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Etosha National Park, Namibia

Well today was the day that I had been waiting for and why I had planned this trip to Namibia. We had finally arrived at Etosha and we had 8 days to enjoy it from East to West. We all woke fresh from a great sleep in a cool room, enjoyed an early delicious breakfast overlooking the waterhole and were ready to head off after packing the car for our day’s drive. I was super excited and had my guide to Etosha, a map on the iPad and the cameras sorted. I was using Etosha as an opportunity to enjoy the sightings and to introduce my parents to the animals and fill them in on some of my knowledge.

Our drive to the Etosha Von Lindequest/Namutoni Gate was slow due to the fact that we were still in the Onguma concession and needed to be aware of animals around us. Once we reached the entrance we were greeted by a very unhappy attendant who gave us a paper map to the park and sent us on our way. I asked her if we pay her the entry fee and she said we did it on the way out. Thinking we were all sorted we set out to discover Etosha.

Mum and dad’s excitement was infectious and we drove slowly on the main road into the park looking left and right to see what we could find, mum and dad became spotters and I took on the navigating and guiding. The main road is bitumen and a maximum of 80km an hour which I found a little high considering that animals are all around us in bush that is only 5m away from the side of the road. Many local cars were exceeding the speed limit as we were driving in and I am sure there are plenty of close calls and crashes due to this kind of hazardous driving.

Once reaching the Namutoni Camp the road become dirt/gravel but the bush land thins out and the Etosha Pan becomes evident. The starkness of the pan is amazing, sunglasses were necessary all the time due to how bright and light everything is. Our first stop was the petrol station in Namutoni to fill up and then we were off to discover Klein Namutoni, Chudob, Kalkheuwel and Okerfontein. Our plan for our time in Etosha was to drive, look, wait and discover. We wanted to visit what we were advised as the better waterholes that people spoke about but we also knew that animal sightings is not an exact science so patience and luck was necessary. When we were tired of hanging at a waterhole we moved on and we drove around to discover the different drives between Namutoni and Halali and up along the eastern side of the pan to Groot and Klein Okevi and Tsumcor.

Considering that the rains hadn’t arrived we were fortunate to take advantage of good animal sightings at the waterholes. Our success rate of finding animals at each was about 80% which I thought was excellent. We enjoyed excellent elephant, giraffe and plains game but unfortunately no predators. What was even better was because I was self driving I could control our location and move when we wanted to. It allowed us a lot of freedom, which I loved. Mum and dad were able to enjoy direct access to the animal sightings because they were sitting on the left hand side of the car so maneuvering the car to give them the better view was easy but it did mean that I couldn’t take many photos. This was an opportunity for me to just enjoy the animals and landscapes and to provide info to mum and dad from our guidebook and the general animal knowledge I had learnt from my previous safari guides.

It was a brilliant day filled with that ended when we returned to camp around 3pm. We were later than what we expected because when we reached the Von Lindquest Gate to pay for our entry tickets we were told we couldn’t pay there. This was contrary to the information provided when we entered that morning, so we had to turn around and go back to Namutoni to organize the tickets, which added another hour.

We had decided to try our luck at the Onguma waterhole in the afternoon and to enjoy the pool because it was incredibly hot and sticky. During the af

ternoon we discussed our plan for the following day and made arrangements to leave camp by 6:15am so we could be at the gate when it opened. It was now time to chill out by the pool and watching from the raised hide that allowed us to look for animals coming down to the waterhole. A pretty good day for all of us.

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