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The AfriCat Foundation – Namibia

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The AfriCat Foundation is based at Okonjima Private Nature Reserve in central Namibia, about half-way between Windhoek and Etosha National Park. This worthy institution is dedicated to the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores such as lions, leopards and cheetahs in their natural habitat, and recognises that education and research are a major part of this process.

Large cats are seen as a threat to the safety of livestock and, as agriculture continues its steady march across this developing nation, so these animals are brought into conflict with farmers and their weapons, poison, fences and traps.

Community Initiatives
The AfriCat Foundation sets out to reduce human/wildlife conflict by assisting farmers to protect their livestock in non-destructive ways. Effective anti-predator kraals are funded and constructed by AfriCat on behalf of farmers in the vicinity of Etosha National Park; while the presence of herdsmen during the day to protect domestic animals has caused a significant reduction in livestock losses. Thus, farmers are becoming more tolerant of the predators that share their environment.

AfriCat Educational Initiatives
The AfriCat Foundation operates three educational initiatives to generate an understanding and appreciation of predators to the local community:

The Perivoli Okonjima Country SchoolThis private rural school provides local children with a solid junior primary education, with a strog emphasis on environmental awareness.

The AfriCat Environmental Education Centre is used as a venue for 3-day/2-night education programmes which give groups of youths the opportunity to take part in conservation and sustainable wildlife management, first-hand.

The Adult Education Programme: AfriCat teaches tried-and-tested techniques for farming among wild animals to farmers and young aspirant agriculturalists.

Rehabilitation and Research
Orphaned, hand-reared carnivores that could not otherwise be released back into the wild, can perfect their hunting skills in the relative freedom of Okonjima’s 50 000 acre nature reserve, learning to become self-sufficient. All these animals are fitted with radio collars so that they may be monitored for research and safety purposes. These findings are used in collaboration with local farmers to prepare a better future for the large cats of Namibia.

A trip to the rehabilitation centre at AfriCat makes a great day trip from Windhoek, or an interesting stop on the way to Etosha National Park. You can also support this worthy project by adopting one of their carnivores or making a donation.

Photography In Namibia

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Namibia is a particularly photogenic country with vast deserts, lush bushveld, a dramatic coastline, unique flora, abundant fauna and colourful citizens. For the professional, as well as the point-and-shoot amateur photographer, Namibia provides the kind of subject matter that almost always produces rewarding results.

The Namib Desert offers opportunities to photograph some of the world’s oldest and highest sand dunes, while the Skeleton Coast is littered with shipwrecks that put a story in every image, as well as opportunities to capture thrilling action shots revolving around hair-raising activities. Deadvlei is dazzlingly spectacular, Etosha National Park positively writhes with life, and the scenic Fish River Canyon is the deepest canyon in Africa.

Plan ahead
When planning your trip remember that in Namibia travelling by car is the way to go, particularly if you intend to take your time over each shot. Take your photography needs into consideration if you are hiring a vehicle for your trip – large automatic windows are a win and game drives in open vehicles allow for unhindered close-up shots.

Some die-hard enthusiasts prefer to pack a tent and wander wherever the wind blows, while others like to have a professional safari company arrange everything for them – there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to photographing Namibia.

What to bring

Make sure you pack some long lenses for wildlife shots as well as your landscape photography gear for capturing your surroundings effectively. Pack loads of memory cards – you will be amazed at the number of things you will want to take pictures of and running out of space will seriously put a spoke in the works.

Wherever you travel in this large country you are bound to encounter cloudless skies, providing a great backdrop to that magical hour when the bright glare of daylight is tempered by the rising and setting of the sun.

Etosha Wildlife Photography Tips

Landscapes are all very well, but most photographers travel to Africa to capture the magnificent wildlife, and there are a few things you should bear in mind while attempting to get that once in a lifetime image, particularly on a visit to Etosha National Park

  • The cool dry winter months from July to August are the best time for game viewing in Namibia.
  • Sunrise and sunset are the premium times for wildlife shots. Apart from the superior light, wild creatures are also at their most active when it is cooler.
  • You will meet with the most success at places where a variety of species congregate – the waterhole. Find a source of water, make yourself comfortable, and hunker down for a long wait. Patience is the single most important factor in wildlife photography.
  • Try to stay in accommodation close to your chosen watering hole, as this will enable you to get there as quickly as possible after first light, and allow you to linger longer once the sun starts setting. Lion, leopard and rhino are most frequently spotted first thing in the morning, while large herds of game tend to gather around the waterhole in the dying hours of the day.
  • Most of the camps within Etosha National Park have floodlit waterholes on site, so pack your night-time equipment for a taste of the unforgettable African nightlife.
  • Don’t overlook the small stuff – birds and other small creatures can alert you to the presence of bigger things and often make worthy subjects themselves.

A minimum of 7 to 10 days is recommended for a successful photographic expedition to Namibia, but no matter how long you stay, the experts agree that there is no better way to see Namibia, than through the eye of the lens.


Take a Whirlwind Tour of Wonderful Windhoek, Namibia

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Once you have settled in to your Windhoek accommodation, you can prepare yourself to sample the smorgasbord of sightseeing to be enjoyed here. The busy capital city is filled with buildings, monuments and neighbourhoods bursting with historical interest and is well-suited to walking tours and casual touring. Don’t miss out on the following interesting sites:

Independence Avenue
Some of the famous Gibeon Meteorites which fell in Southern Namibia have been crafted into unusually beautiful art forms near the Sanlam building on Independence Avenue.

One of Windhoek’s favourite and most famous statues is the bronze kudu statue, a symbol of hope and passion for the wildlife of Namibia, which stands at the intersection of Independence Avenue and John Meinhert Street.

The Christus Kirche
Located on a traffic island in the centre of Robert Mugabe Drive, the Christus Kirche is a magnificent example of Neo Gothic and Art Nouveau and universally acknowledged as the face of Windhoek on postcards and brochures.

Katatura Township
For an interesting peek into the cultural and colonial history of Windhoek, take a tour to Katutura Township. Katutura means “the place where we do not want to settle” and was set aside as a black residential area during the apartheid era. Today it is a fascinating, vibrant and prosperous suburb and about 60% of Windhoek’s population live here.

Markets and Craft Centres
At Single Quarters you can sample some ‘kapana’ which is a combination of meat and fat grilled on a roadside barbeque and a favourite snack in Namibia.

Soweto Market bustles with seamstresses, vendors, hairdressers and bargains.

At the Penduka Centre you can purchase lovely hand-crafted souvenirs crafted by disadvantaged and disabled women.

Not for the faint-hearted, Eveline Street is the domain of shebeens and informal traders with humorous names and bad reputations.

Eating out in Windhoek
If you can’t develop a taste for kapana, Windhoek presents a wide range of dining options from traditional Mopani worms to the more usual European dishes.

Whether you decide to go it alone, take an organised tour or enlist a private guide, exploring Windhoek is a fascinating and enjoyable experience.

We can assist you in planning your trip to Namibia, from finding you accommodation in Windhoek to organizing your guided or self-drive tour of the capital city. Contact us for more information.

Overview of the Visa Requirements for Namibia

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Exporting yourself to a foreign country is an exciting and sometimes daunting exercise, even if it is just for a holiday or business conference.

Getting someone else to do the legwork for you is the most desirable option and you can hire an agency to arrange your visa on your behalf. Time is money though, and it will cost you almost three times as much if you go this route.

If you decide to go it alone, you need to know the following visa requirements for Namibia:

Tourist Visa

Namibia welcomes tourists, but unless you hail from South Africa, Australia, Britain, Germany, America, Canada or Japan, you will need a tourist visa to enter the country. Valid for three months, a tourist visa shouldn’t take longer than three days to process at the Namibian Consulate or Embassy in your country.

You will need the following documents to apply –

  • Your itinerary,
  • Bank statement,
  • Letter of employment,
  • Letter of invitation
  • Copy of a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

You may not perform any work, including volunteer work, on a tourist VISA.

Work and business Visa

Valid for both volunteer work and paid employment, these Visas can take up to five weeks to process and you will need a temporary residence permit as well.

Have the following documentation on hand when applying, according to the length of your stay:

1 to 3 months –

  • visa application form
  • passport
  • motivation letter as to what your function will be
  • proof of educational qualifications

4 to 12 months –

  • all of the above
  • a medical certificate
  • police clearance certificate
  • proof of your contract or tender

A business Visa is required when visiting for work purposes and you need to submit your:

  • passport
  • itinerary
  • yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • company letter outlining the purpose and duration of the visit
  • letter from the host company with all the details

Other visas include student Visas and Transit Visas. Enquire at your embassy for details regarding these.

Where To Stay When Visiting Etosha National Park

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As far as accommodation is concerned, there are a number of options available to you when visiting Etosha. You can choose from accommodation inside the park or close by, budget or luxury accommodation, tented or lodge accommodation, full board, bed and breakfast or self-catering. You are certain to find something that suits your expectations among the wide variety available.

