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      05-21-2017, 11:22 PM   #1

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Trip Journal: BMW X5 Driving Experience In Namibia, Africa

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My wife (meg180 also from bimmerpost) and I just got back from attending the BMW Driving Experience Namibia, Africa 8 day tour. In a short few words, what an amazing experience! We had our eyes on this trip for some time, but there is very little information on it, save for some short Youtube videos.

It's actually a driving tour that BMW has been running for about 13 years now, and they have been refining the itinerary over the years. The tour involves a group of 12 people (2 to a car) with an instructor, and the cars are always X5's -- we had the current F15 X5 in the form of an X5 30d with about 23k miles on it (these particular cars came from Munich and have been in use in Africa for the past three years). As of now, the tour runs in either an 8 or 11 day format, with slightly different itinerary for each.

What I hope that this journal does is 1) inspires people to go visit new places (Namibia, and Africa itself, is absolutely breathtaking) and 2) give this driving experience a shot (I personally think it is one of the best ones BMW offers).

To give a little overview, Namibia is right above South Africa -- we actually flew from the US to Johannesburg, South Africa and connected there to visit Cape Town, South Africa for a day (beautiful city). From there we connected on a short flight to Windhoek, Namibia (you can also connect in Germany and go straight onto Windhoek). Our tour would encompass going in a loop, north of Windhoek, then west to the coast and back to Windhoek to catch our flight back home.

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Upon arrival at the airport in Windhoek, we were picked up by the staff from the Okapuka Ranch, which would be home base for us for the first 2 nights. It was about 45-60min drive from the airport to the lodging (we had to pick up others who would be joining us on the trip that decided to stay earlier in Windhoek). Soon after we arrived at the Okapuka Ranch and got settled in, we got to see the X5 30d's that we would all be driving. They were essentially stock except for a few enhancements -- they had skidplates put on to protect the undersides, also the tires were switched to off-road type tires for better grip and a full size spare was placed in the trunk. Also some of the electronic systems such as PDC and TPMS were disabled. But the cars were in pretty good shape, with leather interiors, full working radio, usb, etc. We got to choose our cars and that was the car we would be with for the whole trip. We also had a friendly local, named George (who knew everything about the country, so we nicknamed him the "Namibian Google") who ran support for us in his Land Rover at the back of the group.

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Next, we met everyone in our group inside, along with our instructor. The group was quite a mix, with people from Korea, Russia, Brazil, Germany and the US. We got to have some lunch, got an overview of the X5 and got a nice couple of early gifts which included a trip journal and a hat. The view outside was also very alluring.

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Soon we learned of our first challenge, which would be to climb up the aptly named "Antenna Mountain." The X5s proved up to the task and with some coaching and taking our time climbing up, we eventually made it and saw some breathtaking scenery. We were told that the rains were heavy earlier in the season, so now the landscape was becoming quite lush. As we headed back to the ranch, we reflected on our first day and what would be coming up for us later in the week.

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We woke up to some beautiful scenery again (an an interesting character who stopped by our chair outside the room), had breakfast and prepared for our first safari drive (local on the grounds of the ranch). Our driver, took us in a modified Land Rover, around the grounds and we got to see a good variety of animals.

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After our first safari of the trip, we got a briefing of our driving plan for the day, which would involve a more extensive trip through the mountains. We all started getting hungry midway in the day when we found that we would be stopping at a lodge overlooking a river where a picnic lunch was waiting for us! After taking in the beautiful scenery, it was back to the ranch for dinner, which was a fondue and we were given a couple of small gifts, including a BMW torch light/usb charger and a small leather travel bags.

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Our third day was actually our first time driving outside the confines of the Okapuka Ranch and we were heading north to the Erindi Game Reserve. On the way we stopped at a woodcarving market in the small town of Okahandja and then pulled off the asphalt for some training on the dirt/gravel roads we would be encountering for the majority of our trip.

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We finally reached Erindi Game Reserve and when settled in, went on an afternoon and a morning safari, again on a modified Land Rover with an experienced guide. We knew things were getting serious when he loaded his rifle prior to our departure! We saw so many beautiful animals, from zebras to elephants to a lion and lioness, various antelope species. A once in a lifetime experience!

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After finishing the morning safari and breakfast, we left the reserve heading toward the Erongo mountains and the Ai Aiba Lodge. On the way, we stopped at a local winery for a tour and some lunch. We wound up getting in a little late to the lodge but had a surprise waiting for us -- we were taken to the top of a mountain where we enjoyed some beers/drinks and watched the sunset. We learned that the Erongo mountains were a volcanic zone about 140 million years ago. Afterwards we were taken to a private area where we had a table set up for us for a braai (barbecue) under the open starry sky.

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Our fifth day began with a tour of the rock paintings in the Erongo mountains. We were told that wandering tribes would pass through the area and mark the rocks with paintings made from animal blood and urine so as to mark the type of animals present in the area as a kind of FYI for other tribes that would pass through. Some of the paintings on the rocks were apparently as old as 2000 years from what we were told.

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We then drove through rocky terrain and then made our way to the "Living Museum" which is where we met a native tribe and they showed us how they started fires, built rope for traps and hunted. An amazing experience and a great insight into the culture of the region.

