Saturday, 14 December 2013

Day 11 & 12: Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is one of the worlds first national parks. Back in the beginning it was close to 100 000 Km square but unfortunately it is now only 24 000 km square. To give you a scale of how big Etosha is, Banff National Park is only 7000 square Km. Included in Etosha is a 130km long salt pan which rarely fills up. 

It was an early start on little Emily’s 19th birthday. She is going to have to work hard to top this birthday next year. Getting to see lions, giraffes, black and white rhinos on multiple game drives through one of the oldest National parks in the world will be tough to beat. We made it to Etosha by lunch time which ended up being perfect timiming to see our first 3 elephants at the waterhole right at the campsite. On the way through the park to the campsite, we did do some scenic tours to try and find some wildlife. We did spot some giraffes close to the road including a baby. And we saw lots of “potential” animals aka us thinking we saw a giraffe in the trees but it turns out to be just that -a tree! And Sven some how spotted a black rhino that was standing deep under a bush. Black rhinos are endangered and you rarely see them during the day, so that was very cool. 

The rest of the day was spent either down at the water hole, which was only a 3 minute walk from the campsite and lots of room to get different views of the animals. Most of the waterholes in the Park are man made so that the park staff can control where the animals are and force them to move to different areas to graze. At this main waterhole, we ended up seeing 3-5 elephants, lots of springboks, large herd of zebras,12 giraffes, 4 rhinos and best yet 5 lioness. 

The 5 lionesses appeared right at dusk for a drink and better yet they stuck around all night. More on them later.

One of the optional activities was a night game drive through Etosha which I chose to do. And so glad I did! It started out a bit slow and really was begining to doubt that we were going to see anything. The driver had a bit of a odd sense of humour and basically told us that we probably won’t see anything and that we would only be driving around on the roads and not stopping at any waterholes. Thankfully that wasn’t the case! As we pulled up to the waterhole, a big male lion was walking down the road. Then yet another black rhino was at the waterhole. Over the course of the evening, we ended up seeing 6 black rhinos ( they have hooked noses for eating bushes) including a baby. 

And when you are sitting out in the middle of lion territory at night always trust your gut! We hadn’t checked the left side of the car in 20 minutes or so with the spotlight. Finally one of the guys in the back asked if we could , good thing since there was a mamma black rhino with the baby coming up to check out the vehicle and were about 10 m away! 

And it is amazing how quiet a herd of elephants can be. As we turned around the vehicle to leave, there comes 4 elephants out of the trees looking like ghosts. Even has they walked past, you could barely hear them. 

It is interesting to watch the hireacry within the animal kingdom. Pretty sure elephants are at towards the top since they seem to chase rhinos away from the water. But yet we also saw a rhino somewhat chase a lioness away from a giraffe as well. Or maybe the lioness just couldn’t be bothered to take on a rhino.

When we arrived back at camp, we headed down to the waterhole to see if there was any action down there. Lots of action there! Remember those 5 lioness? Yup they were still hanging around. The herd or I should say a tower of 12 giraffes slowly made their way up to the water. Lionesses started stalking them and giraffes are so spooky. Ten out of 12 of them did end up getting a drink about 2 hours later to cover 100 m to the waterhole. Lionesses were making it difficult. And kicking myself for going to bed at 1-2ish am. Since about 30 minutes later, the lionesses made their move and in the chaos they took down a springbok. So Emily, Steph and Jessie all saw them make the kill. A few others were lying there sleeping and missed the whole thing! 

I hate to say this but ended up seeing so many lions that we nearly didn’t continue to stop to look at them! I think the total was around 17 in 2 days. Between the ones at the main campsite waterhole and then seeing another pride of lionesses stalking a lone giraffe within 20 minutes of leaving the second campsite. Really neat to see how the lionesses organize themselves when hunting. Unfortunately they weren’t successful. And it is very true that the males don’t do any of the hunting! There were 2 with that pride and they just laid down and watched and waited for breakfast to be served! Though very nicely only 7 feet from the truck! Some of my best pictures were taken of a lioness half heartedly stalking a herd of zebras which we came across on our way to the second campsite in Etosha. This lioness was one we saw after just coming across 2 pregnant ones. But the lightining was beautiful. With the golden yellow grass, black blue sky of the impending storm with a couple trees and a salt pan in the back ground. 

That night’s sunset was darn impressive as well complete with elephant at water hole. 

Other animals seen through out Etosha are: hyenas, white rhinos, warthogs, eland, orynx, Twany Eagles.

Also got to ride in the front of the truck with Herms which was good fun and found out that he knows his birds. So that will be handy to help me identify a few that I haven’t been able too.  Still didn’t see any cheetahs or leopards :( 

** not posting pics on here for the time being , please see facebook album . Takes way to long to upload pics if they even upload. **

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