Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019





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  1. #1
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    Default Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Getting To Know Us And What We Planned To Do

    This is our first trip report so please bear with us, errors will occur but hopefully we will improve.

    Our names are John and Linda Marais, community name “Tedx2”, Ted is short for “sh*thead”. We are a retired couple, formerly Zimbabweans, but now Australian citizens. In 2015 we returned to Zimbabwe from Australia on a proposed 5 year working holiday, 4 years of work in Zimbabwe and 1 year touring Southern Africa. A trip to Kgalagadi in October 2017 changed our plans, we decided to purchase a Bush Lapa Baobab and the 1 year touring trip changed to +/- 3 years. We started the trip in July 2019 and in March 2020 Covid-19 brought about a temporary halt to our plans. We returned to stay with our kids on Thursday Island, a tiny 3.5 square kilometre island off the eastern tip of Australia, if and when this threat eases, we will return to Africa to continue with our dream. With little to do on Thursday Island we have time to put this report together, hope we can recall all the salient points.

    We drive a 2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D, towing Baobab BL1715, aka “Kamba”. Kamba is Shona for tortoise, appropriate for our Bush Lapa because like a tortoise, we take our home wherever we go. We travel solo and do not have much offroad experience so the trip into Namibia had us worried as we were nervous of what we would find on the roads. We decided to enter Namibia from South Africa at Sendelingsdrif via the pontoon. We had spent 12 days in the Richtersveld prior to entering Namibia so learnt a bit about gravel roads whilst there. Akkedis Pass was one of the scariest experiences we had encountered and although easier than anticipated we prayed for 40 minutes that we wouldn’t encounter a vehicle towing a trailer/caravan coming in the opposite direction, our prayers were thankfully answered, still unsure of what happens when 2 vehicles towing meet up.

    Following extensive planning and kind assistance on this site our schedule for Namibia was firmly set as we were afraid of not being able to get into some of the intended camps, I think when we return to Namibia we will probably try and build in some flexibility as there are certainly some places we would’ve wanted to extend or reduce our stay. Our schedule was as follows;

    Sendelingsdrif to Canyon Roadhouse: 27th September: 222 kms
    Canyon Roadhouse to Klein Aus Vista: 29th September: 292 kms
    Klein Aus Vista to NWR Sesriem Camp: 1st October: 350 kms
    NWR Sesriem Camp to Solitaire Desert Farm: 2nd October: 90 kms
    Solitaire Desert Farm to Alte Brucke (Swakop): 3rd October: 269 kms
    Alte Brucke (Swakop) to Spitzkoppe Camp: 6th October: 150 kms
    Spitzkoppe Camp to Brandberg White Lady Lodge: 7th October: 129 kms
    Brandberg White Lady Lodge to Madisa Camp (Twyfelfontein): 9th October: 103 kms
    Madisa Camp (Twyfelfontein) to Opuwo Country Lodge: 11th October: 426 kms
    Opuwo Country Lodge to Omarunga Campsite (Epupa Falls): 12th October: 185 kms
    Omarunga Campsite (Epupa Falls) to Kunene River Lodge: 14th October: 97 kms
    Kunene River Lodge to Etosha (Olifantsrus Camp): 16th October: 361 kms
    Etosha (Olifantsrus Camp) to Etosha (Okaukuejo Camp): 18th October: 135 kms
    Etosha (Okaukuejo Camp) to Etosha (Halali Camp): 20th October: 82 kms
    Etosha (Halali Camp) to Etosha (Namutoni Camp): 22nd October: 91 kms
    Etosha (Namutoni Camp) to Kupfurquelle (Tsumeb): 24th October: 112 kms
    Kupfurquelle (Tsumeb) to Waterberg Plateau Campsite: 25th October: 300 kms
    Waterberg Plateau Campsite to Urban Camp (Windhoek): 28th October: 291 kms
    Urban Camp (Windhoek) to Bastion Farmyard B&B (Hardap): 30th October: 256 kms
    Bastion Farmyard B&B (Hardap) to Mata Mata (Kgalagadi): 31st October: 311 kms
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    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    27th September – 2nd October: Sendelingsdrif/Canyon Roadhouse/Klein Aus Vista/NWR Sesriem

    We spent the night of 26th September at Sendelingsdrif after 12 fantastic days in Richtersveld, we wouldn’t want to stay in Sendelingsdrif for any reason other than to have an early start to get into Namibia. We woke up early and had Kamba packed in good time to be first through South African border formalities which was very easy with courteous officials and were first onto the pontoon which went without a hitch. Clearing border formalities to get into Namibia was equally easy. On exiting customs and immigration we were met by a Namibian Police Officer, the gentleman was very polite and insisted upon searching our vehicle extremely thoroughly, for diamonds we suspect. The vehicle search took almost 45 minutes and once complete I suspected Kamba would be next but surprisingly, he then said we could proceed. He was extremely professional and at no time were there any indications of bribery unlike some of our other border crossings in other Southern African countries. Once through formalities we followed the road along the Orange River to Aussenkehr to purchase a Namibian simcard which we would require later in our trip. After our time in Richtersveld we were very impressed with the gravel road we were travelling along, so much better than across the river, we were in for a shock in days to come. Armed with our simcard we then backtracked slightly and took the road towards Ais-Ais. This was the first time we had used our T4A to get us where we wanted to go and we were surprised how often on this route the map did not tie up with the actual road, as we were fairly certain we were heading in the right direction we continued on our way. We were also surprised that we never saw any other traffic on the road. After passing the Ais-Ais turnoff all went without any incident and we arrived at Canyon Roadhouse. We checked in and were given a good campsite, we explored the property paying particular attention to all the old vehicles which were great and we also indulged in their famous Amarula Cheesecake for a late lunch, we were not disappointed!! After cooking our own meals for the last month we also had our supper at the restaurant, service and food was great.

