Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls, Adrenalin +++

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls

14th – 18th May 2019
We had returned the car to Bushlore in Kasane so went in a mini bus transfer from Kasane in Botswana to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I have in 2012 taken a vehicle into Zimbabwe, it is a long and costly experience and that’s why I decided not to do it again. This is a link to a previous post with details of how to take a car across the boarder
It did take a bit of time crossing into Zimbabwe and cost US $55.00 each. You have to have this Cash in US $$ so be prepared. If you’re from Canada it more than this- who did Canada upset?!?
We asked the driver to take us to Victoria Falls Airport as we were picking up a car from there. It was a small run-around but great a save a fortune on taxi costs.
I had booked Lokuthula Lodge. This turned out to be a really good decision as this is a RCI owned property as far nicer than it looked on the online photos. But best of all this self catering accommodation is located within the grounds of The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, and we could use the hotel facilities. It is a very safe area.
4 adults stayed in a semi detached lodge that slept 6. There was an open bedroom on a mezzanine type first floor and a double bedroom on the ground floor. One bathroom with a shower and bath. The kitchen was fully equipped with all the pots, pans and utensils needed to cater for 6 people. There was a floodlit BBQ.
We all loved this Lodge, the grounds have a variety of wildlife in them, Warthogs, Mongoose, Buck to name a few. Sadly there are also an abundance of Mozzies or Sand flies….I got badly bitten. The hotel was very apologetic about this although it was not their fault and gave us a bottle of wine!
We used the restaurant at the hotel one night and it was really good. We also went to watch the Vulture feeding at midday and learnt al lot about this endangered species.
With its location it really is a special place to stay in Victoria Falls, I would stay again. 
 
Victoria Falls Bridge has all things adrenaline happening from it. The company running the Bungee, Swing, Slide, Jet Boat and White-water rafting are called Sherewater. They are an established company and very professional. Apart from me, all the others in our party did the activities. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The falls a really special, and I don’t need to say any more.

 

 

 

 

 

Afternoon tea at The Victoria Falls Hotel was wonderful, a reminder of another age.  We all enjoyed the stay in Vic Falls and despite the ATMs not having any cash and the petrol stations not having fuel would go back in an instant.

 

 

 

 

 

All too soon it was time to set off on our flights home. Flying from the brand new Victoria Falls Airport.
We traveled from Victoria Falls Airport to Johannesburg  together, on Comair (BA) – thanks to Avios points!!!
Then, at Johannesburg airport  went our separate ways, us via Frankfurt with SAA- just as good on the way home as they had been on the flight out. 
The other two via Qatar but were really happy that Qatar fly a Boeing 777 from JoBurgh as it was not as cramped as the Dreamliner.
So- Manchester bound we were after yet another outstanding visit to Southern Africa.

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Bakwena Lodge, Chobe.

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Bakwena Lodge, Chobe. 

Sunday 12th May 2019
Today we were crossing borders, leaving Namibia and entering Botswana. We had to be at our accommodation, Bakwena Lodge for 14.00 to give Bushlore the car back.  This was because Bakwena lodge was an All Inclusive Lodge and I didn’t think we would need a car- I was correct we didn’t. I really wanted to stay at the Chobe Safari Lodge on the river in Kasane but it was fully booked.
I love Chobe Game Reserve, it’s my favourite place on earth. The town of Kasane is a buzzing place and again I love it.
At £350.00 per person per night Bakwena Lodge was by far the most expensive place we stayed on  this trip. But to put this cost into perspective, it was advertised that the fee included two game activities a day, river or land . All Beer and Wine, Food, Laundry and upmarket accommodation.
Driving through Kasane we were struggling to find the lodge, the were no signposts to it. We had to ask at a petrol station and they advised it was not in Kasane but in Kazugula by the ferry, and the new bridge that’s being built. Even as we got close to the ferry we really struggled to find the lodge there was one sign and that was it. At last we arrived; it is located in a residential area close to the river.
 As we arrive we met a large group checking in and we were told to wait and stand at the entrance. This was a bit odd as we had to empty the car for Bushlore and felt under pressure! We stood waiting for over 15 minutes then were led with about 20 others into the dining area where we were subject to had an extensive briefing. This was very prescriptive, outlining the dos and don’ts of the lodge in great detail. Having just left the absolute tranquillity and wilderness of the Kwango-Linyanti region and It felt very impersonal, but this could just be that I was stressed and unprepared for the mass briefing!
As I have said the Loge was All Inclusive, but only included Beer and Wine – the Wine on offer was awful- very cheap and basically horrid! This needs to be amended and decent wine offered; most of the people aat the lodge were drinking spirits and paying extra. The activities are included; 2 a day. We were told that we would have One River trip and Two Game drives. As I was in Chobe to go on the Chobe River I asked that this be changed and it was- so we did one early morning Game drive and 2 Sundowner river trips. 3 activities as opposed to 4.
All the activities were of very high standard in new vehicles with outstanding guides. It took at good three quarters of an hour to get to the gates of Chobe National Park so you have to leave the lodge very early. We were also informed that you could trade 2 activities for a trip to Victoria Falls. I had paid this Lodge extra for a transfers to Vic Falls so was a bit irritated that this had not been advised when I booked! The lodge also advertises that it offers a free laundry service. But at the briefing it was made clear that as all the laundry was done by hand, it was 4 small items per person, so no free laundry at all!!!! I don’t know why but all of this just irritated me!!!! 
Bakwena Lodge, Chobe

