“The Orphaned and the Wild”

Oct 22-31, 2023            Small Group

Price listed below the daily itinerary

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“Namibia was amazing! So many fantastic once in a lifetime experiences. It was beyond my dreams “ Rick G

Desert, Dunes, Bushmen and Baboons. Add in Seals and Safari, our new 9-day adventure is wild, beautiful, and thrilling! AFS Afriholics love animals.  That’s why our safaris always sell out over 35 years. Our new vacation creation is a photographer’s dream as we get you up close to the wildlife in one of the coolest countries on earth.  We’ll experience humbling moments as we come face-to-face with the habituated creatures that will touch our hearts. Our past groups loved Namibia, home to cheetahs and dazzling star-studded skies, but this one takes you through the deserts, across mountains and from the sea to deep into the African bush.

It begins in the capital of Windhoek with its abundance of fun venues to explore. Next, is the World Heritage Site of Sossusvlei in Namib National Park, famous for its iconic massive red dunes. These mountains of sand are the world’s tallest – towering to 1000 feet and we get to climb and play on them. Here in the canyons, we watch the changing hues of morning to evening light as the dunes come to life before our eyes with amazing colors. On our safari game drives, look for the springbok, the ostrich and rare bird species. Splurge for a hot air balloon ride with champagne over a backdrop of awe-inspiring landscapes found nowhere else.

We then had north to the coast and Swakopmund, the quaint historic German town where sand spills down into the bluest Atlantic Ocean. This is Namibia‘s adventure mecca with activities like dune karting, sand skiing and paragliding. Enjoy an AFS Catamaran Cruise to Walvis Bay among masses of flamingos, cormorants and pelicans. Have your camera ready for the Marine Big 5 – whales, dolphins, molas, turtles and seals. Then we move by jeeps to Sandwich Harbor of unique wetlands and coast with its geckos, jackals and hyena. Our new tour includes a visit to renowned Cape Cross Seal Colony trending hot now that is so hot now in social media and in travel blogs. Imagine meeting 80,000 fur seals, some 500 pounds, basking in the sun and swimming playfully in the cool waters…it’s a surreal Instagramable moment

You will love our lavish chalets by luxury Gondwana Collection Hotels. But we end at a place that is most special to my heart like no other.   Na’an ku sê Sanctuary , “where humans and animals thrive together.” Na’an ku sê means “God will protect us“ in Bushman language and our deluxe villas here are AFS favorites! There’s the Cheetah Encounter, Carnivore Feeding, Ancient Stories under the stars with the San Bushmen, game drives and the delightful Baboon Walk ! (my fave) You’ll learn so much as we go behind the scenes with owner Marlice.  (She and Angelina Jolie created the renowned Na’an ku sê Foundation. Your visit here helps support this nonprofit to improve the lives of the wildlife and local people.) All our past groups raved about this place.  It’s truly a “must experience in order to believe it” location. We limit this group to 24 Africa lovers so grab your spot now. Each day will leave you spellbound.

“My first trip to Africa and I enjoyed every minute. Na’an ku sê was such a special addition to this wonderful trip. Thank you! “ Pam M
“Na’an ku sê e was simply phenomenal…” Donna P

 

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Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

Click for printable PDF itinerary (Namibia)

Oct 21 or 22 –  Fly to Windhoek from USA. Air details to come in our AFS trip tips.

Oct 23 – The Weinberg Windhoek, Windhoek         

Welcome to Windhoek! We arrive in the picturesque capital of Namibia and make our way to the Am Weinberg Estate’s Boutique Hotel for overnight. This estate is in the perfect location to explore some of Windhoek’s sights or to just relax and enjoy the spa and its five upmarket restaurants.  Known for its exclusivity, the prestigious estate where the Hotel is located provides the pleasures of city life and the serene atmosphere of Africa in style, combining old-world splendor with state-of-the-art amenities.  And of course, the Weinburg name itself means vineyards, so choose your favorite wine from an extensive wine list while savoring the hotel’s sophisticated atmosphere.

