After Chobe National Park, it was time for moving to Namibia, “Land of the Brave”, which possessed more safari exposures and beautiful landscapes.
- From Chobe to Katima Mulilo
- Katima Mulilo to Windhoek
- Windhoek to Ondangwa
- Taxi from Chobe Safari Lodge to shared minivan pick-up location
- Shared minivan to Katima Mulilo, Namibia
- Taxi from the center of Katima Mulilo to Protea Hotel in Katima Mulilo, Namibia
- Taxi from Protea Hotel to Intercape bus station / Eugen gas station in Katima Mulilo
- Intercape Bus from Katima Mulilo to Windhoek
- Thrifty Car Rental
- Food / Restaurants
From Chobe to Katima Mulilo
At about 9:30am, we took a cab from the Chobe Safari Lodge and arrived at a custom office for the border between Botswana and Zambia, in front of which was a terminal of shared minivans to Katima Mulilo, Namibia. The cab ride was actually only 2 minutes and we could have taken a walk if we had enough time. Based on the information from Chobe Safari Lodge, a minivan came at around 10am everyday right in front of the custom office building. By the time we got to the terminal, there were already some local people waiting for the minivan. About an hour later, one minivan finally came but got full so quickly that we could not get seats. Luckily another minivan came after a few minutes and we got seats at around 10:30am. Make sure you run fast and grab a seat for yourself since the seats were “first TAKEN first served.” The drive was smooth, and we arrived at the Botswana custom at 11:30am. Because the line at the custom was pretty long due to lack of staff, it took us more than an hour to pass the custom. In contrast, the Namibia custom was well operated and the process went fast. When we were finally in Namibia, it was already around 12:50pm.
After getting into Namibia, the driver dropped people off near a shopping area. We paid another 30 BWP and he sent us to the Protea Hotel we reserved online in advance. The hotel location was a bit off from the center of Katima Mulilo so not much around. Luckily a hotel receptionist checked us into a VIP double bed room. As we had a very long morning, we were both tired so we just had dinner at the hotel restaurant and went to the bar to use the Wi-Fi to look up information of Namibia.
Katima Mulilo to Windhoek
We had the breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant and used the internet at the balcony outside of the bar to search more information about our following destinations, including national parks of safari and desert. At 2pm we left from the hotel by taxi reserved through the hotel to catch the long-distance Intercape Bus to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, at 3pm. Per information from the bus website, the pick-up location was at a Eugen gas station where long-distance buses use as a bus terminal. There were no bus company staff or any pick-up signs at the gas station, so we asked a guy who looked like an organizer of the terminal. He made a call to someone and then told us that the bus was stuck at the custom office coming into Namibia due to the entry process for the passengers. Later on, we chatted with a Caucasian lady, who were taking the same bus to Windhoek with us, and she told us that she went to the custom with her local friends and saw the examinations process at the custom office was very time-consuming.
The bus came around 5:30pm. After an additional 2.5 hours of waiting time under the strong sun, the bus finally came to the Eugen gas station. A bus attendant checked the tickets and helped all passengers load bags into a trailer. The bus finally left from the Eugen gas station slightly before 6pm.
By midnight, we passed by a checkpoint and all the passengers were asked to get off from the bus. One of the officers quickly checked the ID for every passenger while another officer randomly picked a bag from the trailer for a full examination. The owner of the bag had to open it up to show all items inside to the officer. Luckily the examination went smooth and there were no further examinations on any other bags.
After the examination, we all got back into the bus and continued on the road. During the trip to Windhoek, we had a chance to chat with the Caucasian lady and she told us that along the way there were a few checkpoints but this one checked in details as it was located near a border.
The bus stopped twice for a restroom break during the trip. First one was about 2 hours after the checkpoint, and the second was at an Eugen gas station in Otjiwarongo (looked very clean and organized) around 7am. We used the bathroom and bought some pastry for breakfast from the convenience store at the gas station.
