South Africa, Namibia, Botswana & Zambia
August 6 -30, 2005
This three week adventure trip to Southern Africa was a long time
dream of mine. My trip started in Syracuse with a Jet Blue
flight to JFK airport in New York City. I then boarded a South African
airline airbus for the flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.
It was a 17 hour plus flight with a refueling stop in Dakar.
The passengers were not allowed to disembark at Dakar but we could stand
and roam about the plane. I arrived in the late afternoon in Johannesburg.
Most of our tour time was spent traveling in Namibia on dirt roads.
African travel was exciting and difficult at the same time.
I traveled with 19 other hardy souls who made up our tour group.
We were truly international as there were two of us from the USA
and eighteen residents of the Netherlands. So both Dutch and
English language were the methods of sharing information about
the things we were to see and experience. Often the language barrier
seemed to disappear as most the the Dutch travelers
were very proficient in the English language.
After an over night stay in Pretoria, I was joined by the Dutch travelers
the next morning and we were driven back to the airport in
Johannesburg for a quick flight to Livingstone, Zambia where we
met our tour guide and the adventure began.
Unfortunately Drs. Stanley and Livingstone were unavailable to meet us when we landed.
We retrieved our duffle bags and cleared immigration and then were
driven to Victoria Falls. Our visit to the falls lasted a couple of hours.
It is a fantastic sight when you first view the falls. The Zambia side is mainly
on the Rainbow Falls section. The main falls is a few miles down the River.
It is hard to access the main falls because of Zimbabwe government rules.
My first view of the falls! The dry winter season is underway so the
amount of water going over the falls is less that during the rainy season.
There was an extensive trail system on the Zambia side which
made taking photos very easy. This was a photographers dream.
I took many photos of the various vistas found along the fall's trails.
This is a shot of the falls and gorge looking toward the main falls.
There is a heavy mist near the main falls.
You can see the rapids that are at the bottom of the gorge.
This is a bridge over a section of the Zambezi River. It is at this
point in the river where the white water rafting begins. It is a
very challenging rapids section and one must climb down
into the gorge and out over slippery rocks to enjoy this activity.
Another exciting activity is bungee jumping off this bridge.
If you look carefully in the middle of this photo you
can see a jumper hanging over the river.
In case you do not believe me, look in the center of this picture
and you can see the jumper hanging off the bungee cord.
What a wonderful spot to see the falls.
Standing near the upper edge of the river just before the water goes over the rim.
At the entrance to the falls there were several stands selling local native handicrafts.
Sunrise over the Zambezi River, a great beginning for a day of sightseeing.
I decided to take my first game park ride to see the
animals native to this section of Zambia.
I really like this warning sign at the Zambezi Waterfront Resort
where we were staying. It was a great spot as we were on the
banks of the river. I did not see any crocs but
moneys and baboons were very where.
We rode around the Mosi-o-tunza Zoological Park in this vehicle.
It was a neat way to see the various animals we saw.
The first animals we saw were impalas. There were dozens
of impalas in the park. The park runs along the banks of the river
and we traveled on dirt roads throughout the park.
Next we saw elephants, lots of elephants. They come across the
river from Zimbabwe on regular basis. The tour guide commented
that they did not need a passport to travel.
Next we came across several giraffe foraging for food.
They are truly a majestic animal.
We next happened upon two rhinos resting under a large tree.
These are the only two rhinos found in Zambia and are protected
by the Zambian army around the clock from poachers.
Water buffalos were seen next. We were on our way back to the resort.
After my first game ride, I was excited with all the various animals I had seen.
In the late afternoon, I took a sunset sail on the Zambezi river.
It was a fun cruise and we saw the snouts of many hippos.
This photo shows a small group of hippos in the river.
Sunset on the Zambezi River. The end of a great day!
The next day saw our group on the road early as we were headed for
Chobe National Park at Kasane. As part of the drive we had to take a ferry
boat across the Zambezi River. I am waiting for the
tour bus to be loaded on the ferry.
On our way to the Chobe National Park we had to cross the
border into Botswana at Kazungula. This required our leaving
the bus and entering the border crossing station. This was
the first of many immigration stamps in my passport.
Because of a concern over hoof and mouth disease, our bus
had to drive through this pit of disinfectant. We had to walk over a
mat holding the same disinfectant. When this disease breaks out
the government fences off large areas to contain the animals most effected.