    An early start meant we arrived at the canyon before the hordes of tourists. Sometimes it is best not to have any expectations and this was one of those occasions, neither of us had any knowledge of the canyon and we were totally blown away by what we saw. Unfortunately, our movement around the various sightseeing spots was curtailed by an injury to Linda’s knee. Whilst in Richtersveld Linda had twisted her knee whilst exploring, this would create havoc with some of our plans in weeks to come. Nevertheless, we were still able to drive from spot to spot and Linda hobbled from the car to each viewing site. The views were superb, this is a must do sighting for anyone travelling to southern Namibia, you will not be disappointed. We returned to Canyon Roadhouse in time to watch the Boks thump Namibia 57-3, we were very diplomatic and never cheered too loudly. We were well satisfied and had an early night in anticipation of our drive the next day.

    Our drive to Klein Aus Vista the next day was uneventful, we were however amazed at the scenery around us. It’s always difficult to explain to anyone how a desert landscape can be beautiful, but we were falling in love with Namibia very quickly indeed. The campsite at KAV was pretty much as expected with all the necessities, we could understand why we had been advised to book this site in advance, it appeared to be fully booked. A late afternoon trip took us to the wild horses, we were surprised at how scruffy they were but the sighting ticked the boxes as it was something we hoped to see. By now Linda was really struggling with her knee and we made an appointment to see a doctor in Lüderitz the following afternoon. That evening we had a drink at the reception area of the resort and on our way home enjoyed the best sunset we had experienced on our travels.

    We set off the following morning for Lüderitz and en route stopped off at Kolmanskop to join a guided tour of the old deserted mining town that has been overtaken by desert. This was well worthwhile and we hobbled around trying to imagine what it must have been like in bygone days – we were both very pleased that we weren’t born 50 years earlier. After leaving Kolmanskop we proceeded to Lüderitz, the wind was building up and sand was blowing across the road, we had been warned about this and hoped the wind did not get any stronger before our departure. We arrived early for Linda’s appointment and whist waiting we decided to visit NWR Shark Island Campsite, we had intended staying there at one point in time, by now the wind was howling and we were very happy that we hadn’t persevered with that plan. Linda saw the GP and he said he thought it may be a torn meniscus but wanted Linda to get an x-ray, unfortunately he wasn’t able to get one done in Lüderitz at that point in time. He gave us crutches and he called Walvis Bay to book Linda in for an x-ray and a visit to an orthopaedic surgeon in a few days’ time. By the time we left the GP the wind had increased further and we set off for KAV. The road was pretty awful with sand flying across the road. My inclination would have been to travel as fast as possible through the sandstorm but fortunately I read on this forum that one must travel as slowly as possible to avoid damage to the car’s paintwork. I’ll never know what would’ve happened if we travelled fast, but the “drive slowly” advise certainly worked, there was no damage to the car, the only sign of the storm were very clean tyres and wheel rims, the sand had blasted them to look like new. I have to say at this point in time that the Namibians we had dealt with, border officials, supermarket staff and particularly reception staff at campsites had been exceptionally welcoming and an absolute pleasure to deal with.

    We were awoken early the next morning by neighing outside Kamba and we got out of bed to be greeted by half a dozen wild horses almost at our front door. We watched them for a while and broke camp. Today was one of those days which had given me concerns over the last few nights. We were travelling to Sesriem and I had read many reports on the D707 road, as we were only certain to tour Namibia once we were determined to travel on what is often described as being the most picturesque road in Namibia. I need to point out that we only travel with one spare for the car and one spare for Kamba, however as the tyres are the same size there is a degree of comfort. We decided to risk the D707 and prayed that we would be safe, obviously someone was listening because the road was nowhere near as bad as we had anticipated, I guess it depends when you travel it and how recently it was graded. The scenery was superb and the journey went off without a hitch, in fact the road directly following the D707, C27 I think, was worse than the D707. Arriving safely at NWR Sesriem Camp we checked in and after sorting out Kamba we had time to explore Sesriem Canyon, this was interesting but we had obviously spoilt by Fish River Canyon. The campsite we were given at Sesriem was well positioned, but for the first time we were near those massive tourist buses and by the time we went to shower that night the facilities were in a disgusting state, certainly the worst we had encountered anywhere in the last 4 years in Southern Africa. We are not certain whether the mess was already there or if other campers had created the mess but for the price NWR charge this was totally unacceptable. The only reason we would consider staying there again was because campers at this camp are able to get into the park and onto Sossusvlei 30 minutes earlier than any campers from the other campsites in the area.

    Early the next morning we were 3rd in the queue waiting for the gate to open. We never realised that the rush to get to Sossusvlei resembled the start of a F1 race. The speed limit of 60 km/h was an absolute joke and it appeared that most people were travelling about 120 km/h. By the time we arrived at the Deadvlei carpark many vehicles were in front of us but we were not in any hurry. Linda’s knee was so bad by now that walking was problematic and climbing sand dunes was an absolute non-starter, we therefore had to marvel at the dunes from a distance knowing that we will have to return if we want a closeup view sometime in the future. We looked around Deadvlei drinking our early morning coffee and eating our rusks and were about to return to Sesriem when a local tour operator came and started chatting to us. He asked what we thought of Sossusvlei and we discovered that we had stopped at Deadvlei and still had about 1 km to travel to get to Sossusvlei, he told us to follow him in our car and took us to Sossusvlei, we were very impressed and would have been mortified if we never met him and travelled the extra distance. As this area was much flatter we were able to hobble around to out hearts’ content. After looking around and having more coffee we returned to Sesriem, packed up Kamba and started off for Solitaire along the worst road we encountered on our Namibian trip.
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    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    John

    Will be following this with great interest. Looking forward to the tour.

