A Travellerspoint blog

Final Thoughts

View Namibia & Botswana 2018 on Bob Brink's travel map.

I have been back from my Namibia and Botswana trip for several months. I had meant to finish off the trip with some final thoughts to follow up my post which had me arriving home in Newfoundland. I have made many attempts to do one but have never finished it. It is just not as much fun as posting about new adventures.

In the mean time I produced a two-part video of the trip which I have just posted and updated my website Photographs by Bob Brink

I even researched and booked my next trip, Central Asia. I leave on May 1. There will be more on that later.

If you have found my blog with this or a later post, please go back to my daily postings for the details.

About Namibia

Yes. I think Namibia is a fantastic place to visit, especially for the gorgeous and at times surreal landscapes. There is not a lot of culture to be seen when driving for a few thousand kilometres with no signs of people, but the history of the Namibian's struggle against the Germans and South Africans is worth some time in Windhoek, and the mixture of the Himbas and Hereros in the west and north is fascinating.

Although dusty, the roads are good, making the main tourist destinations quite accessible. The campsites are set in interesting locations and are well maintained, keeping costs down. Although I did not do it, self drive is a feasible way to get around.

About My Itinerary

Because I added my Botswana baobabs to a standard Namibia trip, my itinerary was somewhat disjointed. It had a couple of good parts which were separated by long boring drives, the not so good parts.

The first part was my standard tour, Windhoek to Etosha. I especially enjoyed the first 12 days, Windhoek to Epupa Falls. Deadvlei and Epupa Falls were magical, just fantastic places to take photographs. The stops at Cape Cross, Spitzkoppe, Twyfelfontein and Palmwag were quite special as well. I did not even mind the long drives, as the ever-changing terrain was both interesting and often quite beautiful.

Morning Light at Deadvlei

Epupa Falls

From Epupa the trip took me down to Etosha National Park where I had a short stop to enjoy the landscape and see the wildlife. Viewing the animals with the backdrop of the massive pan was a great experience. But I found the camping a bit tame. I agree that the fenced campsites in Namibia make a lot of sense from a safety standpoint, but I prefer the “wild” camping in Botswana’s game parks, where the animals can wander through at any time of the day or night. Knowing that you might have a lion or elephant walking past your tent adds a exciting edge to the camping. Seriously.


Etosha ended a great 15-days of the itinerary. This would have been a great trip on its own.

The second part was five days of long boring drives and so-so (at best) game viewing. The terrain was flat and monotonous. The drive across Caprivi was all in a game reserve, but we just saw cattle and goats. The game drives in Caprivi were okay at the first stop on the Kavango River, but terrible on the second one. The two days in Mudumo National Park and Mamili National Park were torturous as we spent several hours bouncing up and down in a vain attempt to find elephants.

The Serondela area of Chobe National Park is normally a great game viewing area. But the Chobe River was in full flood. This kept away the big herds of antelopes. Late August and September is the best time for game viewing in Botswana. But I did my river cruise, my pilgrimage back to the site of maybe the most amazing experience of my life, certainly the most frightening. If you are reading this, please refer to my June 5 post, Swimming With Hippos

Then came part three, my baobab tour. Planet Baobab was a last-minute addition. I thought, “How can I go to Botswana to photograph all these baobabs without staying at a hotel named after them?” It turned out to be one of my best planning decisions. I made my second visit to Kubu Island, which I once again thought of as magical. The many baobabs growing out of the rocky terrain combined with the rock walls are both fascinating as well as beautiful. The final baobab stop was at Baines Baobabs where one can imagine Baines painting the trees back in 1862. I really felt my lack of a travel companion on my nights at Kudu and Baines. The bush camping demands company and a campfire. I had neither.

Baines Baobabs

After the baobab trees, we still had part four, a long drive of about 1,000 kilometres to get back to Windhoek. I had my visit with an old friend in Maun and one night outside Ghanzi where I stayed at Trailblazers (educational, but unsettling). The details are in my post for that day.


What would I have done differently? I might have just done Namibia on its own. If not that, I think the main change would have been to push through Caprivi, doing it in half the time or less, perhaps just the stop at Ngepi for one or two nights and then straight through to Kasane.

My Future Travel Plans

My next trip will be a few days shorter. I think a three-week tour is a good length (for me). By the last few days I just wanted to get on the plane for home.

The location of my future trips is a more important discussion, and that has forced me to really think about why I travel, what I want to experience.

The part I love about travel is that feeling when I arrive at someplace new, someplace that is particularly different than anyplace I have ever been. I feel a mixture of nervousness and a bit of uncertainty as I adjust to my surroundings. It seems that all my senses are being bombarded as I take in the scene. It is a sensation of being a bit uncomfortable, but along with that, quite thrilled and excited.

