Tag Archives: Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park in the rainy season

Rob and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this year by visiting the Etosha National Park in Namibia.  February isn’t the best time of the year to visit the park as it’s right in the middle of the rainy season and the grass is very long.  With all the water around the animals don’t come down to the waterholes to drink and you really have to go and hunt for them on game drives.  Fortunately not seeing animals didn’t phase us too much as the birdlife was outstanding and we made the most of photographing many summer migrants, like this gorgeous European bee-eater.

    European bee-eater

With an abundance of water comes the celebration of life.  Etosha was no exception and we saw many herds of antelope with babies – the strikingly beautiful Gemsbok are our favourites and are always exciting to spot.  Their young ones are easy to identify as they still have their brown baby coats.

    A group of Gemsbok

This mother and baby Black-faced impala hadn’t quite made up their minds about which way they were headed.

    Mother and baby - Black-faced impala

A Black-shoudered kite really stood out quite dramatically with the backdrop of dark rain clouds.  Rob will shortly be doing a blog about a fantastic sighting of a B.S. Kite eating a lizard.   His photos of this meal are magnificent.

Black-shouldered kite

It’s a good idea to check the ground occasionally or you could run over little creatures like this jaunty Namaqua chameleon that was also enjoying the water.

    Jaunty Namaqua chameleon

Not all the birds are pretty.  In stark contrast to the beautiful European bee-eater above, we also saw a not-so-pretty Maribou stork wading in some water next to the road.  Doesn’t he look like he’s wearing a waistcoast?

    Marabou stork - dressed to kill!

A visit to Etosha always offers up good sightings of the Northern black korhaan.  These little fellows are everywhere and are very vocal, especially when disturbed.

    Northern black-korhaan

Even though we didn’t see any of the more exciting animals like lions, elephants and leopards this trip, we so enjoyed spending time out in nature, just enjoying the birds and the thrill of seeing new life and lush vegetation.  What a magnificent way to spend a weekend!

 

Etosha – Flagship of Namibian Wildlife Resorts

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man.

(1854  Seattle, chief of the Suquamish tribe) 

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, these words by Chief Seattle are more relevant today than ever before.  Fortunately for Namibians and visitors alike they have the Etosha National Park available to reconnect with beasts and restore their spirits.

Etosha, meaning ‘great white place’ in Herero, is about a four and a half hour drive north from Windhoek.  Recently upgraded, it offers both luxury accommodation and campsite facilities for those wanting a more rustic experience.  Unfortunately prices have been driven up to such an extent that many people are forced to find accommodation outside the Park these days to make the visit more affordable.

The park covers an area of approximately 22 000 km and is named after the enormous pan that covers roughly 5000 kms.  The pan is seldom covered in water, as it relies on rainfall and not rivers and the evaporation rate is very high.  The three main camps are Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni.

Anderson Gate - Etosha

Anderson Gate - Etosha

My introduction to Etosha was a heart-wrenching event.  Within a kilometer of the Anderson Gate a small zebra limped painfully across the road in front of us.  It had been attacked by a predator and half its rump had been eaten away.  It was a shocking sight and my first thought was that we should call a vet!  The zebra had no sooner moved out of sight when it started raining.

We drove a little further along and came across a small bird of prey in the middle of the road.  Nothing unusual in that, I hear you say.  Rain, however, is a luxury in Etosha and the animals know that they must show due appreciation and gratitude when it comes!  Well, this little bird gave us the performance of its life.

Obviously overjoyed to feel rain, the bird proceeded to do a rain dance.  It spread both its wings out and then lifted one at an angle so that the water could run down both wings.  Then it lifted the opposite wing and let the water run down that one as well.  All the while it was turning in little circles and alternating wings.  A true rain dance.  We watched enthralled as this little ritual continued for about fifteen minutes.  We could feel the joy that this bird was experiencing and even though we saw the most magnificent animals during our visit, this happy little dance stands out for me as the highlight of my visit to the park.  We later learned from our Roberts bird book that it was a juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawk.  The adult Goshawks also like to spread their wings out when it rains.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The landscape varies throughout the park.  Some areas are stark with rocky, white ground.  There are also vast grass plains where springbok, giraffe and zebra dot the landscape, and wooded areas where, if you’re lucky, you could spot a black rhinoceros.  It makes for an interesting experience as one drives from one side of the park to the other.

Black Rhino Giraffe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Roadside lions

Life is sustained by the numerous waterholes dotted from place to place and these obviously allow for excellent game spotting as the animals gather at all times of the day and night to quench their thirst.  The watering holes at the rest camps are floodlit twenty-four hours a day and visitors can watch the animals from the safety of these fenced off areas.

Busy water hole Kudu

African Elephants OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the western side of the park one can visit the Sprokieswoud (Haunted wood) with its bulbous, contorted Moringa trees.

Moringa tree - Sprokieswoud

Moringa tree - Sprokieswoud

No two visits to the park are the same and it pays to go at different times of the year so that Etosha can reveal its gifts in the different seasons. 

What a brood of ostriches

The birdlife is fantastic and if you’re into photography there’ll be something new and interesting  to capture around every corner.