carcass was still intact. Eight lions remained at the carcass.

 

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More photos of the lions on the rhino carcass

 

Later that morning there were three lions lying close to a wildebeest carcass near Koinachas waterhole but there were too many vehicles parked there already to get a reasonable view so I moved on. I drove over to have a look at Namutoni - the only Etosha restcamp I wouldnt be staying at this trip. The fort looks beautiful but overall I was disgusted - the camp has been ruined by designers who obviously went for appearance over common sense. The whole camp is criss-crossed with raised wooden walkways rather than normal paths. They are made from improted wood and were warped from the sun within weeks of being installed. They are noisy too - because you now have to park some distance from the rooms then the camp echoes to the sound of suitcases being wheeled along these walkways. Finally the walkways mean the grass below cant be cut so they have to regularly spray them with weedkiller to stop the grass getting too long and encouraging snakles to take up residence under the walkways. The camp waterhole has been filled in and the viewing boma is now redundant, and a new concrete waterhole has been built near the fort so people can view it from the top of the fort. This looks to have been done for no reason other than someone decided the viewing area should be at the fort rather than a separate place. The fort now has no sleeping accomodation but instead is shops and two restaurants. Overall I was glad I wouldnt be staying here.

The best thing about this camp for me (other than its location and proximity to waterholes) is the banded mongooses that live here. They can be seen lying in the shade by the walkways or lying on the cold tiled area by the old restaurant, and they are great fun to watch.

 

Some photos of the banded mongooses

 

On the way back to Halali, I spotted some vultures in trees just off the road, and on stopping found there was a pretty foul smell there (it turned out there was another dead rhino 50m away out of sight as a staff member told me later). The lions at Goas were lounging in the shade keeping a close eye on the rhino carcass there (still pretty much whole).

Before I went on the night drive, I heard a dustbin near my room being tipped over and looked out. Instead of a jackal, it was being raided by a BIG honey badger which was fantastic to see at close range in fairly good light.

 

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The night drive was good again - as well as the lions on the rhino carcass we saw spotted hyena and a couple of scorpions on the road which we got a good look at. The wind was getting strong and lightning flashes were seen in the distance so the drive was cut slightly short and we headed back to camp before the storm hit. We got a fairly good downpour during the night but it soon passed.

 

The next morning was cooler and cloudy, which made for a pleasant drive. There wasnt much around apart from the lions which were still at Goas with the rhino carcass. That evening I went to the camp waterhole instead of doing the night drive, and as I got up to the viewing gallery I saw a shadow moving behind the seats. As I watched it became clearer as it came closer - it was a large honey badger which walked past everyone sitting there without anyone apart from myself seeing it, before it walked into some scrub near the path and stayed there. It just shows - even in the restcamps there is wildlife and its easy to miss it.

 

The next day, the lions were still at Goas and they had managed to pull the lower jaw almost off. Later in the afternoon a herd of elephants came to drink at Goas and the lions quickly disappeared. A pair of jackals siezed the opportunity to have a go at getting a meal from the carcass. Once the elephants left, the lions returned and the jackals quickly trotted off. As I headed back to the camp for sunset, I was slowing for a sharp bend when I noticed something by the road - I braked and stopped just beyond a leopard lying at the side of the road. As it didnt seem bothered, I reversed and watched it for a few minutes and took plenty of photos before it really was time to leave if I was to be back before the gates closed. This was my first leopard sighting in Etosha, so another fantastic day.

 

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I did wonder if I should have an early night as the night drive would surely be an anti-climax after that, but instead decided I'd go on the drive. A good decision as it turned out as we saw three african wild cats and actually got good views of them at reasonably close range. We also saw a scops owl sitting in a tree and 5 spotted hyena near Goas (clearly attracted by the smell of the carcass but prevented from eating by the presence of the lions). As we watched the lions in the spotlight, two lions walked past the vehicle - almost invisible in the dark, and giving us a shock as we realised how easily they could have jumped on our vehicle and had a meal !