After we got back on the road again, a little boy and girl sitting in front of us first checked on us and then soon started chatting with us. Both of them were very cute and outgoing, which made the rest of the trip much more fun. Around 10am, we finally arrived at Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.
Windhoek to Ondangwa
As the capital of Namibia, Windhoek looked like fairly developed recently. There was a good amount of local people who came to pick up their family or friends in front of the bus office. Since there was quite a distance to the car rental office, we asked an elder couple standing outside of the bus office about the direction. Very luckily, they offered us a ride and the husband just drove us to the Thrifty car rental office. It took about 10 minutes and we saw lots of fancy stores and restaurants during the ride, similar with lots of major cities in the states or other developed countries. On the way, he reminded us that although Windhoek was a developed city, it was still important for all travelers to always keep eyes on the belongings. He also gave us his business card in case we needed any help.
At the car rental office, it took us more than an hour to finally pick up the rental car because there was only one staff. Since we planned to camp in Etosha National Park, we stopped by the Woermann supermarket across the car rental to buy groceries.
Around 1pm, we got on the road heading to Ondangwa, which is the closest city to Etosha National Park, for our hotel tonight. Around 4pm, we arrived at Otjiwarongo, where the bus stopped earlier this morning, and went to a supermarket to grab some hot food for lunch as well as some more grocery and a pot to cook at the campsite in Etosha National Park.
On the way to Ondangwa we passed by a few checkpoints but were not stopped by the officers. The officers sat under a shadow of trees and instructed us not to stop by waiving their arms without standing up. Although there were a few towns along the way, the landscape became drier and wilder as we headed north. Fences were set along with roads to prevent wild animals from crossing highways (speed limit was 120km per hour). However, we still saw a good amounts of wild animals such as cows and wild pigs, even a few giraffes right behind the fences while driving! Due to this great surprise, our expectation of Etosha National Park was skyrocketed to the highest.
When we arrived at Ondangwa, the sky was completely dark. Because Google maps did not show an accurate location of the hotel address, we got totally lost in the city. Luckily we finally reached to the hotel with the help from local people working at a barber shop and a phone call to the hotel. Due to the lack of sleep in the long-distance bus ride and long drive from Windhoek, we were already extremely exhausted upon the check-in. Afterwards, we did not do anything other than eating quick dinner at the restaurant in the hotel.
Protea Hotel Zambezi River Lodge
Price: We used the Marriott points, 7,500 points / night
Check-out: 10AM. Luggage storage available at the hotel reception
WiFi: Yes, but only available in the hotel lobby and bar
Meal: Breakfast was included for gold and platinum members.
This hotel was classified as a 3-star hotel, right on the riverside. Since it had only one floor, the layout was more like a connecting lodge. In the main building, there were a restaurant and bar. We stayed in a VIP double-bed room, and it was connected to a cottage-style common area including a bar and living room. This area was also shared with the other 3 rooms. Overall the stay was relaxing and services were great.
Protea Hotel Ondangwa
Price: We used the Marriott points, 7,500 points / night
WiFi: Yes, but only available in the hotel lobby
Meal: Breakfast was included for gold and platinum members.
This hotel was classified as a 3-star hotel. The room we stayed was generally nice and clean.
Taxi from Chobe Safari Lodge to shared minivan pick-up location
Price: 30 BWP
Trip Time: 2 minutes
We could have walked from the lodge to the pick-up location as they were fairly close.
Shared minivan to Katima Mulilo, Namibia
Price: 70 BWP / person / ride, 30 BWP / per bag
Trip time: approximately 2 hours
We obtained the pick-up location information from the Chobe Safari Lodge. There were no sign either at the pick-up location for the shared minivan or the minivan itself. Local people were waiting for the minivan in the parking lot of the custom office building.
The driver loaded all the bags for the passengers. The minivan was packed and four people (including us) sat in the back row sharing three seats.
Taxi from the center of Katima Mulilo to Protea Hotel in Katima Mulilo, Namibia
Price: 30 BWP / ride
Trip time: 10 minutes
The same driver of the minivan from Chobe to Katima Mulilo offered us a ride to the hotel.
