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 Nazarana - Namibia Report
 

Nazarana - Namibia Report

 


Namibia Educational Report
28 April – 06 May 2011



28 April – Safari Club Guest House – JNB airport option
•    Approximately 5-10 minute complimentary transfer to/from OR Tambo
•    Looks a little dodgy as you drive towards the driveway but the property is secured quite well
•    Very warm welcome from the staff
•    Option to have dinner in the dining area or your room
•    Before you go to your room they take your departure flight details down for your departure transfer
•    The property has lovely gardens with a small pool
•    Rooms are standard and cosy
•    Have aircon, safe, tea/coffee making facilities, selected Dstv channels, hairdryer  
•    Bathroom has shower only – no bath
•    It’s quite noisy with regards to the planes
•    Is an ideal airport overnight that is worth the place
•    Dinner is about R140 for a 3 course dinner (salad, bread and butter, fish/chips/veggies, malva pudding and ice-cream)

29 April – Day 1 – Windhoek to Kalahari
•    My SA Express flight landed half an hour early into Windhoek – the airline did not advise that we were now one hour behind SA time
•    I was met by our guide Joe Lingongo from Namibia Tracks and Trails
•    Name board had Wilderness Air signage on it
•    Given a full document pack with a personalised itinerary and applicable brochures plus a wonderful road map of Namibia
•    Tracks and Trails vehicle was a quantum 11 seater, clearly marked
•    Windhoek airport to Windhoek town is approximately 40km driving
•    Windhoek town is pretty much like Durban central – very urban with the tall buildings, shops etc Lots of familiar names like KFC, Nandos, Woolies, Checkers
•    Protea Hotel Thuringerhof is on the main street In Windhoek – Independence Avenue
•    Very nice lunch packs were provided on route (chicken/apple/peacan nut wrap, salad, crackers and cheese, apple, chocolate brownie)
•    Windhoek to Kalahari Anib Lodge was about 6 hours driving with various stops along the way

Kalahari Anib Lodge
•    Staff are very friendly and warm
•    I would say that the lodge is a good 3 star in terms of grading
•    A lot of the public areas were quite dusty but then again what else can you expect in the desert
•    All rooms were standard with mozzie nets, peaceful sleep, aircon and sherry in the rooms
•    All rooms have no baths – only showers
•    There are options for 3/4/5/6 sleeper chalets
•    Main areas are nice and spacious – reasonable size pool
•    We did a game drive with this lodge and only saw a few animals (springbok, squirrel, oryx, ostrich, warthog)
•    Had very talkative/noisy German students on the game drive but the ranger did not advise them to be quiet and thus hindered the game viewing
•    Lovely sundowners on top of a little dune (drinks, nuts, chips)
•    Possible Problem: We were staying at Kalahari Farmhouse which is about 30km from Kalahari Anib Lodge. After the game drive with sundowners we had to drive back to our lodge and the road has no street lights. It’s very risky for guests to do this especially after they have had a few drinks and the fact that some animals could be wandering on the road
•    There are no TVs in the rooms but the main area has one
•    Cellphone reception was not a problem
•    Very child friendly because of their chalets and the size of the property

Kalahari Farmhouse
•    Very cute set up where each room looks like a little farmhouse scattered across the gardens
•    All rooms have basic facilities (aircon, mozzie nets, peaceful sleep)
•    Décor is quirky with old frames and an enamel basin etc.
•    Gardens are lovely with a small pool
•    Mozzies were a huge problem here even though we used repellent and we were attacked at dinner time. Although it’s a non-malaria area, I think the lodge could have had mozzie coils around the dining area to make dinner more pleasant
•    Dinner was edible but not enjoyable as the meals did not seem like they were professionally cooked (cabbage pies, fishy fish and very thick steaks that could not be chewed)
•    No TVs in the rooms, no safe, no hairdryers
•    Cellphone reception was not a problem
•    My opinion is that it’s a basic 3 star property

