← From left: Anne, Mark, Robert and Robin in the Namib Desert
This trip report chronicles a four-week, self-drive journey through South Africa and Namibia in July and August 2008 by two Canadian couples, Robin and Robert and Anne and Mark. The report is written by Robin and credit for the photos must go to Robert except where noted.
The report begins with our itinerary, which is accompanied by maps of South Africa and Namibia on which our route is highlighted.
The itinerary is followed by a list of trip highlights, where I have inserted a few appropriate photos. Note that you may enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
Following the highlights, there is a day to day journal, which is accompanied by many more photos.
We booked the entire trip online - vehicles, park reservations, tours (Sandwich Harbour), B&Bs... The only exception was Kulala Wilderness Camp. Wilderness Safaris does not accept direct bookings, so we had to use a Canadian travel agent for that reservation. At the planning stage, we found the Bradt Guide to Namibia and Frommer's South Africa especially helpful. The SANParks website was also a valuable resource as, of course, was Fodor's forum.
2008 Itinerary - South Africa
17 & 18 July → Cape Standard, Cape Town, SA http://www.capestandard.co.za
19 July → Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, SA http://www.sanparks.co.za
20 July → La Bohème Guesthouse, Upington, SA http://www.labohem.com
21 & 22 July → Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, SA
23 July → Nossob Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
24 & 25 July → Gharagab Wilderness Camp Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
26 July → Nossob Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
27 & 28 July → Bitterpan Wilderness Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
29 July → Kalahari Tented Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
30 & 31 July → Urikaruus Wilderness Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
1 August → La Bohème Guesthouse, Upington, SA http://www.labohem.com
2008 Itinerary - Namibia
2 August → Cañon Mountain Camp, Gondwana Cañon Park, Namibia http://www.gondwana-desert-collection.com
3 August → Eagle’s Nest Lodge, Klein-Aus Vista, Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park, Aus, Namibia
; book directly at: email@example.com
4 & 5 August → Kulala Wilderness Camp, Namibia http://www.wilderness-safaris.com
6 to 11 August → Beach Lodge B&B, Swakopmund http://www.beachlodge.com.na
12 & 13 August → Hilltop House B&B, Windhoek, http://www.thehilltophouse.com
Highlights of our journey into South Africa and Namibia (in somewhat chronological order):
Sunset behind The Sentinel at Hout Bay →
• The company of Anne and Mark and seeing Southern Africa through Anne, who was visiting for the first time.
• Lunch at Rhodes Memorial and dinner at the Africa Café in Cape Town.
• Watching the sunset and southern right whales at the Sentinel, Hout Bay.
• The dried fruit (especially the fig rolls) from the Country Orchard at Grabouw.
• The R27 Vin de Florence at Vergelegen - dirt cheap but excellent wine! We should have bought more!
• The food and entertainment at Moyo at Spier Wine Estate and our attentive server, Sim.
• Shopping at Woolworths - the rusks, crunchies, soups, sauces, nutmeg and cloves boerwors, peppidews and Grapetiser.
← Karoo National Park at sunset
• The drive across the Karoo - vast skies, wide-open spaces, flat-topped mountains, red soil, windmills, sheep, dry riverbeds, socialable weaver nests, fields of cactus, and highways stretching before us to the shimmering horizon.
• The light on the mountains in Karoo National Park at sunset and sunrise - breathtaking!
• The segregated cemetery at Victoria West.
• Sitting on the terrace at La Bohème Guesthouse in Upington watching the sunset over the Orange River Valley and Kalahari Desert - still our favourite guesthouse in Southern Africa - a home away from home.
• The “fine” weather - not a cloud in the sky for the entire trip. The drought-bearing Barclays outdid the rain-bearing (male!) Brigham! The chilly mornings (4ºC) and lovely warm afternoons in the Kalahari.
Lioness and cubs at Dalkeith →
• The lioness with three six-week-old cubs at the Dalkeith waterhole.
• Lying in bed and listening to the lions roar at Bitterpan.
• Watching a secretary bird soar - the first time that we had seen one overhead.
• Our first caracal sighting.
• The heron on the windmill.
• The freedom of self-drive.
• The lovely colours of the crimson-breasted boubous, bee-eaters and lilac-breasted rollers.
• The dust-bathing ostriches.
• The sunrises! The sunsets!
• The six lions at Melkvlei with their canvas “kill”.
← Bitterpan Wilderness Camp, Kgalagadi
• The comical glossy starlings sitting on the rear-view mirrors of our 4x4, trying to maintain their balance on the slippery surface.
• The isolation of the north and interior of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
• The two playful female lions in Bitterpan Wilderness Camp as we were bedding down for the night.
• Watching the female cheetah stalk the springboks as her cub followed closely behind her.
• The sound of the lanner falcon as it swooped in to pick off doves at the Lijersdraai waterhole.
• The company of Lou and Riana and Donald and Joanne at Bitterpan.
• Listening to the laughter of hyenas at Kalahari Tented Camp.
• The spectacular scenery at Gharagab and Bitterpan Wilderness Camps.
Young honey badger catching lizards →
• Spotting a visitor in Kgalagadi who was wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt. What a small world!
• The ears of the bat-eared foxes and steenboks!
• Two young honey badgers peeling the bark off a tree and eating the lizards hidden there.
• The gemsboks fighting at the Marie se Draai waterhole.
• The male lion in the Nossob riverbed at dawn.
• The red wine in the evening, all selected with care by Mark.
• The meerkats at Bitterpan Wilderness Camp.
• The Kalahari kangaroos (springhares).
• The spectacular sky and shooting stars over Gharagab Wilderness Camp.
← The drives through the dunes in Kgalagadi - gales of laughter and shrieks!
• The wildcat perched in the tree.
• The black-backed jackals chasing each other across Bitterpan.
• Sitting huddled around the computer in the evening with a glass of wine, admiring the day’s photos.
• Listening to the lion cubs mew at their mother and her gentle roars of response.
• Having Willem, the ranger, join us for dinner at Bitterpan - a fabulous storyteller!
• The anticipation of what we would find around the next corner when on safari.
• The drives through the dunes out of Gharagab and into Bitterpan Wilderness Camps - the gales of laughter and shrieks!
Mark and Robin walking with Erik at Gharagab →
• The night drive at Nossob with David - the brown hyena.
• The blue wildebeest bathing in the mud.
• “Magic light” - the colours at sunrise.
• The waterhole at Urikaruus Wilderness Camp.
• Watching the female lion gently prod her cub with her nose.
• Our bush walks with Erik at Gharagab and Willem at Bitterpan.
• The sound of the jackals calling to each other at night.