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Namibia 3 week self-drive - Desert Elephants, Desert Lions, Himba, Etosha


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An almost 3 week self-drive safari camping trip through Namibia in October 2019, together with my fiancee Mega. Last year I visited Namibia and Botswana with my son Dio and best mate Stan and I promised Mega to bring her to Namibia “one day”. That “one day” came sooner than expected, as we were actually planning to go to Zambia. I had the entire trip to Zambia planned and booked more than 6 months ago, but unfortunately Zambian immigration repeatedly refused to issue a visa for Mega, so with only 5 days to go before our planned flight to Zambia I decided to cancel Zambia and change our trip to Namibia. I booked last minute flights and was lucky to find a rental 4×4 car with camping equipment, with such short notice. We didn’t make any camping reservations and decided to simply travel day by day and decide on-the-go where to sleep. This turned out to be the best decision and we had an absolute fantastic trip, with a couple of nights camping in the wild in absolutely stunning locations, in the middle of the Namibian bush.


Our itinerary:


Day 1 – Oct 3: Arrival Windhoek
Day 2 – Oct 4: Windhoek – Spitzkoppe (Spitzkoppe Rest Camp)
Day 3 – Oct 5:  Spitzkoppe – Rhino Trust Camp – Doros area (wild camping) 
Day 4 – Oct 6: Doros area – Twyfelfontein – De Riet – Huab riverbed (wild camping)
Day 5 – Oct 7: Huab riverbed (wild camping)
Day 6 – Oct 8: Huab riverbed – Sesfontein – Opuwo (Opuwo Country Hotel Campsite)
Day 7 – Oct 9: Opuwo – Sesfontein – Hoanib riverbed (wild camping)
Day 8 – Oct 10: Puros (Ngatutanga Campsite)
Day 9 – Oct 11: Puros (Ngatutanga Campsite)
Day 10 – Oct 12:  Puros – Palmwag Concession (wild camping)
Day 11 – Oct 13: Palmwag – Etosha National Park (Olifantsrus Campsite)
Day 12 – Oct 14: Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo Campsite)
Day 13 – Oct 15: Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo Campsite)
Day 14 – Oct 16: Etosha National Park (Halali Campsite)
Day 15 – Oct 17: Etosha National Park (Halali Campsite)
Day 16 – Oct 18: Etosha National Park (Halali Campsite)
Day 17 – Oct 19: Etosha – Windhoek
Day 18 – Oct 20: Windhoek – Johannesburg – Singapore – Bali



My Trip Report from last year's 4 week self-drive to Namibia &. Botswana: 


Edited by toine
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Spitzkoppe, October 2019


Day 2 – 4 October: Windhoek – Spitzkoppe

Our first destination was Spitzkoppe, as this really had become my fiancée’s dream, ever since she had seen my photos of my trip to Namibia and Botswana a year ago. And camping at Spitzkoppe is indeed absolutely spectacular with the bald granite peaks as backdrop, a sky filled with billions of stars and your nearest invisible neighbour at least a hundred meters away.

The famous Rock Arch at Spitzkoppe.
After “must-visit” Spitzkoppe our itinerary was completely blank and the only preparation I had done was design a rough route up north through Damaraland and onwards to Kaokoland, as much as possible off-road through mostly dry riverbeds and other wilderness, in search for particularly desert elephants and lions. The plan was to camp as much as possible in the wild, or at least in real bush campsites.