 

The following day I set off to visit Nuamses, Aus and Olifantsbad waterholes. The day got off to a great start when I saw a black rhino around 20m from the road. Later that day I saw my first warthogs of the trip as well as some red hartebeest (plus the usual zebra, springbok and kudu).

That night was my first night back at Okaukuejo for anohter 5 nights, and saw the waterhole visited by large number of giraffe, elephant and black rhino.

 

The next day I headed up to Okondeka again to look for lions. There were two lions sleeping happily in the shade during the day. In mid afternoon a female got up and spotted some springbok on the ridge and she began a stalk. After a few minutes another lioness stood up seeming to appear out of empty ground, and joined the stalk. The second lioness was careless though and was quickly spotted and the springbok fled. A few minutes later a second stalk began and the lionesses sprinted over the ridge out of sight. A male lion stood up and watched what was happening before slowly walking off towards where the lionesses had gone, suggesting they had made a kill.

 

The next day was fairly quiet - there were lions at Olifantsbad but they were sleeping in bushes half out of sight, and showed no sign of moving. I did however manage to see anoher black rhino in daylihgt not far from Okaukuejo.

 

The next day was memorable unfortunately. While parked at a waterhole a woman decided to reverse her 4x4 for a better view. Unfortunately she did this without looking in her mirrors and reversed into the front of my hire car causing a fair amount of damage. After exchanging details it was back to the camp to call the hire company. They arranged for a replacement car to be delivered to me the following day and told me not to drive the existing one, so until the new one arrived I was stuck in camp. The new car finally arrived at 5pm the following day. it seemed like a long wait but given the distance they had to drive then it was actually pretty good to get a replacement car to me in around 30 hours from me reporting the accident.

The following day was my last in Etosha so I was determined to get out of the camp at dawn. At Nebrowni there were three lions - one male and two females which had a drink before walking across toward the road and into the culvert there, where they stayed. Further on near Gemsbokvlatte there were more lions - 2males and a female this time. Around half a kilometre further on I came across a wildebeest carcass. There were a lot of jackals around and two actually eating the carcass. No wait a minute there were three - the third had actually crawled inside the carcass and was now backing out with some meat in its mouth. I watched the jackals feeding for well over an hour (and took a lot of photos in the process).

 

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More photos of the jackals on the wildebeest carcass

 

After lunch I returned to the carcass and found that the lions had discovered it and taken it from the jackals, dragged it into the shade and were finishing off the remains. The jackals had clearly had the best feed from it but the lions were happy to scavenge and steal the jackals meal. That evening the camp waterhole was busy with around 20 giraffe, but a lioness appeared from behind the fallen tree and charged a young giraffe that was drinking. All the giraffe bolted at this and escaped unharmed.

 

The next morning was an early start. I had a long drive ahead of me as the next two nights were to be spent at Cape Cross. I chose to take the slightly longer route as it would be tar roads all the way whereas the more direct route was dirt roads and would take longer. I set off at 6.45am and apart from a couple of stops for fuel, drove non-stop before arriving at Cape Cross around 2pm. The last stretch of road from Swakopmund to Cape Cross isnt tar but is a salt road. Its slightly slippery when wet but is smooth and as easy to drive on as tar roads.

The lodge at Cape Cross is lovely - right on the beach just half a kilometre away from the seal colony. The temperature at the coast was a lot colder than I'd become used to in Etosha, but the bar/restaurant had a roaring fire to warm you up.

The seal colony itself had shrunk dramatically from previous years (something I'd heard from other visitors as well). The reduction seems likely to be permanent rather than a seasonal thing as there is now a wooden walkway to get people much closer to the shore than they were allowed before which is now the only way to get a good view of the seals - last time I went 7 years ago they were right up to the wall by the car parking area. I hope the culling is reduced or stopped to let the colony recover, but fear the fishing indutry looby is too powerful to allow that.

