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Westfalen Safaris - Namibia (Cheetah and Plains Game)
21 September 2011, 22:10tendrams
Westfalen Safaris - Namibia (Cheetah and Plains Game)
Dates – Sept 1 – Sept 10
Outfitter – Westfalen Safaris http://www.westfalenhuntnamibia.com/
Booking Agent – Jeff Neal Inc. - Greg Brownlee - www.jeffcnealinc.com
PHs – John van der Westhuizen and Gideon Cloete
Area – The 200K+ Hectare (unfenced) Loxodonta Africana Conservancy between Outjo and Kamanjab
Rifles – John generously let me borrow his pair of Browning rifles…a 30-06 and .375 H&H
Ammo – I used Federal 220 grain round nose in the 30-06 and 300 grain solids/softs in the .375
Game Sought – Cheetah, Steenbok, Klipspringer, Damara Dik-Dik, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok
Game Taken – All of the above
Game seen but not sought– The Westfalen hunting area is also thick with Duiker, Springbok, Hartebeest and Kudu. The Kudu in particular are recovering impressively from a rabies outbreak a few years ago and in just a few years should again make Westfalen a top-shelf Kudu destination. In any case, I have taken these mentioned species previously and so passed on a nice wide 53” Kudu and only viewed Hartebeest as a target of opportunity while pursuing Oryx. We also saw elephant spoor almost daily in the area with it being incredibly fresh on two particular days. Leopard tracks in the roads and riverbeds were also seen. In short, there are very few hunt areas housing dangerous game that also constitute a world class plains game area. Westfalen is one of these places.
Planning - With my 40th birthday approaching, my wife and I wanted to do something truly special. Well, we got “special” and then some from Westfalen Safaris! This trip was incredibly easy to organize partially due to the destination but mostly because the outfitter and agent were incredibly easy to work with. We put this trip together in just a couple of months with me booking the car rental and post hunt lodging the day before we left on the trip. Still, everything went off without a hitch. Namibia (and Westfalen in particular) is a wonderful destination offering all that one would expect of “wild” Africa but within a broader context of superior infrastructure and safety that cannot be found in other African countries. I absolutely plan to return to Namibia someday for Leopard and whatever else I can afford!
Travel – My wife and I flew into Windhoek via Addis Ababa and Johannesburg and then spent the night at a small chalet close to the airport ( http://www.airportlodgenamibia.com
) . The next day we drove our small rented car five hours to the conservancy and enjoyed ten days of fabulous hunting and Namibian hospitality. Of course we also drove to Etosha National Park after the safari and enjoyed two full days in and around this area before returning to Windhoek. ( http://www.etosha-camping.com
). The logistics of all of this felt completely seamless and I highly recommend that hunters visiting Namibia rent their own cars so that they have time to explore the country in more detail!
Equipment - I am generally low maintenance when it comes to gear. I usually wore my camouflage Chuck Taylor high-tops, Cabelas hiking shorts, and some Sterling work shirts that I bought in Zim 10 years ago. I carried my Zeiss 8x30 “Safari” binoculars and used my Filson ruck-sack to store miscellaneous items as we hunted. The outfitter however, has a fabulous collection of gear! I also get the feeling that John is a bit of a car buff so we utilized several very nice hunting vehicles ranging from a late model Land Rover Defender 110 to an old Series II Rover to a brand new quad-cab Toyota Hi-Lux. This outfitter is VERY well prepared!
Camp: John and Juliana van der Westhuizen have recently constructed “Elephant Camp” in their area and it is incredibly comfortable with multiple chalets, a lapa dining area, and complete outdoor braii facilities. The camp is incredibly comfortable and borders on the luxurious when combined with Juliana’s culinary skills. The staff is also attentive and courteous providing every comfort to which a veteran safari hunter has become accustomed. Power to the camp is provided via an elaborate solar system charging a huge battery bank in the garage and a massive Rhodesian boiler provides abundant hot water.
Food – While my hunt with Westfalen Safaris was of astounding quality, Juliana van der Westhuizen is a culinary genius who effectively doubles the real value of any hunt booked with them. To put this into perspective, I gained about 8 pounds on this trip even though we were hiking several kilometers daily. Juliana’s dinner menu partially consisted of bacon wrapped and cheese stuffed Orxy filets, Klipspringer backstraps with cranberry dressing, Zebra steaks with side dishes of sweet potatoes and couscous, and Springbok filets with mushroom sauce. The second day of this hunt was also my birthday and Juliana even took the time to bake me a wonderful chocolate custard cake to complement the champagne we supplied for the occasion. Speaking of desserts, Juliana also made kahlua chocolate mousse, an amazing lemon mousse, puff pastry with vanilla custard filling, baked peaches and dumplings with cream, and a caramel flan. Every meal mentioned above was prepared to perfection either rivaling or surpassing the offerings of many fine restaurants in which I have dined. Incredibly, even our daily box lunches were of similar quality!
Gemsbok – Westfalen is quite frankly a paradise for the Gemsbok hunter. I have lived on the continent for seven years now and this is my third guided hunt in Africa over the last decade. Still, I have to say that I have NEVER seen game density like this before. There were Gemsbok all over the place to the point where they literally constitute a road hazard at night on the main highway between Outjo and Kamanjab. As this species was not my #1 priority however, we didn’t really start hunting Gemsbok until day two or three of this trip and still managed to shoot a nice 39” cow and a few management bulls with very thick bases. I was also very fortunate in that there was a fairly regular need for meat in camp so a couple of old bulls were also taken for that purpose. I gained some very practical field shooting experience on this trip and for that I am very grateful.
In addition to the big cow above, I also took two bulls similar to the one pictured below.
Steenbok - I took a nice Steenbok on the first day of this trip and the event illustrated why it is always a good idea to take your spouse on safari. My wife’s eyes proved better than mine (or the trackers!) when on the first morning she frantically hissed, “RIGHT THERE...BOUNCY CREATURE!” from the back of the Land Rover. None of us (including the PH) had seen this Steenbok but, thanks to my wife, I got to shoot him.
Klipspringer - I have much respect for these animals and for those who hunt them more than once! I have shot just this one and I think the hazards of doing that were quite enough for me. On day two of this trip, John took Julie and I out to chase Klipspringer and we spent the next few hours climbing up and down the local koppies. Before seeing hide or hair of one, I went down very hard with my leg slipping between the grass covered gap separating two boulders. I rested there face down for a minute or two uttering unrepeatable phrases that might have passed for English but were actually just words I made up by combining profanity in multiple tongues. When I turned over, I literally checked to make sure there was not a bone protruding from my lower leg (my wife felt the need to photographically document the event). Twenty minutes later, we made our way (much slower now) around that koppie where (at 30 meters) I promptly missed what was deemed by John to be a top-shelf example of the species. It was time for dinner and two Ibuprofen. As we hiked (or limped) back to the vehicle, John took note of a an all too distant Klipspringer silhouetted against the sunset…..”Hey look, He’s giving you the finger”. Two days later however, Gideon Cloete and I made a similar hike that would prove a bit more productive. Shooting at a range of about 150 meters from one Koppie to another, I was fortunate enough to take this ram.
Damara Dik-Dik – Yes, here is another reason to take your wife on safari. While I was enjoying the local scenery on my birthday, my wife frantically (but quietly) began hitting me in the arm and hissing…”Hey….Hey….HEY!”. The result of course was this gold medal Dik-Dik. I remember looking at John and saying….”Well, better lucky than good”.
Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra – About five days into this hunt, we had only seen one group of mountain Zebra and it was early this particular morning on the plains with a group of Gemsbok. They seemed like just any old bunch of pajama donkeys to me. I also admit that I honestly had no intention of hunting Mountain Zebra as I already have a couple of Zebra rugs for which I lack space. Later in day 5 however, it looked like my Cheetah was going to give us the slip so I was thinking that maybe I should take a Zebra to collect the main species from Namibia that cannot be hunted elsewhere. Naturally, that afternoon we drove past a herd of about ten Zebra that characteristically proceeded to run up the side of the mountain. At that moment, this species became the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Fascinating creatures. To the surprise of my wife, I simply said, “Hey, let’s go shoot that lead stallion”. It was getting a bit late in the afternoon but Gideon and I ran up a nearby koppie and within twenty minutes I was looking through the scope at this stallion as he faced me at a range of 50-60 meters. A single shot through his chest put him down quickly.
Cheetah – Not surprisingly, once I had started making hunting decisions on the basis of an unsuccessful cheetah hunt...we saw them. On the way back to camp after skinning my Zebra, we observed what we thought was the same pair of cheetah that John had seen in recent weeks chasing the local Springbok. It was quickly decided that the following morning would see us in a blind making strong use of a predator call. We got to the blind early and we were quickly to get a serious education in Westfalens predator carrying capacity. We had only been calling for about 40 minutes when the nearby Kudu started barking...a good sign. Within 30 minutes of this, the whole area went quiet with not a single bird chirping, not a bit of game moving...and not a sound emanating from within the blind. I could feel my legs going numb but did not want to even shift my weight for fear of blowing the whole set-up. Twenty minutes later, I could not feel lower body at all when John almost inaudibly whispered, “here they come”.