Day 3 – 5 October: Spitzkoppe – Rhino Trust Camp – Doros area

Our first full day in the bush and it couldn’t start better waking up in this spectacular setting! Today we planned to drive to the Rhino Trust Camp and either camp there or continue further north and camp somewhere in the wild, on our way to the Huab riverbed. We were not in a rush though…
Bye bye Spitzkoppe, we’ll be back!
From Spitzkoppe we drove to Uis, an old tin mine village. Here we turned southwest towards Henties Bay and then left the main road up northwest, more or less around the base of Brandberg, with 2500 meters Namibia’s tallest mountain. Little did we know that we would not see any other cars or people anymore until late next day…
Picnic at the foot of the Brandberg, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Welwitschia, a plant unique for this part of the country. It gets most of its moisture and nutrients from the air and grows extremely slow. This plant is at least hundreds of years old and some plants are over a thousand years old.
We didn’t really like the Rhino Trust Camp site and as it was still fairly early we decided to continue up north. The landscape rapidly turned increasingly wild, and so did the road.
Ever changing scenery, I never get bored of it.
Somewhere near the Doros crater, in the middle of extensive plains covered in granite boulders. A perfect place for our first night camping in the wild! 
Namibia at its best! What to say…. A perfect night  xxx

Day 4 – 6 October: Doros area – Twyfelfontein – De Riet – Huab riverbed

Today we were planning to drive to the Aba-Huab riverbed, where last year we saw our first desert elephants. We first had to cross the plains around the Doros crater though, towards Twyfelfontein. It was only when we got to Burnt Mountain that we saw again other people, the only person we had seen in the last 30 hours was a guard at the Rhino Trust Camp.
Early morning mist covered the plains, a scene I hadn’t seen before in Namibia. Early signs that the rainy season was not too far out anymore. It hadn’t rained here for almost 10 months.
Somewhere between Doros crater and Burnt Mountain. Honestly..? We were a bit lost and had no idea where we were exactly, but that didn’t matter. It was beautiful!  Following our GPS would get us eventually to Twyfelfontein.
From Burnt Mountain we drove into the Aba-Huab riverbed, in search of desert elephants. No luck this time, so we decided to drive further upriver to De Riet, apparently an area with a high density of wildlife and occasionally also desert lions.
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De Riet - Huab riverbed, October 2019

We arrived in De Riet and went to the local visitor centre, hoping someone could help us find desert elephants; 5 minutes later we drive upriver with one of the locals, who assured us to find them for us.
We didn’t have to search very long… Our first desert elephants! They give me goosebumps, every single time… 
What an awesome place this is; hard to believe there’s are hardly any others visiting this riverbed. The scenery is spectacular and wildlife is abundant; within an hour we did not only see desert elephants, but also oryx, springbok and giraffe. And you can drive pretty much anywhere you like, you’re not bound to any roads. Be careful near Camel Thorn trees though, the riverbed is often filled with branches with long and sharp thorns…
We liked it so much that we decided to spend more time in this area and asked our guide if he knew any good place for us to camp… Oh yes, he did…!
Fast-forward: this was a camping site straight from a movie..! I created a waypoint on my GPS, drove our guide back to De Riet and then returned to our camp site for the night, just as the sun started to set.
Our campsite at the foot of a massive granite ridge, next to an ancient cave used by the bushmen. 
Diner in a cave used in the past by the traditional bushmen; the cave’s ceiling is covered with black soot from fires and at the back of the cave the bushmen left some rock paintings.
Another perfect Namibian night, camping in the wild under the stars somewhere in the Huab riverbed, far away from the nearest other people. The bushmen knew where to hangout!

