Namibia: Etosha

We spent the first of our Etosha nights at Eagle Tented Camp , which is about an hour's drive from Etosha National Park. When we arrived, we were disappointed to learn we couldn't go on the afternoon driving safari because it was "already booked up"! We did manage to get into an after-dinner night safari instead.

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For our other two nights at Etosha, we stayed at Ongava Main Lodge , which is on a private reserve right next to the Etosha National Park entrance. The camp had its own artificial waterhole, where we could watch lions and rhinos come to drink at night. We saw a mother rhino and her baby, and lions chasing zebras. There was also a "hide" right next to the waterhole for close-up stealth animal watching.

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Up-close views - hiding in the hide

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Ongava kept careful track of the black and white rhinoceroses on their reserve.

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These cute tail-less animals hiding in the rocks at Ongava were hyraxes.

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A sundowner and night drive on the Ongava reserve.

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Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is known for wide mostly treeless plains surrounding the vast featureless Etosha Pan. As usual, wildlife in this dry environment concentrates at the waterholes.

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One morning, we came across a fantastic scene — a waterhole (Ozonjuitji m'Bari) where a group of lions were feeding on a dead giraffe, and hogging a waterhole to themselves while hundreds (perhaps over a thousand) animals stood around nearby, desperate for a drink. We watched for over an hour, as a few brave animals would occasionally attempt to sneak a drink, only to be given a chase by the lions.

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Just when we eventually decided to move on, we spotted a bull elephant approaching. We knew he must be heading for the water. What would happen? We hurried back to watch. The lions didn't notice the elephant until it was almost on top of them, when they jumped up and ran a few yards away to safety.

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Etosha National Park has its own walled tourist "village" of sorts at Okaukuejo, near the western entrance. Here are rental cottages, a fantastic waterhole for viewing, swimming pool, a gas station, general store, and a stone viewing tower.

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One day when we didn't have too much luck out in the park itself, we spent an hour at the Okaukuejo waterhole watching a group of lions who were feeding on a dead rhinoceros, and chasing hundreds of other animals (except the elephants) away from the water.

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Back at Ongava, it was time for an afternoon safari on the private reserve. This reserve used to be a cattle ranch, but since then wild animals have returned. We spotted giraffe, waterbuck, rhino tracks, three roughhousing young lion siblings, and a pair of fighting male oryxes. The feces below is old lion poop — everything eventually breaks down except the hair they ate.

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Our last sundowner.

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That's it! After a wonderful adventure, we were only 5 flights (24+ hours) from our home in Seattle!