completely unique experience - this West
African safari started in Windhoek,
Namibia and ended 12 breathtaking days later
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
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,
some of the roughest terrain on the planet
through Botswana right up to Victoria Falls
to the local African tribesman as "Mosi-oa-Tunya"
- the smoke that thunders, the falls are
truly a spectacular site.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
Day 3: Etosha - Namutoni
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.
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
Following an off-road track of deep and
loose sand, we head north into the Khaudum
Game Reserve. Another day to enjoy game
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The memories of last night's elephant lingers
on into the early morning .....
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.
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.
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.
you're after hardcore Africa - this West
African Safari is definitely the ULTIMATE