Namibia experience as a 1st timer
By no means am I an expert on travels or consider myself the type to be giving advice, this is not intended as an advice or general guide. This is from my own experience on what it was like to travel to Namibia, Africa for the first time and hunt with AmmaLa Outdoors.
This particular hunt is my short excerpt from the trip and what I have experienced, maybe it will help some of you understand a little bit about it and hope it gives you a better insight before your first safari in Namibia and maybe help answer some questions you might have whether you're going through AmmaLa Outdoors or any other agencies.
Keep in mind this is not the overall consensus of traveling to Namibia nor is it meant to be taken as a complete guide, I might also have left out some few details as this is focus on my Namibian travel and my own experience through AmmaLa Outdoors on their safari plains game hunt offer, another AmmaLa client as well as Robert (Doc) Mann were also on the same flight from Frankfurt while the other three clients also first time safari hunter were flying in from the United States making this hunt that much more special.
As with anything, preparing for any trip is vital to making that trip a success from departure to arrival and back to your home destination. Understanding and completing the process of what I needed to finalize all my documents by making sure it's filled in accordingly was the first step, going through all my equipment and gears making sure I have everything ready to go, filling in important papers to transport and check in my weapons and ammunition is all part of the process that needs to be checked over a few times. Your AmmaLa consultant that arranged your booked hunt is more than willing to assist you on these process should any questions arise.
(Sample Weapon Import for Namibia)
Also one of the best resources for me was the U.S State department website on travels to Namibia, granted if you're going there for under three months you don't need a tourist Visa, this hunt itself was a total of eight days to include two travel days.
I flew out of Frankfurt, Germany. Checking-in wasn't an issue, ammunition was locked and stowed in my carriage luggage while the rifle was locked in an airline approved hard case, this can either be a pelican or metal rifle case as long as it is approved by your airline for travels you will not have any issues checking them in, keep in mind ammunition and rifle are stowed separately, also check the airline you're flying out with on their policies in reference to flying with any rifle and ammunition prior to your departure date, the sooner the better.
Port security which was the Polizei were called in to inspect and verify my documents and serial number on my weapon at the check-in counter, once that was cleared my rifle case got locked and luggage was checked in. I kept my keys to the ammunition and rifle case on my carry on bag along with all my documents.
No matter where you fly out from it's important that you do your research before you arrive to check in for your flight, don't take things for granted and have an issue come up that you could have handled at home or before you arrived at the airport.
Landing in Namibia early in the morning was a relief, been on longer flights but overall it wasn't as bad as I thought, I was just glad to get back up on my feet again. We got our luggage and proceeded to the security check-in for weapons, do keep in mind that speed and quickness might not be a factor in trying to hurry and secure your things and beat the crowd to the arrival gate, there were a few other hunters from abroad hunting in various locations all over Namibia and we all had to wait for the airport security personnel to verify our documents and rifles prior to exiting the airport terminal. So just take your time and ensure you have all your belonging.
From talking to numerous hunters who have hunted here more than they can remember the waiting time at the security check to get our documents and rifle verify can be a short wait or a long wait depending on how many hunters are checking in their rifles and if or when a security personnel is available, it also depends on when you arrive, the latest or earliest you arrive don't expect someone sitting in that booth waiting on all the hunters to come by and get inspected. For a smooth process do have your documents and keys readily available when it's your turn to get inspected so you're not holding up the line searching for it.
After going through all our security checks for our rifles we had a few minutes to wait for our ride to arrive, there will be some locals lingering around willing to help you assist in loading your luggage in your transport vehicle, be cautious if you do need such help, keep your eyes on your luggage, if you don't need any help wave them off as their help isn't free. Once we loaded our luggage into our ride we were set to go, it was a relief just to get going on the road to our final destination just a few hours drive from Windhoek airport to our game lodge.
When we finally arrived to our camp we were welcome by our host and the staff at the lodge, we got our luggage sorted out and got assigned sleeping tent through Robert (Doc) Mann, whom is also the field coordinator for the hunt as well the CEO of AmmaLa Outdoors to ensure things go smoothly for the clients, each sleeping quarters do have running water, toilet and shower as well as electricity in each tent, quite more than what I expected to be honest.
Time permitted us to shoot and confirm our rifles to make sure everything was good to go for the hunt, we had no issues of any loss luggage but if such mishaps do happen our host were more than well prepared to assist, loaner rifles is available through our host for use if such incidents do occur that might take a few days to resolve.
Calibers and ammo:
Now I'm not going to go into depth on what is my ideal caliber or what is better, our host does recommend that you bring enough punch to the animals, ideally any standard calibers or even magnum caliber that you're comfortable in shooting with will work. When I say standard I'm talking about;
- 308 Win
- 270 Win
- 280 Rem, A.I
- 35 Whelen
- 7mm Rem Mag
- 300 Win Mag
Most of these calibers that I've mentioned ammunition is readily available in Namibia should the airline lose your luggage with your ammunition in it.
