[Trip Album]

2017 Namibia Trip Report

Well the Kgalagadi didn't swallow us up after all.

We did have some firsts, quite hard rain when leaving Windhoek and also fog in Windhoek. Ben at Villa Violets hadn't seen fog in all the 10 years he's been living there.

And some seconds, another chipped windscreen which makes 2 years in a row that we've had to buy a new one for the trusty Hilux. We're not complaining as it only cost $106 USD but darn, we are careful and slow up and pull over when anything is approaching us. I will add though, that in 6 trips we haven't had a flat tire yet. Hope I didn't jinx our next trip!

So for a quick overview, this was our 6th trip to Namibia and we were in country 22 nights. Gemma at Discover Namibia planned and booked our trip and everything went perfectly as usual. We used Advanced Car Hire again and Carla arranged with the butchery next door for our 12 nights of Oryx steaks for our self catering in the KTP. The 4x4 Hilux truck took a beating and we did manage to break one of the connections holding the rear bumper onto the truck going into KielieKrankie. (The roads in general were pretty bad with the recent rains.) We were concerned that the whole bumper might fall off so we bought rope at TR and hubby tied it on. We were quite the laughing point for the rest of the trip. Everyone had to take a look and have a laugh. Advanced Car totally understood since we hadn't banged into anything and we were not charged. They have always treated us well and we will use them again next year.

Trip Lodging was:

We overnighted at Violets and walked to Joe's Beerhouse for dinner the first night. Both were excellent and a great way to start the trip. We have been doing this for the last 4 trips and will continue this tradition. On the way out of town we stopped at the Maerua Mall and shopped the SuperSpar and the bottle shop for supplies. We love this store as it has great produce, bakery and deli as well as easy parking. Hubby picked up the gin and wine at the bottle shop next door and we left town about 10am down the B1 in quite heavy fog.

We arrived at the Kalahari Anib about 1:30pm and relaxed by the pool. We had planned on staying at the Kalahari Farmhouse but it was closed for renovations. This was a nice second choice. Left about 8:20am for the Mata Mata gate and we arrived about 2pm with picnic lunch in route. FYI we could only travel at 60kmh on gravel per our contract with Advanced Car. The horn alarm would sound if we drifted much above 60.

One note of concern, we have always taken our own supplies into the Kgalagadi Park but this time they said that we were not allowed to take in meat, produce, firewood etc. The SA police was "concerned" that we would feed the wildlife but we only were feeding ourselves. I was totally friendly and agreeable and was willing to give up my produce but he let us in with supplies in tack. Not sure what was going on (a bribe?) but he did show me a printed sheet with all the items not allowed. I knew firewood wasn't allowed but they let people walk across the border into Namibia to buy meat so what is this about? I haven't seen any news of changes on the Sanparks website.

We added the 1 night at Mata Mata because we couldn't get in at Urikaruus. The river front chalets are wonderful and we would stay there again. It was a nice place to sort our luggage and do some prep work with the produce. It was also great to have a little AC while doing our work.

Now for sightings. We were concerned because there had been a lot of rain and puddles were everywhere. The valleys were very green and the Nossob side had tall grass. Sightings ended up being as good as our past trips at this time of year. But for all but 1 night, we didn't see any predators on our evening game drive which was very different than past years when mornings and evenings were fairly equal. We still went out every evening though and on that 1 night we just missed the 3 cheetah taking down 3 springbok and then the lions running in to take away all 3. We arrived at this point and watched the lions eat and then fight over the 3rd kill. The lion action alone was right by the road and pretty exciting. This sequence was reported on the Wild website.

Evening game drives did produced new born giraffe trying to cross the road- too cute, and bat eared foxes playing. I know there's more but I haven't looked at photos yet.

Urikaruus has been updated since last year with updated kitchen and shower and new ceilings. Kiliekrankie is still our favorite camp but the sightings are always good here. Grootkolk and Gharagab were new to us this year and proved spectacular. On our morning at Grootkolk we first had 3 female lions at the waterhole and then a lone wildebeest showed up. The lions attempted a hunt and missed but it was exciting anyway. Then they moved off and a cheetah was working her way to the waterhole. She suddenly took off at a dead run and coming in from the other side was a male lion. All this happened while drinking our coffee on the patio. Some of the other guests missed the whole thing as they had left on an early game drive. After that we headed out to Unions End and tracked lion footprints on the road for miles. We found the 3 lions at the picnic spot lying at the back of the bathrooms. We didn't get out!

I have to admit that I was concerned about the 4x4 track in and out of Gharagab. I am a nervous passenger and could imagine being stuck out on a dune overnight. Here's the deal, when there has been rain the sand is more compacted and easier to manage. In the dryer months they encourage guests to leave earlier in the day for the same reason. That last dune though is something else and there were 2 tracks up it with 1 looking dreadful. We managed it on the first try so all was good.

We were booked in for 2 nights at Nossob but 1 was all we could take. It was hot inside and the AC and fans go off with the power soon after dark. My solution was to open the windows and let the breeze in. That worked fine except the moszuitos came in too and drove us crazy the rest of the night. They didn’t seem deterred by bug spray. So next morning at reception I booked my return trip for 2018 and also changed my 2nd night for a chalet at Twee Rieveren. We have experienced our last stay at Nossob until they have all night power or screens on the windows. And FYI viewing was difficult around Nossob because of the tall grass.

We had a great cheetah sighting on the Nossob side coming out of TR with mom and 2 sub-adults hunting. We followed them for about an hour as they walked, drank, crossed the road a couple of times and finally hunted a springbok and missed. Then it was on to Kieliekrandie for 3 nights.

From KK we had a great sighting of mating lions at Kij Kij and also 3 cheetahs on a kill and walking to the waterhole with many photo ops. But our best sighting was when we were leaving KK on exit day. We spotted a lion right by the road in perfect light at the first waterhole. We watch awhile as she was looking for companions it appeared. We also kept hearing growling noises. Then she looked up and so did we. She had treed a male leopard and it was right above us. It was not a good tree to be in and he was clearly not happy. After about 2 hours the lion lost interest and the leopard came down and slipped away. What a way to end our visit to the KTP. In total after 12 nights in the park we had seen:

Because of the slow departure leaving the park, we didn’t get to Africa Safari Lodge outside of Mariental until about 4:30. We had a lot of puddle crossings and very dark thunder clouds. We ended up being the only guests as the other 8 expected guests couldn’t get through due to high water. We loved this place. It’s very modern which wasn’t appealing at first but it was also very clean, screened patio doors and the best food of the whole trip. Not sure if there are any activites so 1 night as a stop over was fine.

Next morning we were off to Zebra River Lodge. It had rained and we did have some “river crossings”. Nothing was too deep but enough to need to slow way down for every dip in the road. And this is where we got our chipped windscreen.

We stayed 2 nights at Zebra River Lodge. I had planned on doing some hiking but that never happened. The stone cottages are cute and we had 1 high up on the hillside so we just relaxed and people watched. Surprisingly both nights had tour groups of 12 and then 20.

The splurge on this trip was 2 nights at And Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. This is a lovely camp in a beautiful setting and we loved it. A few of the highlights were Petra, the astromoner on duty, sundowner drives and quad bike trips in the desert. Petra is a volunter from Australia and she made the stars so interesting. They have a huge telescope and she was willing to meet us at after dinner and again at 3am when the moon went down to show us more. We did after dinner but looked through our moon window over the bed later in the night. We also loved the quad bikes! We went twice in fact and straped on the action camera to get a little footage. This takes place out of sight of the lodge in some beautiful red dunes. We stopped often to see the small creatures in the dunes too. As you might guess service is impicable here.

Next up was Tsondab Valley Lodge. The second half of this trip was to experience beautiful scenery and to relax. This reserve was stunning in green season. In fact we finally did that hiking to see the peterfied dunes. We were the only guests and had a lovely pool to ourselves. Warning though there is limited power by generator and the rooms get hot. There answer is to sleep on the roofs and this was a real treat in fact a highlight!

Our last night in country was again spent at GocheGanas Lodge which is about 30 minutes south of Windhoek. It is a lovely resort was big beautiful rooms, great service and great food. For us it is the place to repack our luggage and get cleaned up for our 29 hour flight home to San Franscisco.

So all in all a great trip and I’ve already booked my nights in the KTP for next year. Gemma is putting the rest of the trip together for us.