Should you choose to stay inside the park, you have a choice between the three main camps – Halali, Okaukuejo and Namutoni; as well as two smaller and newer camps called Onkoshi and Dolomite. Dolomite is situated in the restricted Western area of the park.

Onkoshi and Dolomite are much more luxurious than the traditional camps, with five star dining and facilities. Halali, Okaukuejo and Namutoni offer various configurations of self-catering accommodation as well as camping facilities. Guests to these camps need to be totally self-sufficient as the accommodation provides limited facilities with regard to catering.

Although staying inside Etosha can be more expensive than some of the external options, you do have the added benefit of 24 hour game viewing at the floodlit waterholes and the option to take self-drive safaris at any time during the gate opening times. Guided safaris are also available at all of these camps.

Privately owned establishments abound along both the eastern and western borders of Etosha. Although these differ vastly with regard to price, you can be assured of high standards of hospitality at all of them. The less costly options provide more rustic accommodation, including camp sites, and fewer facilities. If you plan to spend most of your time in the park, this may be of little concern to you.

Most of the luxurious lodges are found on the eastern side of Etosha where you will be pampered with international standards of luxury and excellent cuisine. Extra facilities such as swimming pools, guided game drives, restaurants and bars are usually featured.

If you still can’t make up your mind, you can try both, with half your stay inside Etosha and half close by.

Things To Do In Etosha National Park

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Of all the things to do in Etosha, game viewing is the main reason that millions of visitors flock there every year. Etosha is a paradise for those wanting to experience almost all of Africa’s animals first hand and is a photographer’s dream come true. There are 114 mammal species and hundreds of reptiles and birds which are resident in the park. Some of these are extremely endangered, such as the black rhino, and Etosha is one of the best places in the world to spot this unique creature.

The roads in Etosha provide access to numerous waterholes for easier game spotting and guided game drives are offered. In addition, the main camps all feature floodlit waterholes on site, to allow guests the opportunity to enjoy viewing some of the nocturnal species which are not commonly seen.

It’s possible to see an amazing variety of game species without even leaving the camp. You could choose to spend a couple of days of your visit just relaxing around the pool surrounded by birdsong and the unspoilt African wilderness. You can experience the atmosphere of tranquillity around the camp, relax, catch up on your tan or get to grips with a good read while most guests are out exploring.

On the other end of the scale, departing early in the morning with a picnic basket and parking at the waterholes for hours is often rewarded with unusual sightings, especially of the smaller creatures. Photographers can capture amazing shots as the changes of light throughout the day drift across the landscape and bird lovers also benefit from sitting silently for hours, watching and listening for signs of bird life to tick off their list

History buffs will enjoy popping in at the monuments and grave sites in Etosha to find out the stories behind them and a visit to the unusual Fairy Tale Forest is a must.

However, regardless of your day time activities, one of the best things to do in Etosha is sitting around a camp fire swapping yarns at the end of the day, with the brilliant African sky overhead.

Etosha National Park Trip Planning

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Planning your Great Etosha Adventure

Once you have made the big decision to visit Etosha, plan your trip carefully in order to make the most of your limited time there.

Some of the things to consider are:

Self-drive or guided tour: If you opt for the guided option, your travel company will do most of the route planning for you, but if you choose to drive yourself you will need to plan carefully.

You need to take things such as road conditions, speed limits and distances into account when planning your route to Etosha. Do this before you book your accommodation as it will affect how far you can travel in one day. If you are staying inside the park, you can either select to enter the park at the gate closest to your accommodation in order to get unpacked and settled before starting to explore the park. You could also select a gate further away, so that you may enjoy most of your journey inside the park. It is recommended that you spend at least two nights in each camp to get the most out of your stay.

The gate closest to Okaukuejo is Andersson Gate, located off the B1 from Windhoek on C38 near Otjiwarongo. Von Lindequist gate is closest to Namutoni and is sign posted 73km after Tsumeb on the B1. Halali is located midway between the other two camps, so either of the main gates may be used to get there.

The roads are good in Etosha and there is no need for a 4×4 vehicle, although some of the roads may be closed during the rainy season. There are several picnic spots and ablutions scattered on the routes but these are at least an hour apart, so plan your travels with this in mind. The main rest camps are well equipped with basic supplies.

Make sure you pack the following items:

  • List of emergency numbers
  • Comfortable clothing, including a hat
  • A Jacket
  • Binoculars, camera and charger
  • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen

Etosha is a low-risk malaria area, but you should consult your doctor with regard to anti-malarial medication, regardless.

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