I have arrived at the Chobe Safari Lodge at Kasane. This was a
first class resort and it would be our home for a couple of days.
Chobe National Park is noted for its animals.
I will check them out on a game drive tomorrow morning.
We are off on an early morning game drive in the Chobe National Park.
Watch out game animals we are on the road!
The park entrance. There were many vehicles
like the one we are in on the park's roads.
Our first sighting at Chobe National Park was an impala.
There are hundreds of these animals in Southern Africa.
A photo of a Hippo out of the water standing on the river bank.
We came upon a group of vultures having breakfast on a
water buffalo carcass. They were savagely attacking this dead
animal but they had not killed the water buffalo.
An elephant out looking for breakfast.
Their were large herds of elephants in the park.
An African White Fish Eagle waiting in this tree for breakfast to show up.
I saw several eagles like this with fish in their talons.
Giraffes out for a breakfast walk.
A sable traveling in the park.
Back at the lodge from our morning ride, we found several
warthogs foraging around the resort grounds.
Late in the afternoon, we boarded large a river boat to sail at sunset
along the Chobe River. Above is a Reed Cormorant spreading its wings to be
attractive to other cormorants.
There were many hippos like this one enjoying the river at sunset.
We came upon a large herd of elephants on the river bank.
This one is blowing dust over his body to keep the bugs away.
This big guy did not like our being so close to his family herd
and was letting us know that fact. There were
dozens of elephants in this area near the river.
Water buffalo shared the river bank with the elephants.
Thus another day of viewing Africa's wildlife draws to a close.
I returned to the lodge for a excellent buffet which included
several wild game meats. The food on the trip was really very
good and not expensive. Tomorrow we are
on a day long drive to our next stop at Okavango Delta.
Flowers outside another border crossing. We are crossing
from Namibia back to Botswana on our way to the delta.
Lunch along the road. Everyone chipped in to pay for our
lunches along the roadside. Villages with good food choices were becoming scarce.
Sometimes we lucked out and found a modern super market in a larger village.
Another border to be crossed. This is the Muhembo Border Post
where I picked up many passport stamps on this trip.
We arrived on time to meet our boat to take us into the Okavango Delta.
This water rich delta is the end point of the Okavango River which
provides moisture to the Kalahari Desert. The river rises in the
highlands of Angola. We are loaded on a boat with our overnight
bags for our two night stay. All the shores of the delta are
floating grasses masses. The boat trip to our camp
was over an hour and half long.
Water safety was practiced on the boat, so we all had to wear
life jackets for the trip. It was an interesting ride. We saw
no game beside birds and an occasional croc.
Sunset on the delta.
Our houseboat home in the delta. The top deck was our bedroom
for the two nights we stayed at the delta. It was like a big slumber
party with all twenty of us sharing the top deck. We slept on the
deck with mattress pads and mosquito netting over our bunks.
There were two bathrooms on the main deck so we frequently
had to wait for a rest room. Meals were served on the main deck
and were tasty. Breakfast was interesting in that the main food
was toast made in a frying pan. We did have peanut butter
and jelly. Beverages were limited to coffee and tea.
Day two on the Delta found us taking a boat ride through the delta.
These "Mokoros" boats are fiberglass. They used to be made
from trees that grew nearby. We rode two to a boat with one of
the natives pushing us along. The depth of the delta water
varies greatly. We were in an area where the water was 3 to 4 feet deep.
Our excursion lasted several hours. It did not help that
the local guides got lost several times.
On the way back to the houseboat we passed several village groupings like this one.
Another beautiful African sunset!
We were taken back to the bus by boat early the next morning.
Our first stop of the day was at Tsodilo Hills, where there is a holy
spot by the San Bushman. There are over 3,500 paintings on the rocks
and cliffs that date back 800 years. This place is
surrounded by mystery and spirituality.
One of the many rock paintings.
After seeing the rock paintings we ventured on to Dorstky's
Cabins for the night. I was in for a shock. We were camping
out in tents! It had been years since I slept on the ground.
This is my tent. I did have a mattress pad and it was near
the shower house. The camp ground was full for the night
but was quiet. They served very good meals in the dining room are this resort.
After my houseboat and tenting experiences, the sight of beautiful
thatched roof at the Okavango River Lodge was a welcome change.
This was a beautiful setting for this lodge.