Day 5 – 7 October: Huab riverbed

Early morning we drove straight to a couple of nearby sand dunes. We had passed these the day before and thought it would be a perfect place to wait for sunrise.
From the dunes we drove back to the Huab riverbed, to try to find again the desert elephants and explore some of the smaller riverbeds and sand dunes in the area.
The dry riverbed was home to quite a lot of giraffes. They weren’t very skittish, I guess because the locals from De Riet regularly let their goats graze nearby.  
We regularly came across large flocks of ostriches.
Time to spend some time with desert elephants again! We knew the direction they had gone the other, so it was fairly straight forward to find them again.
Feeding on one of their favourit fruits, tamarind.
A day earlier we had promised some of the kids in De Riet we would come back to visit the village. A big bag of lollies was much appreciated and a great ice-breaker.
The village kitchen. The village is regularly raided by desert elephants in search for food, so the village food supplies are mostly kept centrally. Easier to defend… 
All goats are now kept in a single large enclosure with a iron fence, covered with thick canvas. This is agains desert lions, which regularly broke into the more vulnerable traditional individual family goat stables, sometimes killing dozens of goats in a single night.  
A toilet, probably built by an ignorant NGO, destroyed by desert elephants.
Time for lunch. We had seen fresh lion tracks the day before and decided to stay away from the riverbed itself, with too many trees and bushes to perhaps overlook some lions. These few lone trees at the edge of the valley seemed perfect, but just when we wanted to get out of our car I realised that the ground under the tree was covered with bones and skulls…! And was probably the perfect place for lions to spend a couple of days with a kill…!
But, unfortunately, no lions!
After lunch, the moment I was waiting for!
The day before we were caught in a hefty sandstorm and our guide had told us that this time of the year in the afternoon the wind would start to pick up and eventually create a sand storm blowing through the riverbed. So this afternoon I planned to try to find a herd of desert elephants, as I visualised them walk into the sandstorm, late afternoon, in beautiful afternoon light… That sounded too good to be true… Almost!
Waiting for the perfect moment… A nice line-up, sandstorm and afternoon light. Easier said than done.
And then it happened…!
I got so excited that I simply couldn’t hold my camera still and mostly forgot to check settings but, hey, these are not bad! 
Again, what an incredible experience!
I tried to sneak up to this flock of ostriches, from behind some sand dunes, but they somehow found out… Or was it the elephants..?
Time to find another place to set up camp. This time we wanted to be closer to the riverbed and perhaps see some wildlife pass-by at night. We still somehow wanted to stay on a safe side as well, and this riverbank turned out perfect!
Completely exhausted from the excitement of the day we decided to call it a day and enjoy some sundowners at the edge of the Huab riverbed, which with the setting sun and sand blowing through the riverbed literally seemed to burn. A perfect end to another spectacular day in the bush and great place to spend the night. We did see a pair of jackals pass by just after sunset, but that was it.

Day 6 – 8 October: Huab riverbed – Sesfontein – Opuwo

We woke up early, as the riverbed was covered in a thick mist! The sun started to rise and after the spectacular setting the day before I was hoping to perhaps find the elephants again, this time with some mist and sunrise…!
Sunrise, mist and the Huab riverbed – perfect start of the day! Almost… Unfortunately the elephants were nowhere to be seen, but that means I have to come back one day, for that picture which is now stuck in my head… 
We found the elephants a bit later further upriver, when the mist had given way for sand. 
OK, in elephant body language this means: “you’re in my way, you have to move”. And so we did… Slowly.
We said goodbye to the Huab riverbed and made our way to Twyfelfontein for a quick fuel stop and onwards to Sesfontein and the next riverbed, the Hoanib.
North of Palmwag we saw these beautiful Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras on the side of the road.
We arrived in Sesfontein around lunch time and the plan was to continue to the Hoanib riverbed. Unfortunately we had made a mistake by assuming there was an ATM in Sesfontein. Their was not… We didn’t have enough cash. Our next destination was Puros, so we had no other choice than to drive to the nearest ATM, which was in Opuwo, a more than 2 hours drive away… I was hoping to be able to drive to Opuwo and back to at least Sesfontein, and then have an early start the next day, into the Hoanib riverbed.
Once in Opuwo that was a bit too much asked for; we were tired, decided to do some shopping and spend the night at the Opuwo Country Lodge. An excellent place and we did not regret the little luxury of a good shower and normal toilet, the first in 5 days…
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Peter Connan

Lovely trip report!

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@toine Great TR, and those elephants in the sandstorm are great in every aspect.

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Thanks so much for posting! Looking forward to the rest of your report. 

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Really enjoying your TR, you certainly found the Namibian wilderness and had it all to yourselves, what an amazing experience. The photos of the desert eles in the dust storm are very special. 