    "In nature, nothing is on order - appreciate what you do get to experience" - Myself
    Defender 90 TD5 - BL Boskriek
    Namibia Trip Report, Kaa Wilderness Trip Report, Wildcoast Trip Report, Botswana Trip Report, Kgalagadi Trip Report, Lesotho Trip Report

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  7. #4
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    leka, thanks for sharing.


    From a P.E.S old boy.

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  9. #5
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Much appreciated especially in the times of lockdown

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  11. #6
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Nicely written and beautiful Fotos. Thanks so much for taking the time!

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  13. #7
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Thanks for the comments and likes so far, it is always encouraging to know that someone is looking at what you are posting. I never realised how much work went into preparing a trip report. Have to admire those like Stan Weakley who provide such detailed guidelines for us all to benefit from.
    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  15. #8
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    2nd October – 11th October: Solitaire/Swakop/Spitzkoppe/Brandberg/Madisa

    Due to the shocking ablution facilities at Sesriem we decided to leave at lunchtime with only 83 kms to Solitaire Lodge, fortunately we had only paid for the first night at NWR Sesriem. We anticipated a 1.5 to 2 hour drive to Solitaire but as mentioned in our previous post the road between Sesriem and Solitaire was probably the worst road we travelled on during our 5 weeks in Namibia and we took over 3 hours to do this journey. We appreciate that this is probably a very busy road, but with the income generated by the Sossusvlei area one would imagine the roads could be kept in a more reasonable state of repair. Upon reaching Solitaire Lodge we discovered that the campsite was under renovation, not sure what that meant because it looked great to us. A very kind staff member called Solitaire Desert Farm for us and discovered that they had 1 of their 3 campsites available for the night. We travelled the additional 7 kms and were very pleasantly surprised to find we had an enormous campsite obviously available for tour groups, we would highly recommend this facility.

    We had to depart from Solitaire at sparrow’s the following morning in order to get to Walvis in time for Linda’s x-ray and orthopaedic appointment. We would have liked to have more time to undertake this part of the journey because some of the scenery was breath-taking. We did manage a few very quick stops to take photos but we had to press on to get x-rays taken and developed. The road alternated between very bad, to great gravel and even tar in some places. We arrived in Walvis about 30 minutes before Linda’s allotted time for the x-rays and then had to kill a bit of time before Linda could see the orthopaedic surgeon. He told us that he had both good and bad news, the good news was that, as suspected, there were no broken bones, the bad news was that he acknowledged that he didn’t have a clue what was wrong with Linda’s knee!!! He said the most likely problem was a slight tear of the meniscus and that the only cure was rest and that it would come right eventually, he also managed to get a knee brace. The knee brace was cumbersome but it certainly provided quite a bit of relief. We travelled from Walvis to Swakop along the coastal road and the contrast between the Atlantic Ocean on the one side of the road and the Namib Desert on the other side made for spectacular viewing. Arriving at Swakop we received some poor advise and almost landed in a very stark campsite but further directions got us to Alte Brucke which was superb. After weeks in the sand we actually camped on lush green lawn with each campsite having their own ablution facilities, as much as we had loved our trip thus far Linda was thrilled to have a break from the “world’s largest sandpit”.

    On our first morning in Swakop we did laundry and shopping and generally relaxed. We searched high and low for a pub to watch the Boks play against Italy, a must win game after the earlier loss to the ABs, we finally found a pub and at least we were now supporting the same team as the locals, the 49-3 victory pretty much ensured the Boks would reach the knock-out stages of the tournament. Later that day we were joined at Alte Brucke by Dave and Kate Ducasse, friends we had first met on our way to Richtersveld, Dave was not very impressed with Alte Brucke, far too civilised for him. On our second day in Swakopmund we made a trip to Cape Cross as we were very keen to see the seal colony there, we thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle, but the smell was absolutely terrible, the overall verdict was that the trip was certainly worthwhile. I had been fishing on the Namibian Coast a few times in the past but for Linda driving at 100 km/h on salt roads was a first. There were a few other trips we intended doing out of Swakop but Linda’s knee prevented any of those.

    Well rested after 3 nights in Swakop we set off for Spitzkoppe on Sunday morning. The drive from Swakop was pleasant along the B2 highway, this was very calming after the gravel we were accustomed to. That was the lull before the storm. We were following T4A and counting down the kms until we turned north and when we were told to turn there was no proper road, just a farmgate, no sign, nothing. We didn’t have a clue what to do so we went through the farmgate, T4A stopped directing us and we drove aimlessly along a very poor road, well sort of road. We knew we were hopelessly lost and were looking for somewhere to turn around when we came across a small settlement and as I was turning around a Namibian lady came out of her home and waved for me to stop. I walked to her and she smiled from ear to ear asking if we were trying to find the road to Spitzkoppe in very poor English, we were obviously not the first travellers that she had assisted. She gave us very rough directions which we followed and about 3 kms further along we came across the D1918, our road to Spitzkoppe. Without further incident we reached Spitzkoppe, an enormous rock outcrop rising out of the surrounding flat countryside. We checked in quickly with friendly locals and were told to camp in whichever campsite we wanted. Campsites are pretty much all over the place, some pretty isolated and we soon found one to our liking and set Kamba up. The campsites had long drop toilets but no showers, these were available in a centralised area and worked well. We drove around the outcrops, viewing as much as we were able, it was certainly worthwhile and time well spent. We only had one night at Spitzkoppe before moving onto Brandberg White Lady Lodge.