It was on the banks of the Okavango River.
After another long drive on the dirt roads of Namibia we arrived
at Etosha National Park. The drive today was like all the roads
we have traveled on since leaving Livingston. We drove on dirt roads 70% of the time on this trip.
For the next two days at the park we will stay at the Halali Lodge Resort and take game
drives. The name Etosha means "large white spot of dry water
and refers to the major part of the park, which is a vast, blinding saltpan.
As we drove into the park we began to see game along the road.
This is an Oryx. They are beautiful and graceful.
We saw hundreds of Springboks as we tour the game parks.
A giraffe checks our bus out as we pass by.
We finally have caught up with zebra's. They are Burchell's zebra's.
There were many hundreds of zebras in Etosha National Park.
Of course there are large herds of elephants in the park.
Sunset at Etosha National Park
We were up and out for an early game drive.
These are Red Hartebeest's out for a breakfast run.
They have very distinctive horns.
Standing in front of the Etosha Pan.
The word Etosha means "Great White Place".
It is huge salt lake that from a distance looks like it is water.
At the Halali Resort they have a water hole nearby where you can
see the animals come to drink. The ideal times for this viewing
is at dusk and dawn. They have flood lights on for night viewing.
A couple of the guys from the trip are seen waiting for some animals to arrive.
Here come the elephants! You can see their reflection in the water.
It is just dusk and I am trying a camera shot before it gets to dark.
First few to arrive for a drink were some springboks and jackals.
But the real show is when you see a group of elephants marching
to the water hole from afar. The first group was a bull, cow and
three little elephants. They are drinking from the fresh water inlet
at the hole. The watering holes in the park are fed by pumping
water into them from a well. Before the evening was over there
were over 50 elephants at the watering hole. Later arrivals
were four rhinos. The elephants gave them a wide berth.
A group of red hartebeest having breakfast. It is early the next
morning and we are in quest of more game sightings. Our game
drive took us to other areas of the park. We checked out from
the resort after a two night stay. We are headed for another
park resort. You can stay only three days at a time in the park.
The tour group kept say to our driver when do we see lions?
On the last day of our park stay, we did our final game drives
visiting 5 watering holes.
The second watering hole stop
was where we saw four African Lions. There were three
close by and they were just laying around soaking up the sun.
In the far distance was the large cat of the pride.
He was laying out of camera range under at big tree.
This is not a cat to fool with!
At one watering hole there were dozens of animals waiting for a
chance to drink while the elephants played in the water.
Patience is important when there are not many places to drink.
Elephants hogging the water hole!
Kudu's heading for the water hole. They have beautiful curved horns.
Later in the afternoon we arrived at the Okaukuejo Lodge Resort.
This is another government operated resort in the park.
There is a large tree near the watering hole.
The large nests in the tree are the home of the Weaver bird.
Right on schedule as the sun sets, the first elephants arrive for their evening drink.
The next morning it was on the road again with a long drive to Khorixas.
The three night stay in the Etosha National Park was terrific.
We are now leave the area where game is prevalent.
While we did see some game along the way they was not the
large animals of the park. This is the park entrance as we leave.
We stopped for a short time for tour members to shop for native items.
In Khorixas, we stayed at the Igowati Lodge it was a very nice resort.
At dinner we were entertained by a championship Namibian
native dance group. The photo above is of the resort's
peacocks in their water bowl.
The next morning it was back on the bus and we traveled to
Twijfelfontein where there are more than 2,000 rock engravings by the Bushman.
There are pictures drawn of giraffes, elephants, rhinos and other wildlife.
These engravings were discovered in the 1920's.
There was a rugged trail to follow to see the engravings.
The engravings were very interesting art that was
somewhat like the Tsodilo Hills paintings.
The scenery throughout Namibia was very striking.
The desert was colorful with mountains all around.
Some mountains were red like these while others were very rocky and gray.
This is a photo of the "Burn Mountain". We also visited the
nearby "Organ Pipes" both of which are geological curiosities.
The Pipes were shaped by erosion in 150 million year old volcanic rock.
I should comment that the weather was perfect for this trip.
We had no rain until we ran into mist and rain at the Atlantic coast.
The days were hot and sunny. Evenings cooled down into the high 40's and low 50's. Great weather to sleep in. As we moved further south toward Cape Town the weather generally
got cooler. Jackets were the order of the day sometimes. A great
advantage of going during the dry, cool season is that you
experienced fewer bugs. Mosquitoes were really a
minor problem when doing the game drives.
