Namibia: July 2010 Archives

Up to Etosha National Park

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This was the longest slog of the trip, but the roads were all actually quite nice.  In the town of Omaruru along the way, Naveena and Lillie somehow found themselves on a tour of a place making paper out of elephant poop.  A nice bonus.


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We arrived at the Etosha gate with not a whole lot of time to spare before they closed at sunset.  We were spending our first night here at Okaukuejo.  Within minutes of entering we saw our first jackal, giraffes, zebras, and elephants.

Here’s a lilac-breasted roller (otherwise, not a lot of birding on this trip):


One of the nice features of the accommodations inside the park is that they have floodlit waterholes.  Basically that means that after you eat dinner, you can take a short stroll from your room to a nearby waterhole and watch animal activity all night.

As soon as we walked up to the Okaukuejo waterhole, so did a pair of black rhinos to grab a drink.

Then on came another black rhino with her youngin’.

I shot both of those at 300mm with a Better Beamer Flash Extender.  I got that thing in the mail right before I left, so sadly never got to practice using it before this.  Pretty satisfied with the first time results nevertheless.  Also pretty satisfying to see black rhinos for the first time.

That’s how our first few hours at Etosha went—many more wildlife photos to come from the next two days in the park…

Swakopmund

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The drive from Sossus Dune Lodge to the coastal town of Swakopmund was definitely the bumpiest of the trip.


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However there was some nice and constantly changing scenery, and we picked up the obligatory Tropic of Capricorn photo.  This was the second time we've driven across this line of latitude (Madagascar the other time), so you can see I was very excited about that:

We pulled into Swakopmund right at sunset, where my sister snapped this one:

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We checked into Villa Margherita and this place was pure class.  Everything was immaculate, and the staff amazingly professional and friendly.  Sitting by the fireplace, drinking red wine, and enjoying the wifi on our iPhones (1 iPhone:1 person ratio) was a delight.

Also a delight was The Tug restaurant for dinner.  This was our opportunity to skip the red game meat and enjoy some fresh seafood, and it didn't disappoint.

But what is Swakopmund really known for?  It's the birthplace of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.  So Lillie and Naveena posed outside this hospital. 

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However, it should be noted that a later Google search shows this hospital has absolutely nothing to do with Brangelina.

Anyway, Swakopmund was a really delightful place--we all would have loved to have lazed around Villa Margherita and the rest of town for a few days.  Next time!

Sunrise at Sossusvlei

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Email and RSS subscribers will need to click over to klugusamy.com to view some content below—sorry 'bout that.

There’s nothing like waking up at 3:45am when on vacation.  That we did, and we were on the 60km road to Sossusvlei around 4:30am. 


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The last 5km of this stretch is a soft sand track where 4x4 is required.  It was dark, not really sign posted, and we were the first ones through so there was nobody to follow.  It was rather a fun drive!

With no problems at all, we found our way into the parking area for Sossusvlei.  A German couple arrived shortly after, and much later the small group tour from Sossus Dune Lodge.  We chose different dunes to climb, so we were essentially alone for sunrise.

As a result, we had lots of fresh sand to tread on in the remaining pre-dawn minutes.  Here is Lillie’s iPhone sunrise video edited with Windows Movie Maker:

 

Now, here’s a collection of photos from Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei:

 

On the way out we got into a wee bit of trouble with the Land Rover—I zigged when we should have zagged.  As soon as we realized I had made a wrong turn out of the parking area, the car was no longer moving as it was stuck in sand.  Whoops!

Credit to the whole family for not panicking.  I got the car unstuck, however in the process overheated the engine.  Here’s a bunch of folks who know nothing about cars surveying the scene:

A little bit of (unnecessary) adventure added to the trip.  We then headed back to Sossus Dune Lodge to clean up, pack our bags, and move on.  Next stop Swakopmund.

Windhoek to Sesriem and Dune 45

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After breakfast at Terra Africa, we loaded up the Land Rover and headed southeast towards Namib-Naukluft National Park via Spreetshoogte Pass.


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Bratwursts were on the lunch menu at Café Van Der Lee in Solitaire, followed by Moose McGregor’s apple pie—which was also good enough for the boys on Long Way Down.  I’ll add the photo of that pie at a later date as my sister Naveena is holding it hostage on her memory card.

However I do have this artsy snap from Naveena in Solitaire:

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We followed the sign to C19 pictured above to check into Sossus Dune Lodge.  This place set a personal record for most expensive accommodations, but I was totally happy with the decision.  It consists of 25 chalets that are within the national park, and looking out towards the dunes.

Since it’s inside the park you (along with folks at the Sesriem Campsite) get access to a side road that lets you stay longer and leave earlier.  This allowed us to be the last to leave Dune 45 at sunset, and the very first to arrive for sunrise at Sossusvlei.  Excellent.

Rooms were also in excellent condition and well-furnished.  The open shower was killer:


After a short rest in our respective rooms, we headed out to Dune 45 for sunset.  There was only one tour bus there, so not too bad.  Here’s my mom blazing the trail for the rest of us:


The family from (sorta) the top:


Back at the lodge we had dinner, then hit the hay as we had a planned 4:30am departure the next morning to be at Sossusvlei for sunrise…

Arriving in Windhoek, Namibia

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On day one within an hour’s time at Johannesburg airport, my parents arrived on South African Airways from JFK, my sister on British Airways from Heathrow, and Lillie and I on Kenya Airways from Amsterdam/Nairobi.

We then all met up in the South African Airways lounge before flying to Windhoek, Namibia together.  All of this thanks to miles from Delta, United, Continental, American, and even BMI.

We were met right on time at the Windhoek airport by Bushlore with a Land Rover Discovery LR3.  Lillie and I have experienced botched airport pick ups in Entebbe, Uganda and Antananarivo, Madagascar in the past, so this was a welcome treat.

Off to town we went.  At the Checkers grocery store in Maerua Mall we picked up some snacks for the driving ahead.  How could I resist purchasing something (sorta) named after our dog?  They were not particularly tasty, however.

Lil' Zizou

Dinner was at the much hyped Joe’s Beerhouse---nice place, glad we went, but at the end of the day nothing to get too excited about.  Lillie, however, discovered her drink for the trip. 

We spent the night at Terra Africa, which I thought was nice and a good value.

We watched our first African sunset of the trip from their back courtyard overlooking Robert Mugabe Avenue (which at one junction amazingly intersects with Nelson Mandela Avenue).

In transit through Amsterdam

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Lillie went to Africa for her 30th birthday, so it was only proper to repeat the same for myself.

Thus we're currently in Amsterdam en route to Namibia--plus we'll be meeting up with my parents and sister in Johannesburg in not too long.  (All our flight tickets were another award redemption coup--five premium class award tickets to South Africa in peak season using different award programs and all arriving the same morning.)

We just got back from a little excursion to Amsterdam after arriving this morning from the Northwest.  We rented bikes and cruised out to Uitdam and back—Marken further north was our target, but time and energy ran a little short.


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I'll spare you the airplane food photos from the Delta flight over, but feel it is important to point out the pancake machine now operating at a few of the Alaska Airlines Board Rooms.

Pancake Machine!

That's all for now.  Hopefully can snag some good sand dune and rhino photos in the coming week...stay tuned!