The Daily Dozen: Namutoni, Etosha National Park

Twelve photos from each day of our Africa adventure.

After an early morning drive in Mangetti, we packed up and headed down the road to Tsumeb where we loaded up on provisions and had the car washed.

The car wash was behind the Spar grocery store where we shopped. A handful of young men had four canopies set up under which they washed cars. They had one power washer between them, a vacuum, buckets, rags, soap, and a water tap on the sidewalk. The sign said N$30 (thirty Namibian dollars) for double cabs, which is what we have, but a guy told Mike N$70 to do just the outside of our truck—we’re packed to the gills; no way were we unpacking to do the interior. Remember those mud puddles in Chobe? Our truck was a pretty serious mess. N$70 is less than 7 US dollars. We agreed to the price.

Our guy’s buddies laughed at him when we pulled the truck under his canopy. No worries. If our guy did a good job (he did, though not quickly), we’d tip him well (we did), and he’d have the last laugh.

With a clean truck, we drove to Etosha National Park where we planned to spend a week: two nights in each of three campgrounds at the resort areas within the park. The resort areas are private concessions owned by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), which owns properties throughout the country. Here in Etosha, the resorts are fenced compounds offering different kinds of accommodation, from camping to chalets. There is a restaurant, store, gas station, etc., pretty much everything a visitor would want or need.

Each of the three resorts also has a lighted waterhole just outside the fence, with a seating area inside the fence, so visitors can sit and watch what comes to drink, even after dark. That’s a nice feature.

Almost a year ago now, when I knew we were coming to Africa, and I started researching online, I discovered and fell in love with Etosha National Park. The photos and descriptions I read made this one of the places I most wanted to visit. And that’s in spite of a comparison often made between Etosha and Yellowstone regarding tremendous traffic jams during the peak season because of the popularity of the park and the vast number of visitors each park receives. I’ve been in Yellowstone traffic jams. They ruin the park as far as I’m concerned. I have no desire to go—zip, zilch, nada—during peak season, no matter how cool the park. My experience is ruined by masses of people. Sorry, people.

This isn’t the peak season in Etosha. It’s not even a shoulder season. It’s the off season, and for me, it’s the best possible time to visit. Whatever sacrifices we’re making are worth it for the low traffic we receive in exchange. We’re not alone in the campgrounds, but we see few cars during our drives. It’s perfect.

We arrived in time to do an afternoon drive, but these pics also include our first full day in Etosha. Sometimes I skipped a day of downloading, and we have two days’ photos in one file.

The first wildlife we saw in Etosha were . . .

Greater Flamingos, Etosha National Park

Whiter flamingos in Etosha. Click for a larger image. Use your back button to return here.

. . . flamingos in a pan with lots of water.

Greater Flamingo, Etosha National Park

I’m not saying it’s NOT greater. Maybe it’s the greatest flamingo alive. I don’t know.

There were both greater and lesser flamingos. I don’t like those names: they sound so judgmental. I prefer “whiter” (greater) and “pinker” (lesser). This is a whiter flamingo. When it flies, you can see brilliant pink and black stripes on the wings, and those long pink legs stretch gracefully out behind, toes pointed like divers or ballerinas. It’s striking. I have a lovely picture of that, but it wound up at #14, so it had to be cut. Maybe we’ll see flamingos tomorrow, too.

Black-faced Impala, Etosha National Park

Black-faced impala.

We also saw our first black-faced impalas. When there was a threat to black-faced impalas in northwest Namibia where they are originally from, someone collected a bunch and brought them to Etosha to assure the species survived. They thrived.

Male Kudus, Etosha National Park

Male kudu.

We also saw more kudu. Note that the white bar between the eyes is split in one but not the other. That seems common. I guess maybe the stripes on nyalas are more consistently split.

Secretary Bird, Etosha National Park

A secretary bird.

A secretary bird that isn’t walking away from us . . . yet. It never fails, as soon as we spy one of these way-cool, pantaloon-wearing birds, it turns its back and walks away. We have very few pictures of a secretary-bird face.

