In an effort to make Travelling Namibia (as a blog) more accessible to the general public and share Namibia from a traveller’s perspective, we have decided to share stories from recent travellers to Namibia. Unlike Trip Advisor and Booking Com that are based on a critique system, this will be more experience-related. Today we have our first story – thank you Freda for participating!
I am Scottish, my husband is Swiss
Why Namibia? We love wide open spaces, a night sky that you can see (except perhaps in Windhoek). The wildlife can be spectacular. South Africa is nice but too touristy. Namibia is also touristy, but you can get away from all that. People here know where South Africa is but when you say Namibia they tend to ask where it is. I, very selfishly like that.
We first visited Namibia in 1999. Before we met, my now-husband and I had both lived in South Africa, I for three years, he for 16 years, and although way back we had been to the Swamps in Botswana, neither of us had ever been to Namibia. We married and came to Switzerland. Eventually we decided on a Namibian trip, Part of the trip was to Camp Syncro. We flew up (back then unless you were very intrepid, this was the only way to go). We were only 4 people going including the pilot. Coming back we were 6 people plus a lot of photographic equipment. This was also the first time that we had encountered Koos Verwey. The whole experience was very interesting and we fell a little in love with the country. On the journey to Camp Syncro was Amy Schoeman, she was doing some photographs of the area and also of the Himba people. We were up north for only three days, but in this time experienced a lot. We came back to Windhoek and completed the rest of the trip which included Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon and driving down to Capetown. In 2002 we came again to Namibia, flew up north again to Camp Syncro but on coming back to Windhoek went to a different part of the country from where we had previously been in 1999. In 2014 we then came back again with a couple and their two children and went to Etosha, along the Caprivi Strip and eventually to Vic. Falls. On this journey we again experienced a lot, including coming upon what must have been around 200 elephants coming down to bathe and drink in the Kwando River. For a good hour there was nothing to be done except remain still and wait till they had crossed back into the bush. My heart was in my mouth a couple of times, but as long as you did not move suddenly, it was OK, In 2017 we came back to Namibia again. This time we wanted to drive up north to Epupa. We had discovered that Koos Verwey had moved to Epupa Falls.
We booked the journey (except Epupa) through a travel agent. Namibia in October is very popular with Europeans and not yet too hot. Unless camping, and even then sometimes, it is very difficult to just turn up and hope that you can get accommodation. We pre-booked accommodation and hiring a 4 by 4 Toyota Hilux 2.8TD. The travel company that we went with www.africadesigntravel.ch have travelled in the country themselves. We have used this company and the car hire people, Asco, twice, and both times they have proved to be very reliable.
Distance travelled this time, was 2700kms.
Sat. 7. Oct 2017 Windhoek to Frans Indongo Lodge ca 295kms (Going north)
Sun. 8. Oct 2017 Frans Indongo Lodge to Epacha Game Lodge ca 240kms
Tues, 10. Oct. 2017 Epacha Game Lodge to Etendeka Mountain Camp ca 280kms
Park 4 by 4 at Palmwag, picked up and driven into the concession area.
Thurs. 12. Oct. 2017 Driven back to Palmwag from Etendeka Mountain Camp.
Palmwag to Epupa Falls Lodge ca. 420-480kms.
Sun. 15. Oct. 2017 Epupa Falls Lodge to Camp Aussicht ca 260kms (Coming south)
Mon. 16. Oct. 2017 Camp Aussicht to Twyfelfontein Lodge ca. 260kms
Wed. 18. Oct. 2017 Twyfelfontein Lodge to Cape Cross Lodge ca. 330kms
Thurs. 19. Oct. 2017 Cape Cross Lodge to Spitzkoppen ca. 160kms
Sat. 21. Oct 2017 Spitkoppen to Windhoek ca 280kms
Frans Indongo Lodge : Good for an overnight break on going further.
Epacha Game Lodge : If you like luxury this is probably the place to stay
Etendeka Mountain Camp: for us was the best camp that we stayed at. It was a tented camp with a bush shower and a toilet and washing basin. The food was really good home cooking and delicious and a lot of wine !! The wine was also included in the price. After dinner we all went outside and observed the night sky, including the milky way, which was wonderful. I think for a lot of people luxury is important, but for us that does not belong in the bush.
