Our early morning game drive started at 6.30am but Bernie and I took a cup of tea to the waterhole and saw a white rhino. On the drive, saw 2 huge male lions but at a distance. Thought they would follow their path towards us but didn’t oblige and veered off, probably to follow some hyena we had seen just before – pity. Also spotted a pair of honey badgers near the road. Another first was seeing some springbok “pronking” – this is when they leap about 2 metres straight-legged into the air when frightened. After breakfast set off again, with first sightings of kudu, impala and hartebeest. Our best sighting was a family of lions sleeping in the sun but in the grass. Could see one male stretched out and occasionally 3 cubs, 2 lionesses and another male would pop up their heads or stretch. We arrived at our next night’s rest camp at Halali mid afternoon. In effect we are crossing Etosha from west to east. There is plenty of water in the Etosha pan (110km at longest and 60km at widest), so saw the flamingos that we had expected to see in Walvis Bay! Halali also has a lit waterhole and it was fantastic to see a herd of nearly 30 elephants, from a tiny baby to oldies, spending hours there. We waited for an hour, later in the night after the elephants had gone, for a leopard sighting but none came.
July 25 Monday
Today we drive out of Etosha and up to the Caprivi Strip – a 9 hour drive so for something completely different, an early start! We check out a few waterholes with no success - maybe the animals have slept in today, lucky things! Surprisingly, a lioness with a big cub is spotted lying next to the road and ambles off as we all try to get our cameras out. A photo of rear ends is the norm! A black rhino (the rarer type) trots along in the scrub beside us, effortlessly keeping up at 30km for some distance despite looking so cumbersome. Eventually he gets sick of us and turns away. See a white-backed vulture at a waterhole and near the exit gate, a dik dik – the smallest antelope. So we have seen the largest (eland, at the cape) and the smallest, the dik dik. Once out of Etosha, we hit sealed roads (thank goodness) and head up to the Caprivi Strip. The scenery becomes more interesting with more farming and prosperous towns. Misheck gets pinged by police radar (we had him pegged for Fangio early!) but manages to talk himself out of it, even after refusing their suggestion of a bribe!
When we reach the town of Mururani, we enter the Kavango area where lots of Africans have come to live in the traditional manner. All along the road are village after village, with each family in a “compound” of small square thatched roof houses, plus animal pens, surrounded by a wood or thatch fence. There are schools dotted every so often so we feel the government is making an effort but Misheck explains that people think it is not enough. The women carry loads on their heads – bundles of sticks, blankets or more commonly, containers of water as the water points can be kilometres apart.
Ngepi Camp is a new experience. We are in “tree houses” which have an “en suite” and are open on the river side except for a mat which can be let down – a bit chilly when the night temperature drops! The bathroom is a tin basin with a tap, attached to a flat log rail. The shower has only 2 sides – like the whole house, the walls are made from reeds tied together. Our deck has a great view of the Kavango River through a gap in the reeds. In this gap are hippopotamus tracks up around the tree house but the staff assure us that they came ashore here only during the recent floods and not now! But we could hear them grunting in the night anyway.