Announcing Namibia July 2018
This is an exciting schedule:
|Villa Violet in Windhoek
|Erindi Private Game Reserve
|Erindi (and Bushmen Activity)
|Erindi to Grootberg Lodge
|Grootberg to Khowarib
|Khowarib to Hobatere Lodge
|Hobatare Private Game Reserve
|Hobatare to Okaukejo (Etosha)
|Okakuejo Waterhole Chalet
|Okakuejo Waterhole Chalet
|Okaukuejo to Halali (Etosha)
|Halali to Onguma Game Reserve
|Onguma to Frans Indongo Lodge (Waterberg)
|Frans Indongo Lodge
|transfer to Windhoek airport
- Small Group Size: 6 guests plus Group Leader plus Private Guide
- Two vehicles for trip to insure good viewing
- All meals included
- Activities as specified below (but fairly inclusive)
Specifics of the Plan: Further details and highlights:
Day 1, July 4 – Upon arrival at Hosea Kutako Airport (Windhoek International Airport) we will meet our guide and be transferred to the Villa Violet Guesthouse. Our stay in Windhoek is really intended to allow some rest and time adjustment, but that doesn’t mean it is a lost day. The Villa Violet is a smart and attractive guesthouse. The rooms open to small patios making them an ideal spot to relax, read a book or splash in the swimming pool. The décor is simple and elegant with amenities that include wireless internet, flat screen cable TV, tea/coffee, personal safe and hair dryers.
While in a quiet neighborhood, it’s still close to central areas of Windhoek and within stumbling distance from the legendary eisbein and stein of Joe’s Beerhouse (http://www.joesbeerhouse.com). We plan to have dinner at Joe’s Beershouse. It’s hard to explain what Joe’s Beerhouse is like. There’s a mokoro and an outhouse (with an actual toilet inside) at the front, while inside, the walls are lined with stuffed animal trophies, old pieces of farming equipment and empty Jaegermeister bottles which visitors have signed their names on. Beer and ham hocks are the specialty. They even have a ham hock sandwich which was very juicy and delicious but the menu has more traditional options as well. A fun place.
Day 2, July 5 – After breakfast, we will travel north to Erindi Private Reserve (http://www.erindi.com/)and our stay at the Old Traders Lodge. Erindi is a jewel in the heart of the wild Namibian Landscape. In my last stay, we watched wild dog come to the waterhole while we dined in the open air main lodge. From my room’s patio in the evening I observed elephant, rhino, giraffe, hyena and jackal. Speaking of the rooms, the en-suite baths are so large and modern you will wish you had such a room back home in the U.S. (They have to be pretty impressive for me to feature them in this write-up.).
We are stopping in Erindi for two nights for several reasons. Honestly, I must mention that the first time I stayed here was to break up the driving distances in Namibia. This lodge is 175 kilometers north of Windhoek, so we can make the drive in just over 2 ½ hours, which is in time for an afternoon game drive. The game drives are excellent and we can expect to see eland, rhino, lions, and several species of antelope as well as other wildlife. However, there is a surprise treat on the game drive and a tease toward our next day activity! The trackers are San Bushmen! During sundowners, the tracker will share some of the lore of his people. You will quickly note that the native tongue is very different from any language you have ever heard as it includes five unique clicking sounds.
Day 3, July 6 – On our second day at Erindi, we will have one game drive, but we will also plan a visit to the Bushman village. Erindi Private Game Reserve is home to a few “CWI CWI” San families. Also known as the “Bushmen”, these indigenous people of southern Africa people live solely off the land. The San Bushmen are truly the origin of man. A DNA study of fully sequenced genomes showed that the ancestors of today’s San hunter-gatherers are the oldest human population in the world and that all other humans carry a Y-chromosome group of the San. In essence, when we meet them we are going home! Their culture began to diverge from other human populations in Africa about 200,000 years ago.
The CWI CWI families at Erindi still follow their disappearing traditions. We will visit their village and be part of their everyday cultures & traditions! While there we will also have the opportunity to buy crafts made by the bushmen including ostrich eggshell necklaces, porcupine quill bracelets and miscellaneous beadwork.