Etendeka to Epupa Falls Lodge : An early start and a long drive, but we had taken a breakfast packet from Etendeka (very welcome) with us and at some point we stopped and ate this. Always had plenty of water, very important, as although the car had air-conditioning, when you stepped outside it was pretty warm! When you go over the speed limit (80km on dirt roads) there is a very penetrating « peep » sound, excellent on a straight stretch when you forget how fast you are travelling. We eventually got to Epupa Falls, having stopped to tank up in Opuwo, a story in itself, we were then a bit hot and sticky, but having a shower really helped and we went up on to the deck to have a sundowner and eventually eat. There was not much water at the Falls and the gentleman, (was that Gabriel ?) who showed us to the chalet explained why, but the setting. was quite something, and it was lovely to be able to sit and view Angola. Long ago we had flown over the Falls and then down the Cunene to Camp Sync ro, but of course this time we saw the Falls from a completely different perspective. We left Epupa Falls Lodge on the Sunday morning early and on our way beck to John from Epupa, took us to a Himba village. Again this was very interesting for us. To see how other people live. Unfortunately I think that as with the San or Bushmen, there will be no place for them. We went years ago to Intu Africa and left early feeling very dejected. These people have skills that we have not got, and yet there is no place more for them in our society.
Camp Aussicht was OK and somewhere to break the journey overnight on coming back from Epupa.
Twyfelfontein Lodge: This. I must say was a „highlight“ for me. I saw the Desert Adapted Elephants here. I had been told about them in Windhoek and the agent on knowing where we would be going, told us to ask at Twyfelfontein. I was very skeptical. We went on a game drive late in the afternoon and our guide said that the previous day he had seen the desert elephants, wanted to go back again and hopefully pick up their spoor and we could then follow them a bit. My husband stayed behind as he had picked up a tummy bug. I think we drove toward the Huab River bed, anyway about an hour. Wonderful scenery and then we came upon a group. I could not believe my eyes and was very excited as I had long wanted to see them, but thought I never would. In the group was a baby elephant, probably only about two weeks old, and it was wonderful to see how the older ones looked after the baby.
Twyfelfontein to Cape Cross via Skeleton Coast: This was for us a « first » We had never been to the Skeleton Coast before. Loved it, even the sometimes bleakness of it. This is part of the Skeleton Coast Park and you can go into once you have your ticket. When we eventually got to Cape Cross (and civilisation) it was a bit of a bummer, civilisation I mean !. I think I like Namibia so much because of the gravel roads, If they ever decide to tar them (highly unlikely) that will be a shame. But if something happens and you are really stuck, someone always comes along. We found ourselves also stopping when someone appeared to be having difficulties.
Cape cross to Spitzkoppen was also, at first quite a bleak drive, but again, in itself interesting. The first kms we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, and then we gradually saw ahead, way ahead, the first hills. We got a bit lost turning off for Spitzkoppen, but eventually got there. At first I was not enthusiastic, for my taste it was almost too perfect. But everyone on the staff was so nice and it did make a difference. However, this was almost the end of the journey and this was just as well.
Would we come back?
We would definitely come back again especially if Hosea Kutako Airport can sort out their problem!! We had to wait an awful long time, and I mean an awful long time, on entering the country. Fortunately the Asco car people waited for us, they knew the problem. Apparently a new check-in system was in operation and I think the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing. I presented my passport, the lady looked at it, gave a few things into her computer and gave me my passport back and said to go. My husband meanwhile, was at another check.in desk where he was asked to remove his glasses while they photographed his face, and they also asked where he would be staying in Windhoek. But that apart, I reiterate, we would definitely come again.
I think Damaraland is somewhere I will remember, for me there was something dreamy about it. The Skeleton Coast was so different, when I came back home again, I re-read „The Skeleton Coast“ by Amy Schoeman. The Desert Elephants, I really could not believe that I was actually seeing them.
All the different guides in the various lodges and camps were so knowlegeable, I think this is so important. I never really thought before what „the community“ means. But in Namibia certainly, it means involving the local people in what is taking place. John, our Himba guide at Epupa was himself a Himba so he knew what everything meant and could impart that knowledge to us. And Leo or Leonard, who drove like the wind to the Desert Elephants, you got the impression that it was one of his interests. And the guide at Spitzkoppen, I think he originally came from the Kalahari. Etendeka Mountain Camp is out in the wilds, but people come and work there, and they are local people who is great.
Reccomend to other travellers ?
We would definitely recommend it to other travellers, but to individuals, anybody coming on a travel bus is banned!! (We had to laugh at this!)
Would we do anything differently ?
Everything about our journey was good. We had no bad experiences. When we came in 2014 and went along the Caprivi, I thought I had seen it all. But this time, it was so different, this time it was more about the landscape, we saw few wild animals, perhaps ostrich, springbok and now and again zebra. This time it was about experiencing the great outdoors. If we came back again, we would probably take a different route, but we would not do things differently. Over time we have covered a lot of Namibia, but there must be corners that we have not been to. I think we would do the Skeleton Coast again, but in the opposite direction, and I would like to see Desert Elephants again, and go up north again. And I would like to see Cheetahs once again, but this is in another part of Namibia. And, and, and….