The next day I drove to Swakopmund to have a look round and do some shopping. Swakopmund resembles a typical german town moved to a location with the sea on one side and desert on the other. I found an excellent bookshop and ended up buying a lot of books about wildlife and Namibia. I had lunch at a place on the waterfront - the Lighthouse, and had an excellent meal in a pleasant setting before heading back to the lodge for a second night. The food at the lodge was excellent and the rooms are nice with balconies looking out onto the beach.

The next day was the end of the first part of my trip with me driving back to Windhoek to meet up with Lise Hanssen and return my hire car

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This second report will be shorter than the first. It covers the second part of my trip

 

 

Lise Hanssen's report on this trip is in my view far better than my version as well as being much longer so its well worth a read.

 

Lise Hanssen's report of the trip

 

After returning to Windhoek from my solo safari, I headed over to Lise's house to wash my filthy clothes and pack for the trip ahead.

 

The next morning we did some last minute jobs (including returning my hire car to nearby Eros airport) before setting off around 9am. We stopped off at the MET (Ministry of Environment and Tourism) building in the northern industrial area of Windhoek to meet up with the MET game capture vet, Mark Jago. Mark is the supervising vet for Lise's project in the Caprivi so the meeting was to discuss a few issues and for him to write a prescription for the veterinary drugs that are needed to dart Hyenas.

Because the dart gun Lise had ordered wasnt yet in the country then there would be no darting on this particular trip. The big benefit of this is that we didnt need to take the blood barrel. This is a barrel containing rotten blood obtained from an abbatoir. The blood had been allowed to "cook" in the heat and rot till it had an extremely powerful unpleasant smell (but one that would attract Hyena's from a distance). Carrying that in the 4WD for an all-day drive wasnt something I wanted to do, so was grateful that it wasnt going to be needed this trip. Besides - we had a lot of stuff to take anyway..

 

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We drove all day heading north through Otjiwarongo and Grootfontein towards Rundu. We decided to share the driving to make it easier for both of us. Lise drove till Grootfontein and I then took over for the second leg. North of Grootfontein we came to the veterinary fence. This stretches across Namibia and is to control the spread of foot and mouth disease to enable meat to be exported to the EU. South of the veterinary fence is the disease free area, while north of the fence is not classed as foot and mouth free. As a result there are no large or commercial cattle farms north of the fenceline.

Almost as soon as we passed through the checkpoint in the vet fence I was stunned - it was as if we'd gone into another country or back in time. Rather than the arid, scarcely populated modern Namibia I knew, there was a lot more vegetation here and there were lots more people than I was used to seeing. The houses weren't modern brick or concrete but were traditional mud and thatch huts. The other shock was that there was no wildlife visible at all - everywhere else in Namibia you see wildlife such as baboons or warthogs near the roads - here there was nothing visible alive apart from people, dogs, cattle and goats and a few birds. We saw not a single wild animal in the whole of our drive through the Kavangu region. The reason appears to be one of two things - either the wildlife has been killed and eaten, or its fled due to habitat destruction. Everywhere we looked the local people were burning the bush to stimulate the growth of new green grass for their cattle.

 

After reaching Rundu we carried on towards our overnight stop - the guest camp at Shamvura . This is run by Mark and Charlie Paxton, friends of Lise. We arrived there around 8pm after a stressful 2 hours of driving at night. This is not as easy as it is in the UK as the road isnt lit and has no cats-eyes to help visibility. Add to that the complete lack of background light and you start to get an idea of how black it was. People and cattle appear in the headlights at close range and barely show up in time for you to slow and avoid them.

On arrival we were greeted by Mark and Charlie and their pets - a goat and a hand reared cape clawless otter. The otter is amazing to see - he's big and heavy (maybe 20Kg) and has little hands with fingers rather than claws. he also has a strong bite as I quickly found. The goat has a powerful head butt that he uses to get your attention.

After a lovely meal we headed to our tent for the night.

