Day 16 – July 29
(CHRIS) I woke up at 5 and went to the pit stop for people and then the elephant pit. No animals showed up. When the others awoke, we broke camp and raced out the gates just after they opened at sunrise. We were at the westernmost of the 3 public people campsites (Ok$%*#@!^&$#@) but we traveled west at 1st light before exploring in the direction of the night’s campspot to the east.
Members of the exclusive Big 5 club eluded us (incl. Elephants, rhinos, lion, buffalo, leopard) all morning long. We did identify a few new finds, tho – the best of these was the wildebeest. This ne’er-do-well punk cousin of the other antelopes (springbok, kudu, gemsbok, impala, etc) had a frazzled shock of black hair on its back and often ran bucking and snorting.
Ostrich, zebra, giraffe, and antelope were to be found aplenty. Usually, they abounded at the well-marked water holes, but they were also easy to spot along the roads, especially if you looked where other cars had stopped. At the middle camp area, we stopped to pitch the tent and eat lunch. Their computers were down!!! OK… SO they told us to set up and pay in the morning. So, we got a prime site with shade, water tap, and table and… SAND!
We cooked up regular speghetti (not canned) and gazed at the Argentinean cuties the next site over. Only semi-granolas. We got on the road to new and exciting water holes. To the east, we started seeing some elephants shrouded in the brush. Finally, we saw a solitary one about 30-40 feet from the car. He was munching on a bush happily. Before other tourists cam around, we took some pictures with both elephant and human, breaking the rule about getting out of the car. He was huge!
We drove out on the Etosha Pan, a huge dried up lake. It was just a wide, open, cracked-ground plain that went as far as you could see. The number of animals seemed to be on the rise with every stop at every water hole. However, the real treat came along a road when about 15-20 elephants crossed our path. There were many different sizes, including the young, tagging along with mama. Other tourists gathered, but we drove up closest to them and eventually they were on both sides of the road from us. A couple of times they walked past our car within 10-15 feet of us. They seemed unconcerned with the gawking tourists. It was truly amazing to see so many, so close, so free, so one-with-nature, so happy, so granola…
Later, we stopped because a tour van was stopped along the road. We wanted to hit Goas site before sundown because it had had some recent lion sightings according to the comment books in the office. But the people seemed intent on a particular tree, so we gazed in that direction and sure enough, there was movement under it. At first, I was sure it was a leopard, but he was hard to see as he was merely napping in the high grass. We are sure it was a big cat, but not sure if it was a lion or what. Not a confirmed sighting…
Back to camp – We went to the lighted water hole at camp and saw the rest of the sunset – no ticket tonight – we got in in time. While Sam and I waited for an animal to show up, we laughed innocently about WHAT IF…
1 – A team of navy seals surfaced from the pond.
2 – Suddenly, a series of cowboys and Indians went chasing by
(SAM) 3 – A granola girl carried Chris to her primitive nature reserve hut.
I was very happy with the setting. The only thing that was not oh so natural were two lights that illuminated the wattering hole. Every thing else was dark. We were sitting up on rocks faceing God’s stage and there were no fences. As we waited for the raparian entertainment to begin, the only sound was that of a granola on a solitary rock munching on something chrunchy.
Two ducks were the first to land in the lake. Then a hundred birds came from directly behind us and landed by the water. Two jackals entered stage right, very cautiously. All those animals came to the watering hole to be refreshed after a long hot day. Then we heard a sound to our left. We knew that it was something big, so we waited with baited breath. Sure enough, a single eccentric rhino came to the edge of the water. #2 of the big five for me. Paul had already seen two rhino the night before. The rhino is one of my favorites. He is large and powerful, yet quirky and solitary. Paul, Chris and I praised God for his creation while a solitary granola on a rock did yoga and tried to become one with the great rhino spirit in the sky.
As I write this, I expect a rhino to storm in our camp and stamp out our fire any moment. I just herd an elephant and because we are camping out in the open tonight, I am quite scared. Good night, Log.
Good morning, Log. That night at the watering hole, Chris called his mom and Paul and I went into the store to buy ice cream. In the store a drunk employee kept asking us to but him ice cream. I told the man at the check out that he should not let his friend drink so much because it makes him act silly. As we left the store, the drunk Namibian was making hissing noises and he said he was putting a curse on us. This was one of only a very few people in Namibia who were not nice to deal with.
We drank a beer at a table by the office and wrote in the Log. We took another look at the watering hole but there were not any large animals there at the time so we went to sleep because we had to get up early the next day.