September 29, 2005

Namibia FlagYesterday we started on our Malarone (anti-malarial) tablets, and so far we have no ill effects, which is good. Today we were on our way to Etosha National Park, where there are many more animals than what we have seen up to now. Leaving at the usual 7:20 am, the truck ground slowly up the Grootberg Pass, on the way passing a dented car and a bent guardrail. (Namibian roads rarely have guardrails.) Finally we reached the top and cruised down the other side.

Almost immediately we passed a kudu, then all of a sudden Leon hit the brakes and started backing up. This was because we had just passed a cheetah, which we only got a quick look at because it was running quickly off into the bushes. A little further along the road we saw our first giraffes, and after that we didn’t see much.

Our break stop just before lunch was at Outjo. Here we went to the internet café, in the office at the back of the bakery, and sent a few e-mails to the friends and family on their incredibly slow connection. Afterwards we bought two pieces of cake as a snack. Outside the bakery, a teenage boy sat playing his homemade drum set, which was made out of used paint cans and two pieces of metal for cymbals. He actually played quite well and put on a good show for us, even though he only knew one song.

As we drove out of Outjo, Diane remembered that she had left her purse at the bakery. Fortunately it wasn’t far to go back, and fortunately the purse was still there. Not far out of town we stopped for lunch under a tree beside the road. We were right next to the access road for a farm, and as we were setting up, six little girls (aged between five and twelve) came out to check us out.

After that, it didn’t take long to get to Etosha. We passed through the gates and within five minutes we came across some black-faced impalas. Our campsite tonight was at Okaukuejo Rest Camp. We put up our tents, then we went over to the waterhole to see what was there.

(The waterhole is separated from the viewers by a fence that keeps the animals and the people apart. The fence surrounds the entire rest camp area, so that in effect the animals are free and the people are in a cage.)

At the waterhole there were elephants, a mother rhino with her baby, springbok, black-backed jackals, and a giraffe. We only stayed there a short time because it was time to go on a game drive in the truck, to look for lions. We didn’t see any lions but the number of animals was amazing. Zebra, giraffe, elephant, blue wildebeest, gemsbok, and of course hundreds of springbok. When we came back it was almost sunset, which is when they close the gates for the night.

We had time before dinner, so we went to the waterhole again. The twilight reflection in the water was beautiful, and when the rhino and her baby came down to drink again, we could see their reflections better than we could see them. The floodlights were attracting some large furry beetles, which crashed into us blindly. In turn the beetles attracted a small owl, which snatched one of them and flew up into a tree.

Dinner was at 8 pm; macaroni with meat sauce and salad. After that we went back to the waterhole to watch some more. To our amazement, we watched elephant after elephant arrive; large, medium, and small, until there were 36 in total. All of the other animals waited their turns except the rhino, who barged his way in to drink at the same time as the elephants. In the background we could see giraffes, and we could hear clattering and thumping as they were fighting. We stayed until after 10 pm, returning after most of the others were already in bed.

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