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Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

Sacramento...
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Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

Hi everyone,

First let me say that this forum has been invaluable in helping my plan our upcoming trip to Namibia. Everyone here is extremely helpful and so many of you share your vast knowledge so freely. Thank you!

Now then, we leave for Namibia in two months! Time has flown by, but I wish it would get here sooner. I just wanted to ask for a sanity check on our itinerary, as this is probably our last chance to change anything without incurring cancellation fees:

May 13 – Evening arrival from USA in Jo’Burg (1 night near airport)

May 14 – Flight to Windhoek (1 night at Rivendell)

May 15 & 16 – Drive to Sossusvlei (2 nights at Sossus Dune Lodge)

May 17 – Drive to Swakop (1 night at Cornerstone)

May 18 – Tommy’s Living Desert Tour (1 night at Cornerstone)

May 19 – Seal Kayaking + Sandwich Harbour Tour (1 night at Cornerstone)

May 20 – Drive to S. Damaraland and see rock paintings (1 night at Camp Kipwe)

May 21 – Desert Ele tracking (1 night at Camp Kipwe)

May 22 – Drive to N. Damaraland (1 night at Grootberg)

May 23 – Rhino Tracking (1 night at Grootberg)

May 24 – Sundowner horse ride (1 night at Grootberg)

May 25 & 26 – Drive to Etosha (2 nights at Dolomite)

May 27 & 28 – Third and fourth day in Etosha (1 night each at Halali and Namutoni)

May 29 – Drive to Otjiwarongo (1 night at Frans Indongo)

May 30 – Spend day at CCF (1 night at Frans Indongo)

May 31 – Drive to Windhoek (14:00 flight to Jo’Burg, 19:30 flight back to USA)

The only concerns I have are really around Etosha. We've never been to Africa before so of course seeing the wildlife is important to us. Questions keep running through my mind (are we spending enough time in Etosha? Are we staying at the right camps? Will we have good wildlife viewing? Etc). I know everyone swears by Okaukuejo but from what I can gather we'll be there at the tail end of the rainy season and the viewing at the west and eastern sides of the parks tends to be better during these times (hence Dolomite and Namutoni).

I know that 1-night stays are generally to be avoided, but we just don't have enough time! (isn't that always the case)? Should I take a day away from Swakop or Grootberg and add it to Etosha? Could I get away with not doing the Living Desert Tour since I'm doing Sandwich Harbour? Do I really need that third night at Grootberg? Burning questions I tell you!

Any feedback would be most welcome, and again thank you all for all the support thus far. Two more months!

--E

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

Well that is a great tour you have put together and I like your reasoning. However I can see where you may be concerned too and tend to agree as as I read down I found myself asking "why?" and then getting to your comments I see you asking the same thing.

Swak and Grootberg seem to be the pinch points for time "wasting!" Or more correctly using your limited time better.

Could you rejig days 18&19 to combine something? i.e. Is Tommy's Tour and the Sandwich harbour trip not much the same? Are you risking duplicating here? Maybe others could confirm/deny this?

Same for Grootberg.

What are you going all day on 24th while waiting for the sun to go down for your horse ride? could you not go rhino tracking that day too?

Rhino tracking starts very early, 5 ish. We were picnicking by lunch time.

Three nights at Grootberg is what we spent too and loved it but we did the desert elephant tracking from there too. Just a thought.

any time saved at Swak, Camp Kipwe or Grootberg would be useful to go into Etosha.

However, even if you leave it as it is all is not lost.

The drive from Grootberg into Etosha via Galton Gate is quite swift. (Fill up with Fuel in Kamanjab, there is no more until Okaukuejo) 200km so your first afternoon in Etosha is a game drive and you pass two good game viewing areas on the way to Dolomite Camp.

It is a long journey from Dolomite to Halali too. I wonder if you should swop Namutoni for a night at Okaukuejo anyway irrespective of any 'savings' you can glean from elsewhere? You may regret missing Okaukuejo even for one night. I don't care for the place as it is too busy for my tastes but I still would not drive by.

One other possible saving is in Windhoek. Depending on your ETA I would pick up the car and head out for Sesreim.

I have tried to help but it ain't easy to decide what to drop out. Camp Kipwe altogether would solve a lot of your dilemma.??

Stanley, Falkland...
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2. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

Are you sure you can combine Sandwich Harbour with anything else?

I, too, would be reluctant to miss Okaukuejo, even for one night.

Although, I ve not been to either, I would be inclined to drop Kipwe for Grootberg, just to save transits, if that makes sense.

But its a great trip whatever you decide.

Hermanus, South...
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3. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

I also would drive straight from Windhoek to Sesriem and immediately free up a day there.

You have the night in Joburg to recover from the flight from the USA, and Windhoek doesn't have an awful lot to offer...so unless you are imagining you are going to be unbelievably tired after the journey I would skip Windhoek.

Several companies do the Sandwich Harbour tour... I like the Turnstone Tours one, but that is a full day so you can't combine that with seal kayaking (which is fab by the way) I would be inclined to go for the full day Sandwich Harbour over the half day living desert...but both are good tours.

I have to wave a big flag here for Camp Kipwe. I stayed there last month and really was very good. (Lodge reports will come eventually...honest!)

The staff and the food were fab. We did the desert elephant game drive and the guides are very good. We found a whole herd of elephants.

Sundowners on top of the hill are really lovely...they bring snacks and cushions and chairs up for you.

Overall it really had a very personalized feel to it which is lacking at some places.... so I wouldn't skip it. Plus you are right close to the rock engravings if that sort of things floats your boat.

