Today we left Otjiwarongo heading up to Etosha where we will spend the next 3 nights. While we had breakfast this morning, one of the guesthouse staff was cleaning all the cars. That was quite a big thing for us as the Beast was really looking very dusty and the seeing through the windows (especially the side ones) was not easy.
I do find Namibians quite paranoid about their security. The guest house we were staying at had electric fence all around (and yet I believe crime is almost non-existent) and the lady from the Mariental guest house told us to be very careful at ATM machines because there were two (yes you read that correctly – two) incidents involving robbery that had been publicised. I bet there are two a day per machine in South Africa. She was muttering about ‘what is becoming of our country’.
We left Otjiwarongo heading north toward Etosha. You got through one town on the way. It is about 180km to the gate of Etosha. Not much intellectual conversation this morning though. Helen though was ‘educating’ us with her music selection. It all started as we went through the town and saw Delarey Butchery selling biltong. We had to stop and re-stock and while I was inside doing that, the rest of them were singing ‘De la Rey’ by Bok van Blerk in the car. Now we are not only speaking Afrikaans we are now listening to Afrikaans songs as well (if you’re so inclined you can watch it on YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtKKJSfYraU). We moved on from there to other supposedly ‘educational’ songs. One of which was ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ which was meant to be for the kids education and it turns out they all knew the song already and I had never heard it. Helen says her parents played it all the time (it was written in 1976) but clearly my parents deprived me (or in this case protected me). She played other classics from our childhood such as Super Tramp and a few others which only Helen seemed to know.
We got to the gate at around 11am and filled in the necessary forms to give us entry. Within 500 meters of the gate we had seen Giraffe, Springbok, Impala and Gemsbok. Why did we waste 3 days in the Kgalagadi was my first thought and that was echoed by everyone else. We are staying at Halali so after passing through Okaukuejo (the equivalent of Skukuza in Etosha) we headed to Halali. At the very first waterhole we saw elephant (the whitest elephant I have ever seen), impala, springbok, gemsbok, ostrich and a few other birds. The one male elephant looked quite amorous and so we stayed to watch for some time but he never got up to any nonsense. The comments from the occupants in the car (especially from Michael) were rated (R18) and can’t be repeated on the blog.
To get to Halali you basically drive along the Etosha Pan. It is very stark and impressive. You can see animals from a mile away. We saw a lot on route including large herds of Springbok, Zebra, Wildebees, Giraffe, Gemsbok and Impala. We seriously saw more on that drive (68 kms) than we saw in the entire time in the Kgalagadi. For those ‘friends’ who think the Kgalagadi is great – let us introduce you to Etosha!
We also managed to increase our bird list total to 86. Some of those were actually seen in the camp as we were driving and parking at our huts. We have two very nicely furnished Family Units. Each has 2 bedrooms, a lounge, small (ill-equipped) kitchen and an outside braai area. It is very good quality though and much better than any Sanparks accommodation in SA. At about 4pm we headed out for an afternoon drive down to the nearest waterhole. We didn’t see a huge amount on route (except a few birds) but at the waterhole we saw a herd of elephant and then ticked off another 4 or 5 bird species as well.
As soon as we got back Stephen and I headed for the waterhole at the camp and once again saw elephant bathing and drinking at the waterhole. As you can see from the photo, the waterhole is very close to where you can sit and watch and so you feel like it is a very intimate experience. We watched the sunset and saw a large flock (around 100) of Double Banded Sandgrouse come in to drink (and make a huge racket) and also added a Pearl Spotted Owlet (flew into the tree right behind where I was sitting).
We went back to the hut for dinner and then straight after dinner headed back again to the waterhole. It is flood lit at night. As we arrived we saw a Hare come to drink and then bounced off again. About 5 minutes later we heard a whoop from the far side of the water which was responded to by a whoop from just next to us on the left. That continued for about 10 whoops. It was Hyena undoubtedly calling to each other. About 5 minutes later a Hyena appeared and cautiously approached the water. It eventually got there and drank and we could hear the lapping. It then suddenly got a fright, jumped back and headed back into the bushes and all was still again at the waterhole. I wonder how much game you could see by just sitting there the whole day (pretty sure more than you could see in the Kgalagadi). And the sunset and evening star rising were amazing as well. Only been in the park for 1/2 day and it is already matching (or surpassing) my memories of last time.
Until tomorrow (assuming our connectivity holds up!) – P, H, S, M & C