 

Bakwena Lodge, Chobe
Bakwena Lodge, Chobe

 

Bakwena Lodge, Chobe
Bakwena Lodge, Chobe
Chobe
Chobe

 

The lodge is stunning, the rooms were lovely, clean, and comfortable with a fantastic outside shower- an inside one as well, lots of hot water. The food was plentiful. On the second night the staff put on a Boma show, the food severed on this night was not as good as the first night or the lunch that day.
I enjoyed Chobe and the Game was as good as ever, we saw another honey Badger! from none to five in one trip. and a Pride of Lions hunting. last time we stayed on a house boat and I think this was more my style as although Bakwena was good, I  would not go again due to the cost as I do not think it was value for money and I felt ‘ripped off’. As a side issue, I received an email from the lodge owner stating that a negative post had been put on Trip Advisor and asking if I had posted it!!!! 

 

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Nkasa Lupala Lodge Linyanti River – or the poor mans Okovango Delta??

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Linyanti River – or the poor mans Okovango Delta??

Friday 10th May 2019
Looking at the map the Linyanti River/ Kwando River form the border between Namibia and Botswana. The Nkasa Rupara National Park is on the Namibian side and this runs into the Okovango delta on the Botswana side. I thought we would try Nkasa Lupala to compare it to staying in the Okovango Delta; we have previously stayed at Shindi. The differences are maily the price, with the Namibian side being considerably less money than the Botswana side and the ability to dive to Nkasa Lupala as opposed to flying in to camps in the Delta such as Shindi.
To get to Nkasa Lupala lodge we drove on a new tar road through Namibian villages, then onto a hard sand road- easy driving and didn’t need to engage 4X4 and arrive at the Nkasa Rupara National Park gates. The lodge is located just inside the park. 
Nkasa Lupala lodge

Nkasa Lupala lodge
Nkasa Lupala lodge


The tented rooms are on stilts, with ensuite bathrooms, good showers and lots of hot water. The water level in small river by our tent filled up and visibly rose during our two night stay; so the bird life was good.
We did the ‘Combo activity’ this consisted of a game drive in the park to the Linyanti River were we did a sundowner cruise. The park is full of Warthogs – I have never seen as many, there are so many that there must be predators, but we didn’t see any. We did see Impala and Zebra. Fantastic birds- flocks of Pelicans-  and Hippo and Elephant on the river. The cruise on the river was fabulous, we got chased by a very angry Hippo, he missed the rear engine by an inch! Needed the G & Ts after that.

The food and ambiance of this Lodge is good and I really enjoy the tranquility of the Park and Marshes. I do think that it is a viable and far cheaper alternative to the Okovango Delta.
Highly recommended if you want total relaxation.

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Ngepi Camp

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Ngepi Camp 

Wednesday 8th May 2019

We were up really early today to hit the road at 0600. This was to be our longest drive of the two week tour. Travelling from close to Etosha Gate to Ngepi Camp on the Caprivi Strip near to Popa Falls. I thought the drive was going to be boring, but the landscape was stunning and changing all of the time. We went through at least 3 Police road blocks. They were very impressed by the International driving Licence- preferring that to the small pink card that is the UK one.
We made very good time and stopped in Rundu for lunch. We were looking for a Wimpy, but wnt to a Steers instead; all I can say is whatever that disgusting Burger was made of it was not meat and in the future I will Steer clear of Steers!!!!
Our next stop was two nights at Negepi Camp on the banks of the Cubango River. The greeting from the reception staff was warm and friendly and Negepi attracts a mixed crowd so has a hippy / happy vibe to it. 
Ngepi Camp, Namibia 

Ngepi Camp, Namibia 

Ngepi Camp, Namibia 

Ngepi Camp, Namibia 

2 of us were in a tree house whilst the other 2 were in a bush hut. Both were comfortable, clean with open bathrooms and had plenty of very hot water- thanks to Solar! One again the beads were great.
The pool was legendary, enabling you to swim in the river with the Crocks and Hippos. We did a sun downer cruise and were overwhelmed by the wildlife in the Bwabwata National Park; this was totally unexpected. The next morning we did the Mokoro trip on the Cubango River and got very close to Hippo and Buffalo!

