The last section of our holiday was spent in the north of Namibia in amongst the wildlife of Etosha. We were based at Ongava Lodge very close to one of the main entrances to Etosha. We arrived late in the afternoon and were immediately taken out on a game drive. The rules had changed now – no more hopping in and out of the vehicle to inspect things up close, we had to stay in the car at all times; after dark we even had to be escorted from the bar / dining area to our room.
This young male lion was purposefully leading two much younger cubs – the guide reckoned he was about 4 or 5 years old and was ‘babysitting’ the others. The adults could be seen way up ahead heading out hunting.
The light was fading fast when we found this trio.
Not the best quality photo but it was getting dark. I was very surprised and very excited when we were told we could get out and walk closer to the rhinos. The driver of the next vehicle had a rifle and escorted a dozen of us a good bit closer. We all took photos and the guides in whispers explained what we were seeing. After my adrenalin rush began to subside I began to think what should I do if the rhinos charged – run, stand still, no trees to climb, could I lie down and pretend to be already dead? Of course my fantasies were totally unnecessary – not sure how much the rifle was for show or if it would ever really be needed.
For the next two days Jeremia took us into Etosha National Park. I am struggling to find the words to describe the awesome sights we saw. Although I have seen countless wildlife documentaries the real thing was so much better than I expected. Such a privilege to sit quietly and simply watch.
Colin unexpectedly fell in love with the giraffes – driving along we would spot a long neck appearing above the tops of the trees and be subjected to an imperturbable gaze through those beautiful long lashes.
….. and the beast (literally).
Etosha covers 20,000 square kilometres of northern Namibia and is scattered with about 60 waterholes, some natural and some man made. There are gravel roads between the waterholes and vehicles are not allowed to go off road. This protects the animals and allows them peace while they drink and move about. It is such a huge place and the wildlife so abundant that sometimes we would have a waterhole to ourselves or at most a couple of other vehicles. I think the most important aspect to me was that the animals totally ignored us, never even glancing up.
This is a group of young males. Within the park there are three ‘resorts’ – fenced areas with accommodation, restaurant, shop and administration / security offices. The above photograph was taken from a seating area at the resort. It is the humans who are fenced in here and the animals completely free to roam, as it should be.
When we returned to the lodge in the late afternoon it was such a pleasure to stand on the veranda with a cool beer and continue the animal watching. The waterhole was lit at night so even a nocturnal toilet visit involved animal watching!
I loved the mix of animals at the waterholes. Jeremia explained how they all coexisted without any obvious strife – except for lions of course, although even then the other creatures kept a wary eye open but knew if the big cats were likely to be hunting or not.
In the centre of Etosha is the Pan – nearly 5,000 square kilometres of totally dry, hard baked clay and salt, seemingly visible from outer space. Driving along a bit of the edge was like any shore line with grassy, low, sandy dunes but instead of welcoming cool water beyond there was glinting hard whiteness as far as the eye could see.
We watched this ostrich having a thoroughly good dust bath, finishing off with an exhilarating shake – just like the wee sparrows in the garden in Rothesay.
All the time we were taking photographs at Rietfontein we, and all the animals, were aware that a few hundred yards away resting in the shade of the trees were two lions. I have debated with myself whether I would have liked to see them hunting or not – have concluded that in spite of how exciting that would have been, I would really rather not see the gory details.
I have kept my promise and not shown you the ‘hundred’ photographs of elephants we took. Our trip to Namibia was awesome, so varied in the different areas we visited and made extra special by our very knowledgeable, friendly and caring guide Jeremia.
Well, just one more picture of a few of the elephants of Namibia –