That’s me – Alesha! At Fish River Canyon!

Crew:

Guide: Amen:

What a cool guy!! He was fantastic and an absolute pleasure to have around. Always a big smile on his face and always concerned about everyone in the group. I also found it impressive that he took special care when there were language barriers on tour and made everyone feel comfortable, welcome and part of the group. He managed to connect with everyone and communicated quite creatively with various hand gestures and facial expressions which made us all laugh a lot. He made sure he spent time with everyone individually, his briefings were good and clear and he always repeated everything 100 times to make sure people understood (even though some people still came back and asked the same questions again and again).

I also picked up that he is a smart open minded person and constantly analyzes himself and the way he is guiding to see where and how he can improve to do a better job.

Cook: Thembi:

I think she is a really talented cook and a very sweet natured person. She seemed quite shy and she had a quiet and gentle personality, together, the crew complimented each other’s strengths.

Translator: Holger:

Holger did a very very good job and more than what was expected of him. He was always helping with EVERYTHING and you always saw him busy and running around helping everyone. I thought he worked really hard to help both Amen and Thembi and also to keep his German clients happy.

He translated everything Amen or Thembi said and he also translated on all the activities we went on. Unfortunately some of the Germans on tour were under the impression that there was actually a German guide on the tour rather than a translator. One of the guests came up with the wierdest things like one time she complained about the steaks we ate, because she is a hunter and she wanted to go and shoot a kudu or gemsbok herself (on tour) so that she could provide our group with fresh meat – hmmm, that’s not going to happen on one of our tours! She also tended to end up naked in the campsite early in the morning rubbing herself in with suntan lotion!

Meals:

I deliberately stood at the end of the queue whenever we were dishing up food – just to see how everything worked out with the quantity and the quality of the food. The quantity of food made was more than enough and it rarely happened that there was no food left at the end of the meal. Sometimes it did happen – but that was because some people managed to run for the front of the line, dish a plate enough for 10 people (and still be skinny as hell) while at the same time not taking people in the back of the line into consideration, and then throwing half of their food away afterwards. Amen saw what was happening and handled the situation immediately.

So yeah, food was absolutely awesome, and at dinner time we ate like kings. (Especially all the meat and braais – I didn’t expect that, and I love meat)

Vehicle & Equipment:

Pavarotti was a rockstar and gave no problems or hiccups on the entire trip. Everything was clean and comfortable. The lockers at the back was sometimes a problem, especially since people take hours in front of the lockers with their bags and taking stuff out and putting stuff in and taking stuff out again and putting stuff back in again, and so forth. But apart from that the lockers are really cool things to have. (For those of you reading this, keep in mind that not all of the trucks have lockers at the back)

Some of the guests brought hard suitcases for which there was no other space for except in front of the lockers on top of poor Thembi’s fridge. Rule number one, read the predeparture booklet!

Tents were big and tall enough for me to stand up in and the mattresses were comfortable. There were a few which gave problems with the zips as usual but Amen was able to fix this on tour.

Accommodation:

Very good, no complaints, once again, much more than what I expected! I liked it that we had a break from the tents every 7 days or so. Good refresher. I did have to upgrade once though in planet Boabab because my tent was quite happy on the idea of forming little swimming pools inside when the afternoon or night thunderstorms hit the camp. But apart from that I think camping is awesome and a much more social option than accommodated, so YAY for the tents, they are really spacious and comfortable.

Marcuskraal – A warm and welcoming clean campsite with lovely people running the place. Here we had a very peaceful first night, enhanced by the beautiful views of the mountains and tranquil atmosphere of real country life.

Fiddlers creek – This campsite was a refreshing peak into what was to come before entering Namibia. Nestled between the trees on the banks of the Orange river with a lively bar and social area overlooking the river, this was a real cool campsite with a warm, lively vibe and the first hint of adventure in the air!

Hobas – This was a basic and clean campsite, located close to the Fish river canyon. Here we felt for the first time that we were really camping “out there in the wild” Namibia. At sunset, springbok made their way to bushes close by the campsite for a late afternoon graze and in the morning we were greeted by some baboons!

Sesriem –Wow, this was like an Oasis in the middle of the desert! After driving quite some time through the barren lands and roads with not a soul in sight for miles, all of a sudden you walk into this buzzing welcoming place in the middle of nowhere. It was a sweltering 45 degrees Celsius in the desert by this time, and the sight of other overlanders relaxing and chatting away around the bar and restaurant, sipping on ice cold beers in frozen glasses, were really welcoming! (Yes, they did freeze the glasses to make it colder!). It had comfortable and clean campsite and facilities and also a pool to cool down in.

Desert shelter sossusvlei – This is a very basic campsite with very basic facilities, but still, I will never forget our time here, as Boesman, the owner who lives here was such an interesting and knowledgeable man! When we arrived he immediately welcomed us and made us feel straight at home. He took us on the most fascinating walk through the desert and even showed us his “secret sunset viewing spot” where we definitely experienced a truly magnificent sunset which only a place like Namibia could offer.

Dunedin – Dunedin guest house was such a refresher! After camping in the dust and the sand, we were welcomed into our rooms with clean and comfortable beds and hot showers!