I loved the fact that breakfast served from early to 17.00, it’s an idea other places should copy. The bar and whole vibe of the place was outstanding. Absolutely value for money. 

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Onguma Bush Camp

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Onguma Bush Camp

Monday 6th May 2019

The landscape was very dry as we travelled towards Halali Camp in Etosha National Park. Namibia is having an extreme drought at the moment and the park looked so dry. After a lunch stop, the landscape changed as we left Halali, it was more lush and there was more game as we approached Namutoni- especially Zebras, loads of them. We saw our first Honey Badger, digging in the soil for food. We also saw a Lioness who had just killed a Wilderbeast and was guarding her prey.
We were staying 2 night at Onguma Bush Camp in 2 standard double rooms. We were here to relax, so the rest of the day was spent around the pool. Then we met our guide David and went out for a Sundowner drive with him. David was a fabulous guide who taught us many things about the bush and surroundings. On our drive we saw two more Honey Badgers, this time digging up a rabbit from its burrow. 
Onguma Bush Camp Namibia 

Onguma Bush Camp Namibia 

Onguma Bush Camp Namibia 
The rooms were clean, with fabulous beds and the best shower I have ever experienced in a wilderness area. The WiFi was good.
The next day we were up early for a walk in the bush with David, who again was a mine of information. We saw the tail of a Cheetah who missed a kill- I think we disturbed the Buck! The sundowner drive was excellent again – more Honey Badgers and a Lion with her Cub.
The food and dining experience was slightly disappointing. Especially the breakfast, as this is only served early- so we had to eat prior to the early morning game walk and this felt rushed. As we were leaving very early the next day we asked reception about breakfast packs, we were advised that this was Ok and to ask at the dining room. When we did this we were abruptly informed that we could not have a breakfast pack and would have to pay for a packed lunch. We did go back to reception who then sorted it out for us, but we could hear the staff in the kitchen moaning about our unreasonable request. This was a pity as the packed breakfast was really good! The afternoon ‘high Tea’ was a joke as it consisted of a packet of biscuits. 

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia Botswana and Zimbabwe. Etosha National Park

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia Botswana and Zimbabwe. Etosha National Park

Saturday 4th May 2019. Dusternbrook to Etosha National Park
It was about 0930 when we left the Dusternbrook Safari Game Farm to drive to Etosha Game reserve.
The Bushlore Nissan 4×4 was a bit over the top, as the roads we were on were tar and perfect. But it was spacious for 4 adults and it’s what we like to use in Southern Africa.
Our first stop was at the town of Okahandja, at the Closwa Biltong Factory to stock up on supplies of Biltong and dried Worse for the long road trip. We stopped Outjo Bakery for a tasty lunch of burgers and pizza and arrived at Andersson Gate Etosha at about 15.00. 

Etosha National Park 

Etosha National Park 
We were staying two nights at Okaukuejo Camp. I had booked a premier waterhole chalet through a company called The Cardboard Box Travel Shop. I usually book direct with the park board; in Namibia this is called Namibian Wildlife Resorts or NWR. But when I looked on the Namibian Wildlife Resorts booking site all accommodation at Okaukuejo was sold out; only camp sites were available. I contacted The Cardboard Box Travel Shop and they got me what I wanted. It was disappointing that the NWR booking site is incorrect as the camp was not full and many of the chalets were empty.
The premier waterhole chalet are expensive but I think worth it as they are opposite the main attraction at this camp, the watering hole; from the chalet you can see the watering hole from your bed. So you don’t have far to go. It is absolutely spectacular. The chalet sleeps 4 with two double bedrooms and two en-suite bathrooms. The beds were super comfy, with crisp white sheets. The showers good with hot water and good pressure.
The pool was being renovated so was partially closed. The restaurant has improved vastly since my last visit and whilst it was a buffet, the meat was cooked while you waited and all the food was very tasty.
The attitude of the staff at the camp has also improved since our last visit in 2014, they were far better than on that occasion.

We enjoyed out two nights and I barely moved from my bench at the side of the watering hole, enjoying the constant animal activity.  
Etosha National Park 
Etosha National Park 

Etosha National Park 

Etosha National Park 

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Manchester to Windhoek May 2019

Self Drive Road Trip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Manchester to Windhoek

Namibia is the perfect destination for a road trip, the roads are well maintained and the rout we would be using was predominantly on Tar roads. For UK citizens there is the added advantage of driving on the same side of the road as we do at home. The roads are well maintained and quiet. My only advise is not to drive at night as on the main roads lighting is poor and cattle are many!