Giraffes drinking at the waterhole, Etosha National Park

Giraffes drinking at the waterhole, Etosha National Park.

No, these giraffes aren’t doing what the lions and mongooses were doing. No hanky-panky going on here; there’s just a line at the waterhole. Or that’s the quarterback and center of the giraffe football team.

Isn’t that splayed pose nuts? That’s quite the effort to get a drink of water. Giraffe design, while wildly interesting, is not especially logical.

Note the straight splayed legs here.

Giraffe drinking at the waterhole, Etosha National Park

Another giraffe drinking.

Not all giraffes drink with straight legs. The individual variations are interesting, I think.

Giraffe Alley, Etosha National Park

Giraffe alley. Click for a larger image. Use your back button to return here.

And there are oodles of giraffes who have to devise their own ways of getting their heads down to drink.

If I lived in the Bush in Africa, I think I’d build a waterhole designed specifically for giraffes, high off the ground with water to the tippy-top. I imagine giraffes would come from far and wide for such convenience.

I wonder if giraffes ever drink from waterfalls.

Also, they appear to plunge their mouths in to suck the water up, rather than lapping up the water with their tongues as dogs and cats do.

Marabou Stork, Etosha National Park

“It was this big,” said the Marabou stork.

Sharing the waterhole with these giraffes were several marabou storks, all standing with wings spread. Are they drying themselves like darters and cormorants? I don’t know the answer; I should find out.

Black Rhinoceros, Etosha National Park

A black rhino in Etosha.

Spotting a rhino was as thrilling as spotting the leopard in Mahango. I grabbed Mike’s wrist, pointed, and whisper-shouted, “Rhino!” He slammed on the brakes.

We know we need to be quiet, gentle, and smooth to not startle or frighten the animals, but sometimes that’s just plain impossible. I wasn’t expecting to see a rhinoceros. What a surprise!

After watching one walk away, we saw another one nearby. There’s some question about whether it was really a second rhino or the first one again as we rounded a corner, but I’m convinced it was a second rhino. The first rhino would have had to cover some distance, and it just wasn’t moving that fast, even when it was closer to us and wanting to get away.

It doesn’t matter. After these two, we saw another four elsewhere. I confess that the specialness of spotting a rhinoceros is somewhat diminished when you go on to see five more in a single day. Still, it’s a rhino! What a strange-looking animal.

There are black rhinos and white rhinos. The white rhinos are the most rare and endangered. What color is this rhinoceros? White? Gray? Indeed. But it’s a black rhino, not a white rhino. The distinction between white and black rhinos has nothing to do with their color. I think the animal namers would be hard pressed to come up with more stupid names. What happened to “greater” and “lesser”? That could refer to population numbers if not size.

Black Rhinoceros, Etosha National Park

Another white black rhino.

One distinction between the two rhinos is the chin shape. White rhinos have square chins while black rhinos have pointier, more oval ones. This guy/gal’s chin hardly looks pointy, I know, but it’s not square like the picture we have of a white rhino. Think: hippo jaw.

One theory about how the rhinos got their white/black names is that “white” resulted from the Afrikaans word “wijd,” which means “wide,” as in wide-jawed. There’s no strong evidence for this theory, though, and plenty of people disagree.

All six rhinos that we saw were this color, which, apparently, is due to the application of gray/white dust from the pans.

It’s really hard to choose a highlight from so many awesome sightings, but if I had to, it would have to be this:

Lion Cub, Etosha National Park

Lion cub in Etosha.

This is a lion cub outgrowing its spots. There were three young siblings with two adult lionesses. They walked out of the Bush directly to our truck and laid down just a few feet away, looking at us and out over the grassy plain where springbok and wildebeest grazed. I imagine they were selecting their dinner the way people sometimes select a lobster from a tank.

Watching these lions was aMAzing. I plan to tell you all about it . . . another time. I’m afraid I’ve used up my allotment of photos for the day.

Categories: Africa, Africa, Travel

3 replies »

  1. Really?! Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if I have it backward. We didn’t do as much reading about the animals as we would have liked. I look forward to reading our Safari Companion and other natural history books so I can get some answers to my endless questions.