Spitzkoppe – Well, this one I can only explain the way like our guide Amen said over the microphone on arrival: “Ladies and gentleman…. No facilities available.” Yes, there were no facilities whatsoever, but that is just what makes the adventure really become an adventure! How awesome it was to camp out in this beautiful wild setting literally in the middle of nowhere where you find the most incredible rock formations and sunset! We spent the night by the fire chatting away under a star-ridden sky. It was a great experience with this local community run camp.

Halali and Okaukuejo – I really enjoyed these and it also felt like arriving at a big Oasis in the middle of nowhere, although the landscapes here are not so much desert, and much greener. The highlight of these camps are that there are really great waterholes at night – for the animals, and the guests! Swimming pools were well used!

Ghanzi – This was our first campsite in Botswana. Their facilities were great and they built their huts and ablution facilities all out of natural materials – grass, sticks, reeds that type of thing. This made us feel like we really were in the African bush! We came in contact with the Bushmen here who showed us around and took us on a nature walk. At night we also experienced traditional dancing by the local bushmen, which was really fascinating to see!

Sitatunga – As this camp was the gateway to our excursion into the Okavango delta, there was a great feeling of anticipating adventure in the air! This was a great spot where overlanders from all over come to stay and we really had an awesome and lively night here with our fellow “Nomads” and other travellers on the road!

Okavango Delta: And so our guide Amen says again: “Ladies and gentleman… no facilities available” Bush camping at it’s best! Staying here was definitely one of the highlights of the tour as I have never been camping out so deep in the heart of absolute wilderness! We bathed in the rivers and listened to the sounds of animals and just pure nature breathing all around us. What an unforgettable place!

Planet Baobab – We arrived here when the skies really opened its taps and gave us all the water it had! Dripping wet from trying to find a place to pitch a tent, we decided to give it a rest and strolled into a lively, cozy and welcoming bar area – it is open at the sides so while watching the rain pour down around us, we were relaxing on the couches laughing and exchanging fun stories with all of our new friends that we had made along the way. We decided to upgrade and sleep in their chalets rather this night – and I must mention that they have the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on!


Thebe river safaris – Yip, I felt the same about this one as I did about Planet Baobab. What a great place with an awesome vibe!
Thebe River Safaris

Tour Itinerary:

Fun and busy with lots of activity and movement – which I like, as I get restless fairly easily if things are the same all the time or when there is nothing to do. Everything worked well and was organized and the combination and variation of desert, bush, Okavango and other landscapes was perfect. I loved Sossusvlei (especially Deadvlei), Chobe national park, what a beautiful place, and the Mokoro excursion was a very special experience.

Etosha – The drive from Okaukuejo and Halali and back was quite long, but that’s the opinion of a spoiled South African who has been privileged enough to have seen a lot of different gameparks and wildlife in my lifetime. So, what matters, is that the rest of the group looked like they enjoyed the way we did Etosha. They would have been happy to sit on the truck probably for days on end just game driving and looking like they might skyrocket through the truck’s roof every time they saw a zebra…. or a springbok, or another zebra! *click click click click click click*

Activities:

Guided desert walk: Awesome awesome awesome! I have learned the most interesting facts from this Afrikaans guide called Boesman. The group was hanging on his every word, and I think one of the girls even got a tear in the eye when he was telling the stories about the Bushmen having to leave their children and grannies behind in the desert at times. He showed us an amazing sunset spot and what an interesting character, really enjoyed his tour!

Deadvlei: What an amazing sight and scenery! Definitely worth every cent! Some of the best pictures on the tour came from here too.

Himba Community Visit: This was a rather controversial activity. Some looooved it and others didn’t enjoy it as they felt that it was contrived. I really enjoyed it and thought that it was a good outing. I think that it’s important that these cultures get recognised and that people are able to experience how they live, without going out and impacting all of the communities that are actually living the nomadic lifestyle of the Himba. This way we’re able to limit the impact of our Western Ways while still being able to educate our visitors. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.


Gweta – Bushman Dance: The guests enjoyed this a lot. The people who felt that the Himba visit was contrived were feeling much more comfortable with this too, because they felt it was a much more authentic experience.


Okavango Delta – The experience of a lifetime! Very very cool! The mokoros and the polers and the whole excursion was something I have never done before and a very unique experience. The polers were a helpful bunch and their singing and dancing on the last night was quite entertaining and comical. I think their song “Be-autiful Afrika” will not leave my head or my soul for a long time!

Chobe River Cruise: Fantastic! Unimaginable close ups with the hippos, crocodiles and elephants. Brilliantly funny and entertaining guides on the cruise! And delicious ice cold beers, of course!

Victoria Falls: It was not my first visit to Vic Falls but I could see the incredible impact that it had on the other first time visitors. I went on the elephant back safari, as I have done the river rafting before and it was an amazing expereince to be out in the African bush on the back of the king of the jungle!

In Conclusion:

At the end of the tour I left with a heavy heart, knowing that I had to say goodbye to a whole truck full of new friends, 3 in particular who I will stay in close contact with hopefully for the rest of my life. We all worked together as a team and had what was in my opinion a life changing experience. After 20 days out in the African wilderness, your body is fitter, your mind is clear and your soul is revived.

The world really is our oyster and I wanted to explore more of what our beautiful continent had to offer. This tour was an adventure which opened my mind and made me appreciate life and all that it has to offer.

Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity!

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