Out for a walk beside the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading to Nova Scotia around August 1st.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

First day camping in Africa!

What a great first day in Namibia.

We were up in time for our English breakfast at 7:30am that was included in our night at Rivendell Guest House. A couple of girls from Denmark, and a couple from England joined us at the table. Breakfast was fine, and at 8:00am we met with Leigh and Monica from ATI Holidays, the tour company that arranged the camping portion of our trip.

At the same time, the car rental company rep was there to show us our accommodation and transportation for the next three weeks!

Namibia Car Rental explaining how everything works on our camping rig.

It's a 2013 Nissan crew cab 4x4 with about 18,000 kms (11,000 miles) on the clock. Nice little unit, and it's a diesel. It's got all the toys...except cruise control, which is a bit of a disappointment. Oh well, we'll be stopping for lots of breaks!

We sat with Monica and Leigh from ATI Holidays and they went over our itinerary and details.

And then we packed up and hit the road. The left hand side of the road!

Now, we've been to the U.K. about 6 or 7 times. But I have never driven on the opposite side of the road, and in a vehicle where the steering is on the right side of the car. So getting out of town was a bit interesting, And yes, Ruth helps me drive. She does the same in Mexico where it's always wise to have two sets of eyes watching the road.

The main problem I'm having? The turn signal lever is on the right side of the steering column. So when I go to make a turn, I put the wipers on by mistake. Of course I'm quick to correct that, but it's going to take a couple of days of driving to get used to it. 

On the road in Namibia, Africa! Notice I've got my Tilley safari hat on!

There was a bit of traffic leaving the city.

There was more traffic than we expected. We had read that the highways in Namibia were pretty empty, but the B1 is the main north-south highway to and from the capital city of Windhoek. We did notice that there were very few cars once we got off this highway.

We stopped at the first major town of Okahandja. First we need diesel fuel. That was our other disappointment with the rental vehicle...it only had a quarter tank of fuel! It makes a lot more sense to rent it out full, and then you bring it back full. Annoying to have to stop for fuel right away. Anyhow, there was a Shell station right at the entrance to town, and we were waved into the diesel lane as we pulled in.

The first thing they asked was "did we want the old diesel, or the new diesel"?

I don't know, this was never explained to us by the car rental people. Of course the "new" diesel is slightly more expensive. Hmm. Better check the owner's manual. 

Open the glove box, and it's empty. 

Okay, third problem with the rental vehicle. No owner's manual.

So, we put in the more expensive diesel just to be on the safe side. Price was $12.52 Namibian Dollars per litre. This works out to about $1.35 per litre Canadian.

Next stop was to stock up on groceries etcetera. We went to a Spar grocery store and spent N$1,139 (C$123) and had no problem using our Visa card to pay for it. The grocery store was well stocked even in this small town. Some things we noticed? Fruits and veggies are relatively expensive. Beef and chicken are cheaper than in North America.

We also had to pick up some charcoal and matches and some other camping supplies. Citronella candles, bottled drinking water. That kind of thing.

Watch for these fellows crossing the highway. We saw at least three groups of baboons!

Wood carvers selling their art. We should have stopped because some of the pieces looked amazing. But we were already a bit behind schedule so we drove on.

Kevin, at a roadside rest stop for lunch.

On the main highway, there are rest stops every so often. They are usually a single large tree for shade, and a single table with two benches. 

This is an Oryx! We had turned onto a secondary road with hardly any traffic, and he was just standing by the side of the road.

The last 24 kms (15 miles) to Waterberg Plateau National Park are on dirt road.

We pulled into the park resort and stopped at administration. Our camping fees were reserved and paid for by our tour operator ATI Holidays, but we had to pay our entrance fees and vehicle fees. The National parks are pretty expensive for foreigners. N$80 per person per day, and N$10 per vehicle per day. We are here two days, so paid N$340 ($36.72 Canadian). This is going to add up over the month, although we aren't always staying in National parks.

We had a great campsite! 

There are quite a few sites here, but only 6 or 7 are occupied. Like any campground, there are good sites and bad sites, and we got one of the last good ones. There are nice washroom and shower facilities though!

We opened a cold beer and poured a glass of wine and relaxed for a while! We haven't had a chance to relax much the last week or so, and this was totally enjoyable. Then, we checked for internet service. This campground doesn't have any but we are picking up an old EDGE cellular signal, so we have internet here in the middle of nowhere! It's pretty slow, but it's usable and we think that's amazing. We are told that there are some places we'll be staying where we won't have this luxury so you'll have to do without us for two or three days at a time over the course of this camping trip.

We have lots more pics, but that will have to do for now as it's starting to warm up and we want to go for a hike before it gets too hot. 

View of the plateau from our campsite. We hope to hike up there this morning!

By the way, we are reading all of your comments and questions, so keep them coming! But we are limited by time and resources to answer them right away. Only one of us can be on the internet at a time and it's all we can do just to post a new blog update. 

