Twelve photos from each day of our Africa adventure.
Today we drove from Namutoni to Halali in Etosha National Park where there is another Namibia Wildlife Resort.
Etosha National Park contains a giant salt pan that’s big enough to be visible from outer space. That pan, which is currently dry, is essentially a desert. The far side disappears on the horizon, blurry with heat shimmers. The idea of crossing the pan makes my insides feel hollow. Heat, sand, and no water frightens me.
Presumably, though, since this is a pan, there is water here from time to time. I try to imagine what that’s like.
There is nothing out on the pan just now, but on the grassy plains nearby we see the usual suspects.
A warthog mama leads her babies to a waterhole. Mama is about two feet tall at the shoulder.
A zebra mama nurses her baby. Notice how Mama’s black stripes are especially narrow. She appears lighter than other zebras.
How many times have I said it? Zebra stripes are mesmerizing. How clean the lines are. How interesting that they extend up the mane. Beautiful. And each zebra’s stripes are different.
Giraffes. Does anyone else hear spaghetti-western music when looking at this picture? Click for a bigger image and see if you hear it.
Lady steenbok. She’s dainty, less than two feet high. She lives alone or with a male and/or her offspring. She doesn’t rely on surface water, and she buries her urine and feces. We’ve seen her kin just about everywhere we’ve been.
Note her big, beautiful ears. The dark pattern in the middle, like leaf veins, is where there is no long, white hair. She’s a dear but not a deer; she’s an elegant antelope.
And then there were some not-so-usual suspects . . .
Finally! A spotted hyena. I’ve been eager to see hyenas, and they didn’t disappoint. There were several in the vicinity of a waterhole. They were walking amongst giraffes and impala, looking longingly at all of them, but the other animals paid them no nevermind.
Hyenas seem to get little respect as predators. They’re also scavengers that steal other predators’ kills, which may explain their problem getting respect.
But they are also devoted family members. Three adults and a subadult visited, nuzzled, and played with four cubs while we watched at this waterhole. In this photo, three cubs are snoozing in a pile having just been visited by the two older family members. Raising young is a group effort.
Whatever the other animals think, I find the hyenas endearing.
Another not-so-usual suspect we’re enjoying here in Etosha is the red hartebeest. We’ve seen a few, but not especially well. Here we’re seeing a good many.
They’re dark like the tsetsebes. In fact, they look a lot like tsetsebes, but they’re not quite as red (which begs the question, Why are hartebeest called ‘red’ while tsetsebes are not?); they lack the golden shins; their faces are more narrow; and their horns are a different shape. In general, I find tsetsebe pretty but hartebeest rather funny looking.
The funny-looking-ness begins with the very straight profile of the face. But tsetsebe have that, too, so there’s more to it than that. Wildebeest have a convex profile and all the other antelope have concave profiles.
What makes a hartebeest odd is the way the forehead extends a ways up the base of the horns. The top of the head is a sort of mesa upon which the horns sit. Tsetsebe do not have this. As far as I know, no other antelopes have this.
I think the sharply hooked horns are cool, though. They look like screw hooks to me, perfect for hanging things on. And the ridges on this guy’s horns are especially nice.
As great as all these animals are, they were not the highlight of the day. That, again, goes to a cat, . . .
. . . a magnificent male leopard. And again, you get just one picture. The story of this leopard is the animal highlight of the entire Africa trip. You’ll see more pictures and hear all about it another time. Until then, isn’t he gorgeous?