30 April – Day 2 – Kalahari to Sossusvlei
•    After a nice breakfast we set off at 08h00 via Mariental to Sossusvlei
•    Arrived at Desert Homestead our accommodation for the night at around 12h00
•    All roads were gravel and quite bumpy
•    Travelled through the Namib Naukluft Mountains – very beautiful mountains
•    After a prebooked and expensive lunch (salad and stuffed aubergine – R85) we head off to do some site inspections in the area

Desert Homestead
•    Cute rondavel style lodge where each room is a little hut
•    Rooms were very nice and bathrooms have shower only
•    Mozzie nets, peaceful sleep and doom come standard in each room
•    Each room looks onto nothing but the mountains – it’s a spectacular view
•    Small pool area ideal for sun bathing overlooking the mountains
•    There is a self-guided walk up to the mountains that is clearly marked – about half an hour to complete
•    Horse riding is available on the property at a charge
•    I would say it’s a 3-4 star property
•    Can take kids but not in the same room
•    Cellphone reception was not a problem
•    No TVs in the rooms, no safe, no hairdryer – cameras etc. to be charged in the main areas  

Mountain Homestead
•    Cute, cosy little lodge at the top of a mountain
•    Road is terribly bumpy to get to this lodge!
•    Child friendly
•    Each room has its own private plunge pool with views of the waterhole at the bottom of the mountains
•    Very romantic set up suitable for honeymooners that want to get away
•    I would say that it’s a 3-4 star property  
•    Cellphone reception not too good
•    No TVs in the rooms

Kulala Wilderness Camp
•    Typical Wilderness camp - in the middle of nowhere
•    Tents are lovely – on stilts and with thatched roofs
•    Option to sleep on the roof of the bathroom to stargaze
•    Main areas are nice and cosy – lovely sized pool
•    Child friendly in terms of tents having an interleading deck
•    They have loo’s with views 
•    Cellphone reception not too good
•    Definitely a 4 star property
•    No TVs in the rooms

Kulala Desert Lodge
•    Closest to the dunes from the Wilderness properties
•    Have a view of the dunes in the distance
•    The lodge was fully booked so we could not see any of the tents but we were advised that they are similar to the Kulala Wilderness Camp tents
•    The exterior of the tents were identical to Wilderness Camp
•    Main areas of the lodge was lovely
•    This is the biggest of the 3 Kulala properties
•    Cellphone reception not too good  
•    I would say it’s a 4 star property
•    No TVs in the rooms

Little Kulala
•    WOW! This lodge was fabulous
•    The décor is earthy and unusual
•    Their lanterns were paper bags filled with sand and a candle in the centre
•    The staff were absolutely hospitable
•    The main areas itself were huge for a ‘little’ lodge
•    The rooms were stunning with their own day beds and outside lounge area, private plunge pools
•    The rooms also had a lounge area in the bedroom
•    Bathrooms were huge but no baths – only showers
•    Cellphone reception not too good
•    Definitely a 5 star property  
•    No TVs in the rooms

