Next stop was Etosha National Park. The park lay in the northern part of Namibia and is widely recognized as one of the greatest wildlife parks in the world. Many of the locals in South Africa mentioned that if we had time we should make the trip up north rather than heading west to South Africa’s Krugar Park. The park is now 23,000 square kilometers and was once much larger. The name means large white plain and after visiting it I don’t think there is a name that better fits!
We got there just before lunch and ate outside of the proximity. As we entered if felt like we were entering a Jurassic Park with fences on either side. We learned later that the fences aren’t there to contain the animals but rather to keep the poachers out. The land is so huge that the animals can’t even be seen from the boarder and once inside we had about a 30 minute drive before getting to our site. The park was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Completely flat in every direction, as far as the eye could see! I was really curious just how far I could see. Anyone know how far someone can see if the land is completely flat and their vision is above average?? On our drive in we came across giraffes, zebra, and many different types of antelope.
Our camp site was also enclosed by a fence, but one that any animal could easily get through if they had any desire. After setting up our tents we headed to a waterhole that was situated on the outside of our fence fairly close to our site. On the way to the hole I looked up to see an enormous Social Bird colony. Social Weaver birds build these massive nests that house many many birds. I’ve seen some large ones through this trip but the one over my head on the way to the waterhole was no smaller than car. I’m surprised it didn’t take the tree down! It was like an entire bale of hay suspended in a tree. I took some pictures and got a video but I was cautious for birds coming out and what not.
Once I got to the waterhole I was welcomed but many animals. Since the park is so flat and so dry it doesn’t hold water to well and when there is a need for water the animals come looking for it. When we got there we saw several antelope, jackals, and zebra having a drink. They all came and went as they pleased and most of them were very cautious as they drank.
The facility we were staying at also had a really nice pool for us and much like the animals we all migrated to it as the sun intensified. Relaxing in a pool on a scorching hot day is a wonderful feeling!
It was my teams job to make dinner tonight and what could have been a easy task of making nachos turned into a dreadful task as it started to rain… and then pour. We were really lucky because our site had some cover which served as well to cook the food but got the best of our tents. The tents are all water proof and there was no problem with rain coming directly in, but it’s difficult to keep the wet sand out when you track it in on your feet. Nonetheless, the dinner turned out amazing and we had a relatively dry evening.
The following day was dedicated to driving all around the park which you could do for several days and still not see everything. When visiting a ‘real’ park and doing a ‘real’ game drive half the fun is spotting the animals. You never know what you’ll see and what is hiding. There’s no saying how many of any one type of animals there is in Etosha because of the sheer size of the place. As we drove we saw countless animals including elephants, lions, hyenas, all sorts of antelope, giraffes, buffalo, warthog, and many more. We even saw a few lions eating an Oryx they had killed in the morning. Obviously, seeing the animals was incredible and every time we spotted something it was very exciting, but I think one of my favorite things about Etosha was how wide and open the land was. The horizon looking amazing everywhere you looked and there was several times that you could see storms off in the distance. As we traveled we watched a show of lighting come down all around us, yet directly above us the sky was clear. At one point as we drove through the heart of a storm and a lightning bolt struck the ground directly next to us. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to a lightning strike and I must say, IT WAS AWESOME. When it hit the ground a cloud of dust and smoke replaced the bolt instantaneously. It was like a magic trick, only nothing disappeared. As terrible as it sounds I was kind of hoping to see some wild animal get struck, but don’t worry it didn’t happen.
We drove around almost all day stopping to take pictures or use the bathroom. At the place we stopped to use the bathroom there was quite a long line for the toilet so myself and the rest of the guys in the group just found a suitable tree. Not more than 100 feet away were 40-50 zebras and an equal number of wilder beasts. We were all minding our own business and no problems resulted from it. Back on the truck we headed to different waterholes that were easier to find due to the rain from the night before. The waterholes were really interesting because there were several lions taking a drink. When lions are in the area all other animals are on the lookout. Jackals, which look like dogs, are crazy little animals and where the only ones we noticed that would get within eyesight of the lions. I guess they don’t like to do stuff on their own but rather like to steal from the other animals… even lions! Like I said, they were crazy animals and we watched several get chased away by pissed off lions, and on other occasions hyenas. Before leaving the park we got out in a desolate place to take a group photo. With the dirt, I wrote my name and by doing so left my mark in Etosha… at least until an elephant tramples over it.
That night for dinner we, like the lions, ate Oryx for our dinner. Oryx tastes amazing by the way and was a interesting way to complete a day’s worth of game driving. Some of us went to the waterhole that night and watched as elephant and rhino came out for their drink. Etosha proved to be everything I heard I’d be and more. Before going to bed a bunch of jackals entered our site looking for food, I tried to catch one but didn’t exceed.