Namibia: January 2011 Archives

Namibia Wrap Up

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

So now I belatedly wrap up this trip report with the below final items.  Also should note that there are more adventures already in queue for 2011, so please stay tuned for those hopefully more timely updates!

  • Some of you get a kick out of this, so there's a slideshow of airplane food.  Nothing really memorable in this department since we were slumming it in business class unlike Lillie's 30th in Cathay first class.  Plus they're all taken with the iPhone, so of questionable quality.
  • My sister sent in a kind post-trip note regarding this trip.  She sent this to me for posting a full five months ago, so it seems like the time has come.


Plane food:

From my sister Naveena:

I have, like all of you faithful klugusamy.com readers, watched with envy as Vinod and Lillie go off on their many fantastic adventures in high style.  So when Vinod emailed the family almost 6 months ago to suggest that he could arrange a trip to Namibia, my ears perked up.  But I'm not someone who is capable of planning that far ahead and he said he needed an answer right away so he could begin planning the trip and securing business class tickets using miles.  I was in the process of switching jobs and couldn't really pay much attention to this so just told him to count me in, not really knowing what I had signed up for.  He did however inform us that "Satisfaction is 99% guaranteed."

Now that we're back from Namibia I can say that the trip went above and beyond a 100% level of satisfaction thanks to our intrepid travel agent and tourguide, Vinod.  A week before the trip, I still hadn't paid attention to enough detail to even know when my flight left.  But thanks to an extensive multi-media briefing from Vinod and a detailed PDF itinerary I was given to load onto my Kindle, I started to get excited and ready for the adventure.  From there I just had to show up at the airport where I proceeded to be wined and dined via an amazing first class (not even business class!) travel experience. 

Now I'm usually a pretty independent traveler and can take care of all my own arrangements, but traveling with Vinod, Lillie, Mom and Dad, pretty much meant that I should just shut up and go with the flow.  So I did what I was told and let everyone else handle details like ATM withdrawals, car rentals, hotel check-ins, GPS setting, and camera beanbag sewing (ask Lillie about that); I just had a great time mooching off the gang's flawless trip execution in order to enjoy the wonderful sightseeing. 

As you've seen from Vinod's posts and pictures, Namibia was an absolutely gorgeous country and we covered a lot of ground in our Land Rover.  As we were departing Windhoek, Namibia, we saw an African proverb written in the airport lounge that pretty much summed up my role in this trip: Omukumuniniva ke shii oule wandjula.  This translates to "One being carried does not know the distance of the road."  I will never forget the wonderful time I had on this trip and look forward to never having to arrange my own travel ever again.  Thanks Klugusamys! 

Out of Namibia

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Nothing to do on the last day except to leisurely eat breakfast at the Fig Tree, and head to the airport.  But not without one final/minor "adventure".  Halfway to the airport, my dad realized he'd left his jacket back at Fig Tree.  There was no time to turn around, but with a call to the guesthouse my dad's jacket jumped into a taxi by itself to meet us at the airport.

It was amazing how simple that coat retrieval process was.  And that's pretty indicative of how this trip went.  The only snafu that we weren't easily able to right the course on was my mom's non-veg dinner on the one day a month she's veg (?!).

Anyway, on this last day we all flew back to Johannesburg together.  Then later that day Lillie and I would continue back to Seattle, my sister would head back to Los Angeles, and my parents would spend the night at the excellent Intercontinental (only 5K Priority Club points!) at the airport before heading to Victoria Falls and Chobe the next day.

Credit: Mom Ponnusamy

This day also happened to be my 30th birthday---my parents generously (but not sneakily) provisioned some slices of cheese and carrot cake from the Intercontinental restaurant, and stuck some matches in it.  There are countless worse ways to celebrate than being in southern Africa with (most of) my family.

Check out all this high quality Namibia schwag!  I've seriously never seen my dad so excited about buying something as he was with that vest.

Credit: Lillie Klugusamy

Riding in the upper deck of the A380 out of Jo'burg and up to Paris was also a nice way to round off the day.  Plus there was time for one last birthday Windhoek in the Air France lounge before leaving the continent.

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Back to Windhoek

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Last full day of the trip, and one last long drive to get back to Windhoek for our flights out the next morning.


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We made only one stop along the way at a craft market with some relatively aggressive hawkers.  But those guys weren't going to faze my sister, so she bargained her way to a decent price on some souvenirs.  The rest of us got out of there pretty quickly with empty hands.

Back in Windhoek in the early afternoon, we checked into Fig Tree Guesthouse.  This place was absolutely perfect for a final night.  We enjoyed sitting in their garden/pool area drinking red wine by a fireplace and catching up with the wireless internet.

Credit: Mom Ponnusamy

Also made a stop down the street at Maerua mall (the largest shopping mall in all of Namibia!), and for some reason ended up with a midday to-go snack from Panarottis Pizza .  I was successful in unloading a lot of Namibian change there.

Finally, we ended the night at the restaurant Fusion, owned and operated by a Namibian woman.  We ordered some pan fried mopane worms--they were neither disgusting nor delicious.  Great atmosphere at this place though, so would highly recommend it.

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Roaming around Etosha

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

We only spent one night at Okaukuejo, and spent the next two nights at Halali.  The location is more central (marker B in the map) and the waterhole in the camp proved to be much more enjoyable.  The map below shows the general route we plied around.  One thing that kept surprising us was the size of elephants, giraffes, & ostriches.  You know they’re big, and yet you find yourself scanning the horizon, squinting at every bush to see if it’s an animal.  When an elephant or giraffe is actually on the horizon, there’s no missing him!

 


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The major storylines from our 2+ days driving the Land Rover around:

  • My mom and I were the lone spotters of a little cheetah cub off the road before it quickly disappeared.  That little stuffed animal like face is burned into my brain.
  • Naveena ran over a pretty giant rock in her first stint at left side of the road driving.  (disclosure: I’ve had left side driving issues in Cyprus and South Africa, so it happens to the best of us.)
  • The Land Rover battery dying while we sat at a waterhole that earlier in the day (at least) had a pride of lions hanging out.

That last bullet point has spawned tall tales of me “attempting to feed Lillie to the lions.”  It’s all relative, I suppose.  We were in need of a jump, so it was pretty necessary to get out of the car and ask a nearby vehicle for help.

The tricky part is that you’re not supposed to ever get out of your car—a totally sensible rule given said lions, and Lillie got yelled at by a guide in a huge Overland vehicle who made no effort to help.  To me it seemed sensible for Lillie’s friendly face to be the one to freak out another car by tapping on their window.  Big thanks to the Dutch folks with the kitted out Land Cruiser for helping us out in a pinch!

A few months later, I’m pretty certain that my eBay purchased refurbished Garmin GPS caused this battery drain.  I’ve had three different cars in the last year randomly die on me—the Garmin is the common thread.  I should really consider replacing that…

Anyway, lots of good animal sightings.  The favorites you’ll see in the slideshow below:

  • Lots of lions.  Though lions proved to be extremely boring to watch as they spend most of their days sleeping, Lillie & I were both excited to see male lions for the first time.
  • A solo elephant drinking under a tree at the Ngobib waterhole.  It was a bumpy little spur off the main road, but we were rewarded with this guy all to ourselves.
  • Driving down a road called Dik-Dik Drive and seeing dik-diks.  Pound for pound, these foot tall ungulates were my personal favorite sighting.

Some of the photos in the below slideshow have captions, which for the life of me I can’t get to display during playback like they should.  So feel free to head directly to the gallery for such commentary as “Just missed catching this black backed jackal in mid-poop.”