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Hoanib Riverbed, October 2019


Day 7 – 9 October: Opuwo – Sesfontein – Hoanib riverbed

We left Opuwo early morning for Sesfontein, taking a bit more time than the day before, to admire the gigantic Baobab trees along the road. It’s quite a spectacular sight!
Less than half an hour west of Sesfontein you see the Hoanib riverbed valley open up in front of you. It’s hard to miss. And as soon as you leave the gravel road you know you’re in for some serious off-road driving…! Here and there the riverbed consists of half a meter deep white sand powder and it almost feels like driving through water. You don’t want to get stuck here and you have to be very careful not to hit anything hidden under the powder or perhaps drive into a hidden trench… Not for newbies!
We passed the recently opened Elephant camp, I guess a good alternative starting point. The riverbed narrows to only a few dozen meter and for the first time we see water flowing in the river. The muddy riverbanks are covered in thick high reed grass and quite challenging to navigate. Dozens of dead cows laid around in this part of the valley, not a nice sight… But clear signs of how hard life can be here.
Lunch in the middle of the riverbed. We hadn’t seen much wildlife yet and I was getting a bit worried that we may have left the Huab riverbed too soon…
Less than half an hour after our lunch things started to change and look a lot better.
I was really worried too soon…! We caught up with this large herd of desert elephants, including a young baby of just a month old. Despite the baby they were very relaxed and it seemed they didn’t pay much attention to us. 
Mom clearly keeping an eye on us…!
Time for an elephant nap, so we decided to drive ahead, knowing we’d see them again later that day.
As there was plenty of wildlife in the area we decided to stay and catch up with the elephants in the afternoon.
Not easy to get to, but a beautiful viewpoint with 360 degrees views of the Hoanib riverbed. We really enjoyed to look into the riverbed from above and see herds of elephant, giraffe, oryx, springbok and flocks of ostrich make their way through the valley.
We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon around this area and already looked out for a safe place to camp, a bit away from the riverbed itself.
The herd had caught up with us. Mom tried to encourage her baby to forage for some roots, but I think that was a bit too soon…
Suddenly we ran into a herd of panicking springbok, clearly spooked by something… We drove onto the sandy riverbanks and sure enough, we soon found fairly fresh lion tracks! Would a dream come true…? I had spend a lot of time reading about them, and their distribution, and I had chosen our route of these couple of days with deep in my mind the hope to see these elusive cats…
Even this giraffe was clearly weary of danger.
We followed the lion tracks, which clearly led in and out of several patches of bush, but eventually into some bush where no tracks led away from…! Would the lions be sleeping in those bushes..? We couldn’t see anything from the car, but I was almost sure they were… I marked the place on my GPS and the plan was to come back later, around sunset, hoping they would come out…
The sun started to set; we were hoping the elephants would come this way.
We didn’t have to wait long! I guess the elephants also knew there were lions in the area and with a baby elephant it was much safer to spend the night away from the riverbed on the more open plains just north.
An increasingly spectacular scenery evolved… By now this herd was completely ignoring us and allowed us to slowly follow them, further away from the riverbed.
Too perfect… And time to leave the herd alone, hoping to find them again the next day.
We drove back to the lion tracks. It was getting dark fast we decided to just wait in the car for it to get completely dark. So there we were, in the small sand dunes on the Hoanib riverbank, patches of bush all around. Engine off, flashlights ready, adrenaline slowly increasing. An eery silence… I thought “no way”… What are the chances to actually see desert lions? But there are fresh tracks nearby…!
It was almost dark. All of a sudden I thought to see a dark vague shadow slowly move in front of our car… It was too dark to see what it was… I switched on the lights of the car… Oh my god….
We couldn’t believe it! Right in front of our car, a big female desert lion! She stood still, looked at us and continued her walk. Twenty meters further she decided to lay down, in the soft desert sand.
A second female lion appeared, a bit more skittish. She didn’t like the flashlight, so we tried not to bother her.
We spend about half an hour with the two lions. They initially moved slowly through the dunes, regularly laying down and at one stage chasing a springhare. They got clearly more and more into hunting mode, and it was time for us to leave them alone… What an unforgettable experience!
We drove to what we thought was the safest spot to spend the night camping, away from the riverbed and surrounded by a sea of sand. We had dinner around a campfire, while every 5 minutes I scanned the area with my flashlight, just in case…. Another perfect day and night in the Namibian bush!