 

The next day was spent at Shamvura; while Lise made various calls and picked Marks brains about people to talk to, I went for a boat ride on the river. The river forms the border with Angola and from Shamvura you can look out across the Angolan floodplains.

 

The following day, we moved on and went into Rundu for some supplies and for Lise to meet the local MET staff to let them know she'd be working in the area and get their input. We then headed to the entrance to Mahungu national park for another meeting but the person we were looking for wasnt available. We headed to Ngepi camp for the night. We pitched our tent in one of the camping spots with a lovely view across the Okavango river.

 

After a good nights sleep we were off early to try and meet various people. The first two were unsuccessful, so we headed to a villagecalled Chetto. This is a bushman village around halfway along the Caprivi strip. We were looking for the Kyamarcan trust who represent the interests of the community. We were told that we needed to go to Omega - a town a few miles back towards Rundu, so headed there. Omega is a former army base that is now a town for the bushmen, Its the most depressing place I've been in a long long time - lots of people with no work and nothing to do apart from drink beer and Tombo (a locally brewed alcoholic drink). Everywhere we looked there were piles of empty beer cans and bottles. We met up with the head of the trust and found that there had just been a change of members and a new head wouldnt be elected for a few days. We then headed east to find somewhere to stay the night. At the end of the strip, as we entered East Caprivi, we found a campsite near the road called Bum Hill. It looked nice - on the bank of the Kwando river, so we set up camp there for the night. As we cooked dinner a noisy hippo grunted nearby.

 

The plan for the next week or so was to explore the area to look for signs of spotted hyenas - e.g. dens or latrine sites, as well as mapping some of the dirt tracks. Additionally quite a few meetings were planned.

We started exploring on the opposite side of the main road near Nambwa camp, and in an area called Horseshoe, we hit a problem. The dirt track was sandy in places and a local lodge had driven their large truck down it recently which due to the wider than normal wheelbase of the truck, destroys the track for other vehicles. As a result we got bogged down in deep sand and were unable to move, even in 4 wheel drive low ratio. We tried digging ourselves out but didnt manage to get very far. Luckily we had a cellphone and a phonebook so we managed to call some friends of Lise who's son works in a nearby lodge. He agreed to come out with a vehicle to tow us out. After 3 hours stuck in the sand, help arrived and we were jacked up with a high-lift jack to free us. During the three hours we hadnt seen any wildlife but had heard sounds. When help arrived they told us that there was a herd of 100 elephants around 100 metres away, just round the bend - we were glad not to have met them while we were stuck.

 

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This experience added a new essential to the shopping list - a high lift jack. We found though that there were absolutely none available in the whole of Namibia, and it was only several days later we managed to get one that a local hardware store imported for us.

Over the next week we had several meetings and drove back and forth across the Caprivi with no real problems, apart from one scare.

We were following an old road/track that was the original road through the Caprivi until the modern tar road was built. The track is known as the golden highway and it zigzags across the Capriv strip. We followed it for several hours until it became very hard to make out as it was so overgrown. My GPS unit indicated that we'd started heading due west in a straight line which seemed odd, so Lise powered up her GPS which contains a base map. PANIC TIME. The track had become the cut-line that marks the border with Angola and this is a place we'd been warned to avoid due to the fact that its widely believed there are still lots of landmines left here from the war. Time for a very hasty U-turn. THis did give us an idea what had caused some very deep craters we'd passed a couple of minutes earlier ! We returned to the main road without further incident. We did see a bullet ridden wreck left over from the war...

 

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After a week or so we'd found plenty of good sites to monitor for Hyenas and had found several latrines and some possible dens for Lise to check out on her next trip. Unfortunately it was time to start working our way back towards Windhoek for my flight home - and after a month away I wasnt looking forwards to returning to work. We stopped for a night at Ngepi. We woke up the next morning to a stunning sunrise over a mist covered Okavango river.

