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April 7, 2013 / samwilson60

Safari time

We had three nights and two awesome days at Oppi-Koppi. It was both relaxing and highly productive – a very satisfying combination.  The Tinker Beast got lots of TLC and a complete oil change, the silhouettes window got up to date (in the nick of time) and we had our first (and second) braai of the trip. We also learned that too much clothes washing is bad for your health, zebra steaks are yummy, and ostriches are a menace. The porcupines were much better behaved, appearing like clockwork on the wall behind the pool each evening.

A suspected case of sun stroke aside, it was the perfect start to Namibia. From there, we were thinking about heading off into the nearby Etosha national park, but despite weeks of discussion we were still having doubts. We knew we’d be spoilt for choice in terms of game viewing now that we’d made it down south and, since we can’t afford more than one or two carefully selected, carefully budgeted safaris, initially we’d thought it wiser not to jump too soon. But gradually Etosha had grown on us. The salt pan alone sounded worthy of a visit, and the possibility (however remote) of seeing black rhinos was a real draw. It was also very close by, we wouldn’t require a guide and, despite all the warnings in the guide book, we were fairly confident we shouldn’t need a reservation either. The real clincher was the news that, while we were supposedly in the heart of the wet season, it had been remarkably dry of late, meaning this could be our best chance of seeing much big game for quite some time.

Once we’d made the decision to chance it, we were soon on the most direct (and dusty) route we could find to the gate, albeit with the intention of simply checking prices and making reservations for the following day. By early afternoon, we were already in the park, and within minutes we knew we’d made the right call…

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Literally metres from the gate, each in turn approached the road, looked left, then right, and then slowly but surely lolloped across to the other side.

We had 48 hours spread across three days, with a night at two different rest camps, each with their own waterhole. We had to go straight to the first camp to get our permit stamped so decided to check out the waterhole there before venturing further into the park. We weren’t expecting much action in the middle of the day but Cat’s ‘sun stroke’ meant we had to seek out whatever shade we could. As it happens, we could have stayed all day. We were greeted by a massive herd of zebra, which were soon followed by springbok, a giraffe, an oryx and finally a handful of wildebeest, with jackals milling around almost constantly.

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We dragged ourselves away with a few hours’ daylight left, and headed out to get a feel for the rest of the park, where we found yet more springbok, oryx and zebra, plus literally hundreds of ostrich.

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Back at the waterhole as the sun was setting, it was like being in an African safari picture book. The light combined with the too-ing and fro-ing of all these exotic animals was simply unreal.

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We hadn’t dared hope we’d see even one black rhino, so what followed was a particularly awesome surprise…

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We wanted to stay up all night but dragged ourselves off to bed for a few hours’ kip, planning to be back for sunrise and whatever that may bring with it. Once again, we were blown away…

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Once the wildebeest had chased off the zebras and started on their way too, we decided it was time we dragged ourselves off to see what we could see elsewhere.

Every time we went on a drive or sat by a waterhole, we say more things we’d not seen before – spoilt just doesn’t cover it. On our second day the new find were the hartebeest but the familiar faces were out in force too. As an aside, we’re getting a bit carried away with the photos and yet there are still loads we want to post but can’t, so do watch out for Flickr updates.

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We spent our second night in Etosha at the Halali camp and waterhole. Here the real treat was the elephants – up to 19 at one point, including youngsters being taught to drink (mixed results) and babies so cute we could barely contain ourselves.

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We eventually dragged ourselves away from the waterhole when Catherine had already fallen asleep on the small wall separating us from the animals. Feeling rather fragile, the last thing she needed once back at camp, bare foot and metres from bed, was to very nearly step on a snake. That was it for Cat – far too much excitement for one day – but Sam went back to the waterhole for some more elephant time (secretly hoping to see some lions too).

Day three started early at the waterhole again, where we sat reminiscing about the baby elephants of the night before and agreeing that we’d more than got our monies worth, big cats or none. For the rhinos alone it had been worth it, not to mention all the smaller game we barely knew. A lion or two taking the stage on our last day would be the icing on the cake, though, there was no denying that…

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And then later, as we were on our way out of the park, still giddy from the morning’s lions and everything else we’d seen over the last few days…

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Peter Cullen / Apr 7 2013 12:14 pm

    How lucky can you get? Some great shots.

    Peter

  2. leelee / Apr 8 2013 9:46 am

    unbelievable! you guys said you’d had a good time there – but WOWSERS!!! sensational game viewing trip you two luckiest of fishes. good work! xxx

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