01 May – Day 3 – Sossusvlei to Swakopmund
•    A very early start to leave Desert Homestead by 05h15 in order to get to the Sesriem Gate before sunrise as Desert Homestead is 40km away
•    It was pouring rain and we prayed hard that the rain would stop otherwise the dune excursion was not going to be pleasant
•    The Sesriem gate opens from sunrise to sunset – there are no set times!
•    You have to get a permit first before you can actually drive into the park
•    The dunes were breathtakingly beautiful – something that you cannot actually imagine until you are there seeing it for yourself
•    The dunes were such beautiful shades of reds and oranges and you are not allowed to quad bike or drive on the dunes as its ‘virgin soil’ and your tracks could stay there for 100’s of years
•    The biggest dune is called Big Daddy or Crazy Dune and is 220m high
•    Dune 45 is exactly 45km from the gate and coincidently was the 45th dune on the list when researchers were studying the dunes. It is also the closest dune to the road for people to climb
•    Mama Dune is 105m high and we were ever so lucky to climb this one!
•    I would say that the climb is not for the faint hearted. It takes about 45 minutes for a fit person to get up and about an hour for an unfit person like me 
•    I huffed and I puffed and I finally made it and the view from the top is worth climbing 10 dunes
•    To get to the dunes itself from the parking area, only 4x4’s are allowed. If you don’t have a  4x4 then you hire one from Namibian Wildlife Resorts who have the permits and it costs R100 per person
•    Before the climb we had breakfast that was pre-packed – the lodge forgot that I was considered vegetarian/halaal and they put cold meat into my sandwich so I couldn’t eat it and had to have a cereal bar and yogurt instead. The mini cheddars were bacon flavour so I couldn’t eat that as well
•    NB: Closed shoes are an absolute must to climb the dunes as it’s a mixture of clay and sand which is quite a sticky combination when wet
•    After the dune excursion, we set off towards Solitaire for lunch. There was really only 1 bakery and a supermarket and a bar to get lunch from
•    We travelled via the ‘Go Pass’ and ‘Guab Pass’ which were very scenic mountain and river passes until we arrived at Walvis Bay
•    Walvis Bay was a cute little beach town with houses scarily close to the ocean shore!
•    From Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay was about 5.5 hours with the stops that we made along the way
•    The dunes of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund were far way smaller than those of Sossusvlei and were the normal beach sandy brown colour
•    We finally reached Swakopmund and I was pleasantly surprised
•    The town is so cute with its architecture and colourful buildings – easy on the eyes with not a shred of rubbish on the streets – filled with shops and restaurants, an aquarium and a craft market too
•    We checked into our accommodation for the night - the Central Guesthouse
Central Guesthouse
•    Devine, cosy little place in the centre of town within walking distance to pretty much everything in Swakopmund
•    Owned by Monica and Jockel of Namibia Tracks and Trails and they were there to personally meet all of us
•    Rooms were spacious, cosy with shower only in the bathroom
•    No aircon so it does get a bit warm in the room but they had TV with selected Dstv channels as well as a safe in the room, hairdryers
•    We had dinner with Monica and Jockel at The Tug restaurant which is literally a tug boat on land turned restaurant with sea views
•    The restaurant was a touristy one which specialised in seafood – the food was divine! And they are not badly priced at all

02 May – Day 4 – Swakopmund to Damaraland
•    After a lovely breakfast at Central Guesthouse, we left Swakopmund at about 08h00 and headed towards Henties Bay
•    Henties Bay seemed a bit odd to me as the houses and buildings are so urban yet the roads are sandy and gravel – it almost doesn’t fit
•    We stopped to see a ship wreck and got to take some pictures
•    We travelled via the towns of Uis and Khoryxas until we got to Twyfelfontein where we did a site inspection of Camp Kipwe
•    We then visited the Twyfelfontein Visitors Centre and the Petrified Forest
•    We finally reached our accommodation for the night - Damara Mopane Lodge

Camp Kipwe
•    One of those places that you can drive past 10 times and not know it’s there because it’s built into the rocks and from the road, all you can see are rocks and nothing else
•    The lodge itself is very nice but because it’s built into the rocks I think geckos and snakes will be a problem in the hot months
•    Not recommended for kids I would say because of all the steps and walkways and then again geckos and snakes
•    They have standard rooms and suites which are both beautiful
•    The bathroom and toilet is outside in the rocks – very smart but literally in the rocks
•    3-4 star property
•    No cellphone reception
•    Suites have TVs in the rooms as well as safes and hairdryers

Twyfelfontein Visitors Centre
•    Namibia’s first world heritage site
•    Is a tour to see the rock paintings that were made by the inhabitants of the area many years ago
•    Suitable for clients that are interested in history otherwise it might become a bit tiresome
•    NB: Should be visited early in the morning or late afternoon as it’s a 45 minute to an hours walk and it gets extremely hot
•    Entrance fees: R80 for foreigners, R60 for SA Res

Petrified Forest
•    Tree trunks that have fossilised and turned into stone
•    Apparently the tree trunks ended up there after flooding and due to a reaction they did not decay but instead turned to stone
•    This area is protected and it’s a criminal offence to remove petrified wood from there
•    This area is also home to many welwitschia plants that are over 200 years old
•    The plants take 50 years to bare flowers and then only can you tell if it’s a male or female plant
•    Entrance fees: R50 for foreigners, R30 for SA Res  

