Etosha National Park (or just Etosha for short) in Namibia was my first experience game-driving (or safari as it’s otherwise called – it’s so awesome it gets two names!) and it was one that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. We arrived mid-afternoon, set up camp and then headed out on a two hour game drive as the sun was setting. In just those 120 minutes we saw zebra, elephants by the side of the road, a pride of lionesses and giraffe, not forgetting the BLACK RHINO! Yep! With only approx 3,300 left in the entire world, we saw a black rhino…that’s just how we rolled!
The best thing about Etosha National Park though? My campsite. Not because it was a great campsite with good facilities (Okaukuejo camp site in case you were wondering) but because it had a watering hole next to it where animals came and went during the day and night to relax and be merry. Ok, less on the merry bit, more on the drinking bit but you get my meaning
When we had finished the game drive we discovered that THIS was the watering hole attached to our campsite (amazing isn’t it?!)…
You were asked to whisper/be silent when sitting around the watering hole, or near any animals in Etosha National Park because you didn’t want to scare them off which I didn’t mind because I was rendered speechless by how close we were getting to all these magnificent creatures.
After dinner, on our first night, we headed over to the watering hole and waited to spot something. Within two minutes, to our left, we saw a herd of approximately 12 elephants walk right over to the water. We were stunned into excited silence. We couldn’t believe that just hours after arriving at Etosha National Park, we had not only seen lions and rhinos but we were metres away from an entire herd of elephants!
If you look closely in the above photo however, you’ll notice another elephant to the extreme left of the picture in the distance; spotted her? She was leading the other 20 (!!!!) or so elephants that joined the party and before we knew it, within 10 minutes of arriving we were watching approximately 30 elephants drinking and nurturing each other. I sat there in silence with quiet tears rolling down my cheeks as I realised that I was watching an entire family of elephants in Etosha National Park just metres away from where I was.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get anymore spectacular, Etosha National Park surprised us all over again because as the final female elephant left the watering hole, we looked to our right and noticed a huge bull elephant coming in!!!!
He proceeded to stay there for most of the night with his ass facing us and isn’t it a lovely ass?! You could see what he was doing…with his back to us, he could survey the watering hole and any potential predators that could be lurking around Etosha National Park at night (tourist not included…although a few did deserve to be stampeded on when they used their f***ing flash on the cameras!!). It’s a good job he kept his eyes on the water because not long after (if you look closely in the photo below) three, wait for it, BLACK RHINO (yes, the most rare out of the two species) came along for a slurp too! I was blown away!
I spent hours at the watering hole that night and didn’t leave until my eyelids were almost shut, afraid of what I might miss out on. Despite feeling exhausted, my insomnia was kicking in big style by this point so at 4am the next morning I was already at the watering hole wondering what I was going to spot and was greeted by a herd of zebra. It was so peaceful you could hear them slurping the water with their tongue; it’s a time that I will never forget.
After another day’s game drive, I dumped my stuff, picked up my journal and headed back to the watering hole. There is something incredibly special about writing your thoughts down as you look up occasionally to check which animals have arrived whilst the sun sets in front of you; my journal now speaks a beauty I can’t describe because of it.
Giraffe’s always look so cute don’t they? Well, it seems the ones in Etosha National Park are incredibly cute AND incredibly dumb because it took some of them over an hour to walk about 100m to the water because they’re such nervous animals. It was very funny but very frustrating to watch but capturing photos of them made it all worth while!
And last but by no means least we have the rhino…a black rhino to be specific (I told you they were loving us!). He came to our side of the watering hole and ended up being about 5m away from where I was sat. To say that it left me in awe would have been an understatement.
I managed to sleep that night.