Day 4, July 7 – Today, we head further north into Damaraland and our overnight stay at Grootberg Lodge (https://grootberg.com/). This is the longest, toughest drive of our trip and will take approximately 6 to 7 hours driving time; however, the scenery can be quite interesting a varied so we will likely stop a few times along the way. Grootberg Lodge sits on the precipice of an ancient volcano looking into the caldera and our goal is to get to the lodge in time for a scenic drive along the plateau ridge to enjoy sundowners. The drive will look like the maroon colored surface of Mars and will be covered by large rocks, yet in this harsh environment, we will likely encounter springbok, Hartmann mountain zebra and orxy. The sunset scene is the most dramatic in all of the sights I’ve ever seen in Africa! Upon return our return, I can promise an excellent dinner in their beautiful lodge.
Day 5, July 8 – Our morning drive from Grootberg Lodge to Khowarib Lodge (http://www.khowarib.com/) is only two hours. We are now deep into the Kunene Region (also called the Kaokoveld or Kaokoland) which is home to three main ethnic groups: The Damara, Herero and Himba people – each with their unique customs, traditions and rituals.
Khowarib is nestled on the banks of the Hoanib river and has 14 canvas chalets, each with very unique en-suite baths (I will leave that as a surprise for you). This beautiful lodge will be our base for two days as we set out with two primary goals of visiting a Himba settlement and also driving up the Hoanib riverbed in search of desert elephants, giraffe, oryx, baboon and brown hyena.
We plan to visit the Himba settlement on the afternoon of our arrival day. A fascinating culture, the Himba (singular: OmuHimba, plural: OvaHimba) are indigenous peoples with an estimated population of about 50,000 people living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene Region (formerly Kaokoland). The OvaHimba are considered the last (semi-) nomadic people of Namibia.
The OvaHimba are a polygamist society of predominantly livestock farmers who breed fat-tailed sheep and goats, but count their wealth in the number of their cattle. Only occasionally, and opportunistically, are the livestock sold for cash.
Both the Himba men and women are accustomed to wearing traditional clothing that befits their living environment and the hot semi-arid climate. Himba women especially are famous for covering themselves with otjize paste, a cosmetic mixture of fat and ochre pigment, to cleanse the skin over long periods due to water scarcity and protect themselves from the extreme climate as well as against mosquito insect bites. Hairstyle and jewelry play a significant role among the OvaHimba, it indicates age and social status within their community.
Day 6, July 9 – This is an exciting day on the trip as we drive up the remote Hoanib riverbed in search of wildlife. The landscape is varied and beautiful. The wildlife is the toughest of the tough as vegetation is quite limited, yet we expect to find desert dwelling elephants, antelope and maybe spot the extremely rare and endangered desert lion. This excursion is a full day trip with a box lunch stop mid-way through this amazing drive. On our way to and from the riverbed drive, we will pass through the small town of Sesfontein. Keep your cameras out as the village is home to Herero people and the traditional dress of the Herero women is a sight not to be missed.
Day 7, July 10 – This morning we set out on a very interesting 4-hour drive from Khowarib to Hobatere Lodge (https://hobatere-lodge.com/). While not a short drive, the time passes quickly as we pass through several interesting villages, meet donkey carts and ingenious peoples walking along the roads and see some amazing landscapes. The name Hobatere means “Find me”, and once you do, you will enjoy a warm welcome and personalized service. We’ve picked this lodge because it is on the western border of the Etosha National Park and is home to a wide selection of wildlife including lion, leopard, oryx, eland, cheetah, giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and elephant. We have also picked the location because of the hide overlooking the waterhole at the lodge and the ability to have night game drives. From this base, we can have game drives in the Hobatare Concessions and also in the western reaches of Etosha.
Day 8, July 11 – We have a full day to explore the game in both Hobatare Concession and the western side of Etosha with our two vehicles.
Day 9, July 12 – We leave Hobatare this morning and start a multi-hour game drive through Etosha National Park to our lodge located centrally in the park, Okaukuejo Resort. The Etosha National Park is Namibia’s premiere game viewing experience. The vegetation ranges from dense bush to open plains attracting a diversity of wildlife. In the heart of the park is the Etosha Pan, a shallow depression that covers offer 5,000 square kilometers. This pan will be dry and shimmering like a mirage while we are there, yet from this flat bed of nothingness, an amazing amount of wildlife will emerge to visit the numerous life-giving water holes along our drive.
