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May 2017 Trip Report - Kaokoland, Namibia
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Reading some of the recent fantastic trip reports here, and recently having read Peter Flack’s account of hunting in Chad where he was fired upon by some local bandits, I’ll warn the reader at the beginning that this trip was very tame by comparison. So, if you’re looking for accounts of being charged by dangerous game, taking record book animals, or going where few hunters have gone before…you can stop reading now. Instead this is an account of a free range plains game safari in a semi-desert area of Namibia. It was my first safari, so I have little to compare it to. But I had a great time.

Trip report - Kaokoland, Namibia May 2017

Outfitter: Thormählen and Cochran

PH: Chris Joubert

Dates: May 20-29, 2017

Location: Kaokoland, Namibia – Anabeb Conservancy. This is a semi-desert area – partly barren and rock covered, partly grass covered, and mopane covered with limited visibility.

Species hunted: Gemsbok, Springbok, Greater Kudu, Hartmann Zebra

Rifle: I used a rental rifle – a Ruger 77 in 300 Win Mag with a Leupold VX-3 scope.

Travel arrangements: The safari was scheduled right after a conference in Rotterdam. I flew American from Oklahoma to Amsterdam and KLM from Amsterdam to Windhoek. The flight stopped in Luanda, Angola both ways, but passengers from Windhoek weren’t allowed to deplane. Not that I had much desire to do so.

Accommodations: A permanent tented camp; each tent had its own toilet and shower, so it was hardly roughing it.

Day 1: I arrived Windhoek about 10 a.m. and waited over an hour for my baggage to arrive. KLM’s baggage service desk is outside the customs exit, so I finally asked at customs what I should do. They escorted me to the baggage desk and the clerk there told me he would try to find my bag before filing a missing baggage claim. I found my PH and we went and had a coffee and while sitting in the restaurant the clerk brought my bag. We then spent several hours in Windhoek loading additional supplies and running errands. Mid-afternoon we left for Kaokoland.

The drive to Kaokoland is about 300 miles on paved roads, then another 130 miles on gravel. Since traveling on the gravel road at night would either be unsafe or very slow, we overnighted in Kamanjab, then proceeded the rest of the way the next morning. But along the way, we saw warthogs, springbok, impala, giraffes, and even some eland, though the eland were behind a game fence.

Day 2: Kamanjab is the end of the paved road, and once we left the lodge in Kamanjab, we were on gravel and the terrain appeared more and more arid. We drove the gravel road and arrived at camp mid-day.

Temperatures all week were rather warm in the mid-day, so we generally hunted until late-morning then went back to camp and rested until mid-afternoon. We drove out in the afternoon and started seeing springbok and zebra. After spotting some zebra several hundred yards away, we started stalking, crossing several dry creek beds and using mopane trees for cover.

During the stalk, while following my PH, I looked a little to the right and saw an elephant in a clearing, several hundred yards away. But I decided against blurting out “Hey – there’s an elephant over there!” and carried on with the main objective. I got close enough to shoot (175 yards?) and took my first shot in Africa from sticks. Shortly thereafter, I was getting my picture taken with the zebra before we winched it up on the Land Cruiser.

Day 3: We got an early start the next morning, first driving into Warmquelle to drop off the zebra quarters. It took several stops to get the key to the “meat locker” where we left the meat. We spent the rest of the morning glassing. We saw many springbok and a kudu bull, but none large enough to shoot.

After lunch back in camp, we headed out in the mid-afternoon. We got out of the truck to look more closely at a herd of springbok. After watching for a while, my PH suggested I shoot one in particular. After a little back and forth ascertaining for sure which one, I shot and was somewhat relieved to have him drop on the spot.

After loading the springbok, we drove some more, then climbed a hill where we could see for miles. Our tracker spotted an oryx, so we began a long stalk through thigh-high grass. The first time I saw the oryx, it was running away full speed. But as we were walking back, we saw a kudu bull. It turned out to be too small, but fun to see.

Day 4: We started early in the morning, dropping the springbok off in the village, then drove cross country looking for an oryx or kudu. We eventually cross tracks with a kudu, and followed the tracks. The next time I saw him, he was running away from us and I snapped a photo, assuming that there would be no chance for a shot. (It would not be the first time I was shooting a photo when I should have been getting ready to shoot my rifle.)

He stopped going uphill and looked back at us – my PH was trying to get me to get my rifle ready as he was setting up the sticks. I settled in to take the shot but he started running again, still uphill. Then, surprisingly, he stops again – we move the sticks and I shoot. The shot was in the heart/lungs area and he ran perhaps 75 yards before collapsing.

We went out late afternoon and spotted two kudu bulls from a hilltop. My PH thought one (“the one on the right”) might be big enough to shoot. So we began a long stalk and got glimpses of both bulls several times. Including one that hid in a bush, with only the top part of its horns sticking out. I should have got a photo of that… In any case, “the one on the right” disappeared and we ended up walking back to the Land Cruiser empty handed.

Day 5: The day started cool, maybe in the low 60s. We left camp at 6 a.m. searching for a kudu. We started by driving through the mopane and sweetthorn savanna, where the kudu come down from the mountains to browse. After a half-hour or so, we spotted two kudu bulls, but they disappeared right away. So we started circling well away from where we saw them, looking for tracks. Suddenly, we spotted a kudu bull and we made a quick, short stalk to where I could make a shot. He was facing me at a distance of about 120 yards and I hit him in the right shoulder. He turned and walked slowly and I was able to put a finishing shot through the lungs. Much to my surprise, on the fourth day of hunting I had shot my last animal.