Day 8 – 10 October: Hoanib riverbed – Puros

First things first! Back to where we saw the lions last night! Well, it didn’t take long to find their tracks. We followed them, to only find out that he had followed our car tracks, to literally the edge of the riverbed itself, a few hundred meters away from where we had camped… I guess they were curious, but not curious enough to cross the open plains, completely exposed.
Tracks on tracks.
We followed the lion tracks for an hour, but eventually lost them… Time for breakfast, keeping a close eye on the surrounding bushes…!
And sure enough, the herd of elephants made it back into the riverbed. We spend some time with them and then decided to make a move, towards our next destination.
We said goodbye to this friendly herd of elephants, which we had now followed for about 24 hours. What an absolutely incredible experience. I could probably do this for weeks! And we’ll certainly be back for more.
Today we wanted to continue through the Hoanib riverbed and then drive north to Puros, through the so-called Puros Gorge.
The plains between the Hoanib riverbed and the Puros riverbed further north are a spectacular land of nothingness. I believe these are the Ganias plains, but am not sure.
Arriving at the Puros riverbed.
The Puros Gorge. During the dry season the riverbeds in north western Namibia look completely dry, but water is actually flowing fairly close under the surface and here and there reaches the surface.
Our campsite for the next two nights, the Puros Ngatutanga Camp. What a spectacular location, on the edge of the riverbed. Hot showers, toilet and a kitchen setup, what a luxury! No electricity, but that was no problem.
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2 hours ago, Treepol said:

Really enjoying your TR, you certainly found the Namibian wilderness and had it all to yourselves, what an amazing experience. The photos of the desert eles in the dust storm are very special. 

Thanks @Treepol it's an amazing experience...! Was supposed to go again next month, but I guess we'll have to postpone a bit...

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7 hours ago, mtanenbaum said:

Thanks so much for posting! Looking forward to the rest of your report. 

Thanks @mtanenbaum, coming..! Over the next few days..

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Puros, October 2019


Day 8 – 10 October: Puros

We had chosen Puros mainly because we wanted to visit a traditional Himba tribe village. Also the campsite was a very nice place to relax a little and enjoy some of its comforts, while still being completely in the bush.
A traditional Himba village, near Puros. This is not a tourist destination and people live here as they’ve done for thousands of years. There were only a few women and children when we visited. It turned out that most of the men work weekdays in nearby Puros. Also most of the kids stay in Puros to go to school and usually stay with family. They all come back for the weekend.
A traditional Himba village consists of a few different small huts, each with their own purpose.
A Himba woman preparing a traditional perfumed red paste, Otjize. The Himba women use this on their skin and hair, against sunburn and simply to look more beautiful. The paste is a mix of red ochre, butter, fat and scented with myrrh.
A daily morning ritual. Son takes care of the back.
The best souvenir of all…? The aromatic mixture of fragrant wood ash and herbs! The Himba burn this mixture and “bath” themselves in the perfumed smoke.
We left the village and decided to explore the Puros riverbed. Elephants roam around here as well, but the day before we had seen a lot of giraffes and we wanted to particularly see more of them.
This giraffe really has a completely different pattern than all others. I’m not sure whether or not this is a different species…
Mega loves giraffes, but it’s not easy to get anywhere near them. Particularly when outside the car…
We spent midday and lunch relaxed at the camp, fo a change. In the afternoon we decided to explore another part of the Puros riverbed and to go watch sunset from a huge granite rock outcrop in the middle of the valley.  
In the distance the traditional Himba village we visited this morning. How isolated can you live…!
The Puros riverbed. We’ll be back, to explore further upstream, northwards towards eventually the Epupa Falls, at the border with Angola.
Sundowners with an awesome 360 degree view over the Puros riverbed!
Back at our camp we were surprised by this rather relaxed giraffe, who was casually wondering through the campgrounds. A perfect end of the day.
What else do we want… Well, we were hoping for some elephants to pass by, but they didn’t. You can’t have it all…. 
Last photo of the day, with an UV flashlight. It turned out there were dozens of scorpions hiding in the bark of the tree in the middle of our campsite.

