Day 53: Etosha National Park, Namibia (30 October 2009)
We awoke this morning to fresh air and a gorgeous African sunrise that reminded me of the clear night sky last night with all of the stars and how I might really enjoy going camping more often-especially if it all comes with ablution boxes of their showers and loo facilities and the scullery. The time was 5am and it was a bit chilly outside. We got changed in our tent and got washed up in the nearby ablution box. We had some oatmeal and peanut butter and some tea/coffee for breakfast and were on our way. Where you ask…well, we had decided to go on an all day game drive with an outside contractor to Etosha National Park. The park only offered morning, afternoon or night drives and this one was basically all inclusive although you didn’t get the nighttime; but, we had been told many times to do the night one in Kruger National Park in South Africa, so we chose this one. This game drive would leave at 6:30 in the morning, come back for the heat of the day when the animals and people were all having a bit of a rest and then leave again for the afternoon portion around 3 and was to return around 6pm.
Some of the others went on a night drive last night while others went on an even earlier game drive than us this morning and were planning on a night one as well tonight; but this was the one that Paul recommended, so this is the one we chose. The outside contractor running the tour picked us up in a huge open air 4×4 vehicle and we spent the next five plus hours going from water hole to water hole looking for animals and boy did we find them! We saw giraffe, oryx, springbok, wildabeasts, zebra, other types of antelope, elephants, a lion and much more. Yup, a lion! It was constantly amazing driving through the park (which was apparently the same size as the entire city of Barcelona) seeing so much wildlife. It was kilometers and kilometers in between each water hole and the drive at times seemed endless. But then, each time we approached a bit of wildlife our eyes opened wide and we were like little kids seeing Mickey Mouse for the first time. We even saw a giraffe lying down (which is quite rare) and older animals with babies such as ostrich, giraffe, wardhogs and springboks on their little wobbly legs getting ready to jump like their parents. It was just amazing!
Mattias (the game drive leader/driver) brought us back for lunch around midday where we ate the same as we did yesterday; Mathew had tuna, avo and tomato and I had avo and tomato and we had some pretzels and tried to rehydrate ourselves as much as possible as it was getting hotter and hotter by the minute. Apparently, the further north we go the hotter it will get! After lunch I sat in the shade to write in the journal and we hung by the pool resting up for our next bit of game drive in the afternoon.
So, it was after three and we were off again…some of the same people decided not to come while a few extras came along for the afternoon portion of the drive just to get in some more game…when in Rome right! Well, we spotted many of the same animals, visited a salt pan and even saw a pride of lions…yup, seriously…a pride of lions! The female lion was on the prowl and came out to guard the water hole and the two male lions stayed in the back with another female lion and a few lion cubs. It was amazing. I did of course feel bad for the other animals as they couldn’t go near the watering hole knowing that the female lion was there and that her mates wouldn’t be far away so they were unable to drink in that heat and the next watering hole was kilometers away. I couldn’t believe how brazen some of the impala and springbok were still standing so close to that lionness when we were in the truck over 50 meters away and I was scared! Seriously, like a scene right out of the discovery channel, really!
It was almost seven o’clock by the time we got back to camp as we were waiting to see if the lions would move any more than they had already. Since we just couldn’t get enough of the animals we headed down to the watering hole by our camp to watch another amazing African sunset with some giraffe friends of ours. We headed back after the sun had gone to sleep for another day and had some dinner (tuna and peanut butter and honey sandwiches and some soup-as we didn’t want to spend the money at the restaurant) and hung out with Lee, Paul and Karel as they put some of last nights steaks on the braai for another night. We finished dinner and headed back to the flood-lit watering hole for our last night and got to see rhinos, giraffe, elephants and jackals before we finally decided to call it quits and head to bed for the night as we were exhausted from the long day. On a side note; camping has been really fun and this campsite has been amazing! Being so close to the animals and watching them was so calming and the best real live television around. I really do love it here, you feel so very close to nature as if you’re truly part of the animals’ story.
Tomorrow: Windhoek, Namibia’s capital!