Monday, February 18, 2013

Lions, Zebras and Giraffes, Oh My

The next two days were spent driving towards Etosha National Park.  We camped one night at Hakusembe Lodge outside of Rundu on the banks of the Okavango River.  It was a beautiful setting and we had the good fortune to meet a German couple who were driving a similar route in reverse.  We prepared a communal braii (barbecue) and enjoyed hearing their stories late into the night.

The next day we started out for Etosha, stopping to get supplies and gas along the way.  When we were gassing up, a gentlemen approached us and and after spotting the British registration on Oswald, asked if we had driven all the way down from the UK.  Turns out he was from Scotland and both he and his girlfriend of 45 years had driven the length of Africa 20+ years ago.  To me, the best part of travel is the characters you meet along the way.

Our overnight was at Onguma Bush Camp located at the eastern gate to Etosha.  There are only a few sites and each has it's own private bathroom and shower - deluxe!  After setting up the tent, we walked over to the lodge for a sundowner (cocktail) overlooking a water hole they have.


A huge group of giraffes came into view and we counted a total of 19.  You can also see wildebeest in the background.  We headed back to camp and cooked a great dinner before turning in.

The next morning, we entered Etosha through the Von Lindenquist Gate heading west.  Etosha is a huge park and it took us almost 3 full days to cross it.  The western part, not shown on this map, is open by permit only and we were fortunate to be able to travel there.

(Courtesy of Etosha's web site)

Once you enter the park, you are not allowed to exit the vehicle and all the campgrounds are fenced and gated.  Within the first few miles, we started seeing a variety of animals.

Lions hunt and eat at night.  Note the "buffet" in the distance.

Not unlike the behavior of every cat we have known!

The only rhino we saw.  

It was over 100 degrees and shade was sparse.

Near Halali, we detoured over to see the Etosha Pan, a huge dry lake bed.  In the rainy season, it gets covered by a few feet of rain and is home to large flocks of flamingos.  They have had no significant rain in almost two years.  

We arrived at Okaukuejo Rest Camp in late afternoon and set up camp.  This was probably the busiest campsite we would encounter but it had excellent facilities.  It also has a waterhole that is lit at night and attracts all kinds of animals.  It was difficult to photograph them as the sun went down but the next morning brought a huge variety of animals back to drink.

There are few roads in Etosha but along the way, are short trips off to see various waterholes.  We visited most of them but due to the lack of rain and the heat, we didn't see many animals there.  Many did choose to cross the roads in front of us and we spotted some along side.

As we entered the western section of the park, we saw no cars at all.  It was the heat of the day (over 100) and we did really didn't expect to see much in the way of animals.  Our destination for the night was Dolomite Camp and as we turned towards it, we were shocked to see this:

This large bull alternated between resting his trunk in the tank and on the ground.  He ignored us as we sat in the vehicle for about 30 minutes taking pictures.

Dolomite Camp sits on top of the only ridge for miles, offering a commanding view of the park in all directions.  It was our first night sleeping in a bed so we were really looking forward to it.  Upon arrival, you park at the base of the ridge and you walk up to the lodge and the "tents".  Each tent has a balcony with incredible views and we were fortunate to get one facing west.

We saw the storm approaching but it passed by without much needed rain.

The most amazing sunsets.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could have talked to you for more than a few seconds the other day -- you have stories to tell!

    Maybe I'll catch you at the shop or on a ride.

    Very nice photos.