I ever so slowly looked out of the corner of my eye and twisted my neck a fraction of an inch to see a Cheetah silhouette about 150 yards away between two large Mopane trees. This cat then moved to our left and we could see the second cat move through the same small clearing...then another...then another...and finally another. It was no wonder the local Springbok and young Gemsbok were getting hammered as this was a single pack of five Cheetah working the area and they were completely separate from the pair we had seen the day before and that John had recently seen from the top of a koppie chasing prey at a waterhole. It took the cats another half an hour to make their way closer to our calling and they likely circled us completely as they made their final approach from downwind. Miraculously, they did not smell us yet and the five of them entered a nearby clearing. I actually had to smile a bit as one of them literally twisted his head and awkwardly stretched his neck in order to look into the blind. Though we had not moved an inch, they knew something was up.
The problem now was that my rifle was pointed straight ahead and the animals were to the left. When the animals were not visible, I carefully and silently rotated my rifle to the left and around some inconveniently placed blind walls hoping to take aim at where I thought the animals might emerge. Just then, they all got our wind simultaneously (OK, maybe I didn’t move so quietly!) and it was a mad flurry of spots scattering around a nearby clearing as they were trying to figure out our locale. “Shoot the one in the middle”, John urged as all the cats but this one were now trotting in random directions. I imagined the unique internal anatomy of all cats, positioned my crosshairs, breathed deeply, and slowly eased more pressure on the trigger knowing that the perfectly broadside cat was finished. That 220 grain 30-06 bullet then miraculously went nowhere near where I imagined and made a huge puff of dust rise up right between this cheetah’s front and rear paws. Shit. I quickly cycled another round into the chamber and aimed an identically envisioned round at the perplexed cats vitals. Before he could initiate a single step he was hit hard and took a mighty vertical leap. He came down on his side and didn’t take a step before expiring. I had happily done my bit for the local game and we joked that the Springbok were singing our praises that night!
Final Verdict - Like most “ranch people”, John and Juliana van der Westhuizen are incredibly resourceful and hard working. John is a very skilled PH and Juliana has mastered the intricacies of the hospitality business. These facts combined with their absolutely incredible hunting area make Westfalen Safaris an absolute gem of an operation. As mentioned earlier in this report, I have lived on the continent for about seven years now and have hunted in Zimbabwe and South Africa previously. In these countries, I have hunted what were at the time considered by many to be the very best "non-high fence" plains game areas available. Let me assure you that Westfalen’s area of the Loxodonta Africana Conservancy is thicker with game and more professionally operated than either of these other locales ever were. I will be back!
21 September 2011, 22:35Brian Clark
Sounds like you had a perfect safari, Can't wait to see the pictures and hear about your after safari experiences. Congrats to you!!!
21 September 2011, 23:28SkiBumplus3
Great report and pictures! I have been wanting to take my gal to Africa and it appears Namibia is an ideal spot.
21 September 2011, 23:51Big Game Hunter
Nice report and photos.
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22 September 2011, 00:01trouthunterdj
Congrats on your hunt and Thanks for your great report.
The best part of hunting and fishing was the thinking about going and the talking about it after you got back - Robert Ruark
22 September 2011, 00:40Tim Herald
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22 September 2011, 00:48Equinsu Ocha
Great looking safari, Tendrams..
If my 2012 "PLAN A" for Africa happens to fall through, I was going to be in the market for a Sept or Oct Namib hunt.. I want to take my dear Mom on her 1st safari (my 1st time to Namibia too). This looks like it would fit the bill perfectly. I'll be looking for bull and cow oryx, dikdik, mtn zebra, and maybe a big steenbok and springbok. this place looks like a perfect fit.
Do you know if they will be at the SCI show in Vegas this year? I wouldn't mind sitting down with them and seeing what they can offer.
Thanks for sharing the pics.. Some great trophies you took! HELLUVA
beard, my man!
22 September 2011, 01:35tendrams
Thanks to everyone for the kind words. It was indeed a great trip. Frankly, I can't wait to get back there and chase another cheetah and maybe a big Kudu.
