Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






Namibia: To Etosha National Park

by Kathy 5. March 2016 11:12

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Etosha National Park, Day 1

 

Wild animals. And lots of them. The abundance of free-roaming wildlife in Namibia was one of the main reasons why we were here. At the top of my “must encounter” list were giraffes, zebras and elephants.

Today, we were leaving the city of Windhoek and driving ourselves north to Etosha National Park, a haven for thousands of wild creatures. The drive would take about 5 ½ hours.

Our route:

Here is Ben and our rental truck, with its roof-top tents tucked away:

The tents would remain tucked for the next 2 nights, as we had arranged to stay in a bungalow overlooking a waterhole that attracted a multitude of wild animals every night.

The road out of town:

Outside of the city, we kept passing neatly piled white sacks and bundles of long grass by the roadside:

Occasionally, we would see the people who were doing the hard work of harvesting the grass by hand and packing the sacks:

A few miles away from Windhoek, the excitement in our vehicle was explosive when we spotted our first wild animals—baboons!

We saw dozens of baboons today, some quite close to the edge of the road—but not so easy to photograph when you’re whizzing by at over 50 m.p.h. (and we weren’t about to stop and have one of those close encounters that are sometimes seen in viral videos):

Termite mounds were also quite common, with some of the cones reaching more than 6 feet tall:

Here is a termite mound in the distance, behind some cowherders grazing their cows right next to the road:

We never saw any cow carcasses in the road, despite the fast-moving big trucks, although we did witness a small kudu (a type of antelope) getting hit.

“Beware of kudu crossing” signs were common here:

The road ahead:

(Note that one drives on the left side of the road in Namibia.)

A hearty soul on a long-distance bicycle trek:

Again, the excitement in our truck flew off the charts when Ben spotted the first warthogs (Pumba’s relatives!) near the town of Okahandja. Warthog tushies:

We saw many warthogs today, as well as “Beware of Warthog” signs:

As with the baboons, the warthogs were easy to spot but difficult to photograph as we were zooming along:

A mama warthog and her baby:

The landscape in central Namibia is generally very dry. The country had experienced a drought during the recent “rainy season,” leaving the land even drier than normal. We didn’t see any houses in the long distance between the small cities of Okahandja and Otjiwarongo. The only indication of human presence was the fence along the roadside and an occasional sign.

A small rise in the road gave us a sprawling view of the flat plains to the east:

To the west, there was an occasional barren mountain or rocky hill:

 

More baboons:

This field was dotted with tall termite mounds:

On the outskirts of Otjiwarongo, there was an old water tower and elevated buildings that may have been storage facilities:

In town, school kids were heading home for lunch:

We stopped only long enough to gas up and grab some snack/lunch items at the gas station:

A closer look at the church in Otjiwarongo:

The city had a Volkswagen shop (Namibia was once a German colony and still has a large population of people with German heritage):

Onward north, leaving the city behind:

The final town outside of Etosha National Park was Outjo, which had about 6000 residents. The welcome sign declared it “The Tourist Destination”:

The grandiose proclamation reflected the town’s aspirations, given that most of the 200,000 annual visitors to Etosha pass through Outjo. A large visitor’s center was being constructed along the main street; however, it was far from finished, and we chose to keep motoring through.

The church:

The local school had a universal message: “School is Cool”.

Outside of town, we passed more fields of termite mounds—these with a reddish color, evidencing the change in soil from the sandy conditions we had seen earlier.

Finally, we reached the entrance to Etosha National Park:

Etosha covers approximately 8500 square miles and has 5 rest camps where visitors can stay the night. These camps are surrounded by walls, and the gates are closed each night to keep the animals outside. Our rest camp, Okaujuejo was about 10 miles inside the main entrance.

Less than a minute after we entered the park, what to my wondering eyes should appear . . . but a miniature giraffe . . . no, wait, it’s a HERD (ok, technically a group of giraffes is a “tower”) . . . it’s a TOWER of giraffes, crossing the road ahead!

 

No offense to the baboons and warthogs we had seen earlier, but giraffes are my favorite animals, and I felt like I had hit the jackpot!

We slowly approached and stopped the truck next to where the giraffes were feasting on tree leaves:

The giraffes were not oblivious to our presence:

After giving us the eyeball for a few minutes, they slowly moved away into the trees:

Partially hidden, they continued munching while occasionally peeking at us:

 

 

 

We finally tore ourselves away—a difficult task, as I was completely enamored with these long-legged beauties.

Less than 30 seconds down the road, however, was a herd of 9 female kudus walking in single file:

The female kudus do not have the twisted horns that the males possess, but they have distinctive white striping.

And speaking of stripes, we swiveled our heads around and found . . . a zebra (my second favorite animal), looking right at us.

This was my lucky day indeed! In fact, there was a herd of 15 zebra on the move, and we sat fixated while they strolled by.

 

Looking ahead, we couldn’t believe it. Was that another giraffe on the road?!

Yes . . . yes, it was!

And he had a couple of friends with him.

He was gorgeous.

We inched forward with our vehicle, wanting to move past his friends without scaring them. As we got closer, however, one giraffe decided to cross the road.

Then his friend did the same:

 

 

 

On the other side, he joined his friend at another tree feast:

 

 

Continuing down the road, we spied a springbok:

More zebra:

More giraffe:

 

Camouflaged in the brush was a small group of wildebeest:

 

Also spied, but not photographed, were a group of gazelles, a couple of oryx, plus many more giraffes and zebras. We arrived at the rest camp entrance elated.

 

While Okaujuejo rest camp offers camping sites, our stay here was one of our “splurges” of the trip, as we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay in a bungalow right by the waterhole.

Genevieve, in the parking lot:

The bungalow was 2 stories, with a small living room downstairs, along with a bedroom for the kids; upstairs was a second bedroom with a viewing deck:

The upstairs bedroom:

The viewing deck:

 

Our view was partially obstructed by trees (something that wasn’t clear in the marketing description), so we didn’t spend as much time on the deck as anticipated. Still, it was lovely.

The waterhole viewing area was a bit elevated, with rocks protecting us from the animals. Moreover, a tall fence surrounded the rest camp to keep animals from wandering in at night, after the front gate closed at sunset.

Before dinner, the only animals at the waterhole were some guinea fowl digging in the dirt:

 

Sunset:

After sunset, we settled onto a bench and watched the action unfold. Here are Ben and Genevieve:

The first thirsty animal was a fox, who came for a drink and then circled the perimeter of the waterhole:

We had seen some of the fox's brethren inside the camp earlier on our way back from dinner; they had apparently learned that humans often leave food in soft coolers or bags, and they were busy sniffing out the goodies.

 

 

Next came a few giraffes and some birds. At first, the contrast between the sky and ground was too vivid, and we could see the animals best via their reflections in the water:

 

However, as complete darkness fell, the spotlights around the waterhole lit up the animals for some excellent viewing.

Tonight, there were a lot of rhinoceros—fascinating beings with their big frontal horns, small eyes, and hefty bodies.

 

 

The round curves of a backside view:

One of several mama rhino and baby combinations that visited tonight:

Some of the rhinos climbed into the water to drink:

The giraffes always seem so elegant.

However, they had to splay their front legs awkwardly when they wanted their heads to reach the water. Here are a mother and baby taking a drink:

 

 

 

Stealthily creeping to and from the waterhole were two female lions (hard to photograph in the dark):

The social interaction between the animals at the waterhole was quite interesting. The giraffes seemed very skittish--approaching the waterhole cautiously, pausing often to look around before taking another few steps forward. The rhinos had a greeting ritual that seemed very friendly--when two adults first approached each other, they would often touch their noses together and then bob their heads up and down—a definite “hello”!

Here are two rhinos greeting each other in the water:

We also witnessed a big male rhino get out of the water and briefly attack a younger male that had a long pointy horn. After the two separated, the young rhino emitted a lot of high-pitched squawking and whining. Then the dominant rhino challenged another male who had just gotten out of the water; the wet male “talked” a lot (high-pitched grunting) and backed off. The pointy-horned rhino then stood up to the older one vocally, with more high-pitched “talking”. The dominant male finally left the waterhole, trailing after a mama and her baby. One by one, the other rhinos left in different directions, and the pointy-horned rhino was left standing all alone.

We sat quietly by the waterhole for several hours until finally dragging ourselves away to bed. Back in our bungalow, we were tucked away from all the animals outside. However, I closed my eyes with some hesitation, knowing that I was sharing our abode with this wild creature—a fast as lightening, 4-inch “flattie” spider that had eluded out efforts to de-home him this evening:

Sweet dreams!

 

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

Bhutan
   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Kanglung
   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
   Wangdi Phrodrang

Bolivia
   Caranavi
   Guanay
   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Llica
   Potosí
   Queteña
   Rurrenabaque
   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
   Baja California
   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
   Balsas
   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
   Tarapoto
   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
   Portimao
   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin