NAMIBIA: Westfalen Hunting Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by MMAL, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    This report is a combination hunting report and journal. I have removed the names only because it includes my four kids. I could care less about the "greenies" but who knows what the world will be like as my kids grow up. Enjoy.

    Camp: Westfalen Hunting Safaris
    http://namibianhuntingsafaris.com/
    Hosts: John and Juliana van der Weshuizen
    PH: Gideon Cloete
    Tracker: Renout
    Location: 20KM east of Kamanjab, Namibia
    Loxodonta Africana Conservancy


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    Tuesday July 26th. 2016 Arriving in camp on Weds. July 27th

    11:00am South African Airways flight. JFK to Joburg to Windhoek. Traveling with my wife and four children. 15yr daughter, 13yr son, 7yr daughter and 4yr son. 8 months ago I told my wife I was going to plan my first African safari. She didn’t say no, she said not without us! Even though we were on three separate reservations to Windhoek, bags were checked through no problem. In addition award seats with Star Alliance and SAA get no seat assignments but all six of us were placed together on both flights. Check-in and flight was as great as a 15 hour flight can be in the middle of the day. Landed on time at 8:15am local time and had BidAir service to meet us, thank god. We ran to the front of a long immigration line and a long security line and just made our 10;30am connection in Joburg to Windhoek. Left my youngest son’s personal bag at security, too many people and bags to keep track of and had no time to go back to get it.

    Arrived at Windhoek and immigration, bag and gun registration was no problem. One bag did not come out and off to baggage services, had directions to camp and cell phone of outfitter ready and just handed it to them.

    Hertz Rental car was straight forward. Decided to rent a car and drive ourselves as we wanted to head to the coast after hunting to sightsee and do some stuff for the kids. Would have rented a truck or defender but they didn’t have one that was advertised for six people, VW Kombi minivan.

    Drive of 5 ½ hours was easy to 20KM east of Kamanjab. All paved roads and empty once through Windhoek. Even Windhoek was not bad for a city. First time driving on left side and the transition was easier than I expected. Used “Be-On-Road” as an offline gps app and my iphone with the data turned off. Worked very well, used no data, but is not good with address input. Needed to get coordinates prior to going via google maps and then input them as a favorite. This worked well.

    Saw Baboon, Oryx, Giraffe, and Warthog on drive in.

    Stopped by and saw taxidermist in Otjiwarongo. Was impressed with the size and scope of the operation. And the work they were producing. Not sure if I will use them but good to see as an option. Dropped off one bag of donations to taxidermists to give to local council to distribute to the local school. We brought four bags of donations as the kids called upon boy scouts, school and my office, etc prior to going.

    Got to camp after dark and impressed with the camp that was lite with candles and torches. 1.jpg
    This is a photo from their website. I can attest that it looks better in person. My photos at night of the camp came out blurry.

    2.jpg

    This is my picture of the night sky. I think my Sony A6000 did most of the work I just pressed the button. But the night sky was impressive and I am glad the camera was able to capture it.

    The camp is 5km from the paved road at the end of a dirt road that was by Africa standards pretty good. At least my rental minivan made it. Wonderfully dinner of onion soup, gemsbok steak, salad, fresh bread, potatoes. In fact, so I do not have to discuss on every post, the dinner every night was better than the night before. Gemsbok is a stable but we also had springbok, eland, warthog, hartebeest and zebra. Pretty sure we did not have beef at all during the entire week. The meat was obviously fresh and quite honestly spoiled the entire family for the restaurants we went to after the hunt. The meals were always accompanied by a vegetable, potatoes, salad and fresh baked bread. I hunted hard for 7 days and gained 4 pounds, the food was the best I have had at any camp and most times at home! (God I hope my wife doesn’t read this) Plenty of great wine or drinks accompanied the meal.

    Three rooms, six beds only. One hunting group at a time. I like that, especially with traveling with young kids. Two rooms are next to each other and part of one stone hut. Other room is part of the main house with its own outside door. 1 King in our room, 2 rooms with two twin beds. Ample closet and shelf space. Full bathroom in each room with hot shower via wood stove outside and lights via solar/batteries. Both hot water and electricity were available at all times during our stay. There were no outlets to charge things in our huts. That was done at a central charging area they had and it was more than acceptable. WIFI and cell phone reception, as well. Just as a note, I could keep the bathroom light on all night for my 4 and 7-year-old kids, which slept in their own room. No pictures posted as they look exactly like the ones on their website again.

    Bonus for a long day and a half of travel was a hot water bottle tucked in our beds. This hot water bottle every night became a family favorite of the trip as the desert nights were cold.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2016

  2. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Looking forward to reading the rest of this story.
     

  3. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Beautiful night pic! I can see it in my head what it looked like, as I witnessed African nights myself this past May! Thanks for sharing and look forward to more!
     
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  4. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I like your style.
    Nothing like a hot water bottle on a chilly night.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016

  5. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Thursday July 28th, 2016

    I woke up to the sound of one of my children calling for mom at about 5 am. After getting up from bed to a warmer room than I expected with no heat, I quickly realized that what I was hearing were the geese that roosted in the lake next to camp. Their call sounded exactly like mom, mom. It would be a common recurrence of the week to wake to that sound that I grew to enjoy very much. A little about the room, the structure was stone which helped regulate the heat of the day and the cold of the night. As stated there is no A/C or Heat in the rooms but it was not missed at all.
    3.jpg

    View of the lake from camp. It is 1/3 the normal size due to the drought.

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    My older children, I like to call them my spares. I will not include more pictures of the camp as the ones from the website are better than the ones I took. But it looks exactly like the website. Beautiful camp. http://namibianhuntingsafaris.com/

    5.jpg
    This picture is of the two children of one of the camp staff. My kids enjoyed playing with them. Hopefully my kids will forget about some of their first world problems now that they see what some children go through. Only time will tell. These children were taken care of, fed and clothed and seemed very happy. They slept in the backroom room of the garage in some of the nicer sleeping quarters we saw in the country.

    6.jpg
    Typical country compound

    But back to the review.

    6 o clock wake up, 7 am breakfast of coffee, tea, eggs, bacon, toast and always yogurt and cereal if you wanted, was the norm for the week, I just always woke earlier due to the geese. Looking out of camp in light for the first time finally showed me in person how beautiful the location of the camp was. Overlooking a large lake that is 1/3 the size it should be due to the recent drought. It contained the infamous geese, troops of baboons, warthog, a pair of steenboks and the occasional gemsbok. A very nice place to sit and look at as you had breakfast or a sundowner late in the day.

    Off course the bag the airlines lost contained my ammo. I brought a Rem model 700 in 300 win mag for me and a browning x-bolt in 30-06 for my 13 yr old son and 15 yr daughter. Thankfully John had extra boxes of both types. After breakfast we went to the range, where both guns needed some adjustment to the Sako ammo. The 30-06 needed 10 clicks of adjustment, the 300 win mag was off as well. Then off on the back of the safari defender. 16 Ply tires that are not street legal but will go anywhere without a flat. We headed generally southwest from camp and drove hunting roads for about 25 minutes. Through the bushveld, through dry sandy riverbeds, free ranging elephant tracks and into not quite mountains but large rocky hill country, with tree filled valleys and hill tops. This was very different scenery than what we drove through the day before on our way to camp.