Overnight: Weinberg Estate Boutique Hotel (1 Night)

Overnight: The Weinberg Windhoek

The Am Weinberg Estate’s Boutique Hotel provides all of the exclusivity and privacy you might expect from this prestigious Estate. Enjoy the pleasures of city life and the serene atmosphere of Africa in style in The Weinberg Windhoek. Its iconic styling seamlessly blends old-world splendor with modern lines as well as state-of-the-art amenities. The elegant 41-bedroom hotel wraps around a heritage building, creating an inviting courtyard. Aside from the location and spectacular views, hotel guests also have access to facilities including the Estate’s Soulstice Day Spa and five upmarket restaurants. The Weinberg (German: vineyard) lives up to its name and invites you to choose your favorite wine from an extensive wine list while savoring the hotel’s sophisticated atmosphere.

Overnight: Weinburg Hotel  B

Oct 24 – The Desert Grace Gondwana Collection Namibia at Sossusvlei Dunes

Today we depart Windhoek driving around 4 hours in a south-westerly direction towards the great Namib Desert, one of the oldest deserts in the world. The Namib is distinguished as being home to some of the strangest flora and fauna on the continent.  The dunes provide a photographer’s dream with their incredible contrasting red colors the endless blue skies.

Located in Namib-Naukluft National Park, Sossusvlei is famous for its setting amidst the iconic red dunes of the Namib. The clear blue skies contrasting with the towering dunes make this one of the most scenic natural wonders of Africa. At up to 1200 ft high, some of the ‘mountains of sand’ are among the highest in the world. In the morning and evening light the dunes come alive with amazing displays of color that draw photography enthusiasts from around the globe. Sossusvlei is home to a variety of desert wildlife including gemsbok, springbok, ostrich and various reptiles. This awe-inspiring destination is the second-most visited attraction in Namibia.
Activities: Climb ‘Big Daddy’, one of Sossusvlei’s tallest dunes; explore neighboring Deadvlei, a dazzling white clay pan dotted with ancient fossilized camel thorn trees; take a scenic flight across the Namib Sand Sea or a hot air balloon trip with champagne breakfast amidst the majestic dunes.

Later it’s Dinner in the Desert – we will head out about 2 hours before sunset into the desert to discover the fossilized dunes, the red dunes above the plateau and the many other wonders of the Namib Desert. Enjoy an incredible Sundowner Safari drive with dinner among the dunes. And the most incredible star filled sky you’ve ever witnessed.

Overnight: The Desert Grace Gondwana Collection Namibia

A bit more special than the norm, with each room having its own plunge pool – ideal for the warmer weather.  Opening in 2018, this is the first of Gondwana’s lodges to be entirely constructed using sandbags instead of bricks. Not only does this have a positive outcome for the environment, it also makes the 24 rooms on the lodge cooler and very well insulated.  As you enter the Reception you are greeted by lavish finishes and quirky character – inspired by Wes Anderson films from the 60’s, this lodge offers a unique experience. The dining room and bar are equally characteristic in their appearance with pink lettering glowing along the wall ‘One night in Namibia’ – surely this is something not to be missed?  Walk through your chalet door to find soft shades of love floating across the canvas – the minibar has that perfect gin and tonic waiting, and your private plunge pool is a sliding door away,  Dinner and Breakfast. B,D

 

Oct 25 – The Desert Wonders of Sossusvlei

Today we depart one hour before sunrise to ensure we don’t miss out on the spectacular colors of the sunrise over these dunes. We will enjoy a guided half-day excursion to the highest dunes on Earth at Sossusvlei. They form part of the spectacular Namib Sand Sea, which was declared a World Heritage site in 2013. Including entrance fees to the National Park.
The area itself is a vast depression or clay pan, towered over by sand dunes up to 300m high. In the early morning, the first rays of the sun light up the dunes with a deep orange glow – a photographer’s delight. It is a wild, beautiful and romantic spot, with sparse vegetation edging a few water courses which flow in from the Tsauchab river. Here springbok and ostrich are often seen. By jeeps and on foot we’ll also explore the cool passageways of the Sesriem Canyon on foot. The canyon is small but very picturesque – many plants grow in the shade and shelter offered by the canyon, and water pools attract several species of birds and animals.

Overnight: The Desert Grace Gondwana Collection Namibia. B, D

Oct 26 – Swakopmund  

This morning, we travel back through the Namib Naukluft National Park through the Kuiseb Canyon, passing awe-inspiring landscapes as we head across the Namib gravel flats to Walvis Bay. Here a large spit forms a natural deep-sea harbor that attracted the first navigators in the late 1400’s. The shallows, located where the spit joins the mainland, are home to a diverse collection of birds, the most spectacular being flamingos and pelicans that feed here seasonally.

