our 'safari' at Etosha N.P. an enormous game area of
scrub, desert and travelled from one waterhole to
another in search of wildlife. 'Etosha' has been
appropriately translated as the 'The Great White Place'
and indeed the centre piece is an elliptical salt pan,
absolutely blinding white in the sun, some 100km by
50km, and easily swallowing up four 'Singapores' in
hour of entering the park we had already seen hundreds
of animals starting with the rare black-faced impala and
the unmistakable long necks of several giraffes. Zebras
crossed our path at 2 metres distance in a long line
without apparent fear and in the distance four species
can be photographed in one image: wilderbeasts,
ostriches, springboks and zebras.
first night at Okaukeujo was a sensation as in the
floodlit waterhole huge elephants came to drink followed
by a pair of 'white' rhinos (the 'white' is actually
'wide' for the shape of their mouth which evolved to
crop grass whereas the 'black' rhino has a narrower
mouth more designed to ' browse' ie eat the leaves from
bushes, both species having the same grey colour).
on the far side of the waterhole the two rhinos pivot
round to a back to back position and one could sense
that some predator is approaching. With the binoculars
one could see on the far ridge several lions gingerly
traversing the dark skyline and in a moment one bounded
towards the semi-circle of spectators and made a kill of
a springbok, all within ten metres of us.
gripping the neck of the springbok very still for a full
minute the lion inexplicably took off leaving its prey
behind. Perhaps it sensed the presence of humans, its
only enemy. Within a few minutes the jackals were on the
carcass and the next morning there was nothing left.
next night produced another interestng spectacle as
three elephants stood on the near edge of the waterhole
apparently immobile and showing no interest in drinking.
Then we saw the huge male pull some water up with its
trunk and inject it into the mouth of another who as it
turned out must have been injured and cannot suck up the
water. It was a salutary experience of health care in
the animal kingdom.
Austral winter the nights can be as cold as 4˚C and
you would not find any mosquitoes. The
accommodations are quite adequate and at the
government run Okaukeujo Restcamp in the Etosha Pan
one could even rent a luxury two storey house
overlooking the floodlit waterhole though you
wouldn't get much sleep as the animals bleat all
through the night.
Waterberg Plateau was formed about 200M yrs ago over
an ancient shield and is now a compacted sandstone
'lump of rock' rising about 250m. It has been
designated a wildlife park. Due to the permanent
waterholes there it was the stronghold of the Herero
(Bantu) tribe and during its uprising against the
Germans in 1904 the German artillery on the plains
below massacred thousands on the plateau above.
spent one afternoon and night here. Memorably we had
banded mongooses, initially mistaken for mercats,
coming very close at the patio tables when we had
Etosha to Twyfelfontein
rather long 380 km stretch of mainly tarmac road
passes through three sightseeing attractions: the
ranching town of Outjo, the rock pinnacle called
Finger Rock and the National Monument of Petrified
all these towns in Namibia the whites (Germans,
South Africans etc) are vastly outnumbered but
surprisingly maintained a private school as well as
a very large Dutch Reformed Church. Though the
official language is English and probably has been
since the South Africans took over from the Germans
after the first World War, we still meet whites who
could hardly speak the language but converse either
in German or Afrikaans. Paradoxically all the black
Namibians we met spoke excellent English.
Rock is exactly as one might imagine it to be, a
rock of a finger sticking straight as an arrow into
the sky. Not far away are two or three Mesas or as
they called them here 'Terraces'. This is the
'Monument Valley' of Namibia and definitely worth
the small diversion.
Petrified Forest is similiar to the famous one in
Arizona, with fossil logs scattered in horizontal
positions as they had been swept down by glaciers
Twyfelfontein ('Doubtful Spring') in NW Namibia has
the largest number (2400) of Stone Age Rock
Engravings in Africa. The engravings are mainly of
animals found in the area though a unique feature
here are engravings of both animal and human
footprints. The main group is thought to
be a Ceremonial Rock and has 180 engravings.
a Dama lady guide who speaks excellent English. The
Damas are part of the Khoisan speaking group which
uniquely have four letters of the alphabet which can
only be described as tongue 'clicking' noises. When
the guide demonstrated them to us one was a single
click, one a double click and the third a
sucking-kissing sound. It was more complicated than
Chinese and when I said so as much the guide fell
apart laughing. The Khoisan group typically have
brown skin and their facial features vary from the
Bushmen type to Caucasoid.