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From there, we started heading west toward the coast with the resort town of Swakopmund in our sights. We stopped for refueling in a small town near a Uranium Mining Facility and then moved through an abandoned copper mine town where we stopped for lunch. From there we went a nontraditional route to our destination, opting to drive through dried up riverbeds rather than the asphalt. We were all exhausted by the time we reached the town of Swakopmund, and checked in the Strand hotel with the Atlantic Ocean right in front of us! After we settled in, we were taken back into the desert for a private catered dinner, again under the stars.

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Last edited by triplefive; 05-21-2017 at 11:48 PM..
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      05-21-2017, 11:27 PM   #2

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Our sixth day began with a drive down to Walvis Bay where we were taken on a boat tour hoping to catch some dolphins but we didnít see any unfortunately. We did see the coast, along with the oyster farms the area is known for as well as local wildlife like pelicans and seals.

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We then headed down with the X5s along the coast and beach to a surprise lunch spot.

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From here, we were advised how to drive on the sand, as we were heading to the sand dunes! We spent a good few hours out in the Namib desert before heading back along the coast back to our hotel.

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Our seventh day would be our last day of driving, as we headed back toward Windhoek and the Okapuka Ranch by way of a sweeping mountain pass called the Gamsberg Pass. Stunning scenery! After arriving back where we started everything, everyone met up for a long dinner and saying some goodbyes to new friends. The people we met were really wonderful and it was unique that an event like this brought people from different countries together, all united with a common interest.

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Our final day was short as it was just breakfast, a few more goodbyes then our shuttle back to the airport where we made our long trek back home. Truly, a trip of a lifetime! If you have the chance to do it, gofor it! The program will run this year then will be on hiatus until the new model X5s arrive.

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Last edited by triplefive; 05-21-2017 at 11:58 PM..
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      05-22-2017, 03:14 AM   #3

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Wow great report and great to hear about such a wonderful trip! Certainly one in a lifetime experience here!
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      05-22-2017, 04:04 AM   #4
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Looks fantastic and superb photos.
Old Wheels - X5M50d in Carbon Black
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      05-22-2017, 02:44 PM   #5
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Any negatives? Looks to be an incredible trip....think I know what I want for Christmas.
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      05-22-2017, 03:05 PM   #6
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Wow!!! This is awesome. I wish I could do this. How much did this cost and how do I sign up?
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      05-22-2017, 03:12 PM   #7
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Wow....just wow...

You must have a serious telephoto lens or you were really that close to those animals for some of those shots.

Did at any point did you question your safety during your entire trip? What does something like this cost?

Its pretty impressive that BMW offers something like this.

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      05-22-2017, 05:15 PM   #8
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Superb post and wonderful photography. What equipment did you use? I think few of us realize what Africa is truly like, and it's wonderful to see you had a great time. My parents have been to South Africa a few times and absolutely swear by it.

How are the people? The food? And did you feel it was safe?
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      05-22-2017, 06:39 PM   #9

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Originally Posted by P1et View Post
Superb post and wonderful photography. What equipment did you use? I think few of us realize what Africa is truly like, and it's wonderful to see you had a great time. My parents have been to South Africa a few times and absolutely swear by it.

How are the people? The food? And did you feel it was safe?
The people were absolutely friendly. The food was AMAZING -- we had a lot of game meats, much of it new to me. It was also completely safe, at no time did we feel unsafe. It also helps that you are travelling in a group.
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      05-22-2017, 06:42 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by Alan l. View Post
Wow....just wow...

You must have a serious telephoto lens or you were really that close to those animals for some of those shots.

Did at any point did you question your safety during your entire trip? What does something like this cost?

Its pretty impressive that BMW offers something like this.

Yeah I rented a canon 100-400mm telephoto for the trip, it worked wonderfully. You can find out about the trip by search for bmw driving experience.
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      05-22-2017, 06:48 PM   #11
Da X5
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Looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. I also would like to do that.
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      05-23-2017, 04:55 AM   #12
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Wow! Thanks for sharing the details and great photos. Didn't realize BMW did this. Definitely want to do this sometime.
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      05-23-2017, 01:23 PM   #13
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Wow, thanks for posting this, best thread I've come across in awhile. Looks like an amazing experience!

Euro Delivery might have to take a backseat to this!
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      05-23-2017, 11:49 PM   #14

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that looks like an awesome trip.
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      05-24-2017, 06:07 AM   #15
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Thank you, superb post. Looks really enjoyable, you got the whole package, scenery, wildlife, fresh food, local vino, sun and the weather . I did dune blasting in Dubai, but they were Toyotas.
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      05-25-2017, 10:08 AM   #16
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This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen on this site. Thanks for sharing.
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      05-25-2017, 10:54 AM   #17
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Wow , what an exceptional trip. We were planning for the same driving experience but I ended up in Kathmandu Nepal, nevertheless Namibia is on my list next

Did you need immunization shots?
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      05-25-2017, 11:16 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by cipri View Post
Wow , what an exceptional trip. We were planning for the same driving experience but I ended up in Kathmandu Nepal, nevertheless Namibia is on my list next

Did you need immunization shots?
We got the Hep A and Typhoid immunizations
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      05-25-2017, 11:44 AM   #19
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Beautiful photos!

Thanks for sharing.
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      05-25-2017, 01:05 PM   #20
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      05-25-2017, 01:20 PM   #21
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      05-25-2017, 01:58 PM   #22
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Fantastic photos of a truly incredible trip!
Thanks for posting, and glad that you had such a great experience.
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