It is a short drive from here to the charming coastal town of Swakopmund. The mix of Namibian influences with picturesque buildings from the colonial era, palm-lined streets and seaside promenades, the laid-back holiday atmosphere plus the cool sea breeze makes Swakopmund one of the most attractive places in Namibia.  Our hotel is appropriately called The Delight Swakopmund and is only a short stroll to loads of restaurants and attractions. Your evening is free to enjoy the galleries, shops, and cafes.

Overnight: The Delight Swakopmund Gondwana Collection Namibia  –  B

Perfectly centrally located, The Delight Swakopmund is only a short stroll to loads of restaurants and attractions
Among the town’s captivating contrasts and old traditions, Gondwana’s Delight is a fresh breeze in the desert. A refreshing, relaxing, modern, light and airy establishment to uplift and inspire. Effortless and comfortable, with the distinctively warm and welcoming Gondwana service and charm, your stay is always a memorable experience. 

Oct 27 – Sailing in Walvis Bay and Harbor Tour

It’s a day of exploration of this unique coastal area. We check in for a half-day sailing adventure at 8:30am and head out around 9 am on four catamarans from the Walvis Bay Waterfront. Our sailing excursion takes us in search of the Marine Big 5: whales, dolphins, mola, leatherback turtle and seals. We’ll sail past oyster farms as we approach Pelican Point with its landmark lighthouse and 60,000 resident Cape Fur Seals. Southern Right Whale and Humpback Whales are often spotted, while other whale species, such as the Gray whale and the Pygmy Right whale couple also make appearances.
Bottlenose, Heaviside and Dusky dolphins are regularly seen, as are Sunfish and Leatherback Turtles. A variety of seabirds will trail our vessels, including Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, Pelicans, Skua and Cape Cormorant. If you want, you can even help in putting up the sails and rigging the ropes. We’ll enjoy fresh oysters with sparkling wine, savory snacks and desserts together with light drinks, cooldrinks and water as we make our way back from Pelican Point.

Once back at the Waterfront, we’ll climb aboard 4x4s Jeeps for an afternoon excursion around Sandwich Harbor. In Walvis Bay Lagoon, we’ll see masses of flamingos before heading to an exclusive region of the Kuiseb River delta, a dry riverbed where the odd springbok may still be seen. Our group is the only activity operator allowed to access this area. If weather and tides allow, we will drive right to the Sandwich Harbor Lagoon, one of Southern Africa’s richest and unique wetlands and one of five RAMSAR sites in Namibia.

We have lots of time to stop along the way for photography.  This is the land of oysters so we’ll take a break atop a dune to enjoy a selection of oysters and snacks with sparkling wine, beers and cool drinks. We return to the waterfront in late afternoon, and you will have your evening free.

Overnight: The Delight Swakopmund Gondwana  Collection (3 nights) B,L

Oct 28 – Cape Cross   

Optional Hot Air Ballooning – at sunrise in the worlds oldest desert, witness a flight of a lifetime over the stunning landscapes of oceans, sand, mountains and endless vistas of shadows and light. At landing, return back to earth with an “Out of Africa” champagne breakfast set up in the middle of nowhere in the bush. Your pilot will present you  a flight certificate before a leisurely nature drive back to our resort. $395 choose at booking.

Today, we travel north up the Atlantic coast to visit the memorable Cape Cross Seal Colony where between 80,000 and 100,000 Cape fur seals bask in the sun or swim playfully in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The historic area was landed on by the Portuguese in 1486, and they erected a stone cross here in honor of the Portuguese King, however, this cross was replaced by the German settlers in the 1800’s. With the abundance of fish swimming in the cold Benguela current, the seals have plenty to snack on. From a 200-metre-long walkway, watch the seals at play and learn about them through the area’s information points. The seals are quite big, an average male weighing in at anything up to 500 lbs.

We’ll be back in Swakopmund early afternoon, and the rest of the day is ours to explore or take advantage of the numerous activities available in the region. Those up for adventure can enjoy sandboarding, sand skiing, quad biking, dune carting, beach angling and deep sea fishing, to name but a few, and not to forget parachuting and hot air ballooning.

