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Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

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posts: 8
reviews: 1
Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

Hi all,

Been lurking for a while on here, following the wisdom of many of your

posts, really appreciate all this forum does for prospective

travellers. Namibia has been a longtime dream and myself and a group

of friends will finallly get that chance at the end of this year. Due

to our conflicting schedules, the xmas-new year period was the only

one that allowed us to go for a full 12 days in Namibia, understanding

that the weather will be hot and that we may encounter many other

travellers in certain places due to the holiday season. We will be

doing self-drive and mostly camping. A few questions:

For a 12 day trip, we want to do the standard

windhoek-sossuvlei/sesriem-swakopmund-damaraland-etosha-windhoek.

1) During our period of travel (dec 30 to jan 11, actual sightseeing

time) will we have a tough time seeing animals in etosha, it being the

rainy season? We are all animal lovers and would ideally like to do

4-5 days in etosha.

2) We would prefer to stick to camping, do all the sites inside Etosha

allow it, including Dolomite?

3) We would like to drive along the Skeleton Coast, I am always unsure

as to which exact stretch constitutes the Skeleton Coast? Will we

experience it enough on the drive from Swakopmund to Damaraland? And

how much of the drive is close enough to see the ocean and are there

any points we could pull over and walk to the coastline? (If this is

dangerous for reasons such as animals, climate, etc, please advise :)

4) Can someone give us a day-night range of temperatures to expect at

this time of year for each of the major geographies we will visit?

That is all for now, thanks in advance for all the help!

Nashville, Tennessee
posts: 2,176
reviews: 150
1. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

I cannot answer all your questions, but here goes a few:

First, many places will already be booked for that time period. IT is the highest of high seasons. Work fast to secure accomodations.

You can camp at all of the campsites in Etosha except Dolomite. No camp site or self catering. You cannot enter that side of the park without reservations at Dolomite. I doubt you can get them for that time of year this late.

The skeleton coast is not a "destination" that requires a lot of time. We enjoyed it along our drive to Damarland from Swak.

12 days is actually pushing it for heading south first and then all the places you want to stay. The distances are further than you realize. Driving times take longer. Damarland (the scenic parts) will be on gravel. No driving ater sunset. 12 days will be a little rushed, but can be done.

4-5 days in Etosha is the minimum in my opinion. At least 2 camps (Okaukuejo, Halali would be my choice if camping- but dolomite is my favorite).

Don't worry about seeing enough animals. While the rainy season is not as productive as the dry season, it is a relative term. Rainy season there is still pretty dry. Not many rain showers and don't last long. They measure their total, annual rainfall in milimeters, not inches. The animals will not be as visible because there will be water in the bush and they do not have to come to the water holes. BUt there will still be thousands. The grass will be a little higher and a few more leaves on the trees, but you will be before the heavy rainy season. Don't worry about the rainy season. IF that is when you can go, then go and enjoy.

There are several websites that will publish average temperatures. Bsed on what I just read (I have not been there that time of year) in Okaukuejo on Jan 1st, the average high temp is around 101F (39C) so it will be hot in the desert and high desert. More moderate at the coast. Huge variations in temps (40+degress F) from highs to lows. Typical desert weather.

Avearge rain for the entire month of Jan is less than 2.5 inches.

Hope this helps and others will be able to give some more accurate advice about that time of year.

Edited: 10:08 am, August 20, 2013
Stanley, Falkland...
posts: 27,985
reviews: 54
2. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

1) Is it the rainy season?

3) Skeleton Coast - not that interesting on the ground. Better from the air.

Might be worth visiting Cape Cross or Henties Bay - they are on the coast.

4) - you should be able to Google the answers. Weather sites abound.

Enjoy your trip, and don't sweat the small stuff or stuff you can't do anything about.

Windhoek
posts: 432
reviews: 31
3. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

Most of your questions were answered already, so I'll stick to the Skeleton Coast Part. You can drive via the Skeleton Coast to Damaraland, but it is quite a drive and I would then recommend that you stay on night at Terrace Bay in the Skeleton Coast Part.

There are some interesting spots along the way and in the Park, but the main reason people visit the park is for scenery.

From here you can then drive into Damaraland, Dolomite Camp and do Etosha etc.

12 days will be pushing it a bit but it can be done.

