10 November 2018
Today was ‘pack up and go’ and ‘set up and rest’ day. I was up at quarter to six, had a shower and started putting things in their correct places in preparation for towing the caravan. The Earl cooked us scrambled eggs and by the time Pat and I had tidied the dishes he’d lowered the roof, pulled up the stand and put the electrical connections away. We soon had the canopy dismantled and rolled up and Pat and Tony had their tent done too. So at 8:15 we departed for Okaukeujo. We took the direct route but The Mools took a slow drive stopping at waterholes.
We did pop into Rietfontein as it was easy to maneuver the caravan there. There were vultures on the giraffe that the mating couple had killed yesterday.
We had a few other interesting sightings along the way but there were long stretches of not very much. When we did see animals there were gatherings of hundreds of mixed species.
We saw a big male lion in the distance – he was walking toward a pan where there were herds of herbivores and they were clearly aware of him.
We were excited to find some interesting birds on the way.
We arrived at Okaukeujo at 10:15.
I went to check in and was told I could not do so before 11. The conversation went like this.
“No check in until 11.”
Now I understand this for chalet accommodation – they need to clean the room, make sure it’s ready for the next occupants – but for camping? Well, maybe if the site has been left in a mess – but most campers are responsible and don’t litter!
“Really? For camping?”
I put on a desperate expression – “But we’re towing a caravan – can’t we just park it and check in later?”
She looked put out and said I could park it outside reception.
“There is no caravan parking available,” said I. “My hubs is looking for a place as we speak. Please just let us park and we’ll check in later.”
She didn’t look happy but she gave in and agreed. I thanked her profusely – got the site number and off we went to set up. When we saw some of the tiny sites we were worried that the one assigned to us would have no shