Jump to content

Namibia 2012


Recommended Posts

I've been a bit slack on ST lately so have lots and lots of reports to catch-up on.


However, when I saw a Mr J TR I immediately thought: woohoo! Not read it all, but loving it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great TR, Jochen. As with your others, excellent info on the lodges, logistics etc - priceless resource for others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for a honest appraisal of the Himba visit: the view from the room is amazing, but seems a very barren landscape.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The view from the room is amazing, but seems a very barren landscape.


Well, it's Namibia.


To be honest, before departure I thought of Namibia as "sand sand sand sand"

Now I know it's "rocks sand rocks rocks"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part 5: Etosha



We left Damaraland after lunch, to drive to Etosha.


We were hardly off the Grootberg mountain when we were pulled over by a guy waving a red flag. We thought "they must be grinding the road", but no. The chap actually just wanted to warn us about the road being flooded 20km further on and said "keep right when you go in and you should be OK". Now, we did that road the day before, much further than that, to get to the Himba. There's no flowing river. So my immediate reaction was "what is this?" I tried to get away asap, thanked him for his info, and put the car back into gear (I had left the engine running). After all, you could never be too sure. Maybe someone was sneaking up to the vehicle to rob us, although I never heard of such thing in Namibia. But then he popped out some paperwork containing names, country of origin, and license plate info, of all the vehicles that he "helped". The last column showed how much NAD they gave him for his fantastic info. A scam! And a very obvious one. :D


I just made clear that I wasn't the fool he took me for, and drove on. But a couple seconds later I realized I should have taken the papers from him, as if to fill them in. And then I should have said "I'll give this to the police, that way they know how much money you took from them, and you're going to have to pay it all back". Arg. Too late for that. Lousy brain. Anyway, I hope someone does that to him some time in the future. I got a feeling he's always in about the same spot, which is about 5-10km from Grootberg Lodge entrance. It's not as if these guys can travel around a lot (no car). So he must be from a town nearby, and there's only one road.


A few kilometers later a woman was standing next to the road, signalling us to slow down. Our first accident. In the ditch of a dry river crossing, a car just like ours but type "bakkie", lay on the top of it's head. In the middle of the road. The contents of the trunk was spilled all over the road. Most of it was put next to the road, but their food was not, as it was spoiled anyway. All the passengers were standing next to the road. I stopped and asked if they needed help, but they said everyone was OK, that a phone call had already been made, and that someone was already on his way (I assume with another car). They asked me to drive on, as it was a dangerous place to stop. Indeed, in that ditch the cars were only visible when you were almost on top of them.


This accident was a good reminder to take it slow, and not do silly things. Obviously they lost control while going downhill. Their tracks went from left to right, then back left onto the bank, and that's where the car toppled over.


So we drove on. The landscape became flatter. The road became more straight. And fences became more apparent. And also; we saw huge storm clouds in the distance.


Our final destination in Etosha was actually Onguma, a private reserve close to Etosha's eastern border. But since driving there in one day would be too hectic (the regular roads to the southern border + a drive to Etosha to pop out in the east) we decided to stay overnight near Etosha's southern border (Andersson's Gate). That way, we also optimized our game viewing time in the park itself; the next day we could drive through Etosha from south to east, and spend the whole day just doing that.


Our lodge, just for one night was Etosha Safari Lodge. Sun Safaris had described it as having basic but clean rooms, very good food, and the perfect location (as to not lose much time getting to the park the next day). 10 mins before we got to it, it started raining. Big fat drops, but not that much. In the distance, over Etosha it seemed much worse though. We saw lightning, heard the thunder rumble in the distance. And by the time we got to the lodge, a nice rainbow. I had imagined taking one of those dramatic "huge storm pictures over Etosha", or pics of animals being soaked, but it was not (yet) to be.


The lodge was exactly as Sun Safaris had described it. This is a room;





I think they got about 90 rooms (little houses on a huge plot). Indeed it was a bit basic. So was the bathroom (and certainly the sink). But we did like the fun thing they did with the shower:





We took a shower and then went to have dinner. On foot to the main lodge was about 10 minutes, our house being rather far in the back. To our surprise, we encountered two male kudu in the bush next to the path. They jumped away into the thickets. This is the main area of the lodge;




Lots of tables around an open courtyard. In that courtyard, some musicians came to play guitar. It's not sounds of nature, but better than the sounds coming from the road and the very noisy and big generator. The whole place was decorated with stuff made from old tires and old bicycles. Dinner was mostly buffet style (apart from the starter where you got two choices). The choice of food, and the quantity, was enormous. Idem with breakfast in the morning; it was massive. I caught a glimpse of the cook; enormous and massive are adjectives that suited him as well. But the man sure could cook delicious stuff.


We left asap in the morning, even almost forgetting our packed lunches. We wanted to be in the park as soon as possible after the gate opened, but had already overslept.


In the park, it was very clear that it had rained a lot over night. Puddles everywhere. We drove west at first, and visited some of the waterholes, but all were empty. Animals had no need to go look for water at one of the waterholes, as water was everywhere:




I think as a result of this, our first two hours in the park were rather disappointing. I know the early bird catches the worm. But in our case the worm was taking a bath and heaving a drink, and was not to be caught.


Well, we did see some animals, like the regular plains game and the odd jackal. In strange settings too. Dead grass is yellow, but now that grass was wet from the rain so it was darker in color:




We also drove over a snake. Over, not on! Even though I was driving something like 40km/h, I had not seen it in time and could only avoid it by going over it. By the time I had stopped, it was gone.


So those first two hours were a bit quiet. I know that area had a lot of rhino, but those mostly only pop out in the afternoon I think, when they decide to take a bath. That morning, they must have been grazing from the still wet leaves, somewhere far away from the roads.


When we drove east, things improved. It got more dry (although it was obvious that it had rained there as well, the quantity must have been less). And animals were starting to show themselves. I think the fact that in the morning not many animals showed themselves may have had also to do with the temperature being rather low. The rain had cooled off everything and everyone. Now, animals were warming up again. Or at least it looked that way. We had many good sightings after that, but no "big 5" yet. Here's a couple of fun shots:








My wife needed to use the bathroom, and we stopped at a pick nick spot half way between Okaukuejo and Halali. But the toilets were absolutely horrendous there, so we drove on. We did not understand how they could be so bad. The ones at Okaukuejo had been OK. I drove to another spot that said it had toilets (on a map I acquired at the entrance of the park), only to find out that they weren't there anymore. In the end, I had to drive all the way to Halali. So we lost at least one hour, just for a toilet stop. Grrrr....


We had sped past a number of waterholes, but there was no time to go back as then we'd not have enough time to see all remaining waterholes. So we drove on, further west. After Halali we also decided to take the roads further from Etosha pan, and we soon realized we should have done this sooner, as game was much more prolific there.


We were driving towards a water hole that everyone seemed to be leaving, and when we arrived there were no cars and no animals. And just then, elephants started popping out of the bush. They drank, bathed, played in the water and finally took a dustbath next to the waterhole. We stayed with them, and during that whole time we were there alone, with the exception of one car that joined us when the elephants were almost gone. Our first luck.













We drove in, found a nice place for lunch, and drove even further west. We were now past half-way the reserve, and so was the time we had that day.

Nice sightings of wildebeest, giraffe, oryx, pale chanting goshawk, black chested snake eagle, red hartebeest. But most fun was a secretary bird and some zebra.










Most seen species was springbok but I guess that's no surprise.





Some more birds;









We visited one waterhole after the other, with mixed success. Looking back on that day, we really saw a lot. Just no lions or rhino. We spoke to other people but they hadn't seen any either. Before we knew it, it was time to get out of the park. This was our last sighting:




Coming up next; Onguma, and more Etosha. Hopefully tomorrow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So how did the maps work out for you?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well after two weeks it felt strange to use one! :P


But this one from the park, I'm glad I had it, as it was the only place with a lot of roads, and the only place where I absolutely did not want to waste time finding my way.


Other than Etosha though, I don't see the point for maps in Namibia. I managed without, and never lost my way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is wonderful Jochen. I've missed too many updates - didn't realise they were there - and so I've only caught up to Grootberg so far. Really nice to hear about Grootberg. Seriously beautiful area, and it sounds like an excellent alternative for people who used to like Hobatere. I'm with you about the Himba and that you shouldn't try to make them into something they aren't - I think people should be allowed ONLY wide angle lenses in these villages. ;)


I am not sure about the comparison of seals and elephant carcasses, but agree the smell is certainly not going to make me retch. That looks like a really good tour around Walvis Bay - what good value. In fact everything you booked so far has been good. Excellent planning.


Your shots are reminding me how very, very beautiful parts of Namibia are.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thx Paul.


@ all; sorry for not having continued yet. Next batch of pics is ready but writing the text; I need to find one or two hours of free time for that. Today I got home too late (had someone in the office for a job interview). So hopefully tomorrow. Will post some more birds today. Then off to bed because I'm as tired as Mancini in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's nest".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK on with the show.


Etosha, part 2


So that evening we popped out of Etosha at the east gate near Namutoni. Right at the gate there's two other gates on each side of the road. The one on the right is for Ongava, the one on the left is for Onguma, where we were staying. So basically you got three fences+gates there, all leading to... wild areas. Weird, to say the least. Why is an animal prohibited to cross the road? After all, that very same tar road is also there between Etosha's gate and Namutoni. And there animals can do as they please.


A guard checked our names and told us to read the signs. We followed a double fence line on our left side. Obviously the border between Etosha and Onguma. At one point the fence turned slightly left, away from us. The road continued straight on. Onguma has like 4 or 5 lodged so we followed the signs for our lodge, and got to another fence which we had to open and close ourselves. Why was that fence there??


Finally we arrived at our lodge, which was Onguma Tented Camp. We got a cold drink and a warm welcome from a chap named Peter (1/2 of the management couple), and settled in to room 1, the room closest to the lodge restaurant. Not that it mattered because it's really quiet and about everyone has got the same view.


The place looked fantastic. All buildings form half a circle around a small waterhole. Three rooms to the left, two to the right, and the central building in the middle. This central building contained the typical dining room, reception, and salon. It had a big deck in front, a,d to the left an unfenced boma with firepit and deck chairs. This is the main building:




Very neat. But the guest units were even better. They were very roomy, with a big bathroom in the back, and an outdoor shower.









My favorite part;




I'm typing this, and get a sting of "homesickness" straight away: outside here it's minus 5 Celsius wright now.


As said, all rooms had a great view of the waterhole:






The waterhole is certainly not as busy as the waterholes inside Etosha. You will probably see impala, springbok, zebra, giraffe, warthog, etc... but the waterhole can also be deserted for hours on end. We haven't seen elephants there. Maybe the thing is too small for them, or maybe there simply arean't any on Onguma's plots(s). According to the guide you also won't see rhino as they much prefer the waterholes and mud wallows at the back of Onguma reserve, away from where the lodges are.


One other animal you will most probably see is their cat (I forgot the name):




Beautiful creature. Half wild cat, half Abyssinian.

Edited by Jochen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our guide at Onguma was Eric.


At the first opportunity I asked him more info about all the fences. Here's the gist of it:


The fence at the back of Onguma is a low one (1m high), and obviously not electrified. So basically they cannot keep dangerous animals in. But that does not mean there aren't any. Elephant come and go as they please, as they can trample the fence. But that does not happen a lot. My wife thinks she heard Eric speak of either 2 or 4 bulls, and that's it. There are lions too. Again these got in through an elephant-made hole in the fence. But the latest status is that 3 females came in but left again after a while, and only 2 males stayed behind. We did not see them, but saw one of their kills.


So why don't they drop the fences between them and Etosha, and then move those high fences to the back of the private reserve? Well, that's the plan, but apparently to do so you need the approval of all your neighbors, and there's one cattle farmer left in that area who does not want to switch to eco-tourism. So he doesn't want lions next door. And as long as he objects, the fences cannot be moved. As a result, Onguma is fenced off from Etosha, which in turn means that the number of game in Etosha is higher than in Onguma.


In other words; here's an area with the potential of Sabi Sands ...but they're not quite there yet. The lodge tries to make the best of it, but as a result of there being less game, they prefer to do game drives in Etosha, rather than on Onguma soil. Even though Onguma is 3000Ha in extent. The reason is, of course, that tourists want to see some of the big 5, and at Onguma, with such low numbers on such a big size, the chance of seeing those animals is very low.


So in the morning, they drive to Etosha. The bad news is that it takes about 40 minutes before you enter Etosha gate. The good news is that their drives yield much more great sightings than you would have by driving on your own. The reason is that they know where all the animals hang out, and that they share sightings with other Onguma and Ongava vehicles, over the radio. For example; 10 minutes in our first game drive we saw a rhino (but it ran off, so no decent pics), and another 10 minutes later our first lion on this trip.




Another thing they try to do is to get creative. They fenced a separate area of the reserve for a rhino breeding project (so that's why we had to pass another fence - apparently 2 Onguma lodges are in that fenced area where the rhinos are). The project is a success, and their numbers are up to 18 now. So they offer afternoon game drives focused on those rhinos, and on the project. You get a lot of valuable info, but it is not guaranteed you find the rhino. In our case, we didn't get to see it. We were waiting at the mud wallow where they come after sunset, but got soaked by a thunderstorm. Bad luck...


Other afternoon activities are regular game drives and night drives. But compared to the morning game drive, or compared to the game drives we are used to in the private reserves of Kruger, these were really quiet. The guide tried his best, for sure. But if he stops at a termite mound and then goes on for half an hour, about the way they live, all the species that exist and their differences etc... for a newbie it's OK, for us it was a tad boring.


I guess the question you're all asking is; "so was Onguma worth it then, or not?"


The answer is: yes, it was worth it, the room, the food, the camp itself with it's little waterhole being much more "intimate" than the big lodges in Etosha itself etc... definitely a very good choice to stay. And if we would go back we would book it again. But we would make some changes. You see, we expected game drives like in the private reserves of Kruger, with the ability to go off road etc. But now that we know it's not like that, we would not pre-book all activities anymore, and in the afternoon I think most of the time we would head out into the park using our own vehicle again. The morning game drives, we would still do with the lodge. As I said; there's some advantages to these drives as well. Enough talk. Let me just show some pics of the morning game drives we had with guide Eric.







He was in a hurry, ran past the car and kept on going



(yes we did get to see more rhino. This was one half of a couple. But we saw some more. None of them close to the road though. So this is our best picture.)





This jackal treated us to a kill, a bit later. He surprised a dove that was drinking from the water. My wife got it on video. I'll see if I can add it later.





















nibble nibble






Two bulls on the elephant highway. That was cool.



Three or four more lion sightings as well, not like we are used to in Kruger (spoiled as we are) but good enough for some keepers. No cubs though.


At noon, on the day we had the rhino drive in the afternoon, the sky looked like this:



So in the afternoon, while on that drive, we got soaked and Eric had to give us ponchos. No rhino, but another "experience" we had never had so far while on safari.


Not nearly as dramatic as I would have wished, but I did get some storm/rain pics out of it:



So no rhino on that Onguma drive, but we did get to see a giant eagle owl really close.


Not the best pic but it was taken in nearly complete darkness. So it took quite a bit of editing.


After that drive; the welcoming camp fire...



And watching animals at our "private" waterhole.


Edited by Jochen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Something more about our guide Eric, before I move on to the next part;


Apparently he is from the Caprivi strip. When I asked him why he took a job so far away from home, he told me that he used to work at a place called Lianchulu. It's on the opposite side of the river, across from Linyanti/Kwando. He said they had a good thing going there. Basically, it was not one lodge but three. One was aimed for self-drivers and fly-in tourists, two others were almost permanently filled to the brim with customers from OAT. They offered game drives in Mudumu reserve (had to look that up, lol), fishing trips, cultural visits to the community nearby, and regular boat trips. Typically guests would almost always stay 3 nights and do all those activities. Apparently for OAT the lodge was a perfect fit; they combined it with the camps across the river. And as Lianchulu's prices were very reasonable, the average price per night (of the whole of the safari) came down.


Then the lodge was sold to Wilderness, and it seems it all went downhill from there. If I interpreted Eric correctly, it sounded as if the newly appointed manager changed a lot of stuff. Prices went up. And simple things like snacks with the sundowner drink were no longer possible. I want to stress that Eric was not angry or anything, while telling his story. He just seemed utterly disappointed in Wilderness. Especially because the staff saw it all go wrong and the management did not listen to them. They got less and less customers. And in the end, the lodge stopped operating.


So now Eric hardly sees his wife and kids, being so far away from home.


On this whole trip, this was the 3rd time I heard not-so-positive Wilderness-related news. The other two being:

- the management couple that worked at one of the Kulala lodges, saw that most beds remained empty, that some of those lodges were closing down, and then they decided to start a place of their own.

- the guide at Grootberg that used to work at one of the Wilderness lodges in the area that closed down as well, and who said that this was because of their high prices.


I don't know what the conclusions of all this might be.

Maybe that the price-model of WS@Botswana simply does not work in other countries.

Maybe that the price increases we have seen over the last years in Botswana are needed to compensate for the lack of success elsewhere.


Or maybe something else. But one thing is for sure; the perceived WS success we see here stems, at least in part, from their well-oiled marketing machine, but for some locals I have met the reality is very different. :unsure:


Coming up next; CCF!

Edited by Jochen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was in Caprivi with Biosphere Expeditions in 2008 we went to Lianshula Lodge on our day off for a river safari on the Kwando. The lodge was friendly, the safari enjoyable and the day a success. We also had an arrangement to use their workshop for minor maintenance work on our Land Rovers.


The next year we were told that Lianshula had changed hands and scruffy volunteers were not welcome there any more by the new management. It was also the year of the big floods with the Kwando over a metre higher than normal with some camps along the river inaccessible by road. So occupancy was well down in 2009 anyway.

Edited by JohnR
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey John.


I see. Well for that guide it was clear that WS management was the origin of the trouble. I want to stress that he did not say this because he was angry with them and looking for vengeance or something. He just seemed very disappointed. He's from the community nearby and lots of family and friends lost their job.


To me it's strange that these things happen. At the moment, I'm reading "Game Ranch management" (http://www.kalahari.com/books/Game-ranch-management/632/37694952.aspx) which is one of the "school books" for guides & lodge owners etc. By coincidence, I just came upon a section where they speak about the conflict areas that can be experienced when delivering services to customers. One of the conflicts discussed is between guide and management. Basically the cause is on one end the customer wanting more, and on the other end the management wanting to to give less, and the guide being torn between the two. A solution is also given; "listen to your guide, he will convey to you what the customers expects and where the service falls short, so you can correct - and you must correct as happy customers are the only thing that in the long run keep you going". So it's in the book. Lodge management 101! I just don't get it...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Part 6: CCF


Our last stop on this was a visit to the Cheetah Conservation Fund. We wanted to check for ourselves that our sponsored animal was doing fine. And more important; we wanted to check if the money was well spent.


We opted for a lodge in the neighborhood called Frans Indogo Lodge. This lodge and CCF are close to each other. In fact, their "back yards" touch each other. Unfortunately at this point in time you still need to drive back to the tar road near Otjowarongo, to the ntake another gravel road to CCF. A rather long drive (I think it was about 1,5hrs) if you know that the back roads connect and would take like 10 minutes. But they are not open to the public. Tip for CCF (to get more people to come visit from Frans Indongo); invest in some signposts and open up those back roads please!


Actually it's a tip for Frans Indongo Lodge as well as it would mean a better service for their guests. Plus, if they can return rather rapidly to the lodge, it means they will have more time for other activities such as the afternoon game drive, or just some time well spent on the sundeck with a nice bottle of rosé.


Frans Indongo's rooms are either located in one of the main buildings (so these are regular rooms, sharing walls with other rooms), or are small stand-alone houses in a very green garden.






The main part of the lodge; a reception with curio shop, a swimming pool, a restaurant/bar/salon (rather big), and a fantastic sun deck with recliners. From there you can watch the animals as they come to drink at the waterhole. What animals? Well, apparently Frans Indongo Lodge has got huge areas on both side of the tar road, and most of it is only unfenced towards the outer borders (ic roads), but in this case: the view from the sundeck is towards a small plot on their reserve where some species are kept that you would not normally see a lot, at least not as free-roaming animals, in Namibia. I think "Small plot" still means about a 1000 hectares though, as I could not see fences anywhere, not even with my binos.


Species we saw at the waterhole; waterbuck, blesbok, bontebok, and of course springbok.


The sundeck is definitely a big plus. Meals; idem. Room as well. The only thing we thought was a bit sub-par was the game drive. They provide game drives on their farm, but it was conducted in a huge old Bedford truck that made as much noise as an average tank. Plus the guide could not stop the engine, as then he had trouble starting it again. On top of that, all the people in the truck were newbies, having just arrived from Germany that afternoon. As a result, they all jumped up when something was to be seen, and the guide did not tell them to sit down. We were in the back rows with two people (a women from Holland and one woman from Germany) and could barely see anything. The German woman kept referencing a book calles "Hummeldumm", which is apparently a funny book about really dumb tourists in Namibia.


Top sightings; black wildebeest and a ground squirrel.






(taken at 400mm because they always ran once the guide revved his engine).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On to CCF.


We left very early the next morning to get there in time for the Cheetah exercises. Nice surprise; while driving from the lodge to the tar road, we saw kudu jumping over the fences that were 2m high. We knew they could do this. But to actually see them do it is still something else. From standstill straight over in one hop. Jaw dropping.


At CCF, we met some other tourists that came to visit that day, including a couple that won a trip to Namibia in a CCF fundraiser. We were escorted to where the cheetahs are kept.




There's apparently three groups of cheetah.


First of all, there's the "ambassadors". These are very well accustomed to humans. Often they have spent at least part of their lives being fed by humans. As such they cannot do without human help and can never be re-wilded. But since they pose no threat to humans they are used for all kind of fund-raising purposes, and to attract attention for the plight of the cheetah. For example; they are taken to schools so children can learn about them and get interested in protecting them.


Secondly, there's a group of wild cheetahs. Simply put; these are the most likely candidates to be re-wilded, and these cannot 100% be trusted around humans. But that does not necessarily mean that they are able to fend for themselves; for this a huge 3000Ha enclosure is used, where they are tested to see if they can hunt. A guy is camping there with them to follow their progress. When no test is in progress, they share a smaller enclosure, just like the other groups.


A third group sits somewhere in between the first two.


Since Soraya - the cheetah we sponsored - was in this last group, CCF had made sure that it was this group that would be exercised that morning. We were escorted to the pen where the machine with the lure is, told to always stand (never sit or crouch) in a line, and then the cheetah were released. It was quite fun seeing their hunting instinct being triggered.










I did get some great shots out of it, but be warned everyone; it's all over very quickly. You have to know that a cheetah needs to catch it's breath after it has been running so soon enough they all retire in a shady area, under some bushes or something. So please do make sure you have the right lens (I'd opt for a fast lens with limited zoom range, like a 70-200mm, and certainly not a wide angle or a 400mm tele). And make sure the cam is set in the right mode, and that there's plenty of space on your cards.


In my opinion, there's much more to get out of this, both for photographers and for CCF. For example; a trench 1m deep with a sun roof above it, dug along the line where the lure passes, would yield fantastic action shots at their eye-hight. I'm sure lots of shooters would pay for that. I surely would.


As I was a sponsor, they gave me the lure afterwards! Thanks CCF! I


Next we were shown around the premises by a guide, but when we came to the clinic, it was their main veterinarian that explained everything.




After that, the "ambassadors" were being fed. Pretty funny to see that all cheetahs dislike sand on their meat, so they all run at the bowls, grab a piece of meat, and then run around to find... an empty bowl to eat the meat from while not getting sand in it.




After that it was time for lunch. Dr. Laurie Marker had kept us company during some of the activities described above, but the real surprise is that the four of us (Mira, me and the trip-winning couple) got to have lunch with her. I must admit it was the absolute highlight of my trip. Her knowledge is immense, so she had our undivided attention. We surely learned a lot.


And when it comes to wildlife preservation and extending the eco-tourism potential of Namibia, it seems I was on the right track. As, when I ranted about all those fences and the uselessness of them, she exclaimed she wanted to hire me on the spot. :lol: The thing is that a lot of land owners seem to be very possessive about their own animals, but that they often do not see the bigger picture in terms of potential for big predators and the eco-tourism customers that come to see them.


After lunch we did the "Bellebenno" drive. It's called that way because "Bellebenno" is the plot you drive on. There's plenty of grazers on here, and some cheetahs. But the numbers are nowhere near those in Etosha, and they don't get to see the cheetahs a lot. Still, we saw plenty of nice things. Particularly the bird life was quite amazing. But not going to bother you with more pics as it would be deja-vu from the Etosha-shots.


Instead; some more shots of the last group of cheetahs; the "wilder" ones. These needed to be fed as well. So we drove into their enclosure, and soon enough they all popped out of the bush and followed our vehicle.