    A short, 129 km journey to Brandberg gave us an opportunity to have a late breakfast before breaking camp. The journey was uneventful and we were surprised that Brandberg was similar to Spitzkoppe with this rocky mountain seemingly springing out of nowhere. We checked in and set up camp in another very large campsite. With Linda’s knee we were advised that the walk to “White Lady” was not a good idea. With Brandberg advertising themselves as the “home of the desert elephant” we took a drive in the Ugab River in search of these desert adapted creatures. Despite giving it our best shot we were unable to find the ellies and returned to the resort for some liquid refreshment. We braaied that evening as we had done so often in the past and enjoyed the sounds of nature around us, the camping area was not very busy and we enjoyed the solitude. At around 12.30 am I awoke and heard noises very close to Kamba, I got out of bed and took a look out of the door and was thrilled to see that the desert elephant must have heard we were looking for them because they were in our campsite only about 5 metres from Kamba. Light was not good enough for photos but we had the pleasure of viewing these magnificent pachyderms at close quarters.

    When we woke up the following morning, knowing they were in the area, we booked a desert elephant viewing drive with the lodge tour operator for later that afternoon. We prefer self-drive to guided tours but knew that if we wanted to see the ellies this was our best chance. We set off with cameras in hand and the guide drove along the Ugab River much as we had done the previous day only much further. Our decision to book the trip paid off and after travelling for about 40 minutes we were treated to a fantastic sighting of a herd of 6 desert elephant. We stayed with them for a long time watching them feeding off the trees and happily posing for photographs. They certainly look slightly different to “normal” ellies with their hides being far more wrinkly, larger pads on the feet and seemingly longer front legs. The herd mingled with local cattle whilst we watched them, it didn’t seem quite right. After watching the ellies the guide treated us to viewing further local sites including some very unusual rock formations.

    With our time up in Brandberg we had a short 103 km journey to Madisa campsite, once again we took our time arriving at Madisa in early afternoon. With 2 nights ahead of us we relaxed in the very pleasant campsite deciding to visit the area’s main attraction, Twyfelfontein, the following day. We left early the next morning with the day’s attractions being rock paintings, organ pipes and burnt mountain, photos of all are shown below. We were advised by staff at the rock paintings that the walk would be too far for Linda and one of the staff kindly took us to a different set of rock paints that were more easily accessible, Namibians continued to impress us. The organ pipes were spectacular and well worth the visit but burnt mountain was not terribly exciting. Over the last few years Linda and I have become interested in birding and this area was great with many different species of birds, some that we were able to get close to are shown below.
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    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  17. #9
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    11th October – 16th October: Opuwo/Omarunga (Epupa)/Kunene River Lodge

    On the morning of 11th October we left Madisa early knowing the next campsite we wanted to visit was Omarunga Campsite at Epupa Falls. As the distance was in excess of 600 kms we needed to find a 1 night stopover, we decided upon Opuwo Country Lodge which still left a drive of over 400 kms, fortunately most of this was on a very good tar road. The trip was again uneventful with the only notable event being passing through our first police check, this proved to be no problem whatsoever and was pretty much a non-event. On arriving at Opuwo we were somewhat taken aback by the sprawling town and we were a little concerned as to what the country lodge would be like. Our fears were ill-founded as Opuwo Country Lodge was like an oasis in the desert. With no local attractions we spent what remained of the day sitting next to the infinity swimming pool sharing a bottle of fermented grape juice. The campsite was small, but practical. We would certainly recommend this lodge as a very convenient stop over moving from central to northern Namibia.

    Early the next morning we broke camp and set off on our way to Omarunga Lodge/Campsite. We had been warned by others that this road was pretty rough and so it was but we had certainly travelled on worse during the preceding weeks. There were numerous dry river beds to traverse but we travelled slowly through these without any hassles. During our trip we dropped tyre pressure to 1.6 on the front tyres and Kamba and 1.8 on the rear vehicle tyres (heavily laden) whenever we reached gravel and as soon as we were on tar we upped the pressure to 2.2 and 2.4 respectively. We used an Indeflate to deflate and inflate tyres which proved to be a great purchase as it saved a tremendous amount of time and back-breaking work. The staff at Omarunga were superb and the gent accompanied us to the campsites to chose the best camp for our setup, he also provided staff to assist pushing Kamba into position. We were fortunate to get a beautiful campsite right on the banks of the Kunene. In the late afternoon we briefly visited Epupa Falls but over-powering local “guides” wouldn’t leave us alone and then the rain started falling so we decided to return the following day. A large group of overlanders arrived as did a group of motorcyclists but we all went to bed early respecting one another with low noise levels. Rain continued overnight, we were told it was about 20mm, the locals were thrilled as this area is in a very long drought.

    After rising early the following day we decided to try Epupa Falls once again. We were lucky that we seemed to get there before the “guides” and the rain had stopped falling. The falls were interesting and well worth the trip but apparently the river was very low so not too much water was coming over the falls, it is difficult not to compare any falls we see with Victoria Falls which we have visited on more than 10 occasions. Apart from the falls themselves there was not much to do there so we took the opportunity to give Kamba a good clean-up both inside and outside. Our dilemma was making a decision as to what route to take from Omarunga to Kunene River Lodge, from previous reports on the forum we had read that the road along the river was atrocious and we had decided in advance to backtrack and approach KRL from there. We met one of the camp’s employees who assured us that the forum reports must be old because the road had been rebuilt in the last few years and was now far better than the route we had intended using. I was still not entirely convinced particularly given the overnight rain but we then met a gent that had travelled the river route since the rain and that apart from one churned up river bed we would be safe using that route. We were convinced and changed our minds. Our stay at Omarunga had been great and the campsite and staff are highly recommended, definitely a good place to stay if Epupa is on your wish list.

