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GREAT RV TOURS>WEST AFRICN SAFARI
 

MY GREAT WEST AFRICAN SAFARI

 
Click here for our road trip planner -West African safari route map
 

A completely unique experience - this West African safari started in Windhoek, Namibia and ended 12 breathtaking days later at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Click here to get West African tour information from Trip Advisor. Read what other travelers have to say. Get the truth - then go

OK, I admit it - I'm soft on Africa. The African bush is my dream . . . and my passion.

When you see the rolling hills shimmering before you in the glow of dawn, the special golden light at sunset, the incomparable wildlife right next to you, the baobabs withering in the blistering sun, the camp out in the bush - at these moments you are in contact with the very essence of your primeval being!

I have been on safari in Africa many times. It is definitely a favorite destination. This particular trip was the highlight of all my African excursions - a 4X4 12 day camping safari that started in Windhoek, the beautiful capital of Namibia, through some of the roughest terrain on the planet through Botswana right up to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Known to the local African tribesman as "Mosi-oa-Tunya" - the smoke that thunders, the falls are truly a spectacular site.

Remarkably preserved in its natural state and one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world, the falls inspire magical inspiration to all visitors. At 1708 meters wide and a drop of between
90 - 107 meters, this is the largest curtain of water on earth.
The falls and the surrounding area have been declared National Parks and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive commercialization. The Falls are spectacular throughout the year, but February onwards, after the rain season, has the heaviest flow and volume of spray.

I find that a self drive 4x4 is the best way to explore the natural wonders of Southern Africa. On this trip we booked a 4X4 campervan which is basically a modified LandRover or other 4X4 with additional gas tanks, gear racks and an unfolding tent on the roof. After picking up our vehicle at the rental depot we set off as part of a convoy led by a qualified guide. While I usually prefer to wander around on my own, the terrain here is so rugged and so full of wild game, that you are definitely advised to take the guided convoy route.

One of the greatest highlights of any Safari is the gin and tonic sundowner after a hard day in the bush. Roughing it in Africa is more than a gin and tonic with a bottled lime juice instead of fresh, however. This is no pussycat trip; this is hardcore Africa... everyone is expected to pitch in and help, even if it means dragging the 4x4 out of the mud. We did - one of our teammates got stuck in the fine sand - and we made it with the broadest smiles we've ever had.

Starting from Windhoek, a perfectly preserved German colonial style town (Namibia was formerly German South West Africa), every day of this trip held a new and different thrill. From big game, bushmen tribes-people and spectacular natural wonders, this trip still makes my heart sing!

African Sunset African wildlife - Monkey Lioness up close.

Day 1: Windhoek
We flew into Windhoek on South African Airways' morning flight from Johannesburg. After picking up our 4X4 and meeting with our guide and some of our tour mates, we spent the day exploring this great little city. A combination of modern and German colonial style architecture, this slightly provincial city is quite neat and clean.

The influence of German language and culture is still very much apparent, with plenty German-style restaurants and other cultural remnants. Although English is the official language, German can be used just about anywhere.

Day 2: Etosha - Okaukuejo
After a light breakfast we left bright and early on the main highway north from Windhoek.

Passing through Otjowarongo we arrived at the Etosha National Park. Before setting up camp for the night we went on a sun-downer game drive. Later in the evening we sat on the banks of the floodlit waterhole bordering the camp, watching the animals coming in to drink.

Day 3: Etosha - Namutoni
A full day of game viewing today, and our first glimpse of lion and rhino not 10 meters from our campervan. What a fantastic sight. At day's end we reached Namutoni, our camp site for the night.

Day 4: Tsumkwe
Exiting the Etosha National Park we headed east via Tsumeb and Grootfontein to Tsumkwe in the heart of Bushman land. The cultural experience of a visit to a bushman village is quite indescribable, so I won't even try. But make sure you don't miss it on your tour.

Day 5: Khaudum
Following an off-road track of deep and loose sand, we head north into the Khaudum Game Reserve. Another day to enjoy game viewing.

