We asked Nikki to arrange a tour of Namibia and she didn’t disappoint.
We always try to avoid the tourist bits and be a traveller not a tourist, see the real country and the road less travelled. We had a great time - we saw so many animals; discovered how diverse and friendly Namibia is; drove on sand, salt rocks, mud, and Tarmac; and had a very different experience from the package tours others took.
We flew SA airline to Joburg then onto Windhoek. Avoid SA Air - their business class is worse than economy in Virgin.
We stayed at Villa Violet. Dinner at Joe's Place is great for bush meat!
The next day, we got our Ford Ranger for our epic tour, which included:
Fish River Canyon, a long way off any road. We stayed at Fish River Lodge. Our bungalow was right on the edge of the canyon. It was cold and windy but this really is a must see. You get a chance to be driven down into the canyon - it's called Terror Pass - not without good reason. It was warmer at the bottom and we even had a chance to swim.
We then headed up to Aus Valley. Eagle's Nest has to be seen to be believed - rock-built cabins built into enormous boulders! BBQ and drinks are provided for you to cook for yourself. It was really isolated.
Onto Sossusvlei Lodge. We met up with teams on a desert rally and got to see petrified Forest and climb sand dunes in the Namib desert and even found a bakery/ patisserie 100 miles from a town!
A couple of days later, we stayed at Africat Foundation - 5* accommodation and wonderful safari drives. We even took a safari drive at midnight - there were so many animals!
We also did a walking safari and even took our picture close to two wild cheetahs. You have to stand your ground if they run at you and they will stop. If you run, you're dead!
Onto Etosha village - fortunately only one night there then to Mushaira Bush Camp.
It was our friend's birthday and the staff looked after us very well. All the kitchen staff came out singing happy birthday. We did more game drives there - too many animals to mention!
Most of the tours say to avoid the Caprivi strip saying there is nothing there and suggest flying from the coast to Victoria Falls. Nikki arranged for us to drive all the way and it was one of the most memorable parts of the trip.
It was so different from the south and coast; it was really warm and lush. We felt more like explorers and we loved the Ndhoru Safari Lodge. There was a young family running it right on the edge of the river. We woke at 4:30am to see a hippo eating the grass at the edge of the tent.
We had to drop the car off an hour away from the Botswana border and we were taken across by Namibia’s answer to Lewis Hamilton! He had forgotten his passport so we had an even faster trip back to his house and then the border.
The Botswana border was a pleasant experience, unlike the Zimbabwe one, where we queued for a couple of hours to get stung by the border guards who only want US dollars. SA rand attract a very poor exchange rate there!
Note: Zimbabwe has no currency. Very few places take credit cards so you need to remember to take US dollars.
We even tried to change money at a bank. We were apologetically told by the manager that we could only take US dollars out if we put them in his bank first!
We stayed at the 5* Ilala Lodge Hotel - we could not fault anything. We had a problem with a pre-booked river tour. On enquiring at reception, the manager took over and spent several hours resolving things with this other company for us - excellent service! And so comfortable.
The tourist police are really helpful and lead you through all the short cuts and the falls are a true wonder to see.
We would recommend an evening at Sofain Lodge for the dancing, drumming and wonderful local food. And you get a certificate once you eat a mopane worm which is a local delicacy - it was a bit chewy but okay!
Then we had to return home. ☹
Great job, Nikki. Where next?!?
Ivor & Stephanie Spencer