 

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We then had another problem. The ignition on the vehicle decided to break so we couldnt turn the key 99 times out of 100. If we got it started we'd have to drive all the way back to Windhoek in one go as switching off would leave us stranded with no help available. With the help of another camper we got the vehicle started and drove for Windhoek. Unfortunately we knew that we didnt have enough fuel for the whole trip in the tank, and equally that no petrol station would fill us up with the engine running. Luckily we had 3 jerrycans full of petrol so we stopped near Otjiwarongo by the side of the road and nervously filled up from the cans with the engine running, which we manged to do without having any sparks cause an explosion - phew !

 

We arrived back in Windhoek a day earlier than planned and once back found that the problem wasnt the ignition barrel - it was the key that had worn away on one side and no longer gripped properly. Luckily Lise had a spare key so that fixed that headache. The lat full day was spent visiting bookshops for me to stock up on wildlife books and books on Namibia that I hadnt been able to find in the UK. Then the depressing bit - flying home :)

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  • 1 month later...

You may not see this response for some time. That's just one of the downsides of spending much of Feb in Tanzania :)

 

Did you do one night at Okaukeujo? Then one night at Halali? How far apart are they?

 

I see a honey badger. Weren't you crying that you had never seen a honey badger before your recent Botswana trip? Or was that you never saw one in the daylight?

 

Sorry about your car getting hit.

 

Disturbing about the seal colony. Did you see jackals there? Your dramatic jackal photo was not with the seals.

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5 nights in Okaukuejo, 4 nights at Halali then another 5 nights at Okaukuejo. Normalyl I only spend a week in Etosha but pushed the boat out and had a fortnight this time.

 

The distance is about 75Km from Okaukuejo to Halali.

 

I've seen Honey Badgers in Namibia before but I can happily see them again and again. Not been to Botswana yet - its on the ever growing wish list of holiady destinations though.

 

The seal colony was crawling with Jackals. The first day I visited I counted at least 18 of them but there were probably more that I didnt see. The second day was quieter - only around 9 that day. The cape cross lodge is only around 1km away (maybe less) and has a fresh water drinking source for the jackals so they often stop there on the way to or from the colony so you can sit at the lodge and watch the jackals coming for a drink at regular intervals.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A delayed thank you, Predator, for the response. My comment about you not seeing this was because I had you mixed up with someone else. How nice you had such a long time in both Etosha. Your are expanding my vocabulary of interesting phrases, "pushed the boat out."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Predator, it sounds like there are some really interesting waterholes in Etosha. How exciting to have one’s dustbin raided by a honey badger! Thanks for your report! I’ll have a look at what Lise has written.

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Do you know if it is possible to fly to Etosha and then rent a vehicle upon arrival to just drive around in the park?

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Do you know if it is possible to fly to Etosha and then rent a vehicle upon arrival to just drive around in the park?

 

I dont think so. Its easy enough to pick up a hire car in Windhoek and drive to Etosha. If you set off early (say 7am) you'll be there by around 1-2pm, and its an easy drive (on very good tar roads). If you want to pick up a hire car anywhere other than Windhoek or Luderitz then you normally pay a fee for them to deliver it to you, so its cheaper to hire it in Windhoek and drive to Etosha. Thats what I usually do.

 

Alternatively if you stay at somewhere like Mokuti or Ongava just outside Etosha, you can fly there (they have their own airstrips) and the drives are all done in the lodge vehicles and go into the park as well as on their own property.

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I think it is only fair to say that if you use the outside camp option it will cost you 3 to 4 times as much,for accomodation and every day you will have to enter the park and have a 30 plus minute to any of the main waterholes, and you get to see the same as everybody else. Self Drive and self catering is the way to see Etosha, it allows you to do what you like.

 

Yes you're right, staying outside the park can be more expensive - although not sure how much more with the recent large increases in fees to stay in the park.

 

My preference is definitely self drive, and I stay at the three camps inside the park, and mainly eat at the restaurants there.

Staying inside the camp means you've got the waterholes to watch at night, and you're as close as possible to the other waterholes in the park.

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