We got to feed them from the back of the vehicle. I took some pics when they were bickering for their food.




Much too soon, it was time to drive back to our lodge. But we did not leave before plundering the curio shop, and before making plans for...


a CCF event that involves you and the whole SafariTalk community. So stay tuned! More news coming soon! ;)


Maybe next year, it will be you on a pic like this.



Edited by Jochen
Link to comment
Share on other sites



Candlelight, a chilled bottle of rosé, two glasses, and the light from Frans Indongo's waterhole in the back.




Hope you enjoyed the show! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fantastic TR Jochen!


Sounds like Frans Indongo is a reasonable place to spend a couple of nights on the drive back to Windhoek from Caprivi. Do CCF offer accommodation?


Look forward to the CCF-Safaritalk 'event'.







Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great to see a report on CCF. I also sponsor a cheetah there (Kiana) but have never been to see her.


As a non-driver it is not so easy to get around the large distances in Namibia and the CCF location is in the opposite direction from where my volunteer work currently is (Okambara Elephant Lodge near Gobabis).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a superb TR, Jochen. It's informative, thoughtful, beautifully illustrated and thought provoking all at the same time. Loved the CCF pics and yup, you got some neat shots there. My favorite is the one of the cheetah following the jeep in a line. But they are all great. Can't wait to hear more about the ST-CCF event.


If not too nosy, what was the approx cost of this rather long trip, including all the special activities and excursions you had booked?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great to see a report on CCF.


Well, my report is not nearly as complete as I would like it to be.


For example, I completely forgot to speak about what CCF is doing, why, and how easy or difficult that is. So for those still reading; the impression we had is that CCF is doing extremely well, and is extremely successful in what they do BUT that does not mean they have it easy.


The thing is this; people donate money for the cheetahs but all wan to see visible results. They want to see well fed cheetahs running free in large open spaces, so to speak. Of course, that is what CCF wants as well, but it's hard work to get to the successful end results. And that hard work is much less visible and eats away a lot of the funds as well.


What I mean is; it is very clear that CCF is very successful in saving cheetahs, even newborns. Even unborns (extracted from the womb of their dead mother)! It is also very successful in providing all basic needs for those cheetahs; food, exercise, and a decent amount of space. And it is very successful in re-wilding them. Finally, they are also becoming reasonably successful in teaching farmers how to protect their animals. But the toughest problems now, in order to get the number of cheetahs in the wild is a) convincing ranch owners to restock cheetah, and B) convincing the government to adapt rules and regulations in favor of the cheetah. And how do you show donors that effort (and thus money as well) needs to go to those things? Not easy.


Currently, there's some land owners that would welcome cheetahs back onto their land, but cannot do so because of government (over-)regulations. For example; huge electrified fences are needed, but in fact sometimes unnecessary and for the plot owner a huge cost that he is not prepared (or cannot afford) to pay.

Or sometimes the ranch owners don't want cheetah as they say the animal may escape, cause damage elsewhere, and then the ranch owner might be deemed responsible. Ranch owners seem to be by definition very stubborn people, in the way they work, and in the way they think. So CCF has a hard time convincing them that a cheetah will not escape. The owners will say "they use the holes that are dug under the fence by warthogs". And then CCF will tell them to use those little "warthog doors". These hatch-type doors are put on warthog trails and warthogs then just seem to run through them without giving them much thought, but any other animal does not recognize the door and just sees the fence so they stay inside. Even big cats like cheetah. The doors are even described in the latest issue of "Game Ranch Management" (Botha/Du Toit), but still the ranch owners are very reluctant to use them.


So CCF is working on these issues as well but progress is slow.

They are giving it all they've got and they are moving in the right direction.

But this type of issues goes way beyond a donor's interests.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jochen, thanks for the additional info.


None of it surprises me as I have been volunteering on game farms since 2007 where cheetahs have been one of the primary study animals (though I never saw one until 2012). The farms I have been on do not fence the cheetahs in so have a constant wastage of their collared study animals when they stray onto the land of nearby cattle ranchers and are shot.


Cattle ranchers hate the cheetah more than any other big cat or hyena so a game rancher who does keep cheetahs needs to be doubly sure they can't get out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jochen, what about Waterberg?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy