Tag Archives: Etosha National Park

The Watering Hole in Etosha National Park, Namibia

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Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park, Namibia

“Be quiet, shhhh” are the only whispers you hear. Seated on hard wooden benches are hundreds of people. We have headlamps around our necks, torches in our pockets, canteens next to us and cameras in our hands. We wait. As the sun sets, the horizon is set ablaze in hues of red and orange. The colours change as quickly as the scene. It’s cable television live, in colour and directly in front of us. Even the youngest children are silent. You can hear a pin drop.

We sit at the Watering Hole in Etosha National Park. Namibia’s premier park for animal citing and game drive viewing has campsites, a pool a restaurant and this, the watering hole. “I could stay here for days”, we both say to each other simultaneously knowing that if we could, we would. Within the first minutes we know we have to return someday. Each day people come and sit for hours. Sunrise, daylight, sunset, night-it doesn’t matter the time or the weather-they wait.

Zebras having a drink

Zebras having a drink

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A day in Namibia’s capital city!

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Day 54: Etosha National Park, Namibia-Windhoek, Namibia (31 October 2009-Halloween)

We woke up this morning in our cute little two person tents (good thing we did this as it’s a prelude to our full on camping trip that we do later) to the sounds of people in the next campsite over packing up their bags…it was five in the morning! Needless to say we weren’t so thrilled at the hour; but we got up, rolled up the sleeping mats and Mathew and Karel packed up the actual tent as I finished getting ready as I had packed up everything inside the tent. We stopped in the same two spots in the same two towns as we did on the way in to Etosha; the bakery for some snacks and internet time, Ot;iwarongo for a toilet stop and then we were on our way to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city. And of course we remembered to take our malaria pills as we were up to the part of the trip that we were now taking them every day as we had started just before Etosha.

We finally arrived in Windhoek in the afternoon, dropped our stuff in our new clean room decorated all in white and complete with air conditioning and a refrigerator and got some news. Paul told us that there were some complications with the travel of those meeting up with us in Windhoek so we would be leaving a bit later in the morning tomorrow than already thought…we were thrilled! We decided it was time for a bit of a late lunch and headed out to the shopping mall across the road for a quick wander and some food. There was a club rugby match on that Mathew wanted to watch so we were looking for a place to do that and came across a place for lunch, Mugg and Beans which is a chain restaurant almost like Applebee’s I would think. We had some lunch with Lee and then headed back to the hotel for a rest and a shower before dinner.

Mathew and Lee went out for a journey around Windhoek as I stayed in for a bit of a rest. Winhoek itself is not a very safe city and doesn’t have that much to offer; think of spending a weekend in Albany if you weren’t visiting the school or having anything to do with politics. They trundled along finding that our hotel was situated at the end of Robert Mugabe Avenue (oddly enough) and saw a few other museums and buildings. After a rest and a shower we found ourselves heading to dinner at Joe’s Beerhaus. Ask anyone who’s been to Windhoek and this is where they’d tell you to go…there’s sand on the floor, ‘jaegermeister is their house beer’, game is a specialty and the décor is filled with what would be other people’s junk but the treasure’s of Joe. We got to meet two of the four people joining us on the next leg of this journey all the way to Victoria Falls, Zambia. Maria and Bernardo, both Portugese were just here for the nine days of this part. Maria is a neurosurgery resident in Portugal and Bernardo is a PHD candidate in Biology living in London and working for Cancer Research and only has his thesis to defend left in the program. Dinner was good and conversation flowed, but it was a bit hard for me as there was game all around. I was so glad that Eveline and I wound up sitting across from each other so at least there was another vegetarian dish to look at across the way. There was game all around the table…Kudu, crocodile, buffalo and even zebra…people said it tasted like horse…YUCK!

Anyway, dinner was fun and we really liked our new members. Upon our return we found out that the other couple had already landed and we would have been able to leave on time in the morning but Paul decided to let us have a lie in. Ian and Louise would be joining us in the morning. We gave some goodbye hugs to Christine, Carsten and Lee who would all be leaving us in the morning; Christine and Lee to fly home and Carsten, who worked for BMW, would be joining a mate and continuing a journey through Namibia on motorbike. We made our goodbyes and then headed to bed.

