Greetings from Etosha. We have spent two amazing days in this wonderful paradise for wildlife. Here the people are in cages (cars and restcamps) and the animals are free.
Wednesday we arrived in Namibia. It feels very similar to SA but yet different. We got money at the airport and we were given SA Rands instead of Namibian Dollars. The currancy is interchangeable with namibian. We picked up our car. Boy, what was I thinking when I went with the lower cost class without A/C. and no Radio or CD. Oh well, roll down the windows and prepare for a hot dusty week.
We headed for our first stop in Waterburg National Park. Along the way, we stopped in a grocery store (Spar, same as SA) It was very clean and well stocked. The people are very friendly but there is a protocol. First, you say hello and ask them how they are doing. They will say fine and ask you back. Then you start your transaction. If you don't, they are quiet and reserved. It is actually a very nice and polite way to do business.
The road stretched through dry leafless thorn trees that seemed to go forever in the distance. Very few cars and trucks which isn't surprising since there are about 2 million in population and many do not have cars.
After about 3 hours, we reached the plateau. The bungalows were simple but very clean. We did a few of the trails at sundown and then had a good sit down dinner. It was not at night and we didn't sleep much.
After breakfast, we headed on. The terrain was similar and rather boring. After about 3 hours we reached the Etosha gates. The terrain had changed to stark white ground and car high black thorn trees. The sky was gray-blue from the dust. We signed in and headed out. We hadn't gone 10k when we saw our first springbok and zebra. We headed towards Okandeka, a water hole along the Etosha Pan. The pan is a huge dry salt encrusted lake bed. It shimmers in the heat. Along the shore and inland are several natural and man made water holes which attract animals. Okondeka was spectacular. We started seeing lines of Zebras and Springboks heading towards the shore but the best were the firaffes. In the distance, they looked like creatures from Star Wars in the heat and dust. They lumbered slowly on the horizon. At the water hole, there were hundreds of different animals; giraffe, springbok, zebra, secretary birds, wildebeestsn oryx, vultures and wild dogs. It was meserizing and spectacular.
We headed on to Halali, the middle camp. Unfortunately, it was midday and the animals were not that active although we did see a pair of lions sleeping and a wide variety of different antelope.
We arrived at Halali and checked in. We had a "VIP" bungalow which was great. Two bedrooms, full bath, kitchen and even satelite TV and air conditioning. There are only 2 VIP cottages. The rest of the cottages are more simple and basic. I wish I had known it had a fully equiped kitchen - I would have brought stuff to cook. There is a small store in camp with a lo of tinned goods and frozen meat. There is a braai (BBQ) which we could have used if we both ate meat.
We showered and relaxed before heading to dinner. A buffet which was so-so. We also checked out the water hole in camp but saw nothing.
The next morning we had breakfast and headed towards Namutomi hoping to see elephants. We hadn't seen any the day before. It was several hours before we hit it lucky at Kalkheuwel water hole and found one drinking. We sat and ate lunch. Soon two more arrived. We think they were three male elephants.
But the day was topped off later that evening. After dinner, we walked to the lighted camp water hole. A black rhino family came down to drink. But out of the darkness came a spectular site; a herd of elephants led by the Matriarch and included two baby elephants. Outnumbered, the rhinos backed off and the elephants drank noisily. Just as quickly as they appeared, they left into the darkness. The rhinos had waited and came back for a second drink. We even saw the baby rhino nursing.
We have seen many of the different antelopes; oryx, hartebeest, impalas, bontebok, kudu and eland. The most common animals are sebras, springbok and wildebeest. You actually start to get 'bored' with the zebras although they are great to photograph. They are also always crossing the road. A whole new meaning to 'zebra crossing'.
Time to move on. Next up Erongo and then the coast. After that the sand dunds of Namib desert. Still more to come before our return in less than a week.