Overnight: Swakopmund Gondwana  B

Oct 29 –             Na’an ku se Lodge!

After breakfast, we head inland back via Windhoek to the incomparable Na’an ku sê Lodge and reserve. The drive will take the full morning, but we’ll arrive in time for lunch followed by a Sunset Game Drive on the pristine 9,000-hectare reserve.

The only not for profit eco-tourism destination lodge in Namibia, Na’an ku sê Lodge is crafted from ecologically clean material including solid logs and glass to complement Na’an ku sê’s beautiful wilderness setting. All money goes directly back to protecting the animals and environment.

Our homes for the next two nights are beautiful villas located near to the main lodge, each with their own luxury fitted kitchen and lounge area.  It is a short walk to the main lodge with a tranquil dining area with stunning views, bar and swimming pool.  This evening, experienced guides will take us on open game drive vehicles around the reserve, showcasing some of the most incredible wildlife in Africa and revealing the elusive beauty of the nocturnal savannah beneath a star-filled sky in an experience that you will never forget.

Conservation through innovation
The Naankuse Foundation is a conservation charity dedicated to preserving the landscapes, cultures and wildlife of Namibia. Originating as a small wildlife sanctuary nestled in the Namibian bush, Naankuse is now a world-famous conservation organization.The Naankuse Foundation Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe haven and second chance for countless injured, orphaned and conflict animals. Wherever possible our aim is to release animals back into the wild.Our mission is to conserve the land, cultures and wildlife of Namibia, Africa. We aim to achieve this through encouraging participation, education and scientific research. How we use your donations
Lifeline Clinic 37%
Animal Camps, Food and Medicine 29%
Research 18%
Admin 11%
San Housing, Education and Welfare 5%

Overnight: Na’an ku se Lodge   B,L,D

Located just thirty minutes from Windhoek airport and nestled in stunning African bush fields, our Lodge is perfectly situated to start or finish your trip to Namibia. With a range of enjoyable activities available, including Carnivore Feeding Tours, Stories with the Bushmen and Cheetahs Up Close you are sure to enjoy an unforgettable African holiday with us. The only charity lodge in Namibia, N/a’an ku sê Lodge is crafted from ecologically clean material including solid logs and glass to complement N/a’an ku sê’s beautiful wilderness setting. Guests will be accommodated in beautiful villas located near to the main lodge each with its own luxury fitted kitchen and lounge area.  It is a short walk to the main lodge with a tranquil dining area with stunning views, bar and swimming pool. Our Lodge is a not-for-profit eco-tourism destination, where all profits are directed straight back into supporting our charitable projects.

 

Oct 30 –   Na’an ku se Lodge Activities

Behind the Scenes with Marlice van Vuuren (including the baboon and cheetah experiences)

After breakfast, we get a real insight into what it takes to run a sanctuary as we follow in the footsteps of owner Marlice van Vuuren for an intimate view of the workings of a wildlife reserve. On this in-depth activity we will gain insight into the real Na’an ku sê world and the inner workings of life here as well as the myriad of animal species currently being cared for. Enter the riveting world of research carried out at Na’an ku sê and gain intimate knowledge into the field of human-carnivore conflict mitigation. You’ll become smitten with their gorgeous sanctuary orphans and bond with the baby baboons (there’s nothing like it). Become fully immersed in Marlice’s magical world!  During free time later, you may want to take part in some of the unique activities available at Na’an ku sê, including Carnivore Feeding Tours and Cheetahs Up.

Baboon experience
Meet our playful primates and experience the joys of monkey fun on a not-to-be-missed baboon walk. All of our baboons came to N/a’an ku sê either after losing their mums (Namibia’s Chacma baboons are tragically persecuted on an almost daily basis), or having been rescued from situations of abuse. Our baboon buddies adore the interaction and bounding through the bush on their daily walks. Why not join in and get to know firsthand just how incredible these animals are?

Cheetah experience
Habituated cheetahs have lost their fear of humans – a fear that is crucial in elevating their survival chances in the wild. For this reason, some of the magnificent spotted sprinters at N/a’an ku sê need to remain in captivity, having come to the sanctuary from various conflict situations at very young ages, requiring dedicated care to ensure their survival. At N/a’an ku sê we fully nurture and encourage their natural behavior, captivity resembling the life of their wild counterparts as closely as possible. Enjoy time with our habituated big cats, in the hands of an experienced and knowledgeable guide. Simply not to be missed!
After lunch, you will enjoy an optional wildlife tracking experience on the reserve.