Back to caliber selection, I can understand the points our host is making, AmmaLa Outdoors also wants to ensure that games are shot with enough punch to prevent loss of any animals as long as the hunter does his part by putting the bullet where it should go and by bringing a rifle that he or she has hunted with and is comfortable shooting it with them.
We can debate about hunters killing and dropping big animals all day with smaller calibers but out here it's not a social experiment to be trying new loads or new setup with lighter calibers, we owe it to the games we hunt to ensure a quick humane kill shot is well place with the proper load. Don't get me wrong, unless you are primarily hunting the smaller species like Dik Dik, Steenbok, Springbok or Blesbok there's nothing stopping your from bringing your .243 Winchester, 7mm-08, 6.5x57 or 7x57 in those medium caliber categories for the smaller species.
For the larger games like Eland, Kudu, Oryx, Wildebeest and Zebras our host recommends you have enough firepower with the proper expanding bullets to get the job done, he's seen enough lost or wounded games to make these recommendations to ensure that your hunt is a success, his experience and advice is worth listening to. Also take into consideration that shot distance can range from a few meters to well past 100 meter.
(Long distant shot on a Warthog)
Hunting can be down right rigorous or relaxing, depends on how you want your hunt to proceed base off your physical level and desire, terrain as well as conditions will sometime dictate this for us as we can't control mother nature. For those more into stalking and going after the games that want more out of their hunt this is somewhat the prefer method.
As for me, due to my leg injuries from Iraq I am not much of a long distance stalker pursuing game in the open or in the brush but have on a few occasions made my stalk on games and have taken an Oryx and a Zebra on such occasions within my limitations, all I can say is that it was truly a rewarding experience to pursue them by foot.
You know your physical limitations the best and there's no one that is going to push you or force you to do the extreme if you are not capable or not willing, it's your hunt, it's that simple. Our host and his PH understands that and will work with you to ensure your hunt is a success.
(Oryx on a stalk)
Hunting over waterholes or if you're bow hunting in a ground blind is also productive, there are options out there for you to decide on how you want to hunt, don't think that once the hunting start you'll be on a force march for endless miles days after days chasing numerous animals. AmmaLa Outdoors and their host wants to make sure your hunt is enjoyable and stress free that matches your physical level to ensure you're successful and have a good time at it.
Don't get me wrong either, there will be times where you might hunt in a different area and a fix stand or above ground blind is not available and you might have to make such a stalk to get that shot, overall the hunt is designed to be catered to you and your physical stamina.
The hunt is for games of opportunity, it's not a package hunt where you have to hurry and chase this particular game animal in order to find this next animal to complete your five game hunting package, AmmaLa Outdoors does not offer this kind of hunting package, they have a two game any specie as a minimum on their Namibia safari, this means you can hunt the games you want to hunt for any species you want at your pace, and most of all they want you to have the full safari experience by enjoying the camaraderie with your group or go out your friend and watch him or her take a nice trophy and enjoy those moments together, if you want to shoot more than two game animals that is all up to you, no pressure for you to pursue anymore if you don't want to.
Hunting is conducted in the morning and late afternoon, Sunday there is no hunting and we all found this to be quite relaxing as it gives us time to reflect on where we're at and enjoy every moment of it.
(Sunday afternoon break swapping lies and telling far fetch stories at the lodge)
All of the clients as well as myself in my group were more then please to have experienced such a well organized and professional service. Just like myself, the clients were first time hunters in Namibia and some will be returning next year for their second safari. My intention is not to promote this hunt but give you an insight on my experience and my views, as a member of AmmaLa Outdoors myself it sounds like I'm trying to promote and sell you the hunt but in all honesty I'm not and I can honestly say that it was one the best out of country hunt I have experienced and I've been to quite a few places.
Robert (Doc) the field representative for AmmaLa Outdoors in charge of our clients hunt has set the logistic and administrative parameter for success with his expertise and knowledge along with our host and his PH to help our group understand the process from start to finish. As our final days approach we were well informed on documents, taxidermy process and procedures of our trophies and what we needed to finalize and close out our hunts, this includes payment of our species we shot, whether you're paying cash in Euros or dollars or even making credit card transaction, it's all part of a simple process.
The morning we left we got all our belonging and said our goodbye, it'll be a long drive back to Windhoek to fly back home, but the thought of returning sure hit everyone quick. This is truly a complete safari experience where friendships are made and new memories etched in our thoughts for years to come, a truly memorable hunt that is worth experiencing, this is my African experience and it's calling for my return.