10 April 2019 - 1 May 2019 > 22 days
First time Namibia, a self-drive safari in this east-african country. We actually started our holiday on the 9th of April because we had an evening / night flight to Namibia. But we will count the 10th of April as the first day because then (at 10:38 am) we arrived in Windhoek.
Don't forget to click on the maps to open very detailed Google maps (created using a Garmin GPS tracker) of the specific days of our holiday.
Only day 1 to 6 are published so far !
Day 1 - Arriving in Windhoek, pick-up of our car and our first night in Namibia.
Today we arrived at the international airport Hosea Kutako in Windhoek after our flight from Amsterdam.
The first thing we had to do was pick-up our rental car, a Toyota Hilux, from Avis. We expected a car with closed canopy and long-range fuel tank so were a bit disappointed when a "regular" Hilux was ready for us. As Avis did not have the car we expected, we couldn’t upgrade. The main thing that worried us was fuel, especially shortage of fuel. Avis had marked the petrol stations on the map and there were fewer than expected. We discussed this with the Avis guy and apparently only the petrol stations on the beaten track were marked on their map. We decided that this car would do the job and might even be very comfortable. The second spare tire was ready (better be safe than sorry) so, after filling the tank to the max, we went on our way.
We bought some groceries at Maerua Mall and got our permit voor the Namib Naukluft park at the MET. And then we drove a bit through this part of Windhoek. After this, we checked in at Londiningi Guest House and had a bit of a rest in their garden, enjoying the birds and the peace.
We had dinner at La Marmite and sat outside in the back where locals were trying to set-up a big screen for an important football match. We had chicken livers with garlic for starters and highly recommend it! We were exhausted after dinner and went straight to bed.
Day 2 - Driving from Windhoek to Swakopmund via Tinkas Plains.
Our first real drive in Namibia, we're excited! We drove off at 8:48 in the morning and reached our destination (347 km) at exactly 18:00. Great timing.
We had decided to take the scenic C28 to Swakopmund because we wanted to visit Bloedkoppe and the Tinkas. It was easy to get out of Windhoek and we were on our way to adventure! Soon we reach the gravel road and spot Chacma baboon and a Steenbok. A small Leopard Tortoise is crossing the road and we help it along. Some Gemsbok cross the road in front of us in a hurry.
Around halfway we reach the steep gradients (20%!) of the Boshua Pass. We see so much wildlife and we’re not in a national park or even a wildlife reserve. When we enter the Namib Naukluft NP, we go right on the 4x4 trail and find some interesting wildlife, mainly birds, all adapted to the harsh conditions of this desert. The scenery around the Tinkas Plains and Bloedkoppe is stunning with very interesting rock formations. Next time we really should camp out here!
As it is already getting late we skip the Welwitschia Drive and drive directly to Desert Breeze Lodge. We enjoy the view of the desert in front of us with a glass of wine and the last light. We have dinner at The Tug Restaurant, which is in a great location but after dark there is no view, only the black of the ocean. The complete opposite of the view from our room at Desert Breeze - the desert sand kind of glows and it’s not dark at all. With this great view we go to sleep.
Day 3 - Living Desert Tour and birding in the afternoon.
The next morning after breakfast we are picked up by Grant from Living Desert Adventures.
" .... While Douglas explains how the wind shapes the Dunes and how the food chain works in this desert, Grant is searching for reptiles. Soon he finds the Namib Sand Gecko. A nocturnal Gecko, almost transparent with huge eyes to see in the dark. After taking pictures, a hole is created for the Gecko and we watch him dig a new tunnel. Meanwhile we see different Tenebrionid Beetles, known as Tok Tokkies. We’ll see many more this holiday. ...."
Other finds are FitzSimon’s Burrowing Skink and no less than 5 different Namaqua Chameleons! The best sighting though was that of the Dwarf Beaked Snake, a tiny but beautiful snake.
In the afternoon we go birding by ourselves. First we drive to the Swakopmund Saltworks, north of the town. We find Greater and Lesser Flamingo and other birds but we don’t like the scenery. We decide to go to the Walvis Bay Bird Sanctuary but can only find a big shopping mall on the spot where it is supposed to be. We find no signs to direct us so we decide to drive to Walvis Bay Lagoon. We enjoy watching flamingo and some other birds and head back to Swakopmund as we do not want to drive in the dark.