    After breakfast on our travelling day we packed up and set off to KRL. As the staff and traveller at Omarunga had said the river road was certainly a winner, we had no hassles whatsoever and the road was far better than the alternate road we had partially travelled, the churned up river bed did provide a minor obstacle but even we managed without a problem. The road was particularly pretty following close to the Kunene River. On arriving at KRL we were immediately impressed with what we saw, a neat and clean area and even green lawn on some of the sites. We were allowed to walk around the campsite and choose the one that suited us best, decisions, decisions, decisions. We made our choice with a site next to the river and next to a lovely lawned area, we were extremely blessed for reasons that will become evident shortly. We had befriended a Dutch couple, Dennis and Lola Nederhof, at Epupa and met up again at KRL were we spent the afternoon at the pub partaking in cold beverages. One of our bucket list birds at Kunene was the Cinderella Waxbill, found only in this area in Southern Africa, we were determined to find them the following day. Peter and Hillary, the couple running the lodge told us where our best chance was of finding them so we had an idea where to look. After waking we went to the area that Peter had advised but after walking around for two hours, Linda’s knee had finally started showing some signs of improvement, we had to admit defeat.

    We returned to Kamba for breakfast and had just completed breakfast when all hell broke loose right on the edge of our campsite. We had seen a large +/-2m leguaan move past Kamba the previous night and immediately realised there was a major battle taking place right before our eyes. We initially thought it was two leguaans as it was difficult to see through the dust and debris flying around, it soon became apparent though that it was not two leguaans but rather “our” leguaan and a +/-1.6m python. At first we sat mesmerised at the fight but then I jumped up and grabbed Linda’s camera and started filming the scene in front of us. The battle lasted about 10-15 minutes before the leguaan subdued and killed the python, the leguaan hung around for a few minutes before carrying its prize into the reeds close by. This all took place about 5m from where we were sitting, wow how lucky were we to have chosen that campsite, talk about being at the right place at the right time. For anyone that is interested there is video footage of this battle on YouTube at the following address;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty4Rb1fIaXU

    The birding on the campsite was great and we sat and watch various species moving close to our campsite. In the late afternoon Linda said we needed to have another go at the Cinderella Waxbill and we walked around for a further 90 minutes without success before calling it a day. As we were leaving to return to Kamba Linda repeatedly whispered my name, I turned around and metres away from where I had just passed there were 3 Cinderellas sitting on a grass stem asking to be photographed, and so ended a perfect day. Peter and Hillary were thrilled with our sightings of 3 x Cinderellas, he thought there were only 2 in the area and the leguaan/python video. KRL was definitely our favourite campsite in Namibia, probably influenced by the two special sightings, but the cleanliness of the camp, the environment and the staff all had a part to play, we wished we could extend our stay but with the following day having been booked and paid for in the Etosha this wasn’t an option. Those intending a stay in Northern Namibia could certainly do worse than staying at KRL. By this stage we had been convinced that travelling to Ethosha would be easier along the river road through Ruacana rather than our planned return via Opuwo and we settled for bed that night well pleased with what we had seen at KRL.
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    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  19. #10
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Thank you John, excellent report so far.

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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Thanks for you very interesting report

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  23. #12
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Am I enjoying this trip in lockdown time. Thanks John, many places that we have visited and it brings back good memories.

    I read you have the Indeflater, do you have an extension pipe for the BL or is the pipe long enough?
    Ben

    RY WAAR JY MAG MET PASSIE

    2009 Toyota Hilux 3.0 D4D DC 4X4

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  25. #13
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by Whisky View Post
    Am I enjoying this trip in lockdown time. Thanks John, many places that we have visited and it brings back good memories.

    I read you have the Indeflater, do you have an extension pipe for the BL or is the pipe long enough?
    Thanks Ben, I do not use an extension with my Indeflate. When inflating the BL tyres the power cable on the one end of my compressor and and the air hose on the other end allow the air to reach just past my rear bumper, attach the nozzle to the Indeflate, pass the Indeflate under the towbar and they just reach the valves of the BL tyres. To deflate the tyres I work around the rear of the BL and the pipes reach quite easily. We purchased the Indeflate by default as we had a credit at a 4x4 dealer that we had to use or lose, the only thing that grabbed my attention was the Indeflate, best purchase we made. As mentioned we live in our BL and are often moving from gravel to tar and back so we think of it as a necessity rather than a luxury.
    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  27. #14
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    John, thank you for a lovely report, looking forward to what we still have to receive.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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  29. #15
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    John, thank you for a lovely report, looking forward to what we still have to receive.
    Thanks Stan, praise indeed coming from a master trip reporter. After all the assistance and advise you have given me and many others over the years I trust that this goes a tiny way to repaying the "debt" , seriously, you are an inspiration to us all. You may recall you helped planning our trip to Botswana, mainly CKGR, which should have occurred in May 2020 but has now been delayed to May 2021, we just hope that borders have been reopened by that time but current signs are not looking too positive.
    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  31. #16
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    16th October – 24th October: Etosha (Olifantsrus/Okaukuejo/Halali/Namutoni

