GUEST ARTICLE: We left Perth Airport on June 10th at 11pm and flew a long 12 hours before ending up in Joburg (Johannesburg, South Africa). I think we got about a whole 3 hours sleep on the plane and then had to wait 4 hours in the Joburg airport before getting on our final bird to Windhoek, Namibia 2 hours away. There is a -7 hour difference between Perth and Windhoek so we literally started our day over and struggled to keep our heads up for the rest of it.
We rented a small 4×4 and fortunately got a pickup at the airport seeing as Windhoek is 40kms away from the airport! The weather was perfect, bright blue skies and a warm 24C. The city of Windhoek seemed like a nice place, although it was hard to tell through foggy red eyes.
We checked into our hotel and then went to stock up on some food and drink supplies needed for our upcoming personal safari. Miraculously we were able to stay awake until 8 that night after running on pure adrenaline and 3 hours of shut eye for the last 37 hours…worth it? Yes!
At 6:30am the next day we headed north on highway B1 to the Etosha National Park. Along the highway we saw warning signs for Springbok and Warthogs…we didn’t see any Springbok but tonnes of cute little Warthogs! They seemed pretty road conscious though and only kept to the sides eating who knows what. We also saw some pretty big Chacma Baboons sitting on fences and in trees alongside the road. I don’t think I’d want to be hitchhiking along the road with them babies about!
For lunch we stopped at a cool little café and for $12AUD got the biggest steak I’ve ever seen! I don’t think it was your typical beef but probably more like your typical Namibian Oryx, whatever it was it was delish! Not too long after we turned off the highway onto road C38 to the Etosha National Park, it was goodbye to paved roads for a while (we heard a 4×4 was going to be a good idea).
We opted out on a GPS navigator and just stuck with our map, the right thing to do seeing as the roads were easy to navigate, just had to keep your eyes peeled for the little signs is all.
Our hotel ‘Ognuma,’ was situated not to far from the Lindquist Gate. As we passed through their own personal gated sanctuary we came upon a couple of Giraffes, what an incredible sight to see them in their own natural environment! We stayed in the Ognuma Bush Camp, and we were allocated an exquisitely done round African style thatched roof hut.
The place itself was pretty impressive the grounds were very nicely done decked out with a pool, fire pit, outside sitting area/restaurant and their very own watering hole – elegantly rugged? After checking in we didn’t waste any daylight and immediately went into the Etosha National Park, after paying about 90AUD for a 3 day pass we embarked our very own safari.
It was only minutes before we came upon a small herd of Zebra on the road and then some more Giraffe along with Impala, Kudu and Oryx just to name a few. We only had about an hour before we had to leave the park before sundown (they close the gates). With some good South African wines in hand we planted ourselves on our hotel’s balcony and watched our first African sunset and yes it’s just like you see on TV – incredible.
The deep fiery red orange orb looked massive as it sank into the horizon and set off an array of incredible soft colours across the land, it was really amazing and something I will never forget. After a delicious dinner of wild Oryx, wild rice and squash and homemade dessert we packed it in for the night in preparation for the next day’s safari.
Again we awoke at 6am-ish (the time change was a good thing after all!), after a wonderful homemade breakfast we were back in safari mode and slowly headed to our next stop. The speed limit in the park is about 80kms but you find yourself going even slower in anticipation of seeing more animals and also trying not to hit a lot of them. We were headed to a place called Okaukuejo, I can’t really say how far it is seeing as there are numerous detour roads you can take but we made it in about 3 hours give or take.
Along the way we came across some more fascinating animals like a huge African Elephant. He was about 3 times as big as our little truck and he let us know it! He was about 30 feet away from us on the side of the road and at first looked at us just as curiously but then gave us the big ol’ puffy ears and head shake to let us know it was time for us to move on…no problemo Dumbo!
Next we came upon some Blue Wildebeests and Ostriches, totally cool! The roads were in pretty good nick although there were a few spots that wouldn’t be too car friendly, even though we did see a few cars I wouldn’t recommend it just to be on the safe side. Traffic isn’t very common and there are signs with very good intention for you to “Not to leave your car,” you never know what might be lurking in that tall grass.
Our next hotel was called the Okaukuejo Resort, a network of African style villas, kind of like a fully functional little town. I don’t think I’ve had better accommodations than Namibia, for the price, location and culture it is truly a gem. We spent a few days there and embarked on a few more personal safaris which turned out to be pretty incredible.
One day we drove along a road called Rhino drive and wouldn’t you know it not too long after driving down the road we scared the crap out of not only ourselves but also a massive White Rhino which was grazing only about 10 feet from our truck/road.
It’s amazing how camouflaged even the biggest animals can be, he was easily as big as our truck thankfully he wasn’t looking for a duel! There are quite a few little watering holes scattered about the park and one hole in particular that we came upon was truly a sight to see, if you could imagine the Garden of Eden then that was it. The area was thick with animals of every kind, a very picturesque moment.
On our last night in the park we headed to a watering hole called Okondeka, there had been many Lion sightings there and we were keen to see one since we hadn’t come across any yet, or at least none that we were aware of.
It was almost sunset when we arrived and it turned out to be the perfect time for the big cats. We saw a massive Lion sitting nestled among some green bush soaking up the scenery and in the back of us I spotted his Lionesses and cubs lounging about. They were so hard to spot seeing as they are exactly the same colour as the wheat coloured grass…scary!
On our way home we spotted another huge Lion and a Lioness walking off into the sunset, what a way to end our safari, it was perfect. At the resort they have a big watering hole and nightly animals come for a cool drink. We saw 7 White Rhinos, Giraffe, Elephants and some Jackyls and if we would have stayed up even later we would have seen a pride of Lions. The next day we headed south to a place called Vingerklip Lodge located in the heart of Damaraland.
If you’ve ever wanted to go on a ‘do it yourself’ safari, which is perfectly safe and easy to do and explore an animal-dense massive game reserve (22,270km²), then Etosha National Park is for you! I don’t think even 10 minutes went by without us coming across some sort of animal. The people are also some of the nicest we’ve ever met and the most hospitable.
The food is excellent, accommodations wonderful and the prices really reasonable. Namibia is known to be a safe country and with good reason – it is. It’s a gem and one I can’t wait to continue to explore! Stay tuned!
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!