Preston , Lancashire
- We chose this trip primarily for the wildlife and landscapes and neither disappointed. After leaving Windhoek, the first two nights at Zebra Lodge were fantastic, especially the clear starry nights and the mysterious nocturnal sounds including zebra hoofs past the lodge in the middle of the night. If you are fit enough, the 2.5 hour trail walk is recommended, the panoramic views are stunning with a good chance of seeing the magnificent Verraux`s Eagles.
An early start was needed for the visit to Naukluft/Namib National Park and the breathtaking views of the dunes at Dead Vlei and Sossusvlei. An unexpected sighting in Sesriem Canyon was a meter long sand snake, we gave it respectful distance not knowing whether it was venomous.
Swakopmund was almost European in style and architecture rather than African and was particularly cooler after the dry desert heat. For birders the lagoon off the beach is probably the best place to visit on the whole trip. We enjoyed close views of Eastern White Pelican, Greater & Lesser Flamingo, White Winged Stilt, Little Stint, Pied Avocet, three species of Tern and five species of Plover amongst numerous wetland birds.
We had hoped to go on the dolphin watching trip but this was not available due a block booking by a cruise ship operator, the alternative was a desert safari which far exceeded expectations with the expert local guides finding Sidewinder Adders, Geckoes, Spiders, Lizards and an entertaining Chameleon.
The visit to the Cross Bay Cape Fur Seal colony was memorable with extremely close up views of recently born pups , albeit some had fallen victim to marauding Black Backed Jackals and Kelp Gulls. The coastal waters supported massive numbers of Black and other Tern species.
The stay at Brandenburg White Lady Lodge was rather too short lived as it was a place for total relaxation, helped by the playful tame Meerkat. most unusual to see wanding around the Pool grounds and bar area! Sadly we did not see the expected Desert Elephants there, although a walk around the area allowed frequent sightings of various Hornbill species and a pair of Ruppells` Parrots.
After visiting the Twylfontein Bushmen Rock engravings and the Himba Tribe people we finally arrived at Etosha National Park. At both camps where we stayed the awterhole sightings were memorable with several Lion, night and day close up views of Elephants with many young, Black Rhino and many Giraffe and various Antelope species. The game drives allowed us to see four Cheetahs with a recent kill, a somewhat fortuitous sighting of a Leopard and a rare daytime sighting of a Honey Badger. It is also worth going on the optional Night Safaris where we saw Bat Eared and Cape Foxes, but large and small cats and even Pangolin can be seen. Bird life is extensive in the Park and the Lodge grounds with several Vulture species, Marabou Storks, Pale Chanting Goshawks, Secretary Birds, Wood Hoopoes and various Hornbills quite easy to see along with beautiful Purple and Lilac Breasted Rollers and Scarlet Chested Shrikes.
After leaving the Park, we enjoyed an educational visit to the Cheetah Conservation Fund project where we learned how they are working with the local farmers to prevent them killing the beautiful animals by providing them with dogs to guard their animal flocks. Do not expect to see young Cheetahs here as captive breeding is illegal in Namibia.
Before returning to Windhoek we stayed at the beautiful Waterburg Plateau with stunning mountain scenery and surprisingly lush grounds with attractive walking trails. Expect to see many diminutive Damara Dik-diks, the smallest Antelpoe species along with Baboon and Warthog. Again the bird life is stunning with many species of Sun Bird, Warbler, and Love birds.
All in all it is a wonderful tour, days can be tiring with the travelling but the views from the tour vehicle are often changing and stunning. For the sharp eyed many bird and animal species can be seen from the vehicle, Raptors in particular are common on the telegraph posts. Nick and Vjorn had excellent knowledge about the mammals particularly in Etosha but a Namibian bird guide would be beneficial for anyone wishing to identify the bird species. On our tour we identified over 150 bird species, although many would be overlooked without some field skills.
In relation to advice do bring a good torch as it can be dark at times and it can be cool at Swakopmund. Prices were very cheap with the exchange rate so you do not require too much cash for the trip unless you like the shopping in Swakopmund!
For anyone remotely interested in wildlife, photography or stunning landscapes then you will thoroughly enjoy this tour, you do require a degree of travelling stamina, but the lodges are in stunning locations and the effort will be well rewarded.
Published on: 24 November 2015