Namibia - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 42

Etosha National Park

Wednesday 23rd April

Some of the challenges of travelling in Africa raised their heads this morning with several problems conspiring to delay our departure from Swakopmund. We were supposed to be on the road by seven in the morning and all of us were up in time, had breakfast, were packed and ready to go. One of the members of our group had left some valuables in the hotel safe but the only person with a key to the safe would not arrive until eight o’clock, despite previous assurances that they someone with a key would be there at seven. In addition to this, the hotel receptionist wanted payment for the supposedly free breakfast that we had all had yesterday morning. Our tour leader was close to exploding and probably would have had we not left when we did.

Our long and gruelling drive up through the Namibian desert would take us about eight hours before we reached Etosha National Park late in the afternoon. Since we all wanted to get in a late afternoon game drive, we collectively decided to not stop for lunch but to have the guides prepare the meal in the truck whilst we were still underway. How they managed to slice up the tomatoes, onions and cucumbers as the truck navigated the poor surface of the dirt road, I will never know. We all clapped after the meal in recognition of their best efforts under difficult circumstances.

Everyone perked up when the entrance to Etosha was suddenly before us. After a few formalities, we were inside the park and on our way to the camp. As was the case with our first few minutes in Kruger, we saw quite a bit of game on the brief drive to the camp-site. The immediately obvious difference between Etosha and Kruger is that Etosha is much more open with vast open expanses of extremely low shrubs. You could barely see a few meters into the bush in Kruger where as here in Etosha, you can see literally for miles. There is a lot of game here and we have already seen plenty of Springbok, Bushbuck, Impala, Zebra, Jackal and Blue Wildebeest as well as a range of interesting birds. At one point, we all thought we saw a pride of lions in the distance and each of us happily snapped away with our cameras. Unfortunately, we closed in on the group only to find it to be a herd of Zebra.

After yet another wonderfully prepared meal around the open fire (these boys can really make a good meal – today was pork chops), news came in of a Black Rhino that had staked a place near the floodlit watering hole just yards from our tents and we all walked over to sit and view the big beast. His departure from the watering hole was followed by a small group of Zebra and we even got to snap a few shots at a Genet that had come right up close to us.

We’ve seen some truly enormous Community Weaver birds nests over the past few days and we are lucky enough to have one such nest in our camp right near our tents. Better yet, the birds are all present and we have been able to see them slowly but surely continuing to build upon the huge nest up close.

We have an early start again tomorrow (what else is new) as we are leaving for an early morning game drive. Sandy and I have already started to niggle at each other over who gets to use the big camera. We are going to have to get a second digital SLR camera when we get back to Europe to put these little tugs of war to rest.