Caprivi Strip, 2014 Part 1

by david on March 18, 2015

I really should title this “You can’t get there from here”, but since we eventually arrived at our destination, I can’t actually make the claim. We left our home in North Carolina on Sunday morning, and we arrived at the starting point of our adventure on Thursday. Most of the reason was due to the unique African airline schedules and resulting availability of flights, which would necessitate several overnight stays. In all fairness, if I had not been traveling with firearms, the trip could have been shorter and more direct. Alternative routes and various methods of getting my hunting rifles to the final destination will definitely be considered for the next trip (yes, I am already planning to go back). In the meantime, settle back and enjoy our adventure, and consider taking a few notes along the way to plan one of your own.

Although I sort of hate seeing my children all grown up and on their own, I’ll have to admit it is nice being able to call on them for a ride for a change. My youngest got us to the airport in plenty of time to check in, deal with my rifles and make it through security. The hop to Atlanta went smoothly, and we made it on to the flight to Johannesburg with no effort on our part. So far, so good. Right on cue, about 10 hours into our 16-hour flight, I began to doubt my sanity in choosing this route. For some reason, my preferred route (Atlanta to Frankfurt, to Windhoek) was about $500 more per person and being frugal (some might say cheap), I chose this route. At hour 15, I was really ticked off at myself.

Getting off the flight was a relief in more ways than one. Being able to stand, walk, and work the kinks out of my back and butt was great, but being met by Gracy Travel’s “Meet and Greet” staff was phenomenal. This was the first time I took advantage of this special service and I will consider it a mandatory part of my travel budget in the future. Janice (my bride of 30 years) and I were met at the gate and escorted through immigrations, baggage claim, customs, the firearms station (all forms and paperwork was preapproved completed by Gracy staff before we got to Johannesburg) , and we were finally deposited at our hotel for our overnight. Talk about first-class service. Gracy Travel is absolutely the finest available (

Another highlight and new experience was our overnight at the “City Lodge”. The City Lodge is a new hotel built into the O R Tambo International Airport. The rooms are nice and the food is very good. The next time I decide to be cheap (I mean frugal), the thought of the City Lodge will certainly take the edge off of things. After a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast, the Gracy staff was waiting to escort us back to the airport and through the reverse of last night’s process. Top shelf in every aspect.

Tuesday morning’s journey to Windhoek started out great and went smoothly until we go to the airport. The customs and immigrations process was the slowest ever and it took over an hour to complete. To top that off, there were dozens of bags missing, including one of ours. To make matters worse, it just happened to be the bag with all gifts and “would you brings” in it. Its disappearance meant another 45 minutes to wade through line and fill out forms to report our bag missing. At least the Namibian police staff checking in and clearing firearms were up to their usual great service.

After all of the delays, our shuttle driver was almost to the point of leaving us Thankfully, he took pity and we made it to our next overnight location the Hotel Pension Onganga. Upon arrival, we headed straight to the bar and proceeded to partake of some local nerve tonic, and soon thereafter things were pretty much on an even keel. Pension Onganga is cut into a mountainside on the outskirts of Windhoek. The bar and restaurant are on the top level of its multi-level layout. The elevated viewing platform afforded us some great views as the sun worked its last magic of the day. Oryx steaks are one of my favorite things in the world. As luck would have it, oryx steaks were the special that night. To me, a good steak and a bottle of red is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We had just finished dinner when more good news found its way to us. Our wayward luggage had found its way back to us. Yea (or so I thought). Our bag was indeed in the hotel office and I retrieved it with no effort. The problem occurred when I bent over to gently place it on the floor of our room. An audible pop was heard, followed by several choice words, and me going to the floor on my knees. I had managed to move just the wrong way and my back was now “out”. No matter how many pain killers I took, the pain was intolerable. I spent the majority of the night on the cold tile floor of the room, stretching and trying to get it to pop back into place. Somewhere around 3:00 am and the umpteenth set of stretching exercises, another pop was heard, with relief, which was most welcome. By 5:00 I was able to finally stand, and by 6:00 I could take a few steps. So much for starting the day fresh and rested, but at least I was mobile.

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