Overnight: Na’an ku se Lodge. Full board B,L,D

 

Oct 31 –  Transfer to airport for flights home

Today, we bid farewell to Namibia as we transfer from Na’an ku sê Lodge to Hosea Kutako International Airport for our international flights back home.

Our partner Nicki there will present an optional 3-day extension to Okongima Lodge, home to the world-renowned AFRICAT FOUNDATION. Details to come soon.

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Land Price $3195. pp twin occupancy, based on a minimum of 24 participants (plus $90 pre-paid for licensed guides, drives, and porters). ( Our cost was given in South African rand and based on that exchange. If there is a more than 10% fluctuation our price may need to be adjusted accordingly.)

Deposit $500

  • INCLUDES.  Luxury accommodation, meals and activities as per itinerary. National park entrance fees. Porterage. Passenger liability insurance in Namibia. License national guides with AFS GTL   Not included-air flights, travel insurance

Click here to read the trip tips, please

 

AFS Namibia 2023 Trip Tips

Thank you for booking one of my favorite trips of all. Prepare to be thrilled by the countless wonders packed in this little gem of a country. In addition to its surreal beauty, Namibia has fantastic wildlife – from the highest cheetah population in the world to the rare desert-adapted elephants. Add in the fun of climbing colossal dunes, endless seals at Cape Cross, sailing, ballooning and unique accommodations, all under the star-studded sky in the Africa Dark Sky Reserve – you have the perfect trip!  As for Naankuse, I don’t have enough words to describe the joy. Two in our group have already done this trip and return with us again. 

 We have a perfect size group of 26 travel lovers. After final payments in, will send room list. Connect now on your private group Facebook page to get to know each other. More details will come as we get updates. Our fabulous Africa supplier with us over 20 years is Nicki who lives in Cape Town. She too will be sending you emails nearing departure. For now just focus on your air please.

 

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Check back from time to time.

  • 2nd PAYMENT DUE AUG 1 and final due SEP 1    Wetravel is our data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase.  As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.   If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For olo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080

Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)

GTL JaniceYour GTL Janice was an early AFSer and has traveled with Suzy since almost the beginning. She has visited more than 96 countries and all 7 continents both on her own and in her job as a writer and television producer!  She has actually been to Antarctica TWICE – once with the legendary Jacques Cousteau and a second time with Prince Albert of Monaco. Imagine that. While she currently works mostly with ABC News, she spent 20 years with CNN, reporting news across the globe.

A prolific writer, Janice has written 17 books on travel and history. She also has an independent production company called J-Mac Productions which has afforded her the opportunity to do independent documentaries as well as producing marketing, training and commercial materials. She has won numerous awards including 6 Emmys and three Edward R. Murrows for her work.

No words can describe her professionalism and bubbly personality. Janice consistently remains upbeat even when things don’t go as planned and is simply Large Fun to go on a solo travel tour with!

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Trip Prep:

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email.  Also good to scan any docs, Covid test, trip tips, etc.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • Vaccines – Bring your vaccine card.  Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it.  You can take photo of both sides and store on phone.
  • All airline rules differ.  It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure!  Airlines are in the process of making routing and scheduling changes now. Always check your flight before departure.  \

Fitness level – 2   (No trouble walking.)

General Air – Air challenges today – Many route changes now on domestic flights to get to your international flights. Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins.  Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. If you have a flight problem go to the airline’s website “contact us” page or reach them by text, social media, Skype or call their international number.  Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at www.tpg.com for best cards.

Air dates are October 21/22 to 31. Land dates are October 23-31. 

Getting to Namibia –  Most fly USA to Johannesburg JNB and then use Airlink direct to Windhoek as it’s very easy. Dozens of airlines fly from here to Joburg including Delta and United with direct flights. For example depart Oct 21 to arrive JNB Oct  22 to overnight and relax. Our AFSers love the Sunrock Guest House, a home away from home just minutes from the airport. A great layover spot to rest at $60-$80 a night including both airport transfers and breakfast. Arthur will take great care of you. www.sunrock.co.za.