In researching my next trip, I came across a blog entry about Khujand, Tajikistan. The writer, Nate Robert, gave a great description of that feeling, when he referred to “just where the hell am I moments”.

(Nate Robert’s travels are a lot more involved than mine. He was been on a trip for several years. His site is: yomadic.com/khujand-tourism-khojand/

In Madagascar I had that feeling almost every day. I had some of those feelings during the first ten days of this trip. Then we got to Botswana. My trip became a homecoming. I had lived there for ten years back in the 70’s and 80’s. I was surprised at how much reminiscing I did, the many memories that came to mind. I really enjoyed using my rusty (and never that good) Setswana. It might have been thirty years since I lived there, but I still felt at home.

But a homecoming is obviously not the same as visiting a place for the first time. I have decided that this is likely my last trip to Southern Africa, certainly for a long time, maybe forever.

Posted by Bob Brink 09:11 Archived in Namibia Tagged namibia botswana karibu_namibia Comments (2)

Namibia and Botswana Videos

View Namibia & Botswana 2018 on Bob Brink's travel map.

I have uploaded a two-part video of my Namibia-Botswana trip and pulled out a couple of shorter clips of my best days at Sossusvlei and Epupa Falls.

Here are the two short clips:


Epupa Falls

Here is the link to full videos:

Part 1

Part 2

Posted by Bob Brink 11:57 Archived in Namibia Tagged africa namibia botswana sossusvlei epupa_falls Comments (0)

Last Flight

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Saturday, June 16

Thanks to the trip around France we arrived about an hour late. That did matter to me since I had several hours before my St. John’s flight. I guess it is routine to have long lines at the UK immigration. This time it took almost 1.5 hours. I grabbed my suitcase, then found my way upstairs to check in for Air Canada where I had a 15-minute line to get my boarding pass and baggage tags at the automated machine, then another 15 minutes to hand in my suitcase, followed by another 15 minutes at security. I was kind of tired of lining up.

I went to a café and had a great croissant while talking to Po. I was really sleepy. I started to do a blog entry, then realized that I was putting one up that had already been posted a few days ago. It wasn’t even the latest entry. I decided that maybe I should wait until I got some sleep before doing anything more with the blog. When I went to pay I was told that some of my money was not good. They had discontinued some of the bills.

My flight’s gate was not posted. From my previous trip I knew that Air Canada would be at a far away gate. It was, but not as far as last time. Instead we got to take a bus, which required a long ride to the edge of the airport.

In many respects, Newfoundland is basically a small town. I was not surprised to run into people that I knew. I met Sally and her husband. She is a fabulous musician and once did a house concert at our house in Pouch Cove.

We had the same new plane as when I flew out. And like the flight out the less expensive economy seats were mostly full, while the front of the plane with its premium economy was almost empty. They announced that people could move up after taking off, but no one did.

I had company in my emergency exit row, a couple returning from Portugal. Their flight to London had been delayed and then cancelled, so they had to spend the night in the airport. I watched the Paterno movie which meant a lot to me, especially since I was wearing my Penn State sweatshirt.

I eventually moved up to a row of empty seats, actually I had a few rows to myself. I stretched out and watched a David Suzuki movie about lions, elephants, and baboons being matriarchies. It seemed quite appropriate for my last airplane entertainment.

We had lots of turbulence. I could not remember one time from Windhoek to London having the seatbelt sign on, but it was constant on this flight.

We arrived in St. John’s at our nice little airport. It took five minutes to go through immigration. When my bag came out I felt like that was the final step of all the arrangements. Everything had worked. My suitcase and I had travelled all that ways, several flights, over 30,000 kilometres, in and out of tents and hotel rooms, and now we were both back safe and sound (even if my lock was messed up).

Po was there to meet me and after a short ride home I had both my girls with me. Bella did not disappoint with her enthusiasm at having me at home.

My trip was really over. I will be posting my thoughts, reviews, and recommendations. I also have 3,000 photographs to go through. I will be posting many of those on Travellerspoint.

Posted by Bob Brink 12:01 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Leaving Namibia

-50 °C
View Namibia & Botswana 2018 on Bob Brink's travel map.

Friday, June 15

I did not sleep well. It was probably the leaving on a plane issue. Even with a late flight I am always a bit nervous when I have a plane to catch. I was also cold. This time it was due to an open window in the bathroom. I had known from my previous stay that the cleaning staff always left the windows open. I knew I had to close them before I went to sleep but missed a little one above the toilet. It was just as well that I could mention being cold in my last posting for Namibia.

I had thought that I would take it easy for a couple of hours after breakfast, but foolishly decided to figure out the lock on my suitcase. It had seemed to be changing the combination on its own. A couple of times I was panicked and thought that I would not get it open but managed each time to figure out the new code. I eventually quit locking it.

I watched a few YouTube videos, thought everything would be okay and set the combination. Then the lock would not open. It was not scary because I had not put the zipper handles in, but I did want to use the lock, so I kept researching and working with it. After a few attempts I knew I should forget about it and just plan to leave the case unlocked. But I kept watching videos. One said I should use the camera on my phone to zoom in the lock to find little holes. I had the bag up and down from a table, holding my phone over it to try to see the holes. I tried all the advice. Nothing worked. I did that for well over an hour before finally quitting.

I needed to organize Sam’s tip. I went to the front desk to get an envelope and found Sam there, an hour early. He handed me my clean sweatshirt. His said his wife had cleaned it. When I mentioned the lock problem he recommended that I just buy a new lock. He said that we should leave early to give us time to find the lock. I hurried back to the patio and organized his money, then went to join him for the last time in the Land Cruiser, now a very clean and shiny Land Cruiser.

Sam had everything under control now. He got my sweatshirt cleaned, had the vehicle all cleaned, was quite early to take me to the airport, and had a solution for my lock.

We stopped across from a camera store. I ran in and bought a new lock. I struggled with the package while we were on the way to airport. Sam took it out of my hands and wrestled it open, without slowing down. He had already given me the immigration form, told me what I needed to fill in to leave, and then led me into the terminal, right to the line for my flight.

I shook his hand and gave him his tip envelope. After many of the frustrating times I thought that I would give him the lower end of the recommended amount, but of course I gave him the high end of Karibu’s recommendations. I will write more in a summary post, but Sam did work hard.

There was already a long line waiting to check in for the Johannesburg flight. I chatted with American couple from Vermont. From that line we moved into a long line for security. The Americans had been behind me but were led past me to the front. I wondered why since they were on the same plane as me. Then I was pulled out of line. They were doing it for seniors, everyone with white hair. Since I had been waiting for awhile I was only put in front of one group. I turned and apologised to them.

After security there was another line for passport control. All the waiting had taken almost an hour. We were finally into the departure lounge. I went to a bistro for my customary pre-flight latte. There was supposed to be Wi-Fi. I managed a quick WhatsApp with Po, then nothing would come up which seemed appropriate at my last stop after all the problems I had with internet connections.

I had a little South African and Namibian money left. The Namibian money was worthless outside of Namibia. I saw a currency exchange but there were no US dollars. They motioned to an exchange next door. But no one was working there. I went to a souvenir shop, showed the man how much I wanted to spend and made a deal for two little hippos.

I talked to the Americans. There were various announcements, but they were quite garbled. I kept checking for a sign to show our flight. We wondered if it was delayed. Then I glanced over, and our flight was on the board. We hurried over and found that almost everyone had already boarded. I walked out the door and across to the stairs to our plane. We were not so late that anyone seemed concerned.

It was a short flight, but they gave us a hot meal. When we landed in Johannesburg I noted that the crew did not enforce the seats in an upright position for landing rule. There was a woman right across from me who had her seat all the way back for the entire flight, including the landing.

The Joburg airport was busy. I found my regular lounge and tried to log in to the Wi-Fi. On my way through in May I had made up a fake name and email. Of course, I could not remember which service I used, nor my fake account. My iPad eventually found the account. I did a FaceTime with Po, a quick Facebook update and drank a latte before going off to my gate.

Once on the plane the pilot told us that our departure would be delayed because we had to reroute around France. The French air traffic controllers were going on strike at 4 am, about the time that we would have been flying over France. A flight around would take a bit more fuel, so that they had to do some rebalancing of the plane’s weight, more fuel, less cargo.

Unlike my trip down, this plane was full, but I had nice people next to me. My immediate seat mate was a woman originally from South Africa. Her was father was white and mother black, so her family had left the country a long time ago. She now lives in Australia and was visiting relatives in South African and the UK.

I watched Three Billboards in Ebbing Missouri, my second interesting film on my travels. I mentioned The Post on my trip from down from London. I got a little sleep but then did my up and down the aisle routine.

We did our turn around France, which we could see on our little monitors.

Posted by Bob Brink 12:00 Archived in Namibia Tagged namibia windhoek Comments (1)

Back to Windhoek

Last Night in Africa

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Thursday, June 14

The room at the Ghanzi Trailblazers was not warm, but I slept under a couple of big blankets and got a good night’s sleep. When I looked out in the morning I could see a big overland tour bus. I went over to the campsite where Sam had the water boiling. He told me that the bus had arrived late, after 9:30 pm.