Day 10 – 12 October: Puros – Palmwag Concession

Today we were heading for the Palmwag Concession, where we wanted to camp inside the concession, rather than outside. But first we wanted to see some more giraffes.
And that was Puros, land of giraffes and Himba. Beautiful scenery, hardly any other tourists. It’s a little bit a wild-west out there; not an easy life for the locals, as there are not many jobs. So the locals spend most of their time hanging out in few local bars and the only little shop in the village, often drunk…
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Sorry to hear that your next trip has to be postponed and hope that you can soon make plans for another Namibian adventure. 


What a fabulous desert lion sighting, you were fortunate to find these hardy animals in such a large wilderness.


The scenery around Puros is amazing, especially with the addition of giraffes.

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Tremendous report so far, really enjoying following along.

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Awesome report and excellent photo's thanks @toine - really enjoying this.

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Marvelous trip report @toine When exploring the riverbeds, was most of this off track?

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Very cool trip report!

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On 6/8/2020 at 6:06 AM, Treepol said:

Sorry to hear that your next trip has to be postponed and hope that you can soon make plans for another Namibian adventure. 


What a fabulous desert lion sighting, you were fortunate to find these hardy animals in such a large wilderness.


The scenery around Puros is amazing, especially with the addition of giraffes.

Thanks @Treepol ! Yes, we know we were extremely lucky with the lions; I had done quite a bit of research in advance to determine our best chances, but this seemed beyond luck..! The giraffes around Purros were indeed amazing and the relative open scenery made them stand out even more..!   

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1 hour ago, Paul B said:

Marvelous trip report @toine When exploring the riverbeds, was most of this off track?

Thanks @Paul B. Actually most of the time we stayed on track in the riverbeds, but did occasionally explore off track; particularly when we were following the elephants, and when we searched for the lions. Never really far away from tracks though, as I won't call myself an off-road expert...! 

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Bravo @toine  what an exciting adventure!-and what splendid photos especially of the elephants-really enjoying your report, thank you

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On 6/10/2020 at 1:27 AM, Towlersonsafari said:

Bravo @toine  what an exciting adventure!-and what splendid photos especially of the elephants-really enjoying your report, thank you

@Towlersonsafari you're soo welcome! More coming soon.

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Palmwag Concession, October 2019

Day 10 – 12 October. We drove from Purros to Sesfontein, completing our loop through the Hoanib riverbed, the Ganias plains and Puros Gorge. From Sesfontein we drove back south to Palmwag.
Breakfast in the bush.
A change of colour.
Again a spectacular scenery and at times quite a rough road, but a comfortable drive compared with the riverbeds.
I had visited the Palmwag Concession a year earlier. It’s not very rich in wildlife and the roads are mostly incredibly bumpy, as you mainly drive over loose rocks. Its red scenery is as spectacular as unique and I wanted to share this with Mega. I also wanted to camp in the wild inside the concession, hoping to perhaps see Black Rhino, which still roam freely in the concession.
It turned out that camping inside the Palmwag Concession is very straight forward: you just get a permit at the entrance, they give you a simple map and point out where to camp, and where not, and off you go. 
Again nothing spectacular in terms of wildlife, except some zebra, springbok and oryx. We did see some elephants, but from great distance.
We were too late to reach one of the more remote assigned camping sites, so we decided to camp just somewhere in the middle of nowhere, away from any water source, as we didn’t want to disturb any wildlife coming out for a drink at night. The almost full moon made for a beautiful sky, a nice end to a long day.

Day 11 – 13 October: Palmwag Concession – Etosha

A big day ahead, as today we would drive to Etosha, the final destination of our journey. I had been to Etosha a year earlier and couldn’t wait to show Mega around!  But we first wanted to search for Black Rhino, as seeing them here in this mars-like landscape would be something… 
No, not a sunrise. A moon set..! Just when the sun was about to rise though, on the complete opposite side. 
Bush toilet. It wasn’t easy to dig a hole in this rocky terrain…! And in case you want to know: you burn your toilet paper first, and then you carefully burry everything, not leaving any trace.
And that was Palmwag. Despite relative little wildlife and poor roads its red landscape is unique and the chance so see Black Rhino in such a unique scenery will probably make me come back again one day…
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Etosha - part 1, October 2019

Day 11 – 13 October. On our way to Etosha, via the Grootberg pass and Kamanjab. We didn’t have any reservations, as the park was long fully booked. The plan was to either camp in the wild somewhere near the Galton Gate, the park’s western entrance, or try to get an overflow place at Olifantsrus Camp, about 2 hours passed the Galton Gate. 
Some unique scenery en-route to the park.
At one of my favourite waterholes, Jakkalswater, where elephants never disappoint.
We arrived early afternoon at Olifantsrus Campsite, without reservation. Fortunately there was still place on the overflow places.

Day 12 – 14 October: Olifantsrus – Okaukuejo

The day before the lady at Olifantsrus was so kind to check if she could book us a place at Okaukuejo, which was supposedly fully booked. She couldn’t get through via phone and eventually forced a booking through the online system. We were really thankful, as we really wanted to spend the nights at the waterholes.
Our first lions in the park, just next to the road on our way to Okaukuejo.
At Okaukuejo we made sure all was ok for our 2 nights there, and off we went to check out the nearby waterholes. 
Ground squirral.
Yellow mongoose.
Always a favourite, the honeybadger!
At Olifantsbad there was a dead rhino and a male lion deep in the bush. We had been waiting for the lion to make a move, but that didn’t seem to happen any time soon. So we decided to make a move back to Gemsbokvlakte, one of my favourite waterholes. Last year we saw a lion with 3 cubs and 5 bat-eared foxes, all at the same time.
A black rhino and the best daytime sighting I’ve had. It turned out that many more were to come…
And then this white rhino showed up… Black and white, both at the same waterhole! This one had its horns cut short, and was wearing a tracking collar on its leg.
A nice sunset at the Okaukuejo waterhole, but no animals… A bit disappointing. At night a few black rhino visited the waterhole, but all together it was a very quiet night… Hopefully our second night would be more rewarding.
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Etosha - Part 2, October 2019

Day 13 – 15 October: Okaukuejo

Today we decided to first check out the waterholes to the west and then slowly move to the waterholes east of Okaukuejo.
The first rain had arrived and the park was full with puddles of water. The animals clearly enjoyed this. 
Black-faced impala.
We had more luck this night, and plenty of black rhino came for a drink, even a few mothers with babies. At some stage there were 9 rhinos in and around the waterhole, truly spectacular!

Day 14 – 16 October: Okaukuejo – Halali

Today we were moving to the Halali Campsite, my clear favourite in Etosha. Not only because of its waterhole, located a bit away from the actual camp, but also because of the area itself, which is quite diverse in scenery as well as wildlife, compared with the area around Okaukuejo. It was also nearest to the area where last year we found cheetah, which was now again on top of our wish list…
A good start of the day!
This spotted hyena was following the male lion, at a safe distance…
And half an hour after we left the male lion we were surprised by this female, followed by 2 large cubs, and coming direct at us, crossing in front of the car just a meter away, just awesome!
The Halali waterhole.
A black rhino marking it’s territory.
We ended up spending probably almost an hour with this beautiful rhino, quietly following him from behind, down-wind. Eventually we had to rush back, to not miss the closing time of the gate at Halali.
The evening passed by quietly and we decided to relax a bit at our campsite, only spending a little time at the waterhole.