Thursday 2nd May 2019.
On May the 2nd  2020 I started my road trip to Namibia/ Botswanaa and Zimbabwe from Manchester Airport.
Namibia can be as expensive as you want it to be. Apart from our flights we wanted this trip to be a cost effective as possible. 
Four of us were travelling to the Capital City of Namibia – Windhoek, but by different routes and using different airlines;
The Two younger member of our party were going via Doha with Qatar Airways Economy Class. The next time we would see them would be at the accommodation in Windhoek.
This flight was from Manchester Airports Terminal 2- the first leg Manchester to Doha, was 6 hours 55 minutes long on an Airbus. A short 2 hour layover at Doha Airport then the final leg, Doha to Windhoek. This was 9 hours and 40 minutes on the Dreamliner.  The report about this flight was that the first flight on the Airbus was very good, but that the longer leg on the Boeing Dreamliner was dreadful; seat hard and very cramped in Economy class.
 I was travelling with my husband and our flight was leaving from Manchester Airports terminal 1. We were going business class with Lufthansa via Frankfurt and Johannesburg. When booking this flight the agent had ‘warned’  me that it was a code share and from Frankfurt we would be on South African Airways, she stated that as many people won’t use SAA she needed to check we were OK with this. We have never flown SAA before so thought that we would give it a go!
Firstly we checked into the Aspire lounge at Manchester. It was very nice and a decent space to wait for the flight to Frankfurt, this was on a Airbus 319, the business class just consisting of the middle seat being free, we did however have a very nice cold salad on the 1 hour 40 minute flight.
The 3 hour wait at Frankfurt was improved by the longer facilities. The food choice was very limited and quite poor, but the help yourself German beer pump helped with the layover.
I was concerned as I boarded the SAA Airbus 330-600, but was very pleased when I saw the seat. The aircraft was 14 years old and due to this there was a lot of room and the seats were large. They were the lay flat design- just right for an overnight flight. As soon as we boarded were given champagne and amenity kits. Take off was over 60 minutes late due to a strike by French or Swiss air traffic control. I was sure we would miss our connection in JoBergh. Once we took off the food service started – the food and drink choices were good, the crew was very pleasant and responded to the passengers needs quickly. Once made into a bed my seat was great and I woke up on approach to Joberg airport 11 hours later. 

South African Airways Frankfurt to Johannesburg 

South African Airways Frankfurt to Johannesburg 

South African Airways Frankfurt to Johannesburg 

South African Airways Frankfurt to Johannesburg 

Frankfurt Lounge 

 As soon as left the aircraft members of the ground crew were calling for passengers for the SAA Windhoek flight. It was being held as there were over 40 of us. We literally walked through the airport and onto a bus that took us to the Airbus A320. So we did make the flight, arriving at 11.25 –but our cases did not. 

The cases would arrive on the next flight and should be at the airport after 1500. So we decided to come back to collect them once we had collected our rental car.
I have used Bushlore in the past and always found them to be reliable, with excellent vehicles. The Bushlore rep was waiting with his airport pick up sign. We drove the 45 minutes to central Windhoek picked up the car and went to the local Pick n Pay to get supplies. Also to the bank to change £ into Namibian $. Getting a better rate that at home. 
Then we were back to the airport and the bags were ready for us…Hooray!!! So now we needed to find our firsts night accommodation; Dusternbrook Safari Guest Farm. The instructions on how to get to it were very poor, I think most people must get picked up and transferred to the guest farm. I did have an idea where it was and it was isgn posted off the Freeway. We arrived just as the sun was setting. 
Bushlore Namibia 

Düsternbrook Guest Farm

Düsternbrook Guest Farm

The other two part members were waiting that had been picked up and quickly taken to Dusternbrook where we went on the ‘Cats Unlimited’ Cheetah and Leopard drive.
There is a variety of accommodation choices on the site as well as a camp site. The accommodation allocated to us was in the Colonial House, one room slept 4 in one double and two twins whilst the other room had a double and one single bed. Both of the rooms were ideal for families.
We enjoyed a drink at the outdoor bar, a hearty evening meal in the partially outdoor dining area. This was at a ong table with all the other gusts and the Farm owners. In the morning breakfast was served in the main farm house. The food served was simple home cooked food and delicious.
As we left the Guest farm we saw many animals, I would highly recommend this accommodation. To think that it is less than a one hour drive from the main city in Namibia – Windhoek- it is a delightful piece of tranquillity.