Travels with V
Wildlife on a salt pan
Etosha National Park
In the parking by the hotel in Ondangwa we see a couple of white 4×4 cars parked, and there are quite a few western guests. Not so surprising because we’re close to the enormous Etosha National Park, where you’ll experience the the best safaris in Namibia. It’s a big tourist goal, so of course we go there too for a couple of days spotting wildlife.
Etosha is the remains of a vast lake that once was filled by a great river. But the river changed its course and the lake dried out leaving an enormous mirror of salt. On the surrounding plains elephants, giraffes, zebras and predator cats roam, and also of course antelopes and buffaloes.
What we hope to see most in Etosha is the only one of the “big five” that we missed in Serengeti, Tanzania, when we were there a few years ago. The rhino. We’re staying in a lodge a few miles outside the national park but there’s wildlife here too. Mostly antelopes, some coming right up to the hotel veranda. A warthog family shows up at times. And in a fenced area there are some ostriches. One day I surprise the male ostrich and he starts to do a peculiar dance. I’m thinking he tries to scare me off, but a guide watching this clip laughed and said: “No, he’s courting you, he’s in love with you!”
Our first Etosha safari is a morning drive where we see lots of giraffes and zebras. But also a resting lioness and a couple of exciting birds. An elephant with her calf munches on some dry thorny bushes, obviously without any problem. We also see black wildebeest, more bushy than the blue ones we’ve seen before. And far away a cheetah family is feeding on a prey.
THE GIRAFFE GANG IS ON THE MOVE
“At home” in the lodge three small squirrels play in the garden, wrestling and chasing each other. And in a small concrete pond with green water there’s a poor forgotten captured crocodile.
Lots of small and quick birds move around in the trees. They’re sunbirds, the African counterpart of hummingbirds. But they are not related and the sunbirds don’t hover.
The next safari is an afternoon drive and we travel much further away than before, but we see almost no animals at all. Except giraffes of course, they’re everywhere. Once we spot a rhino, but it’s hiding in dense bushes and invisible. Sundown is not far away and we’re beginning to loose hope when suddenly a big lump of mud appears on the road ahead, just some 40 meters away. It’s a female black rhino! She stares intensely at us, but after a while she turns and walks into the forest. We’re overjoyed.
15 minutes later V shouts and points out to a field on our left. And there, maybe 100 meters away is a white rhino walking along and grazing. Amazing! People at the lodge can’ believe their ears when they hear about our observations.
The evenings i Etosha are spectacular. Around sundown clouds gather and grow, turning into black-grey monsters in the sky. Soon the first thunderclaps are heard and then for maybe an hour or two there’s lightning all around, with almost no silence between the booming thunders. Sometimes buckets of rain are poured down. We’re approaching the rainy season.