More wildlife than you can shake a stick at

Trip Start Aug 17, 2003
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10
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Trip End Jun 04, 2004


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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Finally we get to our next national park - it seems like forever since we went to the Kgalagadi park, so much so that even the blase attitude about springboks has passed now... We spent 3 nights at Etosha, 2 in the Okuakuejo camp, and one at Fort Namutoni. The particularly cool thing about these camps is that they have floodlit water holes (at Okuakuejo, this is literally right next to the campsite!) So you can spend your evenings/nights sitting watching animals coming to drink really close by.

The night viewing really was amazing. We saw quite a few elephants, lots of zebra, giraffes, jackals, and "the 9 o'clock rhino". The trip leaders had been joking that there is a rhino which turns up without fail every night at 9pm - and they were right. Both nights we were there, he turned up and came for a drink. They are absolutely amazing creatures. A very odd shape, but somehow they still manage to be pretty cute!

During the day, we went out for quite a few game drives. As it is now coming towards the end of the dry season, many of the waterholes and rivers have totally dried up, so the animals really congregate around the manmade waterholes. So if you have a little bit of patience and just wait by a water hole for a while, it's well worth it. The first time, we found a waterhole which had a few giraffes, some springbok, an ostrich etc. We watched them for a while, enjoying the various different animals all being there together, and were then thinking about moving on to another waterhole - when we suddenly saw two lionesses walking towards the waterhole. They were just amazing to watch. So graceful. One of them must have been pregnant, as her belly was huge - but the other animals weren't hanging around to find out if that was going to have any effect on her hunting ability! They came down to the waterhole to drink and then sat and lazed in the sun for a while as we watched them.

The following day, we had the same kind of luck - we had just come from one waterhole which had loads of antelope - impala, kudu, springbok - and zebras, as well as an African Wild Cat which kept worrying a snake - and then jumping a mile when the snake retaliated - very funny! And we drove onto another waterhole which had lots of hartebeest, more zebra, etc. Suddenly we noticed a big grey shape coming through the trees - an elephant! Only acutally it was 7 elephants, including a baby! They were so cute. And then another 5 arrived... And then another 16!! They literally came along one behind the other - I was expecting them to grab each other's tails and start singing like in the jungle book!!! They pretty much filled the waterhole, drinking, bathing and generally splashing around. It was incredible to see so many of them all together - and there were quite a few young ones, which were just so sweet. There were also still lots of other animals there - kudu, springbok, hartebeest, zebra, warthogs (very odd, ugly little things!) - probably getting on for 100 animals in total all in one place! So amazing.

On the drive back, we came across some vultures working their way through a zebra carcass. There's something pretty morbid about watching vultures eating a zebra, but at the same time, it's just nature!! It was quite gruesome though - you could see the skin moving as they were tugging the meat off the rib cage...

That evening, there was a lion roaring all night, moving gradually closer to the camp - we first heard him about 10.30, but it was pretty faint. At 1am however, there was suddenly an incredibly loud roar which sounded like it was right next to my tent. Obviously it wasn't, but it certainly terrified me! It's impossible to describe a lion's roar - it just is obviously a lion, and the caveman instincts come flooding straight back - my blood totally froze and my heart felt like it stopped for a couple of seconds!!

Another highlight was just as we were getting to Fort Namutoni on the last day - we'd been really hoping to see more cats - lions a little closer up (and particularly male lions) and maybe leopards or cheetahs. We were starting to think we wouldn't be in luck - when on our last waterhole, we found 4 lions (2 male, 2 female I think) right by the road, tucking into an oryx they had obviously killed recently. They were so close it was incredible, and definitely more interested in the food than the 4 trucks which had just pulled up to get a look. It was amazing to be able to see them - but having seen the way they attacked the meat, I definitely wouldn't want to meet them on a dark night!

If you want to see Etosha for yourselves, try www.africam.com
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