Leaving the big game until last
We'd already decided on Namibia as a destination for our first safari, partly because of the relatively compact and "guaranteed" Etosha National Park, but also because of the must-go-there-some-day sand dunes, plus we liked the flexibility and independence of the self-drive option.
From our own research, we broadly knew our likely itinerary, and then Natural World Safaris (NWS) honed it into a perfect balance of self-drive, game drive and stop-overs, plus made some great accommodation recommendations.
We asked NWS to make all lodges aware that Lorraine was vegetarian, which all bar one had a clear note thereof, and given we're in such a meat diet based country, they all made a very good fist of their veggie options, albeit a little samey.
We were ambivalent to where we pit-stopped overnight in Windhoek, and the Montebello Guest House was perfect for purpose. At the appointed time, we duly received delivery of our 4 x 4 Ford Ranger together with a video demonstration of the practicalities of driving on gravel roads, and a demonstration of how to place and use the jack and change the wheel should the need arise, and how and when to use the high or low ratio drives. Do not be put off by any of this: there is nothing difficult about applying any of it, nor will you run out of diesel, nor get lost! We were also visited by NWS's on the ground operator, where the representative went through our itinerary in detail including a route-highlighted map, which really gets the juices flowing. Meanwhile that night we got a taxi to Joe's Place (N$150 return), a bar/restaurant that is something of an institution, partly for it taste-half-a-dozen-local-animals kebabs (Barry is not vegetarian!).