Unable to take enough time off during the year, December/January is normally the period that we can plan for longer trips. This year our plan was to visit the central parts of Namibia. Out route would include places such as Windhoek, Brandberg, Spitzkoppe, Swakopmund, Sossusvlei and the Quiver Tree Forest at Keetmanshoop. (See the map below.)
Planning for the trip started somewhere mid-2018 and involved identifying must see places, where we would stay, for how long and availability. The plan was to get into Namibia as quickly as possible without killing us by covering long distances with many hours on the road.
After finalizing everything and bookings confirmed we started planning what to take with us and what to leave. This would be our first long trip with Dagga Boy, our new Land Cruiser with the Bushlapa Bosluis 2 fitted.
And then the long wait for departure date commenced, but it finally arrived. What follows is a condensed version of our experiences on the trip. We trust you would enjoy it as much as we enjoyed the trip.
Day 1 – Saturday, 15 December 2018 – Pretoria to Botsalano Game Reserve (Zeerust, South Africa)
The first leg of our trip took us through the town of Zeerust in the North West Province of South Africa to the Botsalano Game Reserve where we camped for the night at the Sentry Hill Campsite.
The Sentry Hill Campsite is on a little hill at the southern border of the reserve from where you have a view over the whole reserve. The campsite is fenced on three sides and open at the front. There is a small wooden building with a tin roof to provide some shelter. There is good shade and a boma to braai for which suitable wood is provided. Amenities are basic, a water tap at the campsite, a put toilet and a shower a few meters away where you must heat you own water with a “donkey”.
The reserve was very dry during our visit, and so was the adjacent areas as a result of the drought experienced in South Africa.
Nevertheless, it was a good choice for a stopover on our way to the Ramatlabama border where we would cross into Botswana the next morning.
During our stopover here we noticed, for the first-time, water dripping from underneath the Dagga Boy (Our Land Cruiser). Investigation reveal that it might be the water tank of the Bush Lapa Bosluis that was leaking but it was too dark to establish exactly what the cause of the leak and it was attributed to the fact that I might have overfilled the tank and water splashed out from the breather pipe.
The cost of the camoing at the Sentry Hill Campsite was as follow:
Camping cost for the Sentry Hill Bush camp R 250.00 per night
Entry Fee for two adults (R 40.00 x 2) R 80.00
Vehicle entry fee R 10.00
Total Cost R 340.00
Day 2 – Sunday, 16 December 2018 – Botsalano Game Reserve to Kalahari Rest Lodge (Kang, Botswana)
We packed and left Botsalano early morning to avoid expected higher traffic volumes at the border post. We opted for the Ramatlabama Border post which was only a few kilometers away rather than the more popular and very busy Skilpad Hek border post.
It was a good choice, with only two other vehicles at the border with the formalities taking us less than 30 minutes.
Border cost were as follow:
National Road Safety Fund BWP 50.00
Motor Vehicle Insurance BWP 50.00
Road Transport Permit BWP 65.00
Total Cost BWP 165.00
We did a quick stop at Lobatse in Botswana for some shopping and were quickly our way to Kang.
We filled up with fuel at the filling station at Kang and continue to the Kalahari Rest Lodge where would camp for the night. Kalahari Rest is 26km from Kang.
Campsites are provided with electricity and water points. The ablution blocks servicing the campsites are neat and clean with lights and hot water.
While standing at this campsite we noted that the water was now dripping under the Bosluis at an alarming rate. Closer inspection revealed that one of the welding joints on the tank was leaking. I tried to stop the leak with silicone but soon realised that it would not be possible with water in the tank. I had to drain all the water from the tank and let it dry before trying to fix the leak. After allowing it some time to dry I cleaned the area and sealed it with Sugru and a layer of silicone over it. We did not fill the tank to allow it to dry properly before testing it. We decided to fill it again at our next stop.
Camping cost at Kalahari Rest was BWP 140.00 p.p.p.n. Total cost for us was BWP 280.00.
Day 3 – Monday, 17 December 2018 – Kalahari Rest Lodge to Zelda Game Farm and Lodge (Gobabis, Namibia)
In the Charles Hill area, between Kang and Buitepos we were fined BWP 320.00 for exceeding the speed limit of 80km/h. We did not see the road sign and neither did another traveler who received a much higher fine.
The Buitepos Border was quiet at the time of our arrival and we cleared the South African and the Namibian border formalities in less than half an hour.
On the Namibian side we paid N$ 295.00 for a cross border permit.
We were pleasantly surprised with the camping facilities at Zelda Game Farm and Lodge. Camping sites with shade and green grass. The ablution block is spacious inside and very clean. Staff were friendly and helpful. Well stocked shop and bar with a swimming pool and entertainment area. Free Wi-Fi for those who want to stay connected.
We can really recommend them as a stopover or even a longer stay during which you can go on a game drive as well.
We filled our water tank for the first time after fixing holding thumbs that it would not leak again. It appeared to be ok but only time would tell.
Camping cost as Zelda was N$ 160 p.p.p.n. Total cost for us was N$ 320.00.
Day 4 – Tuesday, 18 December 2018 – Zelda Game and Guest Farm to Vinyard Lodge and Camping (Windhoek, Namibia)
We had some rain during the night at Zelda’s and left a little later than planned so as to allow our tent to dry a bit.
The drive to Windhoek was uneventful on a good tar road.
We camped at the Vinyard Lodge on the outskirts of Windhoek. There are 8 campsites each with its own ablution block at the Vinyard.
We were a bit disappointed with the Vinyard. Our expectation, based on what we saw on their web site, was something different. The campsite was close to the busy road(B6) between Windhoek and Gobabis, which is also the road that leads to the Windhoek Airport. The view from our campsite was the storage units that they are renting out. The premises are in a state of neglect, with very little left of the vineyards. Reception was friendly and the ablutions clean, but with very slippery floors.
Camping cost was N$ 180 p.p.p.n. Total cost for us was N$ 360.00.
In our opinion overpriced if compared to the what you get at Zelda Game Farm and Lodge for less. We will opt for alternative accommodation should we visit Windhoek again.
I checked the water tank on arrival and the temporary fix seem to be successful, with no sign of any leaking.
The campsites provide good shade. Ablutions are basic, a small building with a toilet and shower with a donkey for hot water, and no roof. It was clean and everything was working.
After setting up camp I checked the water tank again, and the fix was still holding in spite of the terrible gravel road to Brandberg.
Camping cost at the White Lady Lodge is N$ 130.00 p.p.p.n. The total cost for us for 3 nights was N$ 780.00 plus a vehicle entry fee of N$ 40.00.
Day 6 – Thursday, 20 December 2018 – The White Lady Lodge (Brandberg, Namibia)
It was our first day at Brandberg, and after enjoying some breakfast we set out to explore the area. One of the guides at the Lodge gave us some directions to areas from where we could have good view of the mountain and possibly come across some of the notorious desert elephants in the river bed. We did not find any elephant but enjoyed the views of the mountain and rock formations. We were out on the road for most of the day.
On our return we booked a guided sunset drive on a Polaris 4×4 Ranger Dune Buggy for the next day. The cost is N$ 625 p.p for two persons sharing a Polaris and following the guide who leads the way on his Polaris.
The evening, it was already getting dark, we received a visit from Manfred and his choir who treated us with their singing. Obviously with the expectation of receiving some donations, which we did give them. The picture in the video below is of poor quality as it was dark, but you can listen to their singing.
Day 7 – Friday, 21 December 2018 – The White Lady Lodge – Sunset Tour
We spend the day relaxing in camp. At 16h00 the guide arrived to pick us up for the sunset drive and he took us to the Lodge where we got our Polaris and we set off for the drive.
We first follow a route in the riverbed hoping to find the desert elephant, but again we were out of luck. We eventually turned around and did a scenic route until we reach a rocky outcrop from where we could watch the sunset over the Brandberg mountain. While waiting for the sunset the guide pointed out some boesman paintings on the rocks. He also shared the myth of the notorious white lady with us and explained that the White Lady is neither a lady nor white. Click on the link to read more about the White Lady.
The guided excursion with the Polaris was spectacular. After sunset we returned to the lodge and were dropped off at our campsite, exhausted and full of dust, but satisfied.
It was spectacular. After sunset we turned back to the lodge and we were dropped off at our campsite, exhausted and full of dust, but satisfied.
Day 8 – Saturday, 22 December 2018 – The White Lady Lodge to Spitzkoppe (Namibia)
It was time to move on to Spitzkoppe. We broke camp early morning to get it over and done with before the heat of the day.
