Etosha National Park was established by the Germans in 1907 and is today one of the main attractions in Namibia. There are numerous lodges of varying levels of luxury around the entrances, but only three Government-run establishments inside the park. I decided to camp there for 3 days, including one night with the friends I had met in Swakopmund. We had a few drinks and our improvised BBQ almost set fire to the plains, but in the end all was good. It’s actually fairly expensive camping, but you get access to all the lodge’s services (pool, bar, restaurant, etc).
On the first morning, I went on an organized game drive. You can drive your own vehicle in the park, but I figured a guide on the first day would be a good idea (and official vehicles are the only ones allowed to leave the camps in darkness). Like in my post about the sand dunes of Sossusvlei, I don’t have much to say about Etosha, so I hope you enjoy the pictures.
I like everything about sunrises, except the schedule.
We were quite lucky and quickly stumbled upon 3 juvenile male lions. This one seemed quite curious about us…
…but staying awake seemed so hard…
…and then he was gone.
His friend was just as curious…
…and just as tired.
The last one seemed a little more alert, possibly because he had recently been injured (a nasty gash on his tail).
A while later, we saw this massive female, as she was watching a lunch go by.
She gave up without trying. Our guide guessed that the morning was getting too hot for hunting, and he parked our vehicle over a culvert in the road.
He was right; she headed straight for the culvert to take some cover from the sun, and we got up close and personal – but not too much!
Our guide was very good at spotting small and distant animals but incredibly, he drove right passed this giraffe on the side of the road and had to back-up so we could take a look at it!
Okaukuejo, the easternmost camp, is very famous for its waterhole. You can walk to it from your chalet (or tent), and it is floodlit at night. A wire obstacle and fences make it impossible for most animals to enter the camp. It’s very funny how giraffes have to spread their front legs to drink. If not, they can’t reach the water. Unfortunately, without using a tripod, these pictures pushed the technical envelope a bit and are not that crisp.
Zebras are often found at the waterhole, and they walk around doing what zebras do. However, it’s really cool when you manage to catch them as soon as they arrive, because at that moment, they are all doing the same thing, drinking.
A couple of young male elephants arriving.
I am not a zoologist, but I am pretty certain elephants don’t eat zebras. Nevertheless, zebras make way for the giants and they don’t hang around very long.
Elephants suck up water in their trunk and then blow it in their mouth. Elephant trunks are pretty amazing things, but as a human, I am glad that my survival never depends on blowing my nose in my mouth.
Beautiful sunset at the waterhole, but without a single animal in sight.
Soon, an elephant showed up.
And then, all the elephants!
I had never seen, before or after, more than one or two lone juvenile males. Now, there were over 35 of them, with the big dominant bulls, their females and the little ones in tow. It was quite amazing. I pity the folks who went to the bar after seeing there was nothing there at sunset!
Covering themselves with dirt. At that point you can see the floodlight has been turned on.
Some impalas drinking. Both males and females have horns, but the females have the thin ones. It looks like one is always keeping an eye out for lions.
Impalas are all over Southern Africa, but this is a black-faced impala, endemic to the region.
A blue wildebeest grazing.
They may not be as spectacular as lions, but the park is full of birds.
Locals call this angry-looking bird the “flying banana”!
On the third day, I drove about 120 km across the entire park. It got quite hot during the day and I saw a lot of animals, like these impalas and birds, looking for any shade they could find.
Close to the pan. The pan is an immense area of salt coated dry mud. Not much living there, except on the rare occasion when it gets covered by a thin coat of water.
Part of “2001: A Space Odyssey” was filmed here. Are you surprised?
If you look at the horizon, you can see this picture captures the mirage in the distance, and it’s not obvious where the sky starts!
The pan at sunset.
And finally, my best shot of the week. The autofocus lens captured that spider web just the way I wanted!
And that’s all for Etosha!