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:



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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Comments (5) -

3/6/2016 2:06:07 AM #

Jan-Andre' Ohlert

Again a nice after so long time. I was happy to see that you are again writing some stories. A have a nice suggestion for one of your next Journeys: Its France especially Taizé which is a little Comunity in Brugund with over 100 Brothers an 2000000 Visitors every Year. I would recomnd coming in Fall or something but not in summer because than its to crowded with people. Taizé is a little Comunity for everyone around the world who believes in Jesus.

Jan-Andre' Ohlert Germany | Reply

3/10/2016 3:26:22 PM #


Hi Jan-Andre, thank you for continuing to follow our stories. It has been a long time! I appreciate your suggestion to visit Taizé, France--I will do some research on that area.

Kathy United States | Reply

3/6/2016 4:42:57 AM #

Donnie W. Jennings


Como estan?


Donnie W. Jennings United States | Reply

3/10/2016 3:30:23 PM #


Hola, Donnie! Estoy muy bien, y tú?
I see that you are having a lot of fun in Mexico these days. I am so glad that you have found someone that you enjoy spending time with and that you are having such a great time on your motorcycle. The adventure never stops.

Kathy United States | Reply

3/11/2016 12:53:08 PM #

Jan-André Ohlert

Hi Kathy,

I would Really appreciate it if you would go to Burgund, so Taizé esspacialy its a Comunity with nearly 100 Brothers who are also Present in the Prayer  (in many pictures you can See them sitting  in their white coats),Cormatin is auch big City in Burgundy and Cluny is the biggest City around there it has the biggest Church I have ever seen . All three  of them  are very nice, butyou have to Go to the Comunity of Taizé beause its a very peacefull and Spiritual Place wehre every Day 3 Times a Day a Prayer with the Brother ist Held and you can talk with People in a Small Group about a Text from the Bible. Also every Kid has doch some Work to do from cleaning the Plates After dinner. There ist also a Place wehren You can Meeting with your friends. If you arent to shy you will get very quickly some friebds.A normal length for a Visit to Taizé is 1 week.



Jan-André Ohlert Germany | Reply

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

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Anais Nin