  Damara Mopane Lodge
•    60 rooms so a very big lodge ideal for groups
•    Each room is like a little house with its own scarecrow and vegetable garden
•    Vegetables grown are used for all meals
•    Rooms are huge but do not have mozzie nets or peaceful sleep – only doom
•    Bathrooms have shower only
•    They have interleading rooms for families
•    Fully disabled rooms as well
•    The pool is huge
•    They is a small hike to a viewing deck that overlooks the lodge – guests can take their drinks up there for sundowners
•    Dinner was buffet and very nice
•    Rooms have aircon but it’s quite far away from the bed itself and takes a while to cool the room down
•    Cellphone reception was good
•    Rooms have no TVs, no safes
•    I would say is a 3-4 star property

03 May – Day 5 – Damaraland to Etosha
•    Left Damara Mopane at 10h00 as it’s only a 2 hour drive to Etosha
•    Site inspections of Ongava Lodge and Tented Camp as well as Anderson’s Camp
•    Our accommodation for the night was at Etosha Taleni Village
•    Ongava, Anderson’s and Taleni are the closest to the Anderson Gate into Etosha

Ongava Lodge
•    Wilderness lodge – very nice and spacious public areas
•    4 rooms overlook the waterhole
•    1 family unit and takes kids from 6 years upwards
•    The lodge is not fenced
•    Rooms are spacious and have shower only in the bathroom
•    4 star property

Ongava Tented Camp
•    Also very lovely camp – not fenced
•    Takes kids from 6 years upwards
•    Tents are nice and spacious with shower only
•    Tents have doors and not zips
•    We had lunch here – food was great
•    Lounge area overlooks a small waterhole – saw Oryx and springbok
•    Small pool
•    Apparently in winter the lions come to play with the sofa cushions in the lounge!
•    4 star property

Anderson’s Camp
•    Were running the Children of the Wilderness Programme
•    All the furniture etc. had been removed even in the rooms
•    Has 20 rooms and seems really nice
•    Is the only fenced camp of the wilderness properties in that area
•    Hard to say what star grading they might be as we didn’t see what the lodge normally looks like

Etosha Taleni Village
•    Huge property
•    3 pools
•    Rooms are tented – clients can self-cater – does get a bit noisy with guests having a braai etc. at night
•    Each room has an outside table and benches, braai facilities, 2plate stove, bar fridge, sink with sunlight liquid dispenser
•    The tent itself is small as it’s just the bedroom with a cage-like headboard turned cupboard in the back
•    Tea/coffee making facilities, safe in the tent
•    Toilet and shower are outside and attached to the tent structure with branches forming the actual walls. The fact that you have no choice with this might upset certain guests as you almost have stage fright and wonder if anyone can see or hear you. I was not very comfortable with this
•    Torches are provided in each room so that guests can have additional light when walking the footpaths at night
•    Dinner was a lovely buffet where whatever meat option you want is prepared for you while you wait
•    Potato salad had a garlic and potato salad label but this had bacon in it. This was a huge problem for me as my dietary requirements were halaal and I had eaten the potato salad. This would have also been a problem for vegetarian and kocher guests. I was very upset

04 May – Day 6 – Etosha National Park
•    Entered Etosha via the Anderson Gate
•    Gate times are from sunrise to sunset – no set times
•    Entrance fees: R80pp for foreigners, R60pp for SA Res
•    Cannot drive off-road in the park, only on the tar and gravel roads
•    The park itself is huge and the best times to go are between July – September as its winter and the animals are always around the camps and waterholes
•    We couldn’t see much of the big game as the bush was very thick due to all the rain that they received
•    Saw elephants in the distance and a baby one closer to the road, giraffe, Oryx, springbok, kudu, wildebeest, red hartebeest, vultures, hawks, hornbills and lots of other birds – bird watchers paradise!
•    The park itself has a lot of waterholes which will be ideal for game viewing in the winter months
•    The Etosha pan which is normally quite dry was actually looking like the ocean
•    Did site inspections of the 3 camps within the park: Okakeujo, Halali and Namutoni
•    Exited the park from the Von Lindequist gate to get to our accommodation for the night – Mushara Bush Camp

