Tropic of Capricorn

“Everything you do is based on the choices you make”

Wayne Dyer

We decided to hire a RV for our two week trip to Namibia, unfortunately what we didn’t realise was that only the  main highway in Namibia is paved, the rest is dirt roads.  While dirt roads don’t seem so back they are with an RV, everything shook tremendously, so much so that the last day in the RV I opened a cupboard and a plate fell out smashing the glass cover over the burners, an expensive mistake.  I had also pre-booked campsites throughout Namibia in Fish Canyon (second biggest canyon in the world) and down near the sand dunes.  We did make it to the Fish Canyon campsite, unfortunately when trying to drive to fish canyon the whole RV shook so much we had to turn around and go back to camp.  After the attempted drive to Fish Canyon we cancelled our accommodation down at the sand dunes and extended Etosha by a night.

While the RV was not really suited to Namibia, it did have some advantages, like air conditioning, it was incredibly hot at the end of February in Namibia and we could at least cool off inside the RV during the hottest parts of the day and relax.  The RV also allowed for us to stop at water holes in the parks and cook lunch or breakfast while watching the animals.

Overall the RV is good for paved roads and probably a couple or family with only two children, a bit of a tight squeeze for a family of 6.  But we had a lot off fun during our two weeks.DSCF7124 (800x400)

We hired our RV, a vista 6, through Helderberg Camper Hire.  We booked with only a few weeks notice so it was a little hard to find a place that had a RV available.  There are quite a few camper hire places surrounding the Cape Town area.  For the link for the one we used click here.

Etosha National Park – February 2016

Etosha National Park is located in the northwest of Namibia, in the Kunene area. The Etosha pan was first discovered by Europeans in 1851 while in the company of Ovambo Traders.  The meaning of Etosha is ‘The Great White Place” in the Ovambo language.

On March the 22, 1907 the park was made into a game reserve by the governor of the German side of South-west Africa and was originally 100, 000 km.  Over time the park boundaries changed, until its current size of  22 270 km in 1970.

The Etosha Park is the habitat to hundreds of animals (birds, reptiles and mammals).  During the 1970s and 1980s the park suffered droughts and crossfire of the border war between Namibia, South Africa and Angola which wiped out a majority of the wildlife.  Conservation efforts have seen an increase in park animals, so that it is now a great place to view them. 

The Etosha pan is huge and can be seen from space. Some people believe that the Etosha pan was made 100 million years ago. The winter in Etosha is a dry season where there is plenty of time to find animals drinking, bathing or playing in the waterholes. Bird lovers should enjoy summer there as the vegetation is beautiful and lush because of all the rain so it attracts birds and other animals.

Day 1

We arrived around lunch time and did our first game drive mid afternoon, where we saw lots of deer, zebras and giraffes.  We stayed at the Okaukuejo campsite and we had jackals walking around our campsite as well as huge social weaver’s nests in the nearby trees.

Afternoon Game Drive

Around Okaukuejo campsite in the early evening, a jackal was sniffing around the RV looking for food and the trees nearby had huge social weaver nests.

Day 2

Our early morning game drive took us to a waterhole where we saw nothing, no animals.  We sat for a while and decided we should move on so we didn’t miss seeing the early morning animal activity.  We drove around a while and everyone was getting hungry for breakfast so we we went back to the original waterhole and were surprised to see a lot of female elephants, babies and juveniles.  While watching the elephants, mum cooked breakfast which we enjoyed.

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During our afternoon game drive, we saw a lot of deer, buffalo and giraffe.  I love this photo of the giraffe, just watching us from above the trees.

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Our second night in Etosha we stayed in Halali Campsite and were enjoying an afternoon sun-downer when Andrew spotted the little critter below, known as a honey badger.  The honey badger was pretty oblivious to all the campers but got very up close and personal with German tourists, walking right up to their picnic food and stealing their raw sausages.  He was a bit cheeky.

Day 3

We did another early morning game drive which had a thrilling end, when heading back to our campsite we encountered three large teenage males walking down the road towards us.  Two of them ventured off the road, but the biggest was unhappy with us being there, flapped his ears and headed straight for us.  Andrew threw the RV in reverse and got out of his way.  Its amazing how big they are when they get that close.  

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Our afternoon game drive took us to more waterholes where we saw black faced impala, which are native to Namibia and banded mongoose relaxing on the middle of the sign on the road.

Day 4

Our last game drive in Etosha we saw lots of gemsbok (onyx) which I think are the prettiest of the deer, ostrich and zebra.

The beautiful gemsbok

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We saw zebra throughout the park, put on the morning game drive there were herds around the waterhole and we saw a real zebra crossing.

We saw our first lion at Etosha around the waterhole which was filled with zebra and deer, none of which were concerned with her being there.  We also saw a few herds of ostrich on our morning drive.

I thought that seeing all the animals out there was quite spectacular and it was definetly a once in a lifetime experience. The Etosha National Park had a lot of animals in it, I especially liked seeing the lions and the cute baby animals.

During our time in Etosha, both Max and Ava had a go at steering the RV.

Tourist Information for Etosha National Park

Cost: Foriegn Adults – $80 per day, SADC Adults- $60 per day, Namibian Adults – $30 per day, Children under 16 are free.

Vehicle Costs: Motor vehicles with less than 10 seats – $10 per day, 11 – 25 seats – $40 per day and 26 – 50 seats – $300 per day.

Opening and Closing Times – The park opens at sunrise and closes at sunset, this time varies throughout the year, but you can check the website for details.

Park Entrance: There are four gates that you can enter the park:

  • Anderson’s Gate – Southern end of the park via C38
  • Von Lindequist Gate – Eastern side of the park via the B1
  • Galton Gate – south-western end of the park
  • King Nehale Lya Mpingana Gate – northern end of the park, 48 km from Ondangwa.

Accommodation:

  • Dolomite Camp – Located in the restricted western side of the park.  Accommodation is in permanent luxury tents, with no enclosure surrounding them.  Facilities include a restaurant, pool, bar, shop and viewing platform.  Game drives in this area are only for guests staying at the camp.
  • Halali Camp – Located between the Namutoni and Okaukuejo camps.  Accommodation includes camping, bush chalets (2 – 4 beds and has a kitchen) or double en-suite rooms.  Facilities at the camp include a restaurant, bar, pool, shop and its own floodlit waterhole.
  • Namutoni Camp – Located in the eastern section of the park near the Von Lindequist gate.  Accommodation includes, chalets (2 beds, en-suite bathroom), double rooms with en-suite and camping with communal bathroom.  Facilities at the camp include two restaurants, pool, craft shop, curio shop, petrol station and a viewing deck over a water hole.
  • Okaukuejo Rest Camp – Located at the south end of the park, near Anderson’s gate. Accommodation consists of waterhole chalets (one or two bedroom, en-suite), bush chalet with braii facilities and a campsite with communal bathrooms.  Additionally it has a restaurant, pool, floodlit water hold, shop, petrol station and bar.
  • Olifantsrus Camp – located in the remote western side of park.  Accommodation is camping only and has 10 campsites with a maximum of 8 people per site.  Facilities at the campsite include information centre, kiosk selling drinks and light meals, communal kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Onkoshi Camp –  The camp is located in the north-eastern section of the park and is described as an exclusive camp sitting near the salt pan. There are 15 chalets overlooking the salt pans each with two 3/4 size beds.  Camp runs mainly on solar power. Facilities include pool, restaurant and game drives.  Guests are picked up from the Namutoni camp.

Official Website: http://www.etoshanationalpark.org/

Written and researched by Ava, photos by mum

 

Kgalagasi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park

The Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park is located in Southern Africa, in a large sand-filled basin known as the Kalahari, the meaning in Kgalagadi is ‘the land which dried up’.  The park is a wildlife reserve and covers parts of both South Africa and Botswana. The park is 38 000 km, 3/4 of the park is Botswana land and 1/4 is South Africa’s land. Kalahari National Park is made up of red sand dunes, very little vegetation and a few trees and little rivers or streams.

The National park has many animals like, mammals, birds and reptiles. The most amazing animals to see would be, lions, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards. The most common animals that are seen are, wildebeest, springbok, eland and vultures.

I think that the national park was amazing but very dry. I thought that the lions with the black manes were also very cool. We saw a female lion trying to get into some sot of animal like maybe a tortoise.

Day 1

After leaving Windhoek we arrived in the Kalahri Transfrontier Park, as we first entered we watched a string of giraffes slowly ambling along with the red desert sands in the background.  There had been recent rain, so there was new fluorescent green grass.  There was also herds of springbok, which kept us entertained with their bouncing around and headbutting.  Its amazing how both the giraffes and springbok blended so well into the Kalahari colours.

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Giraffes ambling along

Herds of very cute springbok

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Twee Rivieren Campsite

Day 2

We got up bright and early for a game drive.  There was much excitement when we spot this small group of adolescent lions.

Everyone was amazed as we came across a second pride of lions that had not one, but two male lions with the black manes.  There seemed to be no animosity between the males.  One of the male lions relaxed beside a female with two young cubs, it almost looked like Dad was on babysitting duty while mum slept.

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Nearby the first male was a second one, he seemed quite happy to relax on his own.

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We had one very curious adolescent lion who seemed to spot Max and Ava in the RV sitting on the main bed looking out the window.  He/she was quite keen to get a closer look.

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Another lion found what at first glance looked like a coconut but was actually a tortoise curled up in its shell.  She eventually gave up and left it alone.  It was still alive.

As there had been recent rain, there wildflowers out in parts of the park.

We did an organised game drive on our last night at the park.  It was a little disappointing as we had hoped the guide would know great spots to find some of the big game animals.  We did see this brown hyena, which was the first one we had seen in southern Africa and very different to the ones mum and dad had seen in eastern Africa.

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Tourist Information on the Kalahari Transfrontier Park

Cost for Conservation and Entry Fees: 

  • South African residents: Adults – $82, Children -$41
  • SADC residents: Adults – $164, Children – $82
  • Foreign visitors: Adults – $328, Children – $164  

Opening Hours – The gate opening and closing hours vary each month.  To find out the monthly times use this web address: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kgalagadi/tourism/get_there.php#gate

Accommodation: Below is a brief outline of the accommodation available in the park, for more information on the cost and to book click here.

  • Twee Rivieren – Accommodation includes family cottages, chalets and campsites.  Facilities include a shop, fuel, restaurant, information centre and pool.  The campsite also has 24hr electricity and cell phone reception.
  • Mata-Mata Rest Camp – Located on the western side of the park and borders Namibia.  Accommodation includes chalets, family chalets and campsites.  Facilities include swimming pool, shop and fuel facilities.  The camp has electricity for 16 hours a day, but no cell phone reception.
  • Nossob Rest Camp – Located on the dry riverbed of the Nossob.  Accommodation includes two guesthouses, cottages and campsites.  Facilities include a swimming pool, information centre, shop and fuel.  The campsite has electricity for 16 hours a day but no phone reception.
  • Bitterpan – Accessible by 4 x 4 only and guests must be over 12 years of age.  The camp is unfenced.  There is no shop or fuel facilities at the site and guests need to bring their own water and firewood.
  • Grootkolk – The campsite is in the dunes overlooking a waterhole.  Guests must be over the age of 12 as the campsite is unfenced. Accommodation includes 4 x 2 bed chalets.  Facilities include a commnal kitchen and braai.
  • Kalahari Tented Camp – Located 3 km from the Mata-Mata Rest Camp. Guests must be over the age of 12 as the campsite is unfenced.  Accommodation includes luxury honeymoon tent, 4 family tents (two beds and a stack bed), 10 two bed tents.  Facilities include a swimming pool, waterhole, although there are no shops or fuel onsite, they can be accessed from the Mata-Mata Rest Camp 3 km away.  Guests need to bring own drinking water and firewood.  There is gas for hotwater and cooking and solar for lighting.
  • Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp – Located 50 km from Twee Rivieren in a sunken sand dune.  As the camp is unfenced guests must be over 12 years of age.   Accommodation includes 3 dune cabins and 1 cabin adapted for mobility impaired.  Each cabin has two single beds, bathroom and kitchen.  Campsite uses gas for hotwater and for fridge/freezer, solar for lights and has braai facilities. There is no shop or petrol supplies the closest place for them is at Twee Rivieren.  Guests must bring own drinking water and firewood.
  • Urikaruus Wilderness Camp – Located 72 km from Twee Rivieren on the road to Mata-Mata.  Accommodation is in one of the 4 riverside stilted cabins.  EAch cabin has two single beds, bathroom and kitchen.  The fridge/freezer and hot water are run on gas and the lights run from solar power.  Braai facilities are available.  There is no shops or fuel station, the closed to ones are at Twee Rivieren.  Guests must bring own drinking water and firewood.
  • Gharagab Wilderness Camp – located on the far northern region of the park.  Guests must be over 12 years of age as the campsite is unfenced.  The camp is accessible by 4 x 4 only.  Accommodation includes 4 log cabins, each with two single beds, bathroom and kitchen.  The fridge/freezer and hot water is run on gas and there are solar powered lights.  Braai facilities are available. There are no shops or fuel facilities at the campsite, the closest ones are at Nossob, 164 km away.  Guests must bring own drinking water and firewood.
  • !Xaus Lodge – The lodge is run by the Khomani San and Mier communities. Accommodation includes 24 bed thatched safari lodge, overlooking a large salt pan.  Facilities include a plunge pool and curio shop. Guides are available for walking tours and game drives.  You can also meet the bushmen.  For information and booking for this privately owned lodge, click on the link here.

Official Website:  https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kgalagadi/