Tomorrow: Our last day in Namibia; home of the red sand!

All Day Game Driving

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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!

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ELEPHANTS & ZEBRAS & GIRAFFE…OH MY!

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Day 52: Otjiwarongo, Namibia-Etosha National Park, Namibia (29 October 2009)

We woke up this morning, after a night of great air conditioning, to our friendly duck, flamingo family and ostrich right outside of our back door and after saying goodbye to them we went to the lodge for a beautiful breakfast. We made a few stops for groceries for the park as Paul was going to barbecue tonight and none of the meals were included for the next two days so we were on our own. There was going to be a small pool bar and a full restaurant, but if we didn’t want to pay for those then we had to pick up whatever we needed for meals. One more stop, and this one was for the picture books, that’s for sure. We could only imagine our friend William and how many amazing shots he would have been able to get had he been on this journey with us. And it was only polite to put a little money in their baskets if you wished to photograph them as again, you must ask adults out of respect for their beliefs if you can or cannot take their photo. It was at a Himba tribal craft market. The Himba, if you don’t know, are the most photographed people of Africa. The skin of the women is a reddish tint from a mixture of red sand and goat’s fat. After puberty hits (we were told), women no longer wash with water at all and men only wash once a month. The women cover themselves in this reddish mixture before they go out. They were very little clothing (as all of the women we saw had their breasts revealed) and Paul said that if you go to their village you can barter for their crafts with food supplies as they have very little.

We left the Himbas and drove straight to Etosha National Park and an instant game drive as you enter the park where they have elephants, rhinos, lions, meerkats, wardhogs, wildabeasts, giraffe, zebra, springbok, stenbok, oryx and tons of other animals and we saw our first Etosha giraffe! Now, apparently there were nice air conditioned chalets that you could upgrade to, but we didn’t. So, we pitched our tents at the campsite which was right next to the ablution box (bathrooms and showers) and a short distance from the scullery (cooking facility) with lights and outlets and sinks. This was our first foray into ‘the tent’ which we were hoping would be good practice and a good experience as after this trip ends we have another nine day journey that is fully camping. These are two person tents; the ones that you have poles that fit into each other; pull up in the center to form a cross structure and the sides of the tent get pulled up to meet the poles. There are mosquito netted windows and a zippered door all with flaps that can zip down to keep out the rain. It wasn’t too difficult to put up which was a good sign. Paul and Karel set up the barbecue (to which I of course brought marshmallows) and the rest of went to hang by the pool. There were three round pools, a snack bar, a bar and a restaurant. And then there was the water hole! This was out of this world amazing! It’s a floodlit water hole that is active all night long where you can sit and watch the animals in their natural habitat. They seem to have their own patterns and times that they visit the watering hole, the rhino it seems arrive at 9pm every night. We were just sitting, minding our own business, when we saw over forty zebra, elephants, oryx and springbok and of course giraffe all coming to play and drink in the time of the day when the air had started to cool just a slight bit. It was just magnificent. We watched the beautiful sunset over the African landscape amidst the smattering of animals enjoying their water and then headed back to the campsite for the barbecue. It was great! Paul bought vegetarian schnitzel for Eveline and me and there was salad, baked potato, onion, a white sauce with onion and mushies for the potato and for the meat eaters there was chicken, sausage and steak. Now, we’ve come to learn that a South African/African barbecue is called a Braai, and that’s definitely what we had! After dinner came the coffee, tea and of course marshmallows! Then we wandered back over to the water hole that was only a short distance away to find two rhinos, over 25 elephants and little baby elephants! It was without a doubt one of the most magnificent sights I’ve ever witnessed!

After watching in awe for awhile where everyone sits in silence and it’s literally as if you’re watching something on telly and you can’t possibly imagine that it’s right in front of your eyes until you hear the animals call to each other or feel the droplets of water as the elephants splash around, we headed back to the campsite to hang out for a bit and then wash up. We had taken our malaria pills in the morning and sprayed our tents in the evening and just hoped for the best about the little mossies that could carry the big diseases would stay away from us. We went to sleep knowing that the black-backed jackal had hopped the fence and was roaming around the camp sight -and might wander away with your shoes if you left them outside your tents for the night. Tomorrow: Game Drives and more animals!