When you think of traveling to Africa – what’s the first thing you think of seeing?
For me, that thought would instantly be “safari.”
Day 10 marked not only the halfway point on our journey from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, but it also marked the day we would be going to our first national park. That national park was none other than Etosha National Park, in Namibia’s northern region.
Like every other day, thus far, on our Nomad Adventure Tour from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, we rose early. Think waking up as the sun peeks its bright, shining face over the horizon type early. Breakfast was made and enjoyed – eggs cooked to order and the usual bread and cereal. With our tent city put away for another day, we piled back on Harrison, our trusty overland truck, and were off – headed to our first pit stop of the morning – the small town of Outjo. Here we would be able to stock up on snacks and beverages and do any banking or have Internet time while our Nomad Adventure Tour guides went and did a grocery shop so that we could be fed in the next few days.
Everyone met back up at our meeting point, outside the grocery store and it was back on the road for the short 100km (or so) journey to Etosha’s main gates. Sandile and Shingie told us that upon arrival to the park we would be stopping off at Okaukuejo – the campsite for our second night in Etosha – for lunch, as they have one of the best watering holes and the campgrounds are relatively close to the entrance gates.
Driving along to Okaukuejo we were lucky enough to have our very first animal sightings- including zebra, springbok, giraffe and warthogs.
After lunch we spent the next 4 hours making our way from the Okaukuejo camp to the Halali camp and had the pleasure of encountering elephants, rhinos, lions, wildebeest, red hartebeest, jackals, zebra, giraffe and many more! I’ll let the photos do the talking because sometimes a story is better told through the photographs.
Our first night was spent at Etosha’s Halali campsite. We arrived as the sun was starting to set and upon our arrival it was imperative that we get our tents up while there was still some daylight available. Once Sue and I pitched our tent, and helped Jasmijn who was on a single supplement (meaning she didn’t have to share her tent) put up hers, a bunch of us decided to head over to the watering hole in hopes of seeing some animals before dinner. Nothing was happening in the hour or so that I spent at the watering hole before dinner – which was rather disappointing, but then again we had been so lucky throughout the day with all of our animal sightings, I think it was a matter of being a bit spoiled.
After dinner and drinks it was back to the watering hole – because you know, spending 4 hours after lunch driving all over Etosha looking out for animals just wasn’t enough! Spending time at the watering hole is like gambling – you know you should probably cash out and leave because you have to be up early in the morning for more overlarding adventures – but WHAT IF A LION COMES JUST AFTER YOU LEAVE?! It was my crack. I was probably out there until about midnight – and literally didn’t see anything. Heard lots of rustling in the bushes behind me though.
At dinner I had made a bet with Shaun that I would get up at 4:30am to go back to the watering hole to watch out for some animals – before our 6:00am breakfast and 7:00am departure. If I completed my mission, he would take down my tent. If I failed, I had to take down his. Well – anyone who knows me, knows that if I say I’m going to do something – I do it. So at 4:30am I heard that familiar brraaapp brrraaapp brrraaapp of my cell phone’s alarm function. I got up, wrapped my fleece blanket around me, planted my headtorch firmly on my forehead and made the 5min walk through the darkness to the watering hole. On my walk over I saw many naughty honey badgers rifling through rubbish bins – which was really funny because all I could think of was THIS YouTube video. (NOTE: video contains course language)
So there I was, by myself at the watering hole – it was so peaceful and wonderful. Again I got that magical completely at peace feeling- knowing that if I had my way, I’d never leave. It was amazing to just sit there on the benches cuddled up in my fleece, just watching and waiting for any wildlife to come take a little sip from the watering hole in front of me. At about 5:15am Raymond and Christoph also made their way down to the watering hole and joined me for a good 20min or so. However, lady luck just wasn’t on our side – besides one lone jackal, we didn’t see anything. At 5:45am I started to make my way back to our campsite – knowing that I had to get dressed, have breakfast and watch Shaun take down my tent.
After breakfast, excitedly we all loaded back on the truck in hopes of seeing some big cats on our game drive. Sandile told us that the cats are usually out in the morning, so the earlier we pulled out of Halali camp and hit the road, the more higher the chance we’d get to see something!
Unfortunately, lady luck was not on our side that day. We saw heaps and heaps of zebra, springbok, wildebeest, impala, and kudu. We saw some giraffe and a few rhinos, but no cats. It was fairly disappointing – since we had been spoiled the day before. To bring some excitement back to our day, we drove out onto the Etosha salt pan, and since there were no animals around for miles and miles, we all clambered out of Harrison, and took some fun group photos. We drove around for nearly 5hrs but finally headed to our campsite –the Okaukeujo one from the day before – in time to enjoy some lunch.
At Okaukeujo, our tent city was assembled as lunch was being prepared – and once we’d had our fill of sandwiches and salad, we were free to do whatever we’d like for the rest of the day. Some decided to take advantage of the swimming pool on site while others sat by the watering hole in hopes of catching a glimpse of some animals. I took the opportunity to shower and just have some alone time – away from the group and just enjoyed reflecting and being by myself for an hour or two. Around 3:30pm Sandile had wrangled a bunch of us who wanted to do another optional game drive and we were setting out along a different route – all in hopes of seeing some lions or leopards or any big game that had evaded us that morning. We saw the usual wildebeest and springbok as well as some zebra. Then we saw it in the distance. About 10 safari 4x4s and about 4 overland trucks had positioned themselves by a pride of sleeping lions! As Harrison rolled up, all windows came down and cameras came out. I seriously took over 200 pictures in the 40minutes we spent watching the beautiful pride lounge in the sun, all while two cubs tried desperately to wake up their elders for a little play. It was amazing!
We arrived back at camp and settled down to a delicious braai dinner courtesy of Shingie. We even had a scrumptious appetizer of pumpkin soup. So yummy! After dinner a bunch of us went down to the watering hole – and here we were privy to seeing what I dubbed a “racist rhino fight” – where two Black Rhinos asserted their dominance over a White Rhino and essentially forced him away from the watering hole.
Upon returning to our tents I made note of all the jackals running around the campsite and knew that they would definitely be keeping me up all night with their scavenging around in the rubbish bins, howling and just generally causing trouble. The next day we would be traveling onwards to our second large city – Windhoek, Namibia’s capital and would have the luxury of a hotel, a real bed and much needed LAUNDRY! But for the time being, it was time to attempt to get some shuteye despite the naughty jackals running amok, and dream about all the wonderful animal encounters I’d had in the previous two days.
**DISCLAIMER: While Nomad Adventure Tours did provide me with a discounted tour, all expressed thoughts, opinions and experiences remain my own.**
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