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    Mornings were cold enough that we needed a jacket but only for the morning ride. I learned quickly to lose the jacket when we left the vehicle for the first spotting location. By that time it was heating up and during our stay 80-85F was the norm for the day. Up a koppie to a view that was outstanding. I was constantly in awe of the landscape and will talk more about it in this review. Gideon Cloete, my PH and his tracker, Renout, both who have mountain goat in their family tree were on top spotting by the time my 13yr old son and I reached the top. We quickly spotted three kudu cows and two small bulls. As everyone has experienced while hunting, the ability of the PH and tacker to spot game was unworldly compared to our skills. No different here as about 20 mins later Gideon pointed out two Hartmann Mountain zebra stallions, one of which was a mature one. A little discussion and we were off on our first stalk. As stalks go, this one was pretty easy, the terrain and large number of trees let us get to 240 yards pretty easily. But that same terrain stopped us there. The hill we were on dropped down to a dry river bed and the zebras were on the opposing hillside. Getting down the hill without being spotted was not possible. A quick Q&A discussion and the sticks went up. About 10 mins later the zebra was clear of tree it was behind and turned broadside and stopped finally. The shot echoed throughout the valley and I will blame the new ammo but I know it was combination of a number of factors including my nerves. The shot was back and my follow up shot at the running away zebra was high and missed. Crap, not the way to start. But it did start to impress on me the ability of Gideon and Renout. Without saying a word, Renout went to the koppie as a lookout and instead of heading to the shot area Gideon took me wide to the right. His knowledge of the landscape and his ability to think like an animal was uncanny. Ten minutes later we were in front of and spotted the zebra partner heading up a mountain trail. My zebra didn’t follow. We backtracked the likely trail and found my zebra under a bush in the dry riverbed. A “perfect” follow-up shot from 15 yards finished him and I had my first African animal. As I knelt next to him, admiring the beauty of old stallion Renout showed up with the vehicle not 5 minutes after the final shot, how? I’m not quite sure. But it was a start of a pattern all week.
    9.jpg 10.jpg

    Back to camp for lunch and deliver the stallion to a very organized and clean skinning/butchering room.

    We always traveled with box lunches in case we choose to eat out in the field, but today the box lunches were set on the table. Namibian burgers, baked chicken, Namibia’s version of a burrito, minute steaks all with a piece of fruit and some type of dessert were the norm. for lunch. We always traveled with plenty of water and sodas as well.

    I was impressed with South African Airways that during our morning hunt our last bag was delivered, again 5 ½ hours from the airport. Back to the range with my ammo. 180 grain Barnes ttsx ammo for the 300 win mag, 165 grain Hornady GMX ammo for the 30-06. Both factory loaded.

    Same reverse 10 clicks of adjustment for the 30-06 and it was back on and grouping nicely. Not so for the 300 win mag. Had trouble getting it to group again. Every third shot or so was a flyer, even now I am not sure why. I should have probably retired the gun at that point and used the 30-06 but I thought that I needed the extra power for some of the animals to come. So I shot some more with the same result and said let’s go. The fact of the matter is that the 30-06 was more than enough with well-placed shots.

    Not stated before but my son shot in the am, and my daughter who joined us for the afternoon hunt shot now.

    11.jpg 12.jpg

    John even took my little kids shooting with a .243, during the week. Like her father, my younger daughter is right handed but left eye dominant. The only difference is she can’t wink and hold the left eye closed. Her shooting style is a little unorthodox at the moment. But it worked.

    13.jpg


    The afternoon hunt started @3 and we were after warthog for my son. We were not one minute out of camp when Gideon and my son were out for a stalk. It was very fun to watch them stalk some 500 yards in tall grass to the warthog only for it to move off as they crawled around. Every 5 minutes I would catch them coming up from the grass only to realize the warthog had moved again. Whack a Mole kept coming to mind. Finally, 40 minutes later and from 70 yards my son got his first African animal dropping the warthog in his tracks.

    14.jpg 15.jpg

    With two animals in the salt on the first day we agreed to Gideon asking if we could spend the last hour of daylight to use a quarter of my zebra to rebait a leopard site for the hunter coming in the week after us.

    Sundowners at sunset, around a campfire, overlooking the animals coming to water, a delicious dinner and surrounded by family and new friends. Picture perfect first day of my first safari.
     
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  6. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Great report so far. Keep it coming!! I love the mountain zebra...I guess Namibia will have to be my next safari destination.
     
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  7. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    looking forward to the whole report with anticipation !
     

  8. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Doing great so far, keep it coming !
     

  9. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    You have a beautiful family! :) Glad to see the hunt going well. You are with a good outfit.
     