The next day fly to Windhoek any time on Airlink . www.flyairlink.com. Or find daily flights from USA via Frankfurt on Lufthansa straight to Windhoek. All meet in Windhoek October 23. Flights home should be booked the afternoon of October 31.

Doing Own Air– We find few people book group air now and may find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.   We recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed.  (For decades, AFS presented group air to make your trip totally hassle-free. Guides greet you on airport arrival and if any flight changes, we had your back.  Sadly now, only around 10% want group air and often meet can’t minimum.)  We like Google Flights, Kayak or Momondo.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan. If you can afford to splurge on business class, contact our guy: ali@business-class.com   Phone is 305-676-2314.

If you need help with air email flights@diversedestination.com Give them your exact airdates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.

Airport Transfers-  with everyone coming different times, no group arrival transfer is included. Taxi or Uber to Weinberg hotel is affordable. I believe hotel now offers airport shuttle. If you need pre-night hotel in Windhoek going in early or a private airport pick up which is costly, email nicki@africanspiral.com. (With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-up or drop-offs without group air.  Unfortunately now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each persons air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay parking fees. 2022 groups, only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.) Transfers are not expensive. First google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.

Meet Up With Group- lobby of Weinberg hotel, October 23, around 5 PM.

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale.  If you overpack by adding pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. Apple AirTags works great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.    The new hard cases are difficult to fit in safari vehicles. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.

Packing – Check Google Weather a week prior to departure. October will be hot and dry. Totally casual trip and easy to pack for. Bring shorts, light cotton pants, T-shirts, sundresses. Comfy shoes like sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or wet shoes. Bring swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, wide-brim hat for sun protection and day pack.  Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS   (Kids love balloons, puppets, lollipops, school supplies.)

Electric– Sockets need type M plug.  Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.

See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

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Money Matters – Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $400 cash should suffice.    Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.  Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.  Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.  Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees. Namibian dollar is similar to African rand rates. African rand is legal tender here. Our dollar is so strong now!

Currency  Exchange Rate  $1= 17 ND

Gratuities – (Prepaid)  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $10 to $15 per day should cover all for the trip.  A $90 total added to your invoice. Please understand this is only the suggested minimum.  For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip.  For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!

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Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.  Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.
  • Travel health – Drink bottled water. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium. Need meds or shots?

Health – due to dry weather, Namibia is virtually free of any tropical diseases. No malaria, pills or shots necessary. Don’t be conned by travel doctors stating vaccination needed.

Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!

Retail Therapy – Beautiful woven baskets, carvings, masks, art, beadwork, Namibian dolls, safari clothing, gold jewelry, tanzanite, and endless cool handicrafts found only in Namibia.

Websites of Interest:  www.visitnamibia.com. www.naankuse.com.  

Chewing-    Food in lodges is very high standards and typical European style. Namibian cuisine is very meat-oriented, featuring steaks from various wild animals. But seafood and vegetarian dishes are available. Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions. Excellent local beers and wines at real affordable prices.

Accommodations –– read about each lodge. You’ll love your private luxury pools at the Desert Grace Hotel in the dunes. At Naankuse, we are assigned stunning villas, each with kitchens and private verandas facing the bush. Jeep drivers transfer you back-and-forth to the main lodge for briefings, fine dining and bar area.  Our itinerary has links to each hotel.

Roommates –  Single supplements have significantly increased in price– if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   (The best option is to invite a friend.  We be able to give you a $100 discount.). Note, kindness begets kindness.  How many of our season travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise.  We share rooms only to sleep at night.  If AFS room list ends up with unbalance gender, and forces a single room we will offer it to all in group or share in the added cost. If none want it, if you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip.

AFS Post-Trip Option:  Africat Foundation is four hours north of Windhoek, famous for big cat tracking on the Bushman Trail. We can do a post-trip 3 day/2 night extension if at least 4 interested. You then fly home three days later. It’s expensive at around $1300-$2000. Prices depend on number of participants and rand fluctuation. First read all at www.africat.org. Later will get a count of who is interested. Or email nicki@africanspiral.com , if interested.

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.   Arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS phone or text 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/    More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.

Cancellation Penalty –  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions   Briefly, on land packages we’ll refund your deposit less $100 until 5 weeks prior trip’s final payment due date.   Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.

Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com.   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers for fear.

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included.  We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then.  Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!

Namibia

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