Okakeujo
•    Very nice and very big resort – nothing like a camp
•    Have standard rooms, bush chalets and waterhole chalets
•    Have camping sites as well with full electricity and bathrooms
•    Huge pool, braai areas, shops, a sunset tower
•    Rooms are of a 3-4 standard and were very nice – all with showers only

Halali
•    Stopped here for a light lunch
•    Restaurant was extremely busy as most people use Halali as a stop in between their journey inside Etosha
•    Have standard rooms, bush chalets – shower only
•    Honeymoon suites have a glass section of roofing over the bed for star gazing as well as private Jacuzzis
•    2 family units are basically like houses with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, lounge etc
•    Nice pool, braai areas, shops, watering hole
•    Have 58 camp sites making it the largest in Etosha
•    3-4 star property

Namutoni
•    Used to be an old fort
•    The fort now houses the restaurants and shops and the viewing deck to the waterhole
•    Have 2 pools
•    Have standard rooms and bush chalets – bathrooms are very nice – shower only
•    Elevated wooden walkways to all the rooms
•    Closest camp to the Von Lindequist gate
•    3-4 star property

Mushara Bush Camp
•    Huge public areas – elegant décor
•    Very child friendly – lots of games and toys for the kids in the lounge area
•    Tented accommodation but very nice and smart
•    Bathrooms had shower only but you had a smart stool in the bathroom to sit on if need be and a rubber mat to place on the floor to stand on
•    Mozzie nets, safe, hairdryer in the rooms
•    Walkways are well lit
•    Had a boma dinner which was lovely although it was quite cold outside
•    This is a 4 star property

05 May – Day 7 – Etosha to Okahanja
•    As we left Mushara Bush Camp, we stopped to do site inspections of Mushara Lodge, Mushara Outpost and Emanya Lodge
•    We stopped at the local craft market in Okahanja. Lovely crafts but very expensive so you need to bargain to get the best price. Lots of little shops and the locals are quite insistent that you visit their shops
•    Arrived at our accommodation for the night - Elegant Farmstead

Mushara Lodge
•    Recently renovated and looking stunning
•    Big property – very modern
•    Have standard rooms and 2 villas – tea/coffee, safe, hairdryers  
•    Have baths and showers in the rooms
•    Villas are little houses sold on fully fully inclusive and very upmarket
•    Family suite is also a little house with 2 bedrooms, kids play area outside, cot in the room
•    5 star property

Mushara Outpost
•    Tented camp very similar to Mushara Bush Camp
•    Pathways are paved as compared to the gravel of Mushara Bush
•    Very modern as well
•    Tents are nice with the same facilities as Bush
•    4 star property

Emanya Lodge
•    Super modern – new lodge – not completed 100%
•    Complimentary foot spas for the guests
•    Bar stools are inside the pool
•    Bright funky colours and pictures
•    Lots of water features
•    Rooms are nice – showers only
•    3-4 star property
•    Ostrich and crocodile on the property

Elegant Farmstead
•    Cute, cosy farm turned into a lodge
•    Lovely modern touches amongst the homely farm style
•    Rooms are huge and bathrooms are nice – shower only
•    Elevated deck for dinner
•    Boma area
•    Nice pool and bar area with wine cellar
•    Did a sundowner drive in the farm and saw eland and kudu
•    Had dinner on the deck and the food was lovely
•    4 star property in my opinion

06 May – Day 8 – Okahanja to Windhoek
•    Left Elegant Farmstead at 10h00 for Windhoek. Approximately an hour’s drive to the town and another 40km to the airport
•    Bid farewell to Namibia and its wonders

Namibia Tracks and Trails Guide – Joe Lingongo
•    According to Jockel was a very good medium range guide
•    Joe was absolutely awesome
•    He was very knowledgeable and funny
•    Told lovely stories and jokes to keep everyone going
•    By day 1 already knew what each person liked, didn’t like and wanted to drink
•    Always briefed us on what we were doing next and what to expect for the day
•    Drove very well and answered every question that we had