Next stop was Cape Cross and its Seal Colony. We drove most
of the day on bumpy, dusty roads to make a late afternoon visit.
There were thousands of smelly seals swimming in the surf and
just laying about. It was noisy as the seals seemed to fight with each other.
Note the Blackbacked Jackal waiting and watching at the rear
of the photo for the seals, hoping for one to be his next dinner.
There were five jackals lurking about the cape.
After Cape Cross we traveled on to Swakopmund for a two night stay.
While there we had various tours we could take. I signed up for a
dolphin sighting cruise at nearby Walvis Bay Harbor. We sailed
on a small fishing boat out into the bay. The trip was highlighted
by the arrival of a friendly seal into our boat. They are actually
quite cute animals. They would jump in and out of the boat for
fish handouts. We also saw many dolphins swimming
along side our boat. They were hard to photograph.
After the dolphin sighting adventure, I took an afternoon dune
buggy ride in the sand dunes south of the city. The is not
sea sand but wind blown sand from the inland Kalahari Desert.
Swakopmund is a reminder from the German colonial period.
It was a very up scale city to visit with many interesting
sights like the light house shown above.
This is Victor our bus driver and all around good guy.
He could make the bus really move and change a flat when necessary.
It was necessary somewhere in the open space of Namibia.
Our tour leader was Aletta Weertman did a great job of
keeping 2 Americans and 18 Dutchmen in line and on schedule.
We traveled further south in Namibia to a small outpost
called, Solitaire. It was a neat place with some interesting features like a
generator for lights that was turned off at 10:00 p.m.
The general store made the best apple pie.
Sunset at Solitaire.
The next morning we drive further south into the Namib-Naukluft Park
to view the extensive sand dunes found there. They stretch as far as
the eye can see. Dune 45 is the most popular and several of our
tour group managed to climb to the top of the dune. The red sand and
sun shadows made the chance to take photos very interesting.
Too good a shot to pass up!
The sand was hard to walk on.
Our overnight stop was at Hammerstein Lodge & Camp at Sossusvlei.
The lodge had two huge cages to hold leopards and
caracals (like American Lynx). We were allowed into the
cages to take photos. Scary, but the only instruction
we receives was "Do not turn your back on them"!
Caracals were more than a little nervous!
The next morning it was another on the road to drive to Fish River Canyon.
We arrived there at sunset but were on the wrong side of the canyon so
photo opportunities were limited. The Fish River Canyon
is second in size to the USA's Grand Canyon.
After a visit to the Fish River Canyon we stopped at Canon Lodge - Namibia.
This lodge was a four star resort. The accommodations and food were superb.
The lodge had its own Self-sufficiency Centre where its foods
for the kitchen and dairy products were grown.
The bellhops were very quiet fellows and they worked for carrots.
After a leisurely start, we drove for an hour to Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort,
which is at the southern end of the Fish River Canyon.
There were hikers entering the trails into the canyon
and returning after a five day hike.
After our visit to the hot springs it was a short ride to the
Norotshama River Resort on the Orange River. This resort was rather
primitive with no heat and open air showers. Since we are further
south, it was a cold night's sleep for some of our tour group.
We had our usual early start as we are heading for the border of South Africa.
The Orange River separates Namibia and South Africa.
Our next stop after a long day of travel was Lamberts Bay.
We are on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The surf was up
and the wind was blowing hard. That made for great waves and surf.
An early morning departure from Lambert Bay.
This is the home habitat of a noisy colony of beautiful
colored jan-van-gent birds. Unfortunately the
weather did not cooperate so no bird watching.
Cape Town, Table Mountain is in the background.
The Cape of Good Hope in the background.
The tour gang at the Cape!
On our way back to our hotel we had a last stop at the Boulder's National Park.
The main attraction was a colony of Jackass Penguins. The were cute little fellows.
Thus ends the trip of a lifetime. There is a lot more to see and do in Cape Town,
but with only two days makes it impossible to do an extensive visit on this trip.
The time of year was perfect and the traveling with a group of new
Dutch friends made the experience priceless. I will never forget sleeping
with 18 Dutchmen on the Delta. The photos of all the African game I saw
on the various drives will help me remember this trip for a long time.