Christine is a star! She helped us plan our 10 day trip over the past 6 months, patiently changing the itinerary & answering questions. It must have felt like herding cats with 4 different groups coming from USA, RSA & Namibia, joining the self drive tour at different points. The only criticism is the Europcar Hyundai van in which 6 of us travelled for the whole trip. The right rear blow out was scary – we assumed that the car rental agency had checked the pressure, but may have been too high.
The spare tyre, Goodyear, appeared to be a better quality than the others. Did Europcar know our itinerary, & should they have put better tires for rough roads on it? Also, the sliding back doors were terrible from the start – especially the right one; stuck to the point of needing many locking/unlocking attempts and great strength to get them open, even after we bought silicone spray for the grooves. The inside seating was comfortable and plenty of room for 6. Halali camp was better appointed than Oukekjeho and food there was outstanding, but no complaints re Etosha – game was much scarcer than last year. We drove across from the east over 2 days and made it into each camp before sunset in the nick of time. Twyfelfontein Lodge exceeded expectations – stunning setting against the magnificent rocks; accommodation, staff & food were great. The help with the tire pressure was appreciated. We were too travel weary to do the afternoon/evening drive to look for desert elephants, but then 3 of them came to us, to a small water hole close by! The next morning we did not find the Rock Paintings, & turned around at Burnt mountain, thinking we were lost.
A detailed map of this area would be helpful. We did retrace our steps & find the D road to connect to the C road between Khorixas & Henties Bay. The Atlantic-Sicht Cornerstone flat right on the beach in Swakopmund was luxurious & beautiful! The garage spacious – friends were envious: asked “How did you manage to get a booking there? We have tried for years!” We enjoyed a meal at the Tug restaurant and the “Living Desert Tour – Little Five” with Chris that we booked on our own at the last minute. Thanks for getting Europcar to replace the shredded tire on Sunday, so that we could travel on to Sossusvlei. The road over the mountains was excellent; not scary at all. Sossusvlei Lodge was great, food amazing and staff helpful – they let us store 2 coolers and several bags of food in their fridge, & ice packs in the freezer for the 2 days. The 3 young ones enjoyed the cold winter swimming pool! The younger, fitter ones climbed to the top of Big Daddy near Deadvlei, 2 others did a lower version and 2 plus 4 year old just hiked across to Deadvlei, thoroughly enjoying the iconic view and magnificent huge red dunes. We took the shuttle from the parking lot although we had the 4×4 Xtrail – would strongly recommend this as did the shuttle driver who said they pull even 4x4s out of the sand every day. At the end of the day one member went back into the park and hiked into the Sessriem Canyon; the plan to do that in the morning was scrapped in the interests of time as it took ages to check out and retrieve all the stored food.
NamibRand Family Hide-out for 3 days was a perfect solution for accommodating 10 adults, a 4 year old & 9 month old. The last couple to join us came there directly from Windhoek bringing meat, cheese & other perishables. So food was plentiful, dishes piled up, & at times we boiled water on the gas stove for dish washing as the solar hot water had limitations. Bedding was adequate although we brought extra blankets. The caretaker/tour guide, Titus, was friendly, bright, well informed and very helpful. The morning Desert drive was interesting, but freezing cold & windy – we could have been advised to wear woolly hats & to take blankets on the open vehicle. It did not seem that cold outside the house. We also enjoyed dune boarding & a tour of NaDeEt seeing the school kids in action, learning hands on about conserving water (bucket showers), energy (solar ovens) & animal adaptations in the desert. The trip back to Windhoek via the back road through Rietoog was quite eventful as both private vehicles (Volvo sedan & Nissan Xtrail) had right rear flats about a half hour apart on the same stretch of road about 5-6 Km before Rietoog. The Shell garage there repaired the X trail tire, and the Volvo proceeded slowly on a temporary spare, followed closely by the Hyundai van. Needless to say it was a long day, but all arrived safe and sound. The 2 who stayed in the Olive Guest house were pleased with that accomodation as well. All in all this was an amazing, memorable trip of a life time and wonderful family reunion. Thanks ATI!