Taxi from Protea Hotel to Intercape bus station / Eugen gas station in Katima Mulilo
Price: 40 NAD / ride
Trip Time: 15 minutes
The taxi was reserved through the hotel reception.
Intercape Bus from Katima Mulilo to Windhoek
Price: 1,230 ZAR / person / ride
* A driver of a local bus to Windhoek at Eugen gas station told us their ticket price was only 300 NAD. If time allows and budget is tight, you may want to wait and check the local bus at the Eugen gas station without an advance reservation.
Trip Time: 16 hours, including one checkpoint and two break points
The pick-up location was indicated on the bus ticket when the online reservations were confirmed.
At the checkpoint, the officer examined all passengers’ photo ID and randomly checked some bags.
For the restroom break, it charged $2 NAD for restroom and $3 NAD for shower. The restroom was pretty dark and there was only one bathroom and one shower. It was not dirty but using the shower here is not recommended.
The last break stop before Windhoek was at Eugen gas station in Otjiwarongo. A convenience store and bathroom were in the gas station, and pastries, packaged food and bottled drinks were available at the store. The bathroom was very clean, $2 NAD per usage.
Thrifty Car Rental
Price: 7,561.27 NAD for 6 Days (12/17/2016 – 12/22/2016)
Considering the varied road conditions, the car rental company strongly suggested insurance on tires and windows. Per our search on related information, we decided to purchase the insurance for both.
If you can drive a manual car, the price of a rental car would be half or less of the price above.
Note: driving in Namibia
Namibia is left-hand traffic. The route from Windhoek to Ondangwa was a paved highway (no traffic lights) with one lane for both directions. The speed limit was mostly between 100km/h and 120 km/h, however it changed along the way, mostly decreased significantly (to 60 km/h) while getting close to a town, village or checkpoint. There were a few rest stops which were mainly a big tree with a table and few chairs underneath the tree shadow. There were also some small shops and restaurants right next to the highway in some areas.
The view was nice with a chance to see some wild animals, but mostly cows and wild pigs. The road condition for each route could be differentiated by the route name. The route name started with an “B” indicated the road was paved, generally in good condition and well-maintained. The rating systems went from B to F, as from the most well-maintained to the least. The route we took to from Windhoek to Ondangwa was mainly a B.
In Otjiwarongo, we saw an AVIS sign for car rental. If you want to save time to go to Etosha National Park, you can search a rental car in this city and return it in Windhoek.
Food / Restaurants
Restaurant in Protea Hotel Zambezi River Lodge
Price: 180 NAD for 2 dinner dishes (pastas)
The pastas for dinner tasted normal, nothing special.
Breakfast buffet was included in the room rate for gold and platinum members. It included various kinds of bread, pastries, fruits and some hot food, including a station making fresh omelets. It also served juice, tea, coffee and bottled water. The taste was great.
A couple of restaurants and a supermarket were available near the Eugen gas station. A convenience store selling packaged food, snacks and bottled drinks was in the gas station. There were also some food stands selling fruits like mangos. We bought water and a bag of crackers from the convenience store for 33.75 NAD.
It appeared that there were some stores in this town but the bus made only a quick stop here so we just bought pastry as breakfast for 20.9 NAD from the convenience store within the gas station. When we drove to Ondangwa from Windhoek, we passed by this town again and we bought hot food from a supermarket, tasted good. The supermarket parking lot had a security guard and charged us 10 NAD as parking tips.
There were lots of stores and restaurants in the downtown area. A supermarket, Woermann Brock Ae Gams, was located right across the rental car office so we bought some grocery, including pasta, sauce, water and juice as preparation for the camping in Etosha.
Restaurant at Protea Hotel
Price: 155 NAD for 2 dinner dishes
The menu was the same as the Protea Hotel in Katima Mulilo. It provided breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dinner we had was not bad.
Breakfast buffet was included in the room rate for gold and platinum members. It included various kinds of bread, pastries, fruits and some hot food. It also served juice, tea, coffee and bottled water. The taste was great.