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Sand Dunes and Safari, A trip to Namibia, Kenya and Uganda

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Old Jun 20, 17, 11:05 pm
  #16
 
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Back in 2013 and 2014, I spent about three weeks each year in Walvis Bay. Both times, we spent a night driving up to Swakopmund for dinner at the Jetty. Great little restaurant! The oysters off the coast of Namibia are some of the best in the world. Didn't get to explore too much, but we did spend one Saturday touring where the dunes reached the ocean at Sandwich Harbour. The dunes are even more impressive than can be conveyed through any photo. Definitely something that everyone should try to do once.

Trip Report - My First International Long Haul November in Namibia

Last edited by UnitedWeStand; Jun 20, 17 at 11:10 pm Reason: updating link
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Old Jun 21, 17, 10:20 pm
  #17
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Great report so far - Looks like an awesome trip!
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Old Jun 24, 17, 5:43 am
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Love the trip report and photos. Looks interesting
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Old Jan 11, 18, 10:27 pm
  #19
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ok.. getting back to this report..



May 24, 2017
Hotel: Mara Sopa Lodge

We had an early start this morning as we would be departing to the Masai Mara at 7AM. Which unfortunately meant I wouldn't get to see any of Nairobi. Met my friends down at breakfast and heard about their trip to Tanzania.. they'd had good luck seeing animals there and even got to see some of the wildebeest migration!


Our driver/guide Raphael showed up promptly at 7AM. The weather was gorgeous clear blue skies today. We had a Toyota Hiace pop-top which would be our transport/safari vehicle for the next few days. It is possible to fly out to some of the lodges and save a 6-hr drive each way but you may have to pay for the vehicle to come from Nairobi anyway. Not too much traffic on our route out of town. We reached the Rift Valley escarpment after an hour or so and stopped to get a view out over the valley. There were some kiosks here selling snacks. We stopped in another town to stock up on water, apparently cheaper to buy here than in Nairobi. The road so far was paved and in good condition.


Rift Valley

Rock Hyrax. Closest relative of elephant

Our safari vehicle


We made another pit stop in Narok about 11AM. There was a souvenir shop here selling wood carvings, chess sets, etc of varying quality. Most of it is good but I have so much African stuff already from my earlier trips! After Narok the pavement ended and it was still a bumpy few more hours to cover the last 100kms before we finally arrived at Mara Sopa Lodge at 1pm. The Lodge is just outside the Masai Mara park eastern gate.

Narok


Bouncy road to Mara Sopa Lodge

After the dusty bumpy road arriving at the Lodge was an oasis. They offered a welcome drink and we checked into our rooms for a few hours rest before the game drive at 3:45PM. There was a set lunch available, quite good actually and amazing when you realize they have to bring everything in. The restaurant overlooked the pool and hills surrounding the park.





Mara Sopa Lodge

At 3:45 we met Raphael again and set out for the afternoon game drive. Even though the lodge was at the edge of the park it was still a very bumpy 20 minutes just to get to Ololaimutiek gate. There were a bunch of Masai women that swarmed our minibus when we arrived, selling trinkets. Once inside the park, the landscape opened up with large fields of grass between the hills. The first few kms of the park are a buffer zone with encroachment from local villages, so we didn't see many animals at first. Most of the grass has been grazed down by livestock. A few straggler wildebeest who had missed the migration memo and some locals hauling firewood. As we got further into the park we started seeing Thompson's gazelle and zebra. We came across a couple of giraffe and hartebeest.

Masai women selling souvenirs







Masai Mara

It was already getting late (and we had to be out of the park by dark ~6:45 PM) when our driver heard over the radio of a lion spotting. We finally came across them right after sunset, got to see them for a minute before having to haul ... back to the main gate. We made it, barely. Supposedly there are heavy fines if tour guides don't make the deadline.



There were a few other groups tonight at the buffet dinner. After dinner they had Masai dancers in the lounge area. Quite amazing to see them dance, jump and sing. I'm a tall guy but some of them were even taller than me. Most of them are workers at the hotel and they do the dance a few nights a week.
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Old Jan 11, 18, 10:51 pm
  #20
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May 25, 2017
Hotel: Mara Sopa Lodge

Today we were scheduled for a full day game drive. We set off about 8AM for the drive back to the park. My friends said they had already seen the 'Big 5' so jokingly said they wanted to see the 'Little 5'. On the way into the park we saw a skittish dikdik. There were more animals about this morning and we saw several zebra and giraffe (likely the same ones we'd seen the night before). After driving for an hour or so, Raphael noticed some movement offroad and the animals looked nervous. We started driving towards the commotion and just missed a cheetah chase! We came across the cheetah looking surly and slowly walking towards some shade while panting heavily. All of the animals around were still on guard.


dik-dik





Surly cheetah


Animals on guard for cheetah




Soon after the cheetah we came across our first elephant and soon saw several more of them out in the grass. At one point Raphael saw some more movement in the tall grass and drove offroad. We just missed a lion as he laid down in the grass... it was only a few feet tall but you could not see him at all. So not a good idea to walk through the Masai Mara!

There's a lion here... somewhere...




Elephant

Secretary bird

About 11AM we came across another cheetah lying in the grass. We could tell there was something going on by the crowd of safari vehicles surrounding it! Another hour later we heard a lion report and came across several of them lounging around with a freshly eaten carcass.





Just past the lions we had to cross through a muddy creek. Our Hiace vehicle made it and we stopped on the other side for a pitstop. Another vehicle came along to cross the creek but they got stuck! So a bit of an ordeal and delay as our driver tried to help them out. A 4WD Landcruiser finally came by and was able to tow them out.


Safari vehicle stuck in mud




Mara River


We finally came to the Mara river around 1PM. During the wildebeest migration this is an amazing place to watch thousands of them attempting to cross the river while avoiding the crocodiles. The migration was still a month or so away, so today it was quiet. Just a few crocodile lazing on the banks and hippo poking their eyes out of the water.

The river was our turnaround point, so we headed back for the long drive back to the gate. We stopped for a lunch break under a tree. The packed lunches were OK with ham&cheese sandwich, fruit, dessert and chips. We were quite close to the Tanzania border here, my phone started picking up Tanzania signal. After lunch we came across a fair sized herd of elephant with several babies. It was still a few more hours of driving to get back to the gate, passing more zebra, giraffe and a lion hidden in the bushes. We were back at the lodge by 5:30PM after a long driving day!




That evening the restaurant was dead... there were only a few other guests so they had set menu instead of buffet.
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Old Jan 13, 18, 1:19 am
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Fantastic. If I am correct you need a Yellow Fever shot for both Kenya and Uganda? I don't think for Tanzania or Namibia. I read that it is dangerous for people over 60.

Last edited by Bretteee; Jan 13, 18 at 1:24 am
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Old Jan 15, 18, 9:56 am
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
Fantastic. If I am correct you need a Yellow Fever shot for both Kenya and Uganda? I don't think for Tanzania or Namibia. I read that it is dangerous for people over 60.
Yes officially you need one. I have one but had forgotten my yellow book (but luckily had the copy on my laptop).
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Old Jan 16, 18, 2:51 pm
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I did not need a yellow fever shot when I visited Kenya last year traveling from the US. It appears however the Kenyan authorities were checking for immunization books from passengers arriving from other African countries at NBO.
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Old Jan 20, 18, 6:29 am
  #24
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Some great game viewing on the Mara. Must have been quite a delight to see such big animals up close. Hopefully the Cheetahs were just as friendly as Namibia too.
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