Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Namibia - Etosha National Park

(With two-foot long horns the Oryx (retreating on the left of the picture) has been known to kill lions when attacked. But nothing will mess with a thirsty elephant.)

Another indicator of our progress into the more developed part of Africa was the border crossing from Botswana to Namibia. The quickest, easiest and friendliest crossing yet.
It was just a short drive from the border to our first campsite. The campsite had a bar next to the Chobe River from where we could sit with a beer and watch a herd of elephants on the far side drinking, washing themselves and generally wandering around. Incredible.

(RIGHT: The Oryx - between the zebra and antelopes - is a beautiful creature... and also makes for a tasty kebab as I found out in Swakopmund on the Namibian coast.)

That night I turned down the opportunity to drink all 25 shooters at the bar – well done Brock, Nikki and Jane – and had a fairly sedate evening. Still wasn’t a great night’s sleep though as I was woken up in my tent early in the morning by the sound of an elephant in the camp. I couldn’t decide whether to hide in the tent or run for safety. I quickly tried to remember how close to a tree I’d camped.

(LEFT: kneasy does it - another option for drinking from a waterhole when you're a giraffe. RIGHT: elephants wearing booties after a dip in a waterhole.)

Deciding that fleeing was better than being trampled without knowing about it, I emerged to find people milling around the truck fixing breakfast. Turns out the ‘elephant’ was the sound of one of the squeaky doors on the side of the truck opening. Doh.

After another driving day and bushcamp night, we arrived in Etosha National Park, now recognized as one of the best game parks in Africa.

We weren’t disappointed. Over two days we did a number of game drives and saw huge numbers of antelope, oryx, zebras, giraffes and elephants. Plus we saw a pride of lionesses stalking (though not attacking anything). Again the highlight was seeing a leopard. In seven visits to the park, Chris – our driver – has only seen a leopard twice. The trip seems to be blessed again. Plus, I got another picture of a leopard jumping into a tree!

Our campsite within the National Park was superb. Just a couple of minutes walk from where we camped was a floodlit waterhole that was teeming with animals at all times of the day and night.

Every time I went down to the waterhole I saw different animals. Seeing – and hearing - the elephants at night was awesome. It was really disappointing that we couldn’t spend another night at the campsite – definitely a false economy on the part of Oasis to stay there only one night. Overall though, so far the trip has been superbly well planned and except for Etosha I’ve always felt we’ve spent long enough in the right places.

(It's not easy drinking from a waterhole when you're a giraffe.)

(A lionness lazily stalks some far-off prey.)

No comments: