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krisek Etosha National Park - A travel report by Krys
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Etosha National Park,  Namibia - flag Namibia
7104 readers

krisek's travel reports

Etosha, a national park clearly visible from Space

  12 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
I’ve never been a great fan of safaris, particularly group safaris, which intimidate the animals. Individual ones, however are so expensive that when I came to Namibia I knew I had to join a group. And it was great!


Thirsty giraffe family
Thirsty giraffe family
In the third week in Namibia, I was more than ready for the highlight and ‘the absolute must’ of the country: the Etosha National Park, an utterly unmissable destination. Everyone around me was talking about it and I was getting impatient, as I wanted to develop my own opinion of it. Etosha is the first stop on the Northern Adventure Safari trip with the Wild Dog. It is the prime national park in Namibia and one of the largest three, along with the Naukluft Namib Desert and Skeleton Cost. The area is so vast, the Etosha plain is clearly visible from Space. It looks like a white stain on the surface of our planet. It is the place where the Etosha Elephant lives, together with white and black rhinos as well as lions. Etosha is the most important tourist destination for anyone visiting Namibia. So there I was, too. The only thing I wanted to do in Etosha was to take a picture of a drinking giraffe. Even the elephant was not a priority, or the rhinoceros. Or a giraffe! No, it had to be drinking giraffe. I was getting so impatient that people had to keep reminding me that there will be plenty of them and that they will be very close. All of them were right. Giraffes are common were they live and it is quite easy to photograph them. In addition, most of the animals viewed in Etosha are actually caught while drinking. There are numerous waterholes, also clearly marked on the maps, and three of the cleanest ones are surrounded by park campsites and lodges.

Favourite spots:
The King
The King
There is absolutely one item that must be told about Etosha. Let's call it 'the most fantastic spectacle at waterhole'. In the evenings, when most of the animals come to have a drink, rolls of photographic film and digital camera memory cards get full in a heartbeat. The waterholes turn into some sort of a theatrical stage where animals subconsciously perform a mind boggling show. It goes like this: at the waterhole, there is a hierarchy and different species of animals wait their turn. It may not necessarily be associated with the animal kingdom's hierarchy but be rather connected to the level of cowardliness the particular species have. Since the zebra are the least courageous, they are the first at the waterhole before other animals appear and then, if necessary, wait their turn later on when others have arrived. They can be waiting in a long line for hours and hours however.

What's really great:
Not thirsty anymore
Not thirsty anymore
The waterhole is like a round stage and animals start their drinking tour from the left hand side, spend some time at the centre and leave by the right hand side. Every single one of them! That is already amazing. One day, it was extremely hot, the temperature was exceeding 52C (125F) in the sun and it may have contributed to the fact that a lot of animals arrived at the waterhole well before sunset. This made a miraculous opportunity to take some incredible photographs. That night, there must have been at least 15 rhinoceroses around the waterhole and at least 9 of them at one time. Plus there were a number of elephants with babies. Suddenly, two male lions appeared by the waterhole. Lions were so much hoped for by the majority of the people around the waterhole. The lions however had a very quick sip and after spotting a few rhinos with babies, they decided to back off for a while.

Sights:
Hungry cheetahs
Hungry cheetahs
In Etosha, although it is a great park, one needs the skills of spotting the animals. There are so many of them there but it is not easy to see them through the bush, through the trees, etc. In addition to all the big land-based creatures, there is a wide range of birds to be encountered in the park. I am not sure how many species of the of birds there are in Etosha, but with the great help of Kenny I spotted the following: Pale Chanting Goshawk, Tawny Eagle, Black Stock (I originally thought it was a Marabou), Southern Yellow, Hornbill(unexpected visitor to the Okaukuejo waterhole), Glossy Starlink (cheeky, nosy and noisy), Secretary Bird, Blue Crane, Cory Bastard and Lappetfaced Vulture. Some of the birds I have recognised myself, but most of them I could not identify, so I showed my pictures to Kenny, who either knew the answer straight away or consulted his birds encyclopaedia.

Accommodations:
Cheetahs' affection
Cheetahs' affection
When I visited, there were three places to camp in Etosha. The first one and the largest is Okaukuejo. It is a modern camp with excellent facilities. There is an excellent restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Great place it is, however, although I'm pretty sure not specific to Okaukuejo, there are no locks in showers or toilets. It is amazing how this is consistent across the entire Namibia. I could not stop thinking why it would be. I can imagine that Namibians would like to be seen under shower - most of them are good looking people, but what could be a reason of wanting to be seen whilst taking a crap? Not having a lock in the toilet adds a lot of adrenaline to the blood circulation, so maybe that's it. At the other hand, taking a crap usually widens one's eyes and pulls almost 80% of muscles of the face. In other words making one a lot less attractive. So, there must be some other reason. I'm still working on it.

There other two camps were: Halali and Namutoni.

Nightlife:
Elephant Bar
Elephant Bar
The time in Etosha flew! Although the middle of the day was unspectacular (the animals hide from the lethal sunrays in the shade of large bushes), the excitement of the mornings and evenings, and nights was overwhelming. The best experience from Etosha I will always remember is the Okaukuejo waterhole with its incredible animal show. The worst one was the dust in the western part of the park, which covered me from head to toes. The nights in Etosha were the highlight. The local shop and onsite restaurant sold beer, so sipping drinks and watching the elephants, rhinos, lions, zebra and giraffes doing exactly the same was the nightlife there!

Hangouts:
Leopard
Leopard
The elephant is also the true king of the Jungle, because it is the largest and is not afraid of any other animal. When I heard that, I immediately asked why everyone was calling the lion the king of the jungle. It appears that the lion is considered the king because it is the predator of predators and is the king of carnivores. Kenny said 'they say the lion is the king, because it has teeth'. Fascinating! Everyone however knows that it the elephant who rules Africa. What was new for me also was to find out that ivory was again legal in Namibia as the elephant is no longer endangered specie in Namibia. The elephants must be actually culled sometimes, as they damage farms. Who would imagine that!

Restaurants:
Hungry warthogs
Hungry warthogs
I was travelling in a group with a guide, who cooked, so I didn’t have to use the onsite eateries in Etosha. I had an excellent guide, named Kenny. Very polite and super professional. The most important thing however was that Kenny had a superb and brilliant sight! With naked eye he could spot a small warthog from a mile's distance from behind a bush, and that was unbelievable and most impressive. Furthermore, he could speak some of the local languages and cooked magically. His food was his other best quality. I could not believe how he could make a meal of nothing. I noticed that he was using some special type of spices, which must have contributed nicely to this miraculous cooking.

Other recommendations:
Thirsty ostrich
Thirsty ostrich
You need air conditioning in your vehicle when travelling in Namibia for two, very good reasons. The heat is not the first one, it is the second. The first, most important reason is the dust. The majority of the roads are gravel roads so the dust becomes a serious problem. Really. With no air conditioning, you tend to open the windows hoping the heat will not cook you. However, at the same time the dust gets in to the vehicle, and it gets literally everywhere! I am fussy about this, as I am really protective of my photographic equipment. The trick is, probably, to keep everything in sealable plastic bags - I use to refer to them as condoms, since they are for protection.

Published on Sunday February 17th, 2008


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Sat, Mar 08 2008 - 07:18 AM rating by magsalex

Some fabulous pictures to go with an interesting report.

Sun, Feb 24 2008 - 01:27 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Thanks for this maravilloso report

Sun, Feb 17 2008 - 06:49 PM rating by rangutan

Superbly written wildlife experience, some humour as usual too!

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