    With a long day in the car once again ahead of us we left KRL with heavy hearts but also with high expectations. Having visited many national parks in both Zimbabwe and South Africa, Etosha had long been on our bucket list. The road from KRL to Ruacana was just as good as the road from Omarunga to KRL and once again very scenic, we were now really enjoying travelling on the gravel roads and they were no longer feared as they had once been. Once we were on tar it was 100km/h all the way. We filled up at the Petrosol, 153kms after we left KRL, satisfied that would be sufficient fuel for most of our stay in Etosha, with our long-range tank we hold 160 litres of fuel. We passed through the police road check once again and had no problems, they never searched us on either pass through the boom. We made good time to Galton Gate, our entrance point because our first 2 nights were to be spent at Olifantsrus which is only available to people camping/caravanning. We paid our entrance fees and made for Olifantrus which was adequately signposted, the road from Galton Gate to Olifantsrus was pretty awful but as we were in a gamepark we were going slowly in any case. Game in this part of the park was pretty scarce but we weren’t concerned as our previous research had indicated that this would be the case. Nevertheless we did see zebra, kudu, wildebeest, red hartebeest, gemsbok, elephant and springbok on day 1, the numbers of each species were limited. The campsite was very sparse with next to no shade but it was comfortable and the ablutions worked okay but weren’t great, water and power were turned off at 10.00pm and only came back on the following morning. There were no massive overland groups here which made the camp more tolerable. The 2-tiered hide at the camp was great, it was a pity that there wasn’t much game around, we were able to enjoy a stunning sunset. As is our habit we were up at the crack of dawn on our second morning and managed a decent sighting of a honey badger a short distance from the camp gate. Kudu, springbok, zebra, wildebeest, red hartebeest, black backed jackal, giraffe, gemsbok and elephant followed soon after. Birdlife was reasonable too and we spotted about 20 different species but no first timers for us. We saw pretty much the same species on an afternoon drive, the variety was pretty good, but numbers were fairly low. We enjoyed Olifantsrus but we wouldn’t return, the game viewing in the centre and to the east was far better even if we enjoyed having fewer visitors to contend with.

    The following morning was Linda’s birthday and I made certain to remember it this year, I forgot last year and still get reminded of that whenever the going gets tough. We moved to Okaukuejo fully expecting game numbers to increase and they certainly did. We saw all the usual critters on our way to our new camp and in addition we saw our first eland of the trip and about 20kms from Okaukuejo we saw the first lion we had encountered. The wind was howling and photographic opportunities weren’t great. We also saw our first Hartmann’s zebra having only seen Burchell’s zebra in the past.

    We arrived at the campsite to check in and had the misfortune of dealing with the most arrogant check-in person we have ever had the misfortune of dealing with. I’ll deal with the question of NWR staff and facilities at the end of this part of our Namibian trip report rather than spoiling our game viewing in the body of the report. Once we were eventually allowed to check in we set up camp and went for a swim to cool down, we also went to the camp waterhole which was pretty quiet but was to be expected in the middle of the day. Late that afternoon we went on a game drive and had a very good sighting of a pride of lion including 2 lion and 4 lionesses. We don’t recall the names of the areas where we saw the various animals in the park, we should have completed our trip report earlier. After watching the lion for an hour we returned to camp to prepare to visit the restaurant to celebrate Linda’s birthday. When we returned to camp the site had filled up to bursting, massive overland groups had moved in en masse and as with Sesriem campsite the ablutions were not able to cope and the whole place was a total shambles, in the ladies toilets only 1 of the 4 toilets was working, campers were paying N$700 per couple per night for this privilege!! What should have been a celebratory meal turned into a nightmare meal right from the start, they had double booked our table and at least 6 other tables, they couldn’t find our table, the drinks waiter couldn’t be found etc etc. It was a buffet and self-service so they couldn’t stuff that up and the food was pretty good, this was the first time in my life I have refused to tip the staff at a restaurant but is probably the worst service or lack thereof that I have ever received.

    We headed straight for the lion early on 19th October and were not disappointed as they had moved out onto the pan and they made their way back to the bush straight past us, it was a great sighting. On our way home we also had a close encounter with a hyaena who walked straight past the car, further down the same road we also saw black-faced impala for the first time. The thing that struck us was how all the game we saw was in such good condition despite the relative scarcity of grazing. We came across some puddles on one of the side roads and saw an amazing amount of birdlife bathing in the middle of the road, we counted 9 species of birds in a relatively small area. After a late breakfast we went to watch the QFs of the rugby, not the Bok game, we saw England and the ABs set up a semi date. Whilst watching we befriended such a pleasant young Kiwi family and spoke about the remainder of our trips and realised we would both be in Kgalagadi on 2nd November, we made a date agreeing to meet in the pub at Twee Rivieren to watch the final between the Boks and the ABs – foregone conclusion. We did meet again at Mata Mata on 31st October, he was a broken man but asked that the Boks thump those bloody Poms 2 days later. That afternoon we stayed in camp at the waterhole but only saw the usual critters, we had very early showers to get in before the overlander buses set up camp. That evening we saw our first rhino at the waterhole, they were black rhino but a bit too far away to get any decent photos, these were the first black rhino we had ever seen.

    On the Sunday morning we went out and positioned ourselves at a waterhole and watched the comings and goings of huge herds of plains game and many bird species. We returned to camp for a late breakfast before breaking camp. After sorting everything out we went for a swim as we had agreed to watch the Bok vs Japan QF before moving to Halali. With a happy result (and revenge for 2015) we set off for Halali which was only an 80 kms drive. Sightings on this trip were confined to plains game once again and many water birds. After the poor roads around Olifantsrus the roads around the rest of the park were far better. We arrived at Halali fairly late in the afternoon, there were fewer overland buses and the ablution facilities were not as bad as Okaukuejo.

    On our first morning at Halali we drove around aimlessly and never saw anything great, we did see rhino in the distance but the bush was pretty thick. After lunch we tried a different area and couldn’t believe our luck when we stumbled across a leopard at 4.30pm. We were the only vehicle with the leopard for about 10 minutes before a number of other vehicles arrived, the leopard stayed with us for about 30 minutes before moving off. Someone had told us there was a pride of lion further down the road and on our way to find them we had our first good sighting of a black rhino, such a privilege to sit and watch him. A kilometre further down the road we saw the lion pride all lying in the road, a great photo opportunity, we could sit and watch these cats for ages. Time was marching on and we needed to return to camp so we left the lion, we were 1 km from camp planning our dinner when Linda shouted “stop”, I backed up and we had a solo view of an African wild cat, what a lucky afternoon, three cat species in a 2 hour period, Etosha was living up to expectations.