The sun is shining...we're off to do a hike!


  1. Ha....I've never been the first to comment before!! I guess it pays to stay up late like we do! Everything looks amazing and well organized. I think I will especially be fascinated by the animals!! (Oh, love the Tilley hat!!)

  2. Whereabouts in South Africa will you be going? Lived there until about 9 years ago :-)


  3. Sounds like it all coming together for an awesome experience.

  4. Love seeing the baboons.

    I can't believe you have internet. That's amazing how far technology has come. Safe travels.

  5. This is one fantastic adventure.. keep the posts coming

  6. Howdy R&K,
    Why are you wearing your TILLEY hat in the truck, Kevin, your head won't 'burn' in there?? Love the 'camper', but would think wild baboons would 'tear' into it, like grizzlies into a tent... Ruth's a great pic-taker !!
    Hope y'all have a HAPPY DAY !!!

  7. Welcome to Africa where things are quite the same as home - e.g rental cars and such!! Just a thought while I read this about the National Park fees, I have no experience in Namibia but I am thinking it should be similar to South Africa and they had a National Park Pass that we bought to pay for the entrance fees. If they have such a car work out the fess versus buying it to determine if it is worth buying. In the end it saved us few dollars. By the way the National Parks in South Africa where great and I would highly recommend them for not only what you see but also the accommodations. Have fun you enjoying all the those great animals.

  8. What an amazing adventure you are having. Love hearing about it. That is one interesting camper.

  9. I can see it is going to be fun. Probably a good idea to have the tent on top of the car-keeps out the snakes.

  10. How are you doing with gluten free items at the grocery or at hotels? That oryx is one beautiful animal! This is definitely an exciting trip!

  11. I was also wondering about the safety of camping in the National Parks, and wow they are expensive. Are these fees covered? Anyway baboons are strong and that tent doesnt look like it could stand up to one or a troop looking for food. That oryx is gorgeous

  12. What's the temperature range right now?

    1. Where we are right now, a high of about 33C (92F) and low of maybe 18C (64F).

  13. Baboons crossing the road! Oh my! I heard in Australia it's kangaroos (or Roo's they call them) that cross the road. Onyx are so beautiful,your accomodations look interesting, take a photo of that for me (so I can see the "space").
    Enjoy your time, makes me feel warm that you are so warm!!!!!

  14. At first driving on the left was tough, especially shifting with the left hand and remembering to turn into the correct lane.
    Great looking camping set up. Wondering how easy/hard it is to set up the tent.
    Also recommend looking into a National Park Pass. I buy one annually in South Africa and it soon pays for itself. Of course does not cover camp fees.
    I found internet available in the most unlikely places in South Africa where I'll be Jan-March once again. Maybe we'll cross paths.

  15. All we can say is WOW!!! B said he doesn't have an Oryx mount in his collection - neat horns! Look out for those baboons running all around!
    B&C in PA

  16. My biggest problem driving in the UK wasn't the actual driving, so much as the round-abouts. I invariably looked the wrong way, but I guess you probably won't have that problem where you are.

  17. What an amazing trip. Enjoyed your photos.

  18. Well, for me, it's the animals all around that I love. Fantastic. I will say that I have unfortunate experience with the driving on the opposite side of the road. We were driving in North-eastern Australia, making a right turn off the highway when a car, driven by a tourist, came over the hill at a horrendous rate of speed and plowed into the passenger side of our car. It took the Fire Department an hour and a half to cut me out of the car. I spent the next two weeks in an Australian hospital with 14 fractured ribs, fractured collar bone and a pneumo-thorax (that's punctured lungs). On the bright side, I made friends with a couple of nurses and keep in touch with them to this day. That's life! It is difficult to get a handle on the driving.

  19. Your trip looks great, better than I imagined. The pictures are great keep them coming.

  20. Great pics! Hope to see inside of the tent, this is going to be so exciting!

  21. I love reading about this. So outside the box from our normal RV trekking around North America

  22. WOW wild animals right along side the road. Oh I am so envious! Interesting camper. I was expecting some sort of class B thing. Tent on the top. I don't think I've ever seen that before. And the ladder. HA!

  23. Awesome camping vehicle. Not sure why we can't get four cylinder diesels trucks in North America. Would love to see pics of you setting up the tent. How was your first nights sleep? Quiet or noisy?
    Cheers, have fun!

  24. When I went to Namibia the animal I most wanted to see was a Gemsbok/Oryx. That's a beautiful viewing.

    We particularly enjoyed the Windhoek beer too.

    Sft x

  25. I got a good chuckle out of your windshield wiper/turn signal story. After 10 months of driving in southern Africa I still do that! If our journeys through southern Namibia this past week are any indication of the traffic in the rest of the country, you were able to settle into driving on the left on relatively empty roads once you left Windhoek. See you soon!
    - Bobbi


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