Namibia in a 4x4 rental

#1
Part 1.

This is my first post so I hope it works! After lurking on the forum for several years, and being inspired by so many great travel reports, I thought I should do my bit and post about our recent trip to Namibia.

Our story started 28 years ago when my wife and I met in southern Spain. I had just started working for an overland company called Guerba Expeditions (The Staff knew Guerba by the acronym of "Grubby Uncomfortable Expeditions 'Round Bloody Africa" ) as a co-driver and was lucky enough to drive a new truck out from the UK to do a Trans Africa trip from Morocco to Nairobi, as my very first trip! After six months together on a trip like that, we figured we could survive anything! 28 years later we are still happily together.

26 years later we decided to go through some of our old slides and I had about 800 scanned. Shortly after we started dreaming of going back to Africa.

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Ngorongoro crater 1991

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Zaire 1990

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Zaire 1990 Stuck for 3 days.

We started looking at the Republic of South Africa first but it looked too tame. Zimbabwe was one of my favourite memories but looked a little too unsettled. Botswana was on the list and then we started looking at Namibia, and Andrew St. Pierre White's videos sealed the deal for me.

Originally it was just going to be the two of us but then my sister and her family decided to join us. In all we had two vehicles for 5 adults and 2 children. My sister was as happy as a kid at Christmas. My brother in-law, however who had never (yes I said never) camped or driven much on gravel, was less enthusiastic. He survived to tell the tale and was one of the most excited throughout the entire 3-1/2 week trip.

We wanted to self drive, so started looking around the interweb and came across Bushlore. They seamed to get great reviews and have good vehicles and equipment. I contacted them and two other companies. They were well priced and offered to book all our campsites for us. We rented 79 Series Landcruisers with roof top tents and all the camping gear you could need.

I bought a Tracks 4 Africa paper map to start. Then bought the digital GPS version. I can't say enough good things about T4A maps. Other than in the north west, the distance and timings were spot on. Unfortunately for us, this year saw heavy rains that made the roads much rougher than before. As an example one section marked as 20km and taking 1hr 30mins took us 4hrs. In general though the roads were in amazingly good condition. 98% gravel but comfortable to cruise at 80 to 100kph. The one thing the maps don't show is how bloody big Namibia is! We drove a total of 3500km and had some very long days. For the actual route we took, Google was our friend. Between that and the maps we booked all campsites ahead of time, except for 5 nights for our travels in the north west Koakaland.

For communications we rented SAT phones from Bushlore. Cell phone coverage was pretty good around larger towns and at the resorts in Etosha.

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Part 2 to follow. Want to see if this actually works when I hit Post 😊
 
#2
Part 2.

We flew into Windhoek via Jo’burg. We literally had to run through Tambo International Airport to make our connecting flight. Word of warning... 1hr between flights is not enough!!!

Our first night was at Terra Africa. A very friendly and nicely run guest house in Windhoek. After 33hrs of travel we showered and went into town for dinner. Good pepper steak and creme caramel. This is not the Africa I knew from before! Windhoek is a modern and civilized city.

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We even did a little route planning.

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Bushlore picked us up at 8.00am the next morning and took us to their offices. We did all the usual paperwork and made our final payments. After checking out the vehicles they gave us a walk through on how to use all the different gear. They were really thorough so for those who have not aired down or used a roof top tent they explained everything very well.

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Next stop was to gas up and stock up.

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and then head out of town.



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Our first night camping would be at Okonjima Nature Reserve.

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Part 3 to follow.
 
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#4
Part 3.

Okonjima is about 3 hours from Windhoek and run by Africat, which is a great Namibian charity, working with local people to conserve Cheetahs, Leopards and Lions. They run a tracking program of northern lions and warn the local farmers where they are, to stop conflict between the farmers and the lions eating cattle. They also have the coolest gates and campsites.

On the 16km drive from the front gate to the main camp we saw our first Giraffe, Warthog and Springbok.

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Each campsite has its own covered area with power and a sink, showers and toilets. Luxury for our first night! Even better our nearest neighbours were out of sight and sound.

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We took a guided tour at sunrise. All these animals are being eventually rehabilitated back into the wild. Our guide was awesome and a wealth of knowledge, and passionate about the work that Africat do.