Day 15 – 17 October: Halali

Today we had one target on top of our wish list: cheetah. And I thought to know exactly where to go look for them…
White rhinos on the run.
This ostrich complete ignored us and walked along with us for at least a hundred meters, less than a meter away from our car. 
Lions at Okerfontein, another favourite waterhole of mine.
On the actual Etosha pan. 
I didn’t mention anything about the heat… After all, it was mid October.. Well, we managed a lot better than some of the animals. Most trees had lost their leaves, so even finding shadow wasn’t always easy…
Black rhinos in full camouflage…
Back at Halali Campsite, as usual just in time at the gate, at sunset. No cheetahs today… Tomorrow was our last full day in Etosha. It reminded me about last year, when we finally found 3 cheetahs on our last day in Etosha. Would we again be that lucky…?
An awesome first night at the Halali waterhole. 
And this is how our second day at Halali ended, we couldn’t have wished better. The sheer diversity in scenery and wildlife makes Etosha really a must-visit destination.
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Etosha, Part 3, October 2019

Day 16 – 18 October: Halali

Today was our last full day in Etosha and we had only 1 target on our mind: cheetah. I was convinced that the day before we simply didn’t find cheetah because of the lions hanging out in their area. As the lions had moved on a bit was hopeful we had more luck today.
Not a bad start, 3 white rhinos..!
Yes, we thought this huge bull elephant had died… But it fortunately turned out he was just having a nap. 
We had been driving back and forth along the same road for a couple of times now… And then, all of a sudden… Yes, Cheetah! And best of all, a mother with 3 adorable kittens.
Mother cheetah was continuously scanning the horizon, as the lions of the day before couldn’t be far away.
It was getting increasingly hot and mother cheetah did her best to provide a little more shadow for her kittens. I knew one thing for sure, that she was not going to stay here and had to make a move soon. So we moved our car towards the nearest area with some shadow, knowing that she’d head that direction.
Not all cheetah kittens are equal… And not all survive. This one was clearly ahead of the other two.
We had spend about an hour with these cheetahs, when they finally disappeared into the bush… Again, what an awesome experience and how satisfied I was that we found them, on our last full day in Etosha. Cheetahs: check!
Look at those legs… Why is it that elephants sometimes copy each others position..?
We had just enough time to check out Naumses waterhole. When we arrived the sun was almost gone, and not an animal in sight. Then all of a sudden this lone female came over the ridge and made for an awesome end of the day.
Our last night in Etosha, at the Halali waterhole. And what a night it turned out to be! These 2 mothers were introducing their calfs to each other, look at how little the one on the left is! Rhinos have to entirely follow their senses of smell and hearing and it was very obvious a tense moment, whit a lot of grunts, back and forward moving and even some wild charges at each other. It all ended up peacefully. 

Day 17 – 19 October: Halali – Windhoek

Today was our last day and we had to go back to Windhoek. We had a couple of hours in the early morning and decided to go look for lions, one more time… We had seen a few lions earlier around Salvadora waterhole, so that’s where we were heading for.
And with a little back and forth over the plains we finally managed to position ourselves right in front of where these 2 male lions crossed the road. One of the Halali camp rangers told us that these 2 male lions were trying to take over a nearby pride, and it was indeed obvious these guys meant business!
And just when more cars arrived the guide from Halali Campsite was so kind to tell us where the females were hanging out: Sueda… Wooshhh…. I may have speeded a little bit! 
And sure enough…! They were at Sueda.
Cuteness overload…
It was time to go; we had to leave for Windhoek and catch our flight home, early next day. We couldn’t have wished for a better finale of our holiday. Etosha really is something… And I can’t wait to go back. Sooner than later: July 2020 🙂 

Next page: some video...!


Edited by toine
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So, that's all for the report of last year...! Our third trip was planned for next month, but that's not going to happen, as it seems. If you like to see more trip reports, check out my report of an almost 4 week self-drive safari to Namibia and Botswana.



I'm going to post a few videos from the riverbeds, here's a first one. I'm not sure about the video quality here, maybe on Youtube it's better...


This is in the Huab riverbed. We had been following this herd for a few hours already and it was increasingly obvious that they accepted our presence, at closer and closer range. It was still not easy for me to simply not drive away and keep a distance... This time I decided to not drive away. We were on the side of the riverbed and not direct in the middle of their path. We always had our engine off when not driving. And as you notice, at this occasion I even stopped taking photos, and not make any noise or movement anymore. You don't want to experience this anyway through your camera view-finder...!!! When you respect them, they'll respect you. More videos to come!



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