Day 6: Popa Falls
An early start as we headed out before dawn for a game drive in the area of our camp before heading further north to Popa Falls. We managed to track a pride of lions stalking their prey, but were not able to view the kill. Continuing north, in the afternoon we visited the falls and the Mahango Game Reserve.

Day 7: Maun
We crossed into Botswana at the Mohembo border post and traveled along the Okavango River southwards to Sehitwa before turning north east to Maun, the capital of the Okavango Delta.

After stocking up on supplies, we left for our campsite just outside town on the banks of the Thamalakane River. We jumped at the opportunity of a scenic sundowner flight over the delta, our pilot swooping down low over the herds of animals heading for their evening drink.

Day 8: Moremi - Okavango Delta
Early morning we head for Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. The Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of the last totally unspoiled Wildlife areas in Africa. The unique ecosystem is a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering an area of over 17,000 square km and the largest inland delta in the world. Trapped in the parched Kalahari sands it is a magnet for the wildlife who depend on the permanent waters of this unique feature. The Okavanga hosts over 400 species of birds, as well as lions, elephants, hyenas, wild dog, buffalo, hippo, crocodiles, antelope and many other smaller animals such as warthogs, monkeys, mongoose and more.

We take our time exploring the wetlands and its myriad inhabitants en route to our next campsite at Moremi.

Day 9: Okavango Delta
More game viewing, this time from a dugout canoe - known here as a Mokoro. We paddled deep into the delta from Xakanaxa spying all manner of water-bound species on the way - hippos, gigantic crocodiles and more. Shades of Tarzan! Mind boggling to see these animals so close.

Day 10: Chobe
After an early breakfast we hit the road again. (Never short of food on this trip!)

Heading north to the Mababe Depression, we entered Chobe National Park at the Mababe gate. A major feature of Chobe National Park is its elephant population. These herds comprise what is probably the largest surviving continuous elephant population, currently estimated at a totals of some 120,000 elephants. They are also the largest of African elephants, but their tusks are brittle so there are not many huge tuskers among them. The elephant population has built up steadily in recent years and has largely escaped the illegal ivory hunters of the 1970s and 80s.

The herds are migratory, making seasonal movements of up to 200 kms from the Chobe and Linyati rivers where they concentrate in the dry season to the pans in the southeast to which they migrate during the wet season.

After an extremely pleasant day of game watching we moved on to our campsite at Savuti. The Chobe river valley practically swarms with elephants. Most of the day they are scattered around the hillsides surrounding the valley, and as the sun begins to sink towards the horizon, they descend to the valley in their hundreds to swim, roll in the mud, eat and socialise. After pitching camp in the late afternoon we moved down to the riverbed to await the arrival of our elephant friends for their evening sundowner. We didn't have too long to wait. They were soon crossing the river in droves, in both directions. This carried on for an hour or two, until both banks were liberally covered in elephants of all sizes, from this year's calves through to a few who must have been upwards of 50 years of age. Can you picture this? It was happening right in front of us! Absolutely amazing.

Day 11: Chobe
The memories of last night's elephant lingers on into the early morning .....

Today we were awakened by the unique waking of a Fish Eagle perched on the tree behind our campervan. What can beat that? We traveled further north through the Chobe Forest Reserve to Ihaha. We saw ample game along the way - warthogs and waterbuck predominate. At days end we camp on the Chobe River bank after a game drive along the river.

Day 12: Victoria Falls - Lodge
Our final day here in the wild - and we're on our way to the smoke that thunders - or Vic Falls, discovered by David Livingstone back in 1855.

We cover the 130 kms in 4 hours and arrive at the falls at noon. Not much seems to have changed here since Livingstone's time. The falls are a national heritage sight and so are relatively uncommercialized. We quickly returned our vehicles to the depot and made a beeline for our lodge and a nice long bath. What a luxury! The rest of the day and most of the next we spent absorbing the grandeur of the falls, and finally headed to the airport to catch our plane back to Johannesburg and civilization.

If you're after hardcore Africa - this West African Safari is definitely the ULTIMATE African experience!

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