May 7th, 2011 (February 2011) – Etosha National Park is 20, 000 square km of wildlife viewing bliss….at least during the dry season. At other times the critters like to hide in the grass and sightings can be few and far between. This probably explains why the campsite at Halali Rest Camp was fairly empty. We made it there in the morning, set up the tent, and began patrolling the park for fauna
Back at camp that night we ate dinner and made our way to the floodlit waterhole nearby to sip wine and hopefully spot some local denizens. We sat there for the better part of an hour but no one came to drink. However, both Leslie and I thought we heard something from a dark corner just on the other side of the protective fence facing away from the flood light. Using the flash of my camera while standing on a rock ledge I spotted Hornee the Rhino snoozing in the grass…..and farting incessantly. We quietly alerted the other folks staring fruitlessly at the water hole and soon a small crowed was ogling Hornee with the help of camera flash. We returned early the next morning but Hornee had moved on. Probably couldn’t stand the smell. Dirty.
Ever heard an owl screech? It is one of the most bloodcurdling sounds in the world and can facilitate a loss of bowel control. There were a couple swooping around our campsite at night and although I spent some time attempting to pinpoint their location I was forced to settle for mere glimpses and the occasional shriek. Owls are cool. If I could come back as an animal it would be an owl…..or an elephant shrew. Close call.
We packed up the next morning and made our way east through the park. For some reason it appears the animals did the same as we encountered what appeared to be most of them. We seem to have a knack for locating lone hyenas on a leisurely stroll. This day was no different. We stalked one in the Spark for a good ten minutes before moving on. Hyenas are neato. Not a doggy. Not a kitty. It’s a Hyaenidae. Hyaenidae are cool.
In addition to the usual suspects (wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, gazelles, etc.) we were fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of male lions not long after a zebra slaying. They were enjoying their morning snack as we approached. In addition to the lions and other members of the species Homo sapiens there was a small gathering of jackals circling the periphery, hoping for an opportunity to sneak a nibble. They didn’t get one. The Simba brothers were unwilling to share. One did leave the carcass for a moment only to come roaring back (quite literally) as soon as a couple of jackals got a little too close.
We sat in the Spark and enjoyed a little breakfast of our own. We went with Cheerios (as opposed to raw zebra). Not quite as much protein but scrumptious none the less. It was an excellent experience but the vibe was dampened a bit when a couple of tourist buses pulled up for a look-see. We departed soon afterward. Thankfully, this was not our last encounter with lions. Little did we know that we would soon spend an evening with a pride of the golden kitties somewhere in the Okavango Delta. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
|Photo by Leslie|
|Photo by Leslie|
|Zebra carcass. Nummy.|
|Simba has not been playing well with others.|
It was my birthday and Leslie was kind enough to make it a memorable one. While I sat in our room and caught up on world events (at the time Gadhafi was ranting incoherently about Al Qaeda and psychedelic drugs) Leslie was in town making birthday plans. She managed to locate a cake and a card.
The cake was surprisingly delicious. And although the card was meant for a 3-year-old the gesture was sweet (and strangely appropriate) none the less. And what is a birthday party on the Namibia/Angola border without Bombay gin and tonic water? No party at all. I have been on the move so much over the past few years that I have barely given my birthday a second thought. This was a nice change. It certainly made me feel special.
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