Sunday, 18 December 2016

Desert Safari: Etosha National Park.

This is the second in a series about our African Safari trip. Read Part 1 here.

Living the dream in the African desert areas of Namibia!

Starting Out

We had met up with our fellow travelers in Capetown and were now embarking on the second part of our tour into the Namibian desert. Our countries of origin were Australia, England (UK) and Belgium; and over the next 21 days, we became firm friends..

Starting out, outskirts of Capetown.

Roadside picnic lunch.

Lending a hand to tidy up!

Safari Truck Life

For those who haven't encountered a safari truck or trip before, I thought I'd include some details about daily life on safari. Our well-cared for truck catered for all our needs during the often long days of driving. It was air conditioned - a necessity, not a luxury in the heat of the desert days - and had a good sized freezer for our larger 5 litre water bottles, which we could not do without!

As well, it had extremely big windows for observation of wildlife and accommodated all our baggage and food for lunches and dinners on the way. Lunches were often by the roadside in a shady spot. Some dinners were catered for at the lodges, but some were prepared by our Zimbabwean guide and driver who were expert cooks. Beautiful salads supplemented with a variety of cold cuts and dessert items were produced for lunch and wonderful African dishes were often on the menu for dinners at night. Topped with wonderful local vino and beers, all tastes were well satisfied!

A fine local wine to accompany our meal.

Visiting a Himba Traditional African Desert Village

Continuing on from White Lady Lodge, (see last post: Desert Safari, Capetown to White Lady Lodge. Part 1) our trip included joining up with a native guide to show us the daily life of a Himba village.


Our guide told us that at the age of 7, he was given the choice to either stay and continue in the traditional farming way of goat herding, or go many miles away from his family to boarding school to gain a further education. This was what he chose, but later came back to guiding to help his people. We were shown a small one room primary classroom set up with very basic equipment, a few books and pencils. We came equipped with all these and other goods to gift to the school, having bought them nearby. As a teacher, it was very though provoking to see this small one-room school.

We had also seen children by the roadside markets with their mothers who should have had access to a school, but the distances were too far to travel by foot each day. We did see lots of schoolchildren in larger populated areas coming in by bus, all happy, some singing and unfazed by the dusty roads, walking along in their beautifully clean uniforms.

Village Life

The Himba women rise early to prepare themselves for the day, before dawn. They need time to prepare the elaborate cleansing and hair braiding that is so important to their status. The Himba never wash, but rub red oxide, animal fat and ochre in to their bodies. They also use a smoke sauna to wash themselves and open the pores each morning. The women all  wear ankle rings which are increased in number as they grow and older women wear elaborate  headdresses.

Intricate braiding of the hair takes hours of work before dawn.
There are no modern luxuries in this traditional African Himba village.
 The young children take the goat herd out each day to forage on grass. The women have to cart water on their heads to the village and we saw them making jewellery and crafted goods for the tourist trade. The children, our guide explained, can make a choice at age 7 or 8, to leave home and get an education by going away to boarding school as he did, or stay in the village situation. A hard decision to leave your family at such a young age.

Goat farming is the main source of meat, milk and skins for the village.


ARRIVAL: Etosha National Park

Etosha game reserve at last! Strict rules apply as can be seen on the sign.

At last after many miles of a dead-straight gravel and dusty road, we arrived at the gates of Etosha National Park! Strict rules are in place to protect both animals and visitors. These include enforcement of a 60km driving speed rule throughout the park and keeping within the confines of the bus, truck or car in observation areas  such as waterholes and roadside stops. We also kept silent at observation stops but for the click of camera shutters!

It soon became obvious who were good at spotting wildlife, some were good at finding well-camouflaged animals and others like myself able to find birdlife in the tree tops! On the way in, first up we were treated to 2 male lions who were brothers, sleeping under a tree. They had been kicked out of a pride and were collared for tracking. Also we saw a giraffe close up eating lunch right next to our bus!

Two brothers having a siesta in the extreme heat!

Giraffes are so well camouflaged: for such tall animals that they are hard to find!


This was a good omen and we were happy to be shown our well appointed cabins in Okaukeujo Lodge. We found a large indoor and outdoor area for dining, a huge swimming pool and most importantly a fenced waterhole where you are able to observe animals coming in to drink at any time of the night or day. Many people drifted in and out to observe the elephants, rhinoceros, giraffe, springboks and jackals to name just a few types of thirsty wildlife. Silence is observed here as well, and it makes the whole experience magical, especially at night.

Arriving at the Etosha National Park Okaukuejo Lodge

Night visiting elephants at the waterhole at the lodge. A magical experience!

Game Drive

After lunch, we quickly got our cameras and binoculars ready for our first major game drive. We were hugely lucky to see the mud covered elephants coming in to drink at our very first waterhole.

It was a truly amazing sight to see these huge "ghost" elephants recoating themselves with mud which is a white clay covering that protects them from the heat and insects. The waterholes come alive in the late afternoon with springbok and waterbirds, black rhino, giraffes, plains zebras, ostriches and even jackals trotting through the whole crowd of thirsty animals.

The ghost like mud covered elephants of Etosha.

Endangered black rhino at the waterhole.

An unusual sight, a giraffe and black rhino together for a drink.

Magnificent sight of a mud covered elephant surrounded by hundreds of springbok and a few ostriches!

Afternoon Safari Drive

During the afternoon drive, we managed to see the majority of animals we had hoped to see and more! Just on sunset, we came across a male lion roaring amazing to hear. He was following a lioness and sat down so close to us, only a few metres away, to observe her drinking at the waterhole. Eventually, he followed her as she set off for some scrub in the distance, a truly memorable afternoon!

It had been truly a magical experience, we were so lucky to see so many animals in the wild at Etosha National Park in Namibia and will cherish those memories forever. I really enjoyed the safari style of trip and would recommend you try one. We had good accommodation and the food was excellent, it's fun to travel with a small group and we had the added bonus of easy observation of  the African animals in their natural environment. 

Lion following a lioness to the waterhole.

Lioness looking cautiously around before preparing to drink.

Plains zebra in the desert afternoon light.

Just For You:

Have you ever wanted to see African animals in their homeland, when a trip to the zoo just doesn't fit the bill? And would you like to participate in a safari trip?

If you would like to leave a reply, I would love to hear what you think of my safari trip!