It sounds like you have a good set of plans (both A and B). There are certainly also nice Springbok at Westfalen but I was more interested in other species. If I had wanted to spend a day (or even a morning) really chasing them, I am sure we would have been successful. What is staggering is that we shot our trophy and meat Gemsbok, along with all remaining species seen above, in just six days. We didn't rush, we just got lucky. We then spent the next 4 days trying to improve on my bull Gemsbok and looking for the resident elephant. Not a bad way to spend time! I think Sept/Oct is a great time for Namibia as the rains have not yet started and game is fairly concentrated. In hindsight it was also good that we finished up our serious hunting early as the moon became full on day 6 of my hunt and it was like the game switched off....MUCH less movement during the day once they were feeding and watering at night.
Sadly, I sincerely doubt that John and Juliana will be at SCI. Frankly, these two (with their two kids) have a LOT going on between family and hunting and the cattle that they also run. I don't know that I have ever met harder working people.
If you want to contact John or Juliana directly, they are (unlike many outfitters) quite good at answering emails and taking phone calls. Of course, Greg Brownlee here on AR can also help you with any questions.
22 September 2011, 01:55Chris Lozano
Looks like a Namibian grand slam.
22 September 2011, 02:21Equinsu Ocha
Thanks Ten! I will drop them a line and see what they would be willing to work out for me for a '12 hunt (if my plan A falls through). This one looks like a great fit.
Thanks again and great looking hunt.
22 September 2011, 02:27JTEX
Great hunt. I sure wish we could import Cheetah.
22 September 2011, 08:39Blank
Looks like a great trip and very family friendly. Nice trophies; I love it when there is no rush to fill a shopping list quickly. We are slowly counting down the days until our May '12 hunt, and getting more anxious by the minute.
23 September 2011, 09:13Greg Brownlee
John, great report! John and Juliana do a great job, and are overly generous on their rates!
I'm in the air somewhere over what I'd assume was the Rockies headed home from my moose hunt, but I'd love to call you tomorrow or this weekend and hear all the details!
Congrats on a great safari, so far everyone we've sent there has had an excellent time, including myself!
23 September 2011, 10:24tendrams
Agreed! We all know that if Americans (and Australians and others I presume) could import Cheetah it would be much better for the species. I have actually noticed that some outfitters (presumably those who see mostly European clients) are charging the same trophy fee for Leopard and Cheetah. This is a good thing in my opinion if the market can bear it. I would like to see enough demand for the species that all outfitters get a fair price for Cheetah and therefore farmers and ranchers gain a huge incentive to keep them around! That is actually part of the reason I decided to hunt them.
I agree 100%. John and Juliana are of the sort you don't see too much anymore. They are genuinely great, hard working people who offer a fabulous experience at even twice their current rates. I flat out told them that and hope they know that I truly meant it. Drop me a line on Monday and we can chat once you have settled back in from your trip.
23 September 2011, 16:00Orvar
Thanks for the great report! Glad you had a great trip
Was in Namibia in July, but didn't see any Cheetah, although I had told the outfitter I would shoot if we saw one... didn't go my way that time. Glad it did for you
23 September 2011, 19:21gbax
Fantastic Dik-Dik - very jealous
24 September 2011, 05:14Fjold
Nice cat and a great report, thanks.
"I don't know what there is about buffalo that frightens me so.....He looks like he hates you personally. He looks like you owe him money."
- Robert Ruark, Horn of the Hunter, 1953
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25 September 2011, 23:26Artistry Outwest
Very nice !!
My wife, daughter and I hunted westfalen 1 year ago. It was a fantastic hunt also.
Your report makes me want to get back there.
It was truely a wonderful experience for our first trip to Africa.
We will go back. We booked with them as we had cleared several orders of other hunters trophys,who had hunted with them, so we had an inside scoop on them. It all worked wonderful.
We send a many people there as we can.
DIE WITH MEMORIES NOT DREAMS
17 October 2011, 13:18tendrams
Thanks so much to all for your kind words. It was a great hunt and I again thank John and Juliana for their hospitality!
You are a man who knows his Dik-Dik! The longer horn went just over 3.5" as I recall. Very happy with him!
17 October 2011, 20:46kuduman
congradulations on taking some great trophys. looks like you had a great hunt.
17 October 2011, 22:06Use Enough Gun
Great pics and story.
18 October 2011, 06:05retreever
I love those little guys. Great time, company, and shooting.
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19 October 2011, 05:29Marty
What a great safari. Thanks for sharing.
19 October 2011, 05:38A.Dahlgren
Congrats, I wish I could have found a cheetah when in Namibia.
19 October 2011, 07:31Frostbit
Originally posted by A.Dahlgren:
Congrats, I wish I could have found a cheetah when in Namibia.
I wish I could have imported mine.