Days 6 and 7: So the only problem was what to do then – we went swimming in a natural spring-fed pool – surprising to find it in the middle of a desert. The next day, we took a drive and saw some bushmen rock carvings, showing zebras, giraffes, lions, rhinoceros, elephants, and bushmen. On the day after, the other hunters in camp invited me to go along on their giraffe hunt. That was quite exciting and enjoyable. They had spotted lions the day before and we took a side excursion to see if we could see them, but only found the zebra kill that they had been feeding on.

Days 8-10: As I originally planned the safari with the idea that my wife might come, I planned a 2-day visit to Etosha National Park. She didn’t come, but I enjoyed the photo safari anyways.

Some final comments:
1. Using KLM from Amsterdam worked fine, but I didn’t bring my own rifle, so I didn’t have to worry about transiting Amsterdam with firearms.
2. Although I knew ahead of time that the meat would all be eaten by the locals, I admit I was surprised to find that it was ALL eaten. The giraffe was the only animal that was field-dressed and I was quite interested to see the skinner return to the gut pile, open the stomach to pour out the partly-digested leaves, and, in the end leave nothing but stomach contents and some blood on the ground.
3. There are often discussions on AR regarding whether to bring your own rifles. Since I tagged this trip onto a business trip in the Netherlands, I didn’t consider bringing my own. The rental rifle was certainly accurate enough, though I found the bolt to stick a little so I struggled to cycle it quickly. If I was flying directly from home to the safari, I would probably bring my own. But it doesn’t bother me that much to rent one.
4. The main thing I would have done differently is that I would have brought a pair of shorts to hunt in. While trying to keep my luggage to one checked bag for the combined business trip/safari, I left the shorts behind.

And a few more trip photos
My tent:

The shower (as I said, this was hardly roughing it):

Camp was set up along a dry riverbed – this is the view from camp:

Lilac-breasted roller:

My favorite oryx picture from Etosha National Park, with the mirage above the salt pan in the background:

Posts: 603 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 November 2010Reply With Quote
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Very Nice report! Some great animals and a particularly nice Springbok!

Guns and hunting
Posts: 1033 | Registered: 07 February 2017Reply With Quote
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Thanks Hannay, Very nice report of a good hunt/adventure.
Your photos are very good. I enjoyed the text and the photography.
Posts: 3238 | Location: Kamloops, BC | Registered: 09 November 2015Reply With Quote
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Great hunt. I just love that Springbok - I'm no expert - but that one looks very mature with thick bases and deep hooks.

"When the wind stops....start rowing. When the wind starts, get the sail up quick."
Posts: 10942 | Location: New Zealand | Registered: 02 July 2008Reply With Quote
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Well Done!
Posts: 225 | Location: North Texas | Registered: 08 May 2013Reply With Quote
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Nice hunt, nice trophies, wonderful memories. I love hunting in Namibia.
Posts: 861 | Registered: 25 February 2009Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by clayman216:
Nice hunt, nice trophies, wonderful memories. I love hunting in Namibia.

Sounds like you had a great time Smiler Liked your intro to the report Wink

Would love to hunt Namibia one day!! On my bucket list for sure!
Posts: 1080 | Location: Norway | Registered: 08 June 2012Reply With Quote
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Great first (am sure of many to come) hunts!

Super springbok!



"Up the ladders and down the snakes!"
Posts: 2080 | Location: South Africa & Europe | Registered: 10 February 2014Reply With Quote
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I feel your excitement, especially when you saw your first wild elephant. Headed out next week to Namibia for my tenth trip and I still feel that rush of adrenalin when I see the first ele. From the sound of your report, I dare say Africa has gotten it's hold on you. Great shooting, the Zebra was right on the Sargent strips. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Posts: 1088 | Registered: 14 June 2010Reply With Quote
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Great report and pics! tu2
Posts: 18313 | Registered: 04 April 2005Reply With Quote
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Great report. Wise move not driving at night near Kamanjab. I hunted there last month, and we dodged a few critters on C35 while driving before and after sunrise/ sunset. Did you have a drink at Oppi Kopi in Kamanjab? The Belgian guy who owns it is a character, and I enjoy talking with him.

Were the rock engraving pics taken at Peet Alberts Koppie, just east of Kamanjab?

Jesus saves, but Moses invests
Posts: 1340 | Location: Lake Bluff, IL | Registered: 02 May 2008Reply With Quote
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All - thank you for your kind comments.

Charlie64 - Indeed, I hope it is only the first safari!

Bud - we did stop at Oppi Koppi and that's where we stayed the night. I agree the proprietor seems like a character - I was amused to find the baboon out front (photo below).

The rock carvings were much nearer to the camp, which was near Warmquelle. But they were miles and miles off the road, so hard for me to say exactly where they were at! Smiler

If it's not legible, the sign above the baboon says:
The reason I am here is:
I have destroyed all the thatched roofs
of the guest rooms at Oppi-Koppi.
Now I will spend the rest of my time
here drinking ice-cold Jägermeister in moderation.

I wish all of you a lovely stay!"
Posts: 603 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 November 2010Reply With Quote
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