Flying Qatar isn't the route a migrating bird would choose, you veer a long way south east before heading south west again when you are flying from the UK. 7 hours to Doha, a stopover ( around 2 hours for our flights) then another 9 hours to Windhoek. The big advantage is that we can fly from Manchester in the north of the UK, a mere 75 minutes drive away. KLM also fly to Windhoek but that would mean travelling to London. No thanks.
The outward journey was OK and we managed some sleep on the second leg. Flying in to the international airport I was ready to go. First impressions from the air are that I have never seen a capital city's airport quite like it. There is hardly any sign of human habitation for miles around. Interesting!
The airport itself is small and getting through immigration quick. The only slight problem was that the car wasn't ready for my given time as we were so much quicker than I thought it would be as the flight was early too. No problem, time to purchase a mobile phone sim card " just in case it was needed" and to exchange some money. TIP. The Western Union is actually better than the bank and in fact we later discovered that credit card spending was by far the best exchange rate providing of course that places accept credit cards. Not everyone does.
Our car turned out to be a Nissan X-trail automatic which was OK. We had decided an SUV would be better than a standard saloon and in hindsight, that was a good decision as you will find out. More comfortable on rough surfaces as well as 4x4 ability.
Anyway, the 30 minute drive from the airport to Windhoek is on an excellent tarmac road. We headed for our overnight stop, the Sunshine Guest House.
Our room was 800NR (£50) which is considerably cheaper than lots of places and offered a very decent standard, lovely hosts and a super breakfast! You could even self cater if you wanted to.
With an afternoon to spare we decided on a visit to the National Botanical Gardens. Claire is very much in to her gardens and although my interest is limited I know that a) they usually have a few birds and b) I will get more than my fair share of places visited that don't necessarily come top of Claire's wish list. In fact I had made sure that nearly all our proposed stopping places had a swimming pool and sunbeds so she could opt out of my non stop photographic pursuit of the wildlife!
Anyway, as it happened the Botanical Gardens were not particularly wonderful for either of us. Can't complain, there wasn't a charge to enter but they are not like most we have visited. They did however have lots of native plants we would see on our travels and gave an indication on where to see them and which animals would eat them.
Bird wise I snapped a couple.
A juvenile Swallow-tailed Bee-eater.
A Laughing Dove
and a pair of White-browed Sparrow-weavers
Nothing exceptional, the ones I really wanted got away without a photo record. Still I had a few weeks to find some more.
A very pleasant evening was spent at Joe's Beerhouse, probably the best known and most popular restaurant in town. You need to book online well in advance to get a table as it seems everyone makes it a must visit on their stay as well as being very popular with the locals. The latter wouldn't choose the specials I don't suppose, more a tourist thing but the kebab of Springbok, Kudu,Zebra and Crocodile was something I just had to try!
I didn't know it at the time but it would be a few days before I saw that many species that were still alive!
Anyway, next day we were heading in to the country and I couldn't wait!