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#5
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The rest of the day we spent traveling to just outside Etosha's eastern gate and another awesome campsite at Onguma Lodge.

It was during this afternoon's drive that my wife and I looked at each other and both said we felt like we were "Home" You've heard it all before but it is true. Africa has a magic to it, whether it's the ever changing scenery or the way the sun shines, the people or geography, there is a magic to Africa that eats into your soul and never leaves. Add to that the sense of freedom and movement with overlanding, arriving at dusk and moving on early in the morning, life is pretty damn good and we are only on day three 😊

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Part 4 to follow.
 
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#8
Part 4.

Etosha! What can I say but go there. It's a very different landscape to parks like Chobe or the Serengeti but what an incredible place. The unending vastness of the Salt Pans is just staggering. The following pictures are totally crap, they don't really express how it feels to be in a place like this, that feeling of insignificance, such a massive landscape is beyond what a camera can show. Anyway here we are for the next five days. We entered at Onguma, the most eastern gate into the park. From there we drove to Halali Campsite for our first camp. Two nights in Okakejou Campsite and the last night was at Olifantrus Campsite.

As per what appears to be standard when dealing with NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) our bookings had been screwed up. The first night at Halali, after about 1/2 an hour, the nice receptionist eventually found our reservation. At Okakejou they definitely could not find our booking. “No sir we have no record of your reservation" "No Sir the campsite is full." "We do have a lodge room available." Sure you do, at US$1,100.00 per night! Ok so time to make alternate plans. Plan A call Bushlore and see what they can do. Hmm the cell tower is down so no internet or mobile phones are working. We pull out the SAT phone and call Bushlore. After about six phone calls we finally get enough phone reception, for long enough to explain what the problem is. Bushlore will call us back. By this point we are not in a good frame of mind and are making Plan B. Plan B would be to drive out of the park and find a private site or bush camp. Not a very satisfactory plan as we will lose a lot of time in park. Then the phone rings and it's Bushlore. They have emailed our reservation receipt to NWR and all should be good. After waiting for an hour and half they finally have our booking and all is now good. And yes the campsite is more than half empty! Got to love Africa.

A note on the campsites in Etosha. In comparison to the privately run campsites we experienced on our trip, they suck! Run down common ablution blocks and dusty wide open campsites with very little to no shade or privacy.


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Mind you coming to Etosha is not really about the camping, its more about this:


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You are not allowed to get out of your vehicle in the park except at designated spots. Funnily enough some are in bush with no fences and others all fenced up.

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The fenced rest stops made me much more nervous than the unfenced ones.


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more to follow.
 
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#10
So after a hard day of dust and heat it's time for Chips.... not those American things but good English Chips!

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Ok maybe with a bit of Steak, Chicken and Boerewors

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Ready for another day and more wildlife. Just a small Elephant.....

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Ok maybe a larger one!


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Changes the meaning of "hung like a donkey"!!!
 

Sitec

Adventurer
#11
Sooooooo very envious! I did a stint with Dragoman and loved every bit of it...even troublesome pax!! I met my wife thru Drago, we now live in Oz and I'm currently collecting the bits for/planning our overland truck in the hopes to start building this year. Reading through your thread gave me that 'buzz'.. The 'want' to revisit and travel Africa has never gone away with me too!! Love your pics, and seeing what's changed. You are right about Etosha. Magical place! If you're still there, then Kolmanskop the ghost town is well worth the visit!! Following with interest! Enjoy!
 
#12
Sitec. I'm very happy to hear you are getting the 'buzz' 😊 The trip was in May so we've been back for a while. I'm just slow at posting. Lot's more to come. I'm hoping to start a build in a few years, also, and am thinking of a T244 or 1017. Total Composites are based in Victoria, just a ferry ride away, so will hope for good advice from him when the time comes. The retirement plan is Central and South America, ship to South Africa and possibly up to Europe.
 
#15
We were in Botswana the same time you were on your trip and we rented our "cars" from Bushlore as well. I couldn't believe how well outfitted they were!

We are hoping to go to Namibia next year! It is a truly magnificent continent.
 

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