Friday, May 28, 2010

Etosha National Park – Lions & Rhino, plus the Waterhole at night.

Day 2 in Etosha started early. The plan was to move from the Namtomi area, via the Hanali Waterhole for lunch, and arriving at the Okaukuejo camp by sunset, where they had a waterhole set up for night-viewing.

This was a long & hot day in our trusty truck, but we saw another array of animals living on the edge of the great salt pan, including Springbok, Dik-Dik, Wilderbeast, Hyenas, more Giraffes, and too many Zebra’s to count. We also managed to get a puncture just before the lunch stop and limped slowly into the Hanali rest area to repair it and have lunch.

All day long our guide Elias had said that there was a good chance of seeing Lions in Etosha, but we seemed to miss them at every turn. It was shortly before sunset when we made a last-chance dash for a distant waterhole in the hope of getting a final possibility to finally see them. We were not disappointed... As we approached we could see couple of lionesses appear on the right hand side, move slowly and languidly towards the road and on toward the waterhole. Then there was another lion, and then another, and then another, and finally in total there was a pride of 13 lions making their way across the road. It was yet another spectacular sight... But the best was yet to come...

After setting up camp and dinner, we walked through the site to the viewing area for the main waterhole. A wide swath of the area surrounding the waterhole was bathed in a soft yellow light, and standing statue still in the distance was a bull elephant. I even had to ask Fiona if it was real, it was standing so still. Then it moved a little and let out a long deep rumbling sound..., then another. Suddenly from out of the dark emerged a troop of another 10 elephants that carefully and quietly made their way down to the waterhole to drink, while the bull elephant kept a watchful eye from a distance. It was amazing, you could have heard a pin drop, there was so much drama and tension we were riveted to our seats for over an hour. More rumblings from the bull elephant, and they moved away a little, allowing time for the bull to come down to the waterhole to get his well deserved drink. Slowly they left the waterhole, only to be replaced by a few skittish Zebra and then a small family of Black Rhino. Wow, we have seen it all today, all-in-all it was one of the most awe-inspiring things I think I have ever seen.

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