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  10. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Thank you for the compliment. Thank god they take after their mother. Writing the rest of it and it be out soon.
     
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  11. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Good start....may I ask what is bidair? And what do they do?
     

  12. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    A great first day of hunting.

    Looking forward to the rest of your report.
     

  13. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    BidAir was one company of many that are an airport concierge. They met us at the gate as we exited the plane and walked us through immigration and security. I did not want to a lose a day with the tight connection we had. They literally ran us to the front of 200 yard immigration line and same with the security line. I would say with four kids in tow and first time in the airport I would not have made my 1 1/2 hour connection. I say that and two hunters on my flight from NY made the connection without any help, they just walked up to the front with us and presented their boarding pass to a guard. For us and the kids it made it much easier. It costs about $100 usd for the six of us. For me that is cheaper than cost of spending 6 hours in the airport with hungry kids and much less than a hotel in Windhoek because I wouldn't start a drive a 5 1/2 hour drive to camp with an hour left of daylight. Hope that helps.
     
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  14. ThomasBeaham

    ThomasBeaham AH Enthusiast

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    Thoroughly enjoying your report and top notch photography.

    Thank you for sharing.
     

  15. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Great report so far! Congratulations on your trophies! Namibia, and especially a mountain zebra, are high on my list for our next safari.

    I agree with you on the value of hiring some sort of airport concierge service. My wife and I did so on our recent safari and made it through immigration in Joburg in under 5 minutes. At the time, I really didn't think anything of it. A few days later, my parents arrive in Joburg and were stuck in the immigration line for over two hours. That's when I realized the value of the concierge service. We hired ours via Henry and @riflepermits.com. It was an add-on to their regular rifle permit assistance.
     
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  16. lpace

    lpace AH Veteran

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    Great read. That is a handsome family you have there! In retrospect, I wish I had done this with my kids when I had the chance!!! I'm looking forward to the continuation of the report. I have been looking hard at Westfalen Safaris for a future safari. Your report certainly has my interest. So far, based on what I'm reading, Westfalen has improved their position a notch or two. Thanks!
     

  17. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Friday, July 29th, 2016

    Kudu was the plan of the day. An animal that was on the top of my hit list. My 15yr old daughter joined my son and I and we headed out of camp going southeast this time. Different terrain. Red sand bushveld became rocky rolling hills with more vegetation. Onto a different farm. All low fence.

    20-30 mins later we stopped and headed out to the first spotting location. We went with Gideon while Renout headed the other way. We spotted Dik Dik, Steenbok, giraffe, four young Kudu bulls, and a windmill that was pumping water to nowhere because elephants had broken a fitting. Thirty minutes later as we were walking to another spot, a call came over the handheld radio from Renout. He spotted a kudu bull worth a look. Off we went to a high point looking south. Renout was on a koppie 500 yards southwest and the kudu were 900 yards southeast. I never saw the kudu but @1500 yards off due south there were three elephant bulls. Incredible.

    16.jpg
    I was on the stalk during this picture, it was taken by my kids while they were left alone. Father of the Year!

    The Kudu bull was with two smaller bulls and two cows. They had situated themselves around a small hill where approaching from any angle would result us in being spotted. I left my kids, yes I left my kids alone in the African treeveld, with elephants in the area and armed with nothing more than a 165 grain 30-06. This is Africa - TIA. Hell in the US today I would get arrested just for leaving them armed, much less alone in the Africa bush.