    We left for Namutoni, our fourth and final Etosha camp after breakfast. The trip there was uneventful and after setting up camp we rested before doing a late afternoon drive. We found our first herd of elephant on one of the side roads playing in a small waterhole and some majestic kudu bulls. Not long before gate closing we were approaching a small waterhole and saw a white rhino coming down for a drink, our attention was on the rhino but as we got closer we spooked yet another leopard that we hadn’t seen drinking at the waterhole, the leopard ran off but luckily stopped and glared at us from a distance away, wow leopard on consecutive days, how lucky were we? We returned to camp thrilled with our afternoon’s sightings.

    As they say all good things come to an end and we woke up to our last day in the Etosha saddened and wandering whether we would ever return to this superb wildlife area. On our morning drive we saw giraffe drinking, black backed jackal, hyaena, our first warthog, kudu, eland and a large herd of black-faced impala. Our afternoon drive had all the usual plains game and we watched a hyaena taking a bath at one of the waterholes, the hyaena looked very comfortable in the water, back at camp we saw a lion near the waterhole and were treated to a superb sunset. We departed for Tsumeb after breakfast the next day, Etosha had been a fantastic experience.

    Would we return to Etosha? When we first examined Namibia as a destination we wanted to spend at least 2 weeks in Etosha, we reduced this to 8 nights based on views expressed by many on this forum, we thought it was because Namibia is so much more than Etosha. Our experiences with SANParks, mainly Kruger and Kgalagadi have been so good, particularly with the excellent staff and campsites and we expected the same in Etosha, more so because of interactions with Namibians up until we reached the game park. The game viewing was everything we had hoped for and the massive herds of mixed animals we encountered at waterholes were a first for us. We were very lucky with cats and to see leopard closeup on consecutive days was special, elephant and rhino too were great to watch, seeing both black and white rhino was a first for us. The birdlife was plentiful although we never saw many raptors. But ……… NWR, if you have followed our previous posts you will be aware that we had been very impressed with Namibian staff at all the private campsites, they were all so friendly, we never had much to do with the NWR staff at Sesriem as they were exceptionally busy when we arrived and were being harassed by other tourists. We do not believe we are difficult customers and always treat the staff courteously, that is only right, they have tough jobs and normally if you treat people with respect they reciprocate. This was not the case in Etosha, NWR staff at the majority of the reception areas ranged from indifferent to downright rude, it appeared that staff training was non-existent and there was no love for the job, it was just a place one attended to get paid a salary. If the staff were bad, the campsites, particularly the ablutions were downright awful, overcrowding appear to be the main culprit. We felt as if the camps were designed to accommodate far fewer numbers than had been crowded in, the main culprit in this area was without a doubt Okaukuejo, we couldn’t help but feel this was all done in an effort to maximise income. The less said about our restaurant experience at Okaukuejo the better, suffice to say this was probably the worst restaurant experience we have ever encountered. If we are to return to Etosha we would examine alternatives outside the camp although we would miss the camp waterhole experiences and don’t like missing out on the early morning game drives. So would we return, maybe.
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    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  33. #17
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Birds Seen In Etosha

    We are aware that bird photographs are not as popular as those of animals, but for those that are interested we have attached photos of some of the species we had the pleasure of seeing whilst in Etosha. Those hopefully correctly identified below, in order of photos displayed are:

    Ostrich
    Tawny Eagle
    Kori Bustard
    Yellow Canary
    Greater Kestrel
    Egyptian Goose
    Pale Chanting Goshawk
    Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
    Blacksmith Lapwing
    Little Stint
    European Bee-eater
    White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
    Western Cattle Egret
    Crowned Lapwing
    Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
    Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark
    Red-headed Finch
    Black-headed Heron
    Double-banded Courser
    Northern Black Korhaan Female
    Northern Black Korhaan Male
    Cape Teal
    African Grey Hornbill
    Namaqua Sandgrouse Female
    Namaqua Sandgrouse Male
    Common Greenshank
    Banded Martin
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    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
    Baobab BL1715
    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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  35. #18
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Thanks for sharing!
    David -
    ‘20 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road Decal Edition 3.5L



    If your only tools are a cutting torch and hammer, all of your problems are locomotives...

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  37. #19
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    Hi John and Linda

    Thanks for the trip report. We’ve started reading it and following it with interest. Some of your itinerary was exactly ours until we were forced to postpone on account of the virus.

    Good to hear your news.

    Take care

    David and Catherine
    Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD6 4x4 AT - Shadowfax
    Bush Lapa - iKewer - Dogmatix

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  39. #20
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    Default Re: Namibian Trip: Report 27th September – 31st October 2019

    24th October – 31st October: Kupfurquelle (Tsumeb)/Waterberg Plateau Campsite/Urban Camp (Windhoek)/Bastion (Hardap)

    We left Etosha via the Von Lindequist Gate, heading for Kupfurquelle campsite at Tsumeb. A journey of only 100kms after leaving Etosha may seem a strange decision but I had an old business associate in Tsumeb that I hadn’t seen for 15 years and we used the opportunity to renew our friendship over dinner at the restaurant that was attached to the campsite. We also gave Kamba a good scrub down as the dust from the last fortnight had significantly changed the appearance of Kamba. The meal was great and we had a good rest that night before starting our touring once again. Our next stop was Waterberg Plateau Campsite as we set off early the next morning for a 300 kms trip. We travelled on the B1 towards Okahandja and about 30 kms after passing Otjiwarongo we headed east on a short gravel section to reach our destination.

    When we arrived at the entrance gate the ladies on duty looked at our designated campsite, looked at Kamba and shook their heads, they explained that the campsite we had been designated was far too small for our setup and sent us to the main reception to change sites. This proved to be a major exercise, the gent on duty struggled to understand what needed to be done and had to call his boss. An hour later, after telling us it was impossible to cater for Kamba, they gave us a choice of 4 sites, future travellers beware, these were the smallest sites we had been on, Kamba has never been an issue before. The site we chose was adequate for our needs. Once we had set up we took a drive around the camp and saw the site that was originally allocated to us, just as well we had been able to change sites. We had booked Waterberg Plateau Campsite after being advised on the forum to rather use this than the NWR site, we had booked for 3 nights which after examining options open to us we realised was probably a night too many. There were guided rhino drives and rhino tracking available but after what we had seen in Etosha this wasn’t necessary. We relaxed around camp for the remainder of the afternoon and just before dusk we had two unexpected visitors. First we had a genet trying to raid our kitchen area and a short while later we had a honey badger wander through the campsite, unfortunately they hadn’t been anticipated so cameras were not readily available.

    The following morning we booked the guided plateau hike which is a 2.5 hour walk from camp to the top of the plateau. Linda’s knee was much better now, almost 100% but she was still slow, she was determined to partake as we had missed so many opportunities, luckily our fellow hikers were very patient. We both thoroughly enjoyed the hike and the views of the valley and the Kalahari plains were very special, we would recommend this hike. Later that afternoon we went on one of the unguided walks, a 2.5km history path commemorating the battle of Waterburg and the history of the Herero people, this gentle hike too was worthwhile but it takes longer than anticipated if you wish to read all the noticeboards as you walk around.

    The next day I noticed that one of the tyres on Kamba was flat and I thought we had our first puncture in Kamba. When I removed the tyre I discovered that it wasn’t a puncture but one of the valve stems had cracked. At that point in time I thought it was bad luck but a few weeks later I had the same problem in Kgalagadi with the tyre on the other side of Kamba. We purchased a Tireguard Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) at the start of our journey around Southern Africa and this is an excellent setup that we would highly recommend. The problem was that we mounted these externally, they can be mounted internally too. The long stems that were on Kamba’s tyres plus the additional weight of the sensors on the end of the valve stem appears to have caused excessive vibration which ultimately caused the valve stem to crack. I have subsequently changed the valves on all 3 of Kamba’s tyres to short metal stems, this will hopefully sort out the problem. Once we had solved this we went to the NWR Waterberg Campsite because following extensive investigation we had discovered that was the only place within a 50km radius that had a television and with the Boks playing Wales in the semi we had to have a few drinks in their bar. Surprisingly we were the only people in the bar which was just as well because I was screaming at the ref to award the Boks a penalty on numerous occasions. After we won the game we had nothing to do and returned to Kamba to have a relaxing afternoon. At sparrow’s we broke camp and headed off for Urban camp in Windhoek. I would recommend this campsite but unless you enjoy hiking I would not stay for more than 2 nights, in fact most of our neighbours only spent 1 or 2 nights there, and if you are towing a trailer advise them in advance.

    On arriving in Windhoek we checked in to a very pleasant campsite and then arranged to have our car collected for a 150,000kms service. My mate in Tsumeb had recommended a 4x4 service centre that only deal with Toyotas, “Auto Repairs Etzold” (+264 61 232 079). They were an absolute pleasure to deal with and did a great job on the vehicle. It was just as well my mate booked us in before we arrived because they were fully booked and they squeezed me in. We were lucky that we had the service done when we did because they also had to replace the rear shocks, one was leaking, and the battery was at the end of its life, in addition the belts required replacing at 150,000kms. They were not cheap but with my knowledge of vehicles being non-existent, I was an accountant with a personality, we could have landed up in trouble once we arrived in Kgalagadi. Etzold collected my vehicle the afternoon we arrived and said it would be available late the next day which was no problem, we had chosen Urban Camp because it was within walking distance of my favourite all time restaurant, Joes. We went to Joes that night, Linda said after the fiasco at Okaukuejo she could re-celebrate her birthday, I had been to Joes on many occasions when visiting Namibia on business and always wanted to take Linda, she was not disappointed. I don’t think a visit to Windhoek would be complete without visiting Joes.

    The following day we obviously had no vehicle and hung around camp until our vehicle was returned late afternoon. When we got our car back we went and did a major shop at a local, well stocked Spar, in 2 days’ time we would be in Kgalagadi for a 6 week stay and wanted to buy as much as possible before exiting Namibia. With only a 250 kms trip on tar awaiting us we had breakfast at the camp restaurant on our final morning and set off for a one-night stay at Bastion Farmyard. Traveling all the way to Mata Mata, 570 kms would take far too long and we were in no hurry. The campsite at Bastion Farmyard was a good place to stopover, the sites were spotlessly clean with each camp having their own ablutions, we were the only people there and once again highly recommend this as a one-night stopover. It was our last night in Namibia and we enjoyed a braai with some superb Namibian steaks, they really have some of the best steaks we have ever tasted.

    We left Bastion early as we wanted to get to Kgalagadi in time to have a late afternoon drive in our all-time favourite park. The journey was along gravel almost all the way and thankfully without incident, we stopped for our standard coffee and rusk break but otherwise pressed on at a reasonable speed. We arrived at the Namibian border post in good time and clearing customs and immigration took less than 10 minutes, of course there were no border formalities on the South African side as that would only happen when we exited Twee Rivieren sometime in the future.

    We were very sad to be leaving Namibia after our 5 week stay but we knew we had built up some great memories and we sincerely hope to return at some time in the future. There were so many things we enjoyed about Namibia, the cleanliness, the people, the scenery, the desert, the wildlife, the general pace of life. There was not much to dislike, really our sole gripe was the NWR setup in Etosha, I’ve harped on enough about that already. Many thanks to any readers that have stuck through our entire journey, we hope we haven’t bored you to death.
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    John2014 Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D
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    Don't let your dreams remain dreams

    Kgalagadi 2019 Namibia 2019 Mana/Tafika 2018 Kgalagadi 2017 Lion, Hippo, Eland Leguaan, Python

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