Namibia, Botswana, VicFalls – Part 4

Elephants & Lions, Etosha

Elephants & Lions, Etosha

 

 

20 July 2008, Rustig Toko Farm, Kamanjab, Namibia

Weltevrede was ok. We were not completely blown away by the service but the rooms were quite nice, the sun set was stunning and the hot showers were very much appreciated. The food in the evening was also quite nice. The staff was not trained very well and that always makes my hands itch. Coming from a hospitality background I am very very picky and believe training is the way forward. Weltevrede was well situated for visiting Sossusvlei, the highlight of the area. Sossusvlei is famous for the big red sand dunes and Dead Vlei. We visited both. From the entrance of the nature reserve it’s about 45 km to get to Dune 45. This dune can be climbed. It’s best to plan all activities in the morning because of the heath. Even in winter time, day temperatures can get up to 30° C and no shade to hide. We did an excellent walking excursion with Frans from Sossus-on-Foot. He told us all kinds of incredible things about this area. Did you know for example that it only rains every 10 years in this area? Did you know that little shrimp eggs can hatch even after being stuck in the clay for 30 years? Did you know that spiders dig a 1.20 m hole and close the hole? Frans recognized all kinds of tracks of little beetles, spiders and geckos and showed us how it is possible for these animals to survive. He showed us the Ostrich salad, a type of dessert plant that provides enormous amounts of water. More and more we understood how bushmen could survive in this barren but beautiful area.

 

Swakopmund

This time in Swakopmund we did a wonderful dolphin safari which I can highly recommend. We were so lucky to spot 2 whales as well. The skipper took good care of us, giving us sparkling wine as well as snacks. The tricks with the seals were rather funny although some passengers were a bit scared when they were on the boat. It was a stunning morning. We enjoyed the sunshine and being on a boat. In the afternoon I finally got to an internet café to download 140 messages. Work, work, work. Dinner was enjoyed at The Grapevine, a cosy small restaurant with delicious meals. I had a sea food pasta with a soft mustard sauce, absolutely lovely. The second evening we had dinner at a new place. I had heard about it and obviously, being the gourmand I am, I wanted to try this out. My guests are also the kind of people that love nice food & wine so I was sure to do them a favor by taking them to a nice restaurant. It was a bit difficult to find. 5 km outside of Swakopmund on the way to Walvis Bay, The Dunes Lodge. Ask for good directions if you arrive at night because it’s not very clearly indicated. The restaurant was great, the food was fab and the service was super. Only minus was the coffee. We had to wait half an hour for a terrible cup of coffee. But, I would definitely recommend this place for a beautiful evening with good food and wine.

We stayed in a kind of backpackers lodge, Villa Wiese. Good price / quality wise but next time I will choose something a bit more sophisticated. For the budget traveler I can recommend Villa Wiese.

 

It was time to move on the next place which was Xaragu Camp. Now, I had high expectations of this place because I heard some positive stories about it from other guests. Boy, was I disappointed. Upon arrival nobody knew exactly what was going on. We were given tents and chalets. The chalets were ensuite the tents had shared facilities. Many zippers were broken, lamps were not working properly and tents could not be locked. When I checked the booked dessert elephant excursion for the next day, nobody knew about it and I got a bit nervous. To see the dessert elephants was one of the highlights of the tour and NOT organizing the safari was not an option. Now the owner of the camp, Danie, got very upset with me because I insisted on finding a solution. He came up with a good solution which was booking it with Twyfelfontein lodge. This lodge is about 35 km away from Xaragu Camp. I thought this was a decent solution but somehow Danie was totally upset with me for the rest of our stay. Another thing I didn’t like about Xaragu was the captured animals. There was a python, pofadder, scorpions and other type of animals in cages. Anyway, I was very lucky with the bunch of people I have with me because there are super easy going and take things as they come and don’t complain about anything.

The next day we went to see the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. These are the only engravings in Southern Africa. There are many rock painting all over but engravings are only to be found at the world heritage site of Twyfelfontein. We had a guide called Desiree who showed us around and explained about the 2 to 6.000 year old engravings.

We had lunch at the beautiful Twyfelfontein lodge with stunning views and a lovely buffet. Bernd, the General Manager, showed me around and I was very much impressed with the facilities. Maybe I shouldn’t say this but all the lodges in Namibia with German management are impeccable, all the places with Namibian or South African management are pretty useless. So far that has been the most important lesson for me.

Like today we arrived here at Rustig Toko Lodge in the Kamanjab area. We were welcomed by Marieke, a German lady. And just by her welcome, I just KNOW that everything is perfect and it is. Rustig Toko is the true Out-of-Africa farm experience with breathtaking views, a lovely veranda to enjoy it and spacious rooms with ensuite bathrooms. The pool is sparkling and at 15h00 in the afternoon tea & biscuits are served. At sunset a fire is lit and we are all stargazing for a while. Dinner is a Butternut soup to start with, a homemade Bobotie with fresh salad as a main and butterscotch for dessert. Yammie! We want to stay here for an entire week. Tomorrow we will leave as late as possible.

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