Also stayed at Grootberg...now also I wouldn't skip here either. Fab pool overlooking an awesome view. Excellent service (owners were there, as well as us on our inspection...but from feedback I think the standard is always high) I didn't do the activities...but again never heard anything but good reports from clients and on here. Contemplated rhino tracking but Feb was just too darn hot to walk anywhere!!!

Dolomite was great...you can hardly believe it is run by NWR so 2 nights there is good.

Okaukuejo towards the end of May can be ok, although there has been an awful lot of rain. I would be inclined to go for Onguma Bush Camp over Namutoni. It is recently refurbished and really lovely...practically the same price but the food is excellent and the service is awesome. Way better than Namutoni.

Gemma Dry - Discover Namibia Safaris

Nashville, Tennessee
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4. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

West Coast-

Sounds like a great trip you have planned. Enjoy! I too began to second guess and question and things got closer (we are leaving in 3 days!). If you listen to the 3 experts above, you will have no problems. As you know, Mfuwe, Peter and Gemma are amazing.

We are taking a similar treck (minus Sossus at the beginning). We leave in 3 days and fly through Johannesburg. We will be doing the seal trecking, staying at Kipwe, Grootberg, Dolomite, Halali and Frans Indongo as well. I will post a trip report and reviews when we return. I will let you know about any issues or game viewing issues. We did not have a flexible schedule, so rainy season or not, this is when we were going.

I hope you enjoy your trip!

Isle of Man, United...
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5. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

<<doing the seal trecking,>>

that'll be a first! Stay in the Kayak.

Have a good one Stephen. The day you never thought would arrive is just over 48 hours away!

@GD. Camp Camp Kipwe. Yes, we know why you liked it. We saw the pictures!

But I think WDH gets the short straw if the schedules are right.

Sacramento...
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6. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

Thanks everyone for the replies thus far. Decisions, decisions. Woe is me for having to choose between such wonderful options :)

I really went back and forth on the night in Windhoek, but in the end decided that it's probably the smart thing to do. We arrive in Jo'Burg after a total travel time of ~24 hours, which comes on top of an 8-9 hour time-change from the West Coast of the USA. Hopping on a 6am flight the next morning and then driving out from Windhoek immediately for a ~6 hour drive (in a stick shift that we're not really familiar with) just didn't seem like a great idea. This way we get to sleep in a bit later in Jo'Burg, and spend an extra night resting. Jet lag is a cruel mistress.

@ Mfuwe: The night of the 24th at Grootberg is probably not really necessary, but I had it on the itinerary just in case we were unable to see the Desert Ele’s at Kipwe; I figured we could have another chance. I may need to just cross my fingers and hope for the best and go with two nights at Grootberg.

@ Peter: Sandwich-Harbour 4x4 offers the Kayak + SH tour combo on their website (07:45 – 16:30). I realize it might be a bit more rushed that a full-day SH tour, but we really wanted to do both, and I assume it can be done!

@ Gemma: I definitely want to stay at both Kipwe and Grootberg. These two lodges, along with Sossus are at the top of my list for accommodations, so keep waiving your flag!

@ Stephen: I will be following your trip with interest, since it is so similar to ours. My only concern is waiting too long to make changes. We love to travel during the “shoulder season” wherever we go, and so far we’ve had good luck. My hope now is that it stops raining immediately, and dries up for the next two months ;)

Couple more questions: Has anyone done both the Sandwich Harbor tour and Tommy’s tour? If I drop Tommy’s (and a night in Swakop) will I get at least some of same experience on the tour to SH? If I drop one night in Grootberg and one in Swakop that would give me a couple more to add to Etosha. I could do something like 2 nights at Dolomite, 1 night at Okaukuejo, 1 night at Halali, and 2 nights at either Namutoni (or Onguma per Gemma’s suggestion). Is this too much time? Just right?

Thanks again!

--E

Isle of Man, United...
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7. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

Not done the tours so cannot comment.

But for Etosha I would take two at Halali over Namutoni any time.

More central so you can fan out West or East. You can take in some of Namutoni's 'western' tracks on your way in there so in effect get two days there for one night.

Thus,

Day 1 drive in to Okuakuejo from Dolomite covers west area Okendeka and Spooky wood.. Night at OK's waterhole.

Day 2 drive to Halali covering ground to Ok's east and Halali's west. Nigth at Halali Waterhole.

Day 3. Wander at will. Up to Salvador area in early morning as gates open.

Late brunch and a snooze. 15.30 out east to Goas and around there. another Halali Waterhole evening.

Day 4. Slowly head east to Springbokfontein and around by Okerfontein. Up to Tsumscor and around Fischers Pan. Not such a good waterhole at Namutoni.

Day 5. Take a look up to Adoni plains before heading out the gate after lunch. Still time to get to FI Lodge.

Just my thoughts.

Nashville, Tennessee
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8. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

West coast-

I wouldn't mind the rain stopping today either.;) I hope we get the benefit of a greener horizon and scenery without significant loss of game viewing. Maybe it will dry up a lot before you get there. Improves the waterhole viewing.

We made a change to our itinerary about 3 weeks before leaving without any difficulty.

Hermanus, South...
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9. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

If it were me going on my hols in May..... I would go Dolomite to Halali to either Onguma or Mushara. Skip Namutoni (it's not good) (the area is good but the camp itself is very *********. But that'll give you a good mix of camps and the best opportunity to maximise your game viewing

Isle of Man, United...
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10. Re: Two Months to Go - Itinerary Check!

Would you really skip Okuakuejo Missee D?

Heck even I would give it one night which is one more than I will give Sesreim in future.