Okaukuejo is located 17 km from the southern entrance of the park, and famous for it’s flood-lit waterhole, where visitors can observe at close quarters a spectacle of wildlife. This waterhole is so spectacular both at night and during the day that you may want to not take the day’s game drive, but rather sit in one of the many benches surrounding the waterhole and watch the wildlife while sipping on a cool drink. We will be here for 3 nights, so you can make that decision each day.
Day 10, 11 – July 13, 14 – Game drives in and around central Etosha. There are numerous waterholes and a web of road choices. Each day we will drive along until we find something really interesting and then stop there for a while. This region is famous for large herds of springbok and zebra, also plenty of black rhino, giraffe, jackel and lions in this area. This area is also known as a great location for spotting the ‘white ghosts’, the huge white coated bull elephants of Etosha. Each night during this time we will stay at Okaukuejo Resort.
Day 12 – July 15 – Sometime during the day, we will move further east on our game drive to Halali Camp at it’s excellent waterhole called Moringa. This waterhole is also excellent at night, but much more intimate than the Okaukuejo waterhole. Often the waterhole is frequented at night by black rhino. I’ve also seen porcupine, hyena, lions and elephants at this waterhole.
Day 13 – July 16 – This will be our only full day around Halali. The area boasts excellent waterholes and sightings. In addition to animals previously mentioned, we often spot black-faced impala, honey badger, steenbok and dik dik near this lodge. In the evening, we will once more want to spend some time at Moringa waterhole at the lodge.
Day 14 – July 17 – Leaving Halali, we will continue eastward to the eastern gate of Etosha. Beyond the gate is Onguma Game Reserve. This is one of Namibia’s best kept secrets! The reserve boasts over thirty different animal species including kudu, giraffe, eland, oryx, hartebeest, zebra, impala, black rhino and many more. A special treat at this lodge is an underground ‘water level’ hide to view and photograph the animals.
Our lodging will be at Onguma Bush Camp ( http://www.onguma.com/onguma-bush-camp.html). Dinner will be overlooking the large waterhole and will be a mix of traditional African and European cuisine. While I love Okaukuejo and Halali, I will admit that the meals there are rather uninspired, but okay. It will be a nice change to have the excellent food we will find at Onguma!
Day 15 – July 18 – We will have the full day to explore both the eastern side of Etosha as well as the Onguma Game Reserve. Lodging again at Onguma Bush Camp.
Day 16 – July 19 – On this day we start heading south toward Windhoek. We will have a 3-hour drive south to Frans Indongo Lodge (http://www.indongolodge.com/). Here we will be able to spot sable antelope, black springbok and nyala from the lodge waterhole. Have to admit I haven’t stayed at this lodge and planned an alternate location, but many experienced Namibia guides convinced me that this is a treat and that, if they hear any complaints regarding this lodge, it’s that the stay here is too short.
Day 17 – July 20 – Near Frans Indongo Lodge is the Cheetah Conservation Fund (https://cheetah.org/what-we-do/our-centre/). The CCF was founded in 1990 with the mission to be a center of excellence for research and education of cheetahs. Note that Namibia is the largest population of cheetahs left in the world, the CCF Research is vital to their ongoing population support. We will watch cheetahs run like the wind during a ‘Cheetah Run’ or view them in their natural habitat in CCF’s Bellebenno Reserve with excellent photo and viewing opportunities (based on availability). An option I need to further investigate is a private safari through CCF’s own “Little Serengeti”, a picturesque open plain featuring large herds of hartebeest, oryx, springbok, warthog, and jackals. We also don’t want to miss out on the ‘Cheetah Exclusive’, during which you will enjoy a unique personal encounter with one of CCF’s ambassador cheetahs.
Day 18 – July 21 – All vacations must eventually end and on this date, we will drive the remaining 3 ½ hours back to Windhoek in plenty of time to catch our connecting flights from Windhoek back to the U.S.
Cost of the trip $7250 per person
- Initial Deposit of $1,000 Due Now
- Second Payment of $3,125 Due December 29, 2017
- Final Payment of $3,125 Due March 20, 2018