While we were parked at the reception area of the White Lady Lodge to book out when the guide of the previous day approach us with the news that there were elephants is in the riverbed at the waterhole where we turned around the previous day. He gave us directions to a shortcut, and we set off to try and see them.
We found the elephants at the waterhole and sat quietly in our vehicle watching as they dug in the riverbed for water and cautiously drank without spilling a drop of water. There was no playing in the water and taking mud baths which is normal to elephant in areas with enough water resources. These elephants are well adapted to survive in dry conditions.
After watching for a while and taking photos we return to the Lodge to book out. At reception we were told that the managers wife went for an early morning run on when of the roads and leopard crossed the road in front of her. She was apparently still shacking of shock on her return to the Lodge. No leopard has not been seen in the area for the last five years according to the Lodge staff.
After booking out we continue our journey to Spitzkoppe on a terrible gravel road. And the patch on the water tank was still holding.
Arriving at Spitzkoppe we paid the entry fee of N$ 390.00 and proceed to search for a campsite. We finally decided on campsite no 12 which was not close to the main route around the area. This was a good choice as the road at times were quite busy which vehicles travelling up and down searching for campsites or exploring the area. However, the site did not have any shade which was a not such a good choice. More about that later.
Camping cost at Spitzkoppe N$ 170.00 p.p.p.n. Total cost for us was N$ 1 360.00 for the 4 nights.
Day 9 to 11 – Sunday to Tuesday, 23 to 25 December 2018 – Spitzkoppe (Namibia)
We booked at Spitzkoppe for 4 nights. The main reason was that we did not want to travel on Christmas Day and to have enough time for taking sunset and sunrise pictures. In retrospect we believe that 2 nights at Spitzkoppe is more than enough.
We did not drive around in the park as that would require us breaking camp and setting it up again as we have set up the awnings and some side panels to protect us against the sun, heat and the wind. It was hot under the awning, but it was our only shade. However, we decided to bear it out as our next booking was at Swakopmund from 26 December.
I did walk around in the area early mornings and late afternoons to get pictures of the sunrise and sunsets which was most rewarding. It was on these walks that I saw excellent examples of the Kobas (Botterboom) trees. A tree that grow in hot, dry and rocky areas of Namibia and Angola. Click on the link to read more about the interesting Kobas tree.
Day 12 – Wednesday, 26 December 2018 – Spitzkoppe to Mile 4 Caravan Park (Swakopmund, Namibia)
As it was an easy drive from Spitzkoppe to Swakopmund we arrived early.
Our first stop in Swakopmund was the local police station to look for the memorial plate in honor of the men who died in the execution of their duties when a South African police helicopter crashed into the sea at Terrace Bay on 21 April 1966. A newspaper, Die Burger, published a short article on it in one of its columns on 23 April 1966.
We did some research on this back home and found the following:
A newspaper, Die Burger, published a short article on it in one of its columns on 23 April 1966.
In his book, The Long Assassin, which deals with the role of Genl Hendrik vd Berg, former head of the SA Security Police and later head of the Bureau of State Security, Alan D Elsdon wrote:
“Round about 1966 information reached Genl vd Berg that smuggling of arms were taking place in the northern part of SWA and Angola by SA Policemen. This was brought to light when a Police Officer saw a young constable,Dirk Brand, filming these illegal actions.
Genl vd Berg contacted a former police colleague of his (nickname Mechanic) and he was sent to South West Africa under the pretentions that he was from the diamond squad. On 21 April 1966 a helicopter carrying Dirk Brand and other police members crashed into the sea near Terrace Bay. A fisherman later told that he heard an explosion before the helicopter crashed.”
After visiting a shopping center to replenish our stock we decided to take a drive to Walvis Bay which was not far away.
We visited Pelican Point just south of Walvis Bay. Entry to Pelican Point is free but you are asked for a donation towards the upkeep of the area.
We then headed back to Swakopmund to book in at Mile 4 Campsite. At first, we were a bit disappointed with the Mile 4 campsite. There was absolutely nothing but sand and more sand. Our allocated campsite was far away from everything, including the ablutions which meant a long walk through sand every time you need to visit it.
However, the staff was very friendly and helpful, and quickly moved us to a campsite further away from the gate and closer to an ablution block. We also had a better view of the ocean from this site.
After settling in on the campsite we begin to enjoy it. More campers were moving in, and that provided a lot of entertainment. Watching them setting up camp and the accompanying arguing and discord was way better than television.
Camping cost was N$ 360.00 per day for two persons.