Self Drive Africa

Namibia – Waterberg and Etosha

Our trip to Namibia – none of us had ever been to Nambia, so this trip was not only a pioneering solo trip but it was also our first trip to South West Africa.

After arriving at OR Tambo Airport in South Africa we were met by Laura at the Airport and loaded everything into the car. A short drive later we arrived at their depot to complete the formalities and handover of the vehicle and caravan, which were to be our home for the next 13 days.

Day 1 = Tuesday 23/04/2013 – Joburg to Botsalano Game Reserve (Just outside of Zeerust) – We left Joburg at 14h00 instead of the originally planned 12h00… Although all turned out alright in the end, leaving at 12 would have been far more favourable! We finally arrived at Botsalano – Sentry hill camp at 20h30. Cynthia was very kind to organise the guards at the gate to wait for us or keep on the look out for us, the reserve gate officially closed at 18h30…!!! Sentry Hill was a magical spot – made you feel like you we’re the only humans existent on this planet… Just us and the wild! Dave jumped a mile high when a red hartebeest ran through the camp, and I disturbed a Scorpion in its slumber while starting a wonderful fire, and I thought we were being raided by some little creature in the middle of the night, but it turned out that it was just the thorn tree scratching the top of the caravan roof….all night! In the distance, through out the night, we could hear the thumping sound of wildebeest and zebra herds running through the bush. You could also hear the call of jackals. The staff were incredibly friendly and welcoming. We will definitely be back!

Day 2 = Wednesday 24/04/2013 – Botsalano Game Reserve to Kalahari Rest Cabins ( just past Kang).
Started the morning with a wonderful sunrise. Left Sentry hill for Gate 3 at 9h15 . On our mini game drive, we saw a very curious and large Tower of Giraffes – they seemed equally as intrigued by us as we were of them! We also spotted black wildebeest (a.k.a. Gnu’s). We finally turned left took to the border at 10h00, again, could’ve left an hour earlier as we only arrived at Kalahari Rest Cabins at 16h45…it was a long day and our 2 little angels (6 going on 16 and 3 going on 21) were very well behaved for the amount of time they have already spent in the car… Poor little mites, if only they knew they had another day in the car ahead of them before we reached our first long stay. The rest cabins seemed quite uncared for, as we approached the main gate with an abandoned vehicle on the inside of the gate. Much to our consolation, the drive from the gate to the reception (500m) became more appealing every second. We were greeted with friendly faces, Nkosi and Coster. Accommodating as best as they could – charging us BWP 90 per adult and 40 p child. They also provided us with the option to buy fire wood at P20 a bag. The night guard was very friendly and guided us to our campsite. “Impala” is where we allocated which was close enough to the ablution (with one geyser of fire heated water per campsite) Each bathroom had a clean shower and toilet and basin. On the outside each had a wash sink. The campsites and bathrooms were pleasantly clean. The rest site also had chalets, a well stocked bar, restaurant and swimming pool. Very pleasant.

Day 3 = Thursday 25/04/2013 – Kalahari Rest Cabins to Waterburg Andersson Campsite. Woke up to absolute (welcome!) silence at 5h00. Drove out the main gate at 07h15 and proceeded on our 8-9hr trip for the day. About 20km from our departure we were sadly presented with a sighting of a dead Antbear on the side of the road. It had been run over by a vehicle, poor thing. Along the way, 2 hours into our drive, we had seen about 20 “duikers”(??), wild horses, donkeys, hundreds of guinea fowls and …. Cows!!!
As we turned left off the A1 to Namibia, we were flagged down by what seemed like a couple hitch hiking but then realized that they were in fact asking for fresh drinking water….they had been cycling for 2 months from Goma, DRC. They were originally from France. We filled their bottles up with water and continued our respective journeys.

Day 4 – Friday 26/04/2013 – we left Wilderness Camp at around 10h30 on our journey to Etosha National Park. We arrived at Andersson Gate at around 14h30. Drove a further 17km to our first long stop of 4 days. Okaukuejo was very barren, we were lucky to have been allocated one of the few campsites with the luxury of a tree that could provide some form of shade… Nr. 30. We were not the only residents on camp…there was also a very large and busy condominium of weaver nests. The intricacy was boggling and a reminder how amazing nature is…we struggle to function being fully equipped to be ambidextrous and here a little creature with wings and 1 tiny beak manages to weave its home!!!! How privileged we are! The waterholes:- Nebrowni, Ondundeka, Olifantsbad, Gemsbok Vlagte were all worth their visits. Our favorite and closest to camp was Nebrowni.

We spent the next 4 days unwinding in a piece of heaven. During this stay we saw many Lions and even hade the pleasure of watching a Cheetah hunt. It was magical and reminds us of why we need to preserve Africa’s wilderness.

Day 8 – Tuesday 30/04/2013 – After much needed rest and relaxation, the day had arrived to move on to Halali…our next camp for the next 3 nights. Much discussion/debate and desperation we settled for campsite nr. 30. We were literally the only campers during the week and had the whole campsite to ourselves.
I was quite content staying in camp and pottering around the caravan , whilst my husband would either take the children with him or go on his own for game drives to Rietfontein. The daily spotting of Lions, I am convinced, made the driving around all the more worthwhile. I was quite contented enjoying the company of the squirrels, glossy starlings, hornbills and crows back at camp in the know, that my husband was in his element on the prowl for predators.

Another 3 days of absolute bliss listening to the sound of the wild and watching the amazing rhinos at the waterhole.

Day 11- Friday 03/05/2013 – We finally left our campsite at 9h25 SA time, filled up with fuel and headed back on the C38 via Okaukuejo through to Andersson Gate (exit gate from Etosha National Park). Got to Andersson gate at 11h05, handed over our exit permit, waited a while to be de-registered from their books and proceeded to Leave, with out exit permit. Our journey to Windhoek is expected to be approx. 5 hours via Outjo, Otjiwarongo, Okahandja and then Windhoek where we will be staying at the Daan Viljoen resort . We arrived at Daan Viljoen at 15h00… Absolute class! It cost N$ 320 for the campsite – the level of cleanliness and star rating was completely beyond expectations. The campsite ground was covered with lush green grass. ‘Oscar’ the tame Warthog also greeted us, he was found orphaned at 3 weeks and the staff at the game reserve rear him by hand.

Day 12 – Saturday 04/05/2013 – We left the reserve at 09h45 SA time for the 12 day of our trip. The Windhoek architecture was a cross between old buildings and new. Headed out towards Gobabis, past the airport in preparation for a very long day of driving to sleep over at Kalahari Cabins. One very noticeable and extremely uncommon feature noticed by both of us was the VAST untouched natural beauty of bush…expanding into the horizon!!!!!!!!!!
Crossed both the Namibian and Botswana borders quite effortlessly taking no more than an hour for both. We finally arrived at the Kalahari Rest Cabins at 19h00.

Day 13 – Sunday 05/05/2013 – Despite the cold weather having kicked in and coming from the heat wave we experienced in Namibia, we got up at 04h30 and were out the gate towards Kang and Sekoma by 05h10. It was still very dark and freezing cold. Our children have proved themselves time and time again – they are truly little troopers!!!! After a very long day but perhaps because we were looking forward to getting home and just relaxing from three days of travelling, the day seemed to go by a lot smoother.
With not more than an hour stop at the borders, we “sailed” home safely and sad in the knowledge that we were finally at the end of our Holiday. We handed over the vehicle to Self Drive Rentals and they made us feel at home whilst we prepared for our flight back to the England later that evening.

It was indeed a wonderful trip!!! A great opportunity for us (and any family) to spend quality family time together… A reminder of how precious our fragile lives are and how we are obliged and owe it to ourselves and children (if you have any) and our sanity to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily responsibilities and routine to “touch base” with our essence and the amazing beauty and pureness of nature, We would heartily recommend using Self Drive rentals as they made sure everything was a breeze, the vehicle and caravan were fantastic and we will be back.