    We ran through a small dry riverbed that had a number of natural dams with no water. It just made it harder to climb up and down the rock dams. Did I mention that Gideon is part mtn. goat? This was the only time that sweat actually ran down my face, most of the time it evaporated too fast, even on the eland hunt you will read about later. An hour later we on top of a koppie 265 yards from an impressive bull. Unfortunately, again the topography and the fact that he was accompanied by friends, there was no chance to get any closer. In addition, the kudu was facing us and right behind a tree that provided both food and shade to the bull. I came to learn that kudu that have food, shade, friends behind him and an excellent view in front of him are quite content to spend a long time standing in one place without moving. Thirty minutes into the waiting game, my legs were asleep from squatting between two rocks while keeping a third pointed rock from going up my ass. Twenty-five minutes after that the bull suddenly turned and cleared the tree. Back on the scope and fire. Right below him, clean miss. WTF is up with me and/or this gun, damnit. The bull turns the other way and is unsure of what happened. Within seconds I am reloaded, aim adjusted and slam a 180grain ttsx into the bull. He runs to the right and again I reload and try to get back on the kudu. When I find him again in the scope, he is thirty yards from where I hit him and I only see his horns and body go down. Holy cow or bull I should say! Closed to two hours after deciding to go after the bull, he is down. A bull you can hunt a long time for is down the first morning we go after them. I spend a second admiring the beauty of this animal I have only seen in pictures to this point. I can barely get my two hand around the bases, the white tips, the spread, the curl of horns you can fit a fat baseball bat through. Everything you put on a “would like to have” list is on this animal. Sure there are bigger ones, but not next to me at the moment. I am happy to say the least. But as everything is a competition, for those that want to know, would you believe 54" one side 53 1/2" the other. Just missed the magical 55". Personally, I am not worried int he slightest. It just means I have to go back again!

    Unknown to me and again without communication between them, Renout had left his koppie, collected the kids, got the truck and was somehow close to us. Ten minutes later, Gideon guided the truck, and the kids the last 100 yards up the rocky, brush filled hill. The kids are laughing their ass off because Gideon had convinced them I shot the wrong animal and shot a kudu cow.

    There are two pictures below; the one of three of us was taken at the spot the bull fell. As I requested the night before, if possible, I wanted a picture with the whole family with any of the animals I take. John and Gideon made it happen, as they made most of my requests happen. By calling ahead John had run the rest of the family out to meet us at a different location closer to camp and take a family picture with the Kudu.

    17.jpg 18.jpg
    To say I was impressed with the hunting area and Gideon is an understatement. I thought a free ranging zebra and kudu were going to take a lot of hunting days but here I was after the morning hunt with three animals down including the “supposed” two toughest and great representative animals to boot. Lunch was back at camp and an hour playing with the younger kids, climbing rocks and exploring the area.

    The afternoon hunt we headed to Westfalen proper. John’s home when not at hunting camp is 25 minutes east down the paved road on two low fenced areas of approximately 14000 hectares. This farm is loaded with gemsbok, giraffe, springbok, hartebeest, kudu, baboons, and other animals. The plan was for my daughter to get anything as this would be her first animal ever.

    The first gemsbok we spotted was a quick 15-minute stalk, but between my trying to film the hunt and making noise and my daughter not yet having the skill to throw the rifle up on sticks and quickly acquire the animal through the scope, doomed the stalk from the beginning. Although Gideon never said anything, I was not invited to my children’s stalks from then on.

    Next we went up a big Koppie overlooking a waterhole 300+ yards away. Although ultimately we did take animals over a waterhole the original plan was for spot and stalk. Gideon was great at this, (we were not the best) and quite honestly it makes the hunting a lot more challenging and exciting.

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    Notice the change in terrain. The area is flat bushveld.

    We spotted a mature gemsbok exiting the waterhole and thought it would come close to the opposite side of the koppie, around the back we went to the other side. Laying on top of and over a boulder, Gideon and my daughter lay in wait. The gemsbok came to about 150 yards but was at an extreme angle down. Gideon had a hand on her ankle as she pushed forward over the boulder. She fired but cleanly missed the animal and the group ran off @500 yards away. I had lost them in the vegetation but of course Gideon and Renout did not. It was then off on a stalk for Gideon and I. We stalked this mature female and the group she was with three times but the one time we had a clear shot by the time I got my rifle on the sticks she was already moving out. Being shot at does this to animals. We called it a day and headed back to camp.
     
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  18. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    That's an awesome kudu!! Congrats!
     

  19. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great kudu! Thanks for sharing the story
     

  20. buck wild

    buck wild BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    great write-up- lovely family !! and very nice kudu
     

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