Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Current update

And another break from Harnas....nearly done talking about Harnas really! Lol 

I finally managed to get out of kinda dodgy Windhoek ( see previous post). I am up in northern Namibia, about 40 kms from Etosha National Park, at Okutala African Quest ( www.okutala.com) lodge. 

Okutala use to be part of Harnas up until a couple years ago. It is a 48 000 acres property that use to be a hunting lodge. The animals are slowly learning that it is no longer a hunting lodge. They are slowly renovating a few different parts of the property and they have big plans for it. The main guest lodge is already beautiful and overlooks a big waterhole which is very active. The other night there was over 5 different species of animals at it at one time. 

On the property WILD there are: 
-under 10 cheetahs
-under 10 leopards
-tracks of lion
-1 elephant and her 6 year son
-oryx (gemsbok)
I'm sure I am missing a few species.

They are also trying to acquire animals that they will be able to release on the property. So at the moment they only have: 1 lioness, 3 cheetahs, 2 leopards, 1 spotted hyena, 4 young elephants, 3 baby giraffes, young ostriches, 4 white rhinos, a waterbuck and a few parrots ( macaws in particular) A few of the animals won’t be able to be release due to the risk of poaching ( rhinos) or grew up in captivity ( lioness and hyena).

One of the nice things about Okutala is that they also have a volunteer program but it is more laid back then Harnas. And it is more of a “volunteer when you want to” type program. So you can help feed the animals in the morning and then spend all afternoon in the pool instead of cleaning up the hay shed and fixing one of the waterholes. This means you  also don’t need a work permit for Namibia since the lodge considers you a guest and not a volunteer. 

I have been here at Okutala for a week now.  It has been a nice change from Harnas and I have taken advantage of just sitting in the pool or reading a book instead of helping feed. I do find that there is a bit of standing around watching other people work ( not enough equipment -shovels etc) or it is just a way more relaxed pace and some of the chores/feeding seems to drag on longer then it really needs too. 

And there is a fair bit of rivalry between Harnas and Okutala because they where together once and you use to be able to book to stay at both up until they separated. Loving this right now because this allowed me to catch up with 3 cool peeps - Tamara, Livia and Charlotte- various friends and cabin mates from Harnas.  Also does sound like there might be a bit of bad blood between both camps as well which doesn’t help. But people are forever comparing them both ( I’m guilty of it!) but hopefully once all of the bookings that came through from Harnas have finished, they will become more separated. 

I have done lots of fun activities like a full day driving around to check on most of the 23 different waterholes. Swam in one of the deep one during our picnic lunch stop. Fixing waterholes, tracking a radio collard goat, a night drive complete with a bit of port to drink and a couple sleep outs - one on the deck overlooking the waterhole at the lodge and one up the big hill that has a gorgeous view over most of the property. 

We are off for a quick overnight trip to Etosha National Park this afternoon. Hoping it will be as exciting as the last time I was there with the Woodrow G Adventures tour in mid November. It will be hard to top those 2-3 days specially since Etosha has gotten a fair bit of rain lately so most of the animals don’t need to hang around the waterholes now. But crossing fingers and hoping we see lots anyways! 

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