September 30, 2005

Namibia FlagWe were awoken about 2 am by the sound of lions roaring, and then again a couple more times. We went back to sleep but were awoken again at 4 am by a roar that was much closer. Rosemary got up and went over to the waterhole, where she met Sandra and Ragina, who told her she had missed seeing two lions by about five minutes. At 5 am both of us went over to check, but there were no lions at the waterhole.

Breakfast was early this morning, so that we could leave as early as possible. This was because lions are active at night and in the early morning, but they settle down by mid-morning to sleep in a hidden place. We were out of the gate when it opened at 7 am, and the first thing we saw was four lions crossing the road! We were able to watch them for quite a while. There were two males and two females, and the four giraffes just down the road were staring at them, to make sure of what they were up to. We carried on for a couple of hours, seeing many animals (but no more lions), then returned to Okaukuejo to pack up camp. We spent the rest of the day driving to Namutoni, which is the rest camp at the other end of the salt pan.

We didn’t drive there directly, but via various waterholes where the animals tend to congregate. We stopped for lunch in a fenced compound—people must stay in their vehicles except in designated fenced-in places in Etosha. At one point we were charged by a rhino, which came towards us from the bush at the side of the road. It decided not to take on a 10-ton truck, instead veering left, and it continued trotting across the grassy plain like a demented tank. We also had to follow an ostrich for a while, because she wouldn’t get off the road and she wouldn’t let us pass either.

At Namutoni there were warthogs grazing in the campground. We set up camp just down from them, had showers, and rinsed out some clothes before going to check out the waterhole. This hole is not as large and not as open as the one at Okaukuejo, and not as many animals visit it. However we were able to watch an elephant taking a mud bath.

Dinner tonight was pork chops. The warthogs were nowhere to be seen but surely they had just gone somewhere to sleep. By now everyone was on their malaria medication, but we haven’t seen any mosquitoes yet.

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