Day 4 - Driving to Terrace Bay via the Dead Sea and Cape Cross Seal Reserve
Today we have a long day ahead, driving to Terrace Bay in the Skeleton Coast National Park. We rise early and after breakfast we drink one more coffee, enjoying the spectacular views from Desert Breeze Lodge. We stock up with petrol, groceries and lots of Biltong (beef, oryx, kudu, springbok and different spices) and leave Swakopmund behind.
After a short visit of Henties Bays our Garmin gps beeps and signals that we have reached the turn-off to the Dead Sea. We’ve read that it’s a quirky and off-the-beaten-track point of interest but that’s all we know about it. After driving a flat expanse we reach an area that is less flat. We stop the car to explore. We find rosy stones and small plants and lichen. It’s beautiful. We we don’t see anything that looks like a dead sea. We decide to check the Garmin and apparently we have reached an old rose quartz mine. A bit further on is a mica mine and still a bit further is the dead sea. We explore the area and are happy we took the turn-off.
Next stop is the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. We were warned that it would be very smelly and noisy. The noisy part is true but we did not mind the smell that much. There were thousands and thousands of seals - sleeping, bobbing on land and in the water. They drape themselves on and around rocks and look adorable.
Just before 3 pm we reach the gate of the Skeleton Coast NP and check in. Next stop is the wreck of the South West Seal. There is not much left of the ship but it’s a good reason to have a coffee break and take some pictures.
Next we explore the abandoned oil rig and make a very short stop at Toscanini, an old diamond mine. What impressed us most is the subtle changes in the landscape. The dunes change colour all the time and are sometimes pure sand, other times rocky. In some areas there are bushes, in other areas only very small plants or (seemingly) nothing at all. And when you see a green carpet of dollar bush, you know you are crossing a river mouth.
We reach Terrace Bay at 18:00. The rooms are pretty simple but are spacious and clean. In a way it’s the perfect accommodation for this place. No luxury, no frills, just wind and the ocean and the pebbles on the beach.
Day 5 - Driving to Etendeka Mountain Camp via Palmwag
After breakfast we walk to the ocean beach to see if we can find some interesting stuff and we bump into a black-backed jackal. We’ve seen many of them but never with the ocean as a backdrop. After filling up with petrol we drive back to the junction with C39 where we turn left and head towards Damaraland. It’s an abrupt change of scenery. Greyish dunes and rock are replaced bij reddish rocks and flat topped mountains. A lot of Welwitschia plants grow close to the road. The plants have only two leaves but they are torn up by the wind. The female plants have a few big conical flowers and the male plants have lots of small flowers. We get out to try and track down the Welwitschia bug.
Entering Damaraland we see the first giraffes and springbok. We stop for coffee and explore the bushes for creepy-crawlers and find a couple Giant African Millipedes. We park our car at Palmwag Lodge where we will be picked up at 16:00 and transferred to Etendeka Mountain Camp. We have lunch at Palmwag lodge and get company from a lovely Bokmakierie. We’re happy to leave Palmwag and head for the remoter Etendeka Mountain Camp. It’s a 1,5 hour scenic drive and the scenery is amazing. We see many Steenbok which aren’t skittish at all. After checking in at this amazing camp we walk up ‘Sundowner Hill’ to enjoy the views of the Etendeka mountains. We are welcomed back with G&Ts and after a lovely dinner we go to sleep.
Day 6 - Nature walk and scenic game drive at Etendeka
After breakfast we enjoy a second coffee while watching the birdbath. There are many different birds but the highlight of this morning is seeing a Sengi, or elephant-shrew! It’s a funny looking creature with big ears and a long nose. When doing a guided safari the guides always ask you what you want to see, expecting to hear lions and leopards. We always say: an elephant-shrew, a checkered one if possible! And now we have seen one and really have had the time to observe.
On our morning walk we do not see much wildlife but the walk is interesting nevertheless. The rocks are glittering and on closer inspection we find many crystals.
Afterwards we sit by the birdbath - a daytime bush-tv. We have lunch and take a lovely outside bucket-shower and head straight back for coffee and more bush-tv. A bird hops by and Bo, our host, tells us afterwards that this is a big tick for many birdwatchers - the Benguela long-billed lark, endemic to this region.
After tea we had out on an afternoon scenic drive. Due to the drought there are not many animals around. The scenery is beautiful though and we relax and enjoy. We stop for a sun-downer and it is so tranquil in this flat-topped mountain area. Before dinner Bo is entertaining us with great stories around the campfire. We have seen a Sengi today, a day to remember.