I walked over to bus thinking that I might want to meet the group. There was a variety of nationalities, including several Chinese and various Europeans. None of them looked to be over 30. Some were going from Cape Town to Victoria Falls. A few were going all the way to Kenya.

The group was not talkative, but the cook was. The company was from Nairobi and the bus runs back and forth from Nairobi to Cape Town throughout the year. Most of the overland tours that we had seen were driven by Zimbabwean drivers, and Sam seemed to know all of them.

I finished my last breakfast with Sam. He had taken my request for yoghurt quite seriously. I had a generous container every morning. When it came to food, I had absolutely no complaints.

I went to pay for my room. The lady told me that they did not accept credit cards. Probably the other woman had not understood my question since they have never taken credit cards. I did not have enough Pula, but they accepted (and often quote) in US dollars.

She then asked me about my Setswana. She had noticed that I was greeting people in Setswana. This was another excuse for me to talk about the old days and how the local staff trained me to always greet people before conducting any business. We talked about differences between Botswana and Namibia. I mentioned the number of Afrikaners in Namibia. She then mentioned that in their area they have always had their Afrikaners, the Boer farmers, who trekked across the Kalahari some generations ago.

In all my interactions I had yet to find any locals who were alive when I lived in Botswana. I wondered how much of that was just that I was not young and that people my age would be retired, but also thought that it was something else. AIDS had hit Southern Africa quite hard. A good part my generation would likely have died during the AIDS crisis. During the early years I had seen a graph to the population which looked like an hourglass, lots of young people and their grandparents. The parents were gone.

We drove off towards Namibia. When we arrived at the border there was a truck carrying dogs. I then found out that Sam loves Jack Russells and has six of them.

Once we crossed the border I could see that the side roads were not paved, unlike Botswana where all the roads that I saw seemed to be paved. Another difference was the amount of livestock in the road. There was none in Namibia.

We drove into the town of Gobabis, the regional capital. Sam said that there was no place to stop for him to set up picnic lunch. “How did I feel about Wimpy hamburgers?” Since I thought making a picnic was silly, I was happy to do something else. When Sam was turning around I saw a place that called itself a bistro. I thought that it might be a place for latte so told Sam to head in that direction. It did have lattes. When we ordered I suggested to Sam that we sit down, instead of eating on the go as he suggested. I did not think that ten or fifteen minutes would make any real difference in our day.

As we left the town, we passed some young boys beside the road. I thought that they wanted a ride. Sam said they had “bush” meat for sale, poached wildlife. If we stopped, they would have run off to get some meat. According to Sam the buyers were sometimes caught at the quarantine fence up ahead where they often searched for illicit cargo.

When we arrived in Windhoek, Sam asked if I wanted to look for a bracelet that Po had requested. Years ago, she had a bracelet that was called an “Elephant Hair” bracelet. We were always sure that they were not made with actual elephant hair. Po had brought one from Botswana back in the 80’s but had lost it. I asked about a replacement on my 2011 visit, but no one seemed to have heard about them.

Sam was familiar with them and suggested that I might get one at the outdoor craft market in downtown Windhoek. The first vendor that I asked had them and asked many did I want? I bargained a bit and bought two. I then decided I should get a wooden hippo to add to my collection. I took a photo of the vendor. She posed nicely. I then wanted a photo of the market. I did not see the Himba women who were not pleased to get their photos taken. But as you can see, I was not really after their photos.


Back at the Villa Vista, my nice home at the beginning and end of my long journey, I asked about getting my sweatshirt cleaned. I had been wearing it since the start of the trip. I had even slept in it several times. I could only imagine how much dust was in it, since it was always in the vehicle where I had been covered in dust on numerous occasions. But I had not been able to wash it because I needed to wear it and had no backup. I thought it would be great to get it cleaned for the plane ride home. The owner told me that it would not dry on time if I washed it myself. Sam immediately offered to get it cleaned for me and have it ready when he picked me up for my ride to the airport.

The Wi-Fi was not working in my room. I was not surprised. It was part of the on-going pattern. I was given a different account that would only work on the patio area, so I had a coffee and worked away for an hour. I then went off to the same place I ate on my first night in Namibia, The Social Restaurant. The place is quite well staffed with nice young servers. When I arrived and was asked if I was alone, I said yes unless they could find someone to have dinner with me. One of them offered to sit with me which I thought was a sweet little repartee. I had great meal of leg of lamb and did not have to wait long to get my glass of wine filled.

The restaurant is only five minutes walk from the hotel. I assumed that I would have to sit outside to use the internet but found that it was now working in my room. I did a Facetime with Po and Bella, updated my blog, and went to sleep for the last time in Namibia.

Posted by Bob Brink 15:22 Archived in Namibia Tagged namibia Comments (1)

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