Clive - Suricate Safaris Namibia

Swakopmund, Namibia
posts: 94
4. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

Great answers Stephen. I alwaysbattle to explain to people that the "rainy season" is not necessarily a bad time to come to Namibia. You phrased it perfectly.

To add, January might be busy season for Southern African travelers but not as much for our international guests. Campsites should not be difficult to get ... the community campsites do not have contact anyway so you just turn up.

Yes, you can drive along the Skeleton Coast. If you are coming from the Palmwag/Grootberg area, you enter the park at the Springbokwasser gate, drive west to the coast and then south towards Swakopmund. The only campsite inside the park is Torra Bay but I would not recommend staying there. It is geared for fishermen and not a very "nice" site. I would suggest going south and exit the park at the Ugab Gate. Mile 108 had campsites ... can be foggy and wet but a different experience. Alternatively, you can go north and stay in the bungalows at Terrace Bay.

Driving south along the Skeleton Coast you are very close to the sea and there are quite a few places to stop and walk. No dangerous animals and quite safe ... just don't wander inland as it is so easy to lose direction and get lost! Sound odd but it has happened.

To get a real Skeleton Coast experience, I would suggest doing a Sandwich Harbour excursion with one of the local companies in Swakopmund or Walvis Bay. Driving along the beach and over dunes to beautiful Sandwich Harbour (Bay) is an amazing experience. Then if your budget allows, a scenic flight over the coast is also spectacular.

Hope this helps a bit.

Danie Steyn ... Namibia Tours & Safaris

posts: 8
reviews: 1
5. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

Amazing help so far, really appreciate the help! We want to save Etosha for last, so would probably go from swakopmund up to damaraland via skeleton coast. Thanks for the campsite recommendations. Did you mean for all campsites for our trip, we should not worry about booking in advance?

Swakopmund, Namibia
posts: 94
6. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

No you should book private and government campsites ...

Some recommendations ... if you are going north along the Skeleton Coast:

Palmwag Lodge has a nice campsite

Grootberg Lodge ... an amazing campsite

Twyfelfontein area... Aba-Huab Community you just arrive ... better but a bit further away is Madisa campsite which is also super

Camps in Etosha with campsites ... Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni.

Outside Etosha ... close to Okaukuejo is Etosha safari Camp campsite and on the Namutoni side, Onguma campsite ... very nice.

posts: 8
reviews: 1
7. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

Thanks everyone, we will be doing the Sandwich Harbour tour for sure. A few other things:

- Due to timing of flights and our trip members arriving in Namibia separately, we will be able to leave Windhoek on Dec. 29th around 2pm (a few of us will arrive the day before and have the vehicle rented). Seeing that sunrise is around 7:30pm in Dec. and Jan., will this give us enough time to reach Bullsport Guest Farm? Follow up question: the next morning we will head to Sesriem. On this day we'll have quite a lot of time, since we'll save the next day for Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. Will it be possible on this day to see somewhere nice in the Namib Naukluft mountains? Any suggestions?

- On my safari trip in the Serengeti, we had to deal with voracious tse tse flies which were everywhere and stung us quite a bit. Beyond mosquitoes, will we encounter any annoying insects in Etosha or anywhere else during the summer season?

Thanks again all, great help!

Stanley, Falkland...
posts: 27,985
reviews: 54
8. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

Much of the country is a desert. Virtually NO LIFE, including insects.

I don't think I've seen a mosquito in 4 trips, although I tend to avoid the wet bits in the north....

But, yes, you will encounter insects in some places. Take some repellent and precautions.

Dunedin, New Zealand
posts: 26
reviews: 3
9. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

We did this trip in late December 2012 and January 2013 in a 4x4 with roof tents. Campsites were full at New Year and for two or three days after, but then they emptied out.

Temperatures were as high as 40 degrees C at Sesriem, (and about half that at night), and in the low to mid 30s most other places. In two and a half weeks we had rain only about two times, both in the north, both at night, however they were both violent storms with loads of lightning and thunder - very exciting, and our roof tents stayed completely dry.

In three days at Etosha we saw just one elephant, but three sightings of lion, three of rhino (twice it came to the Okakeujo waterhole 30 min after sunset), and plenty of giraffe, zebra, antelope, ostrich, jackal etc. (including jackal around our camp at Okakeujo).

Consider heading inland to Spitzkoppie as an option instead of Skeleton Coast - there's a really cool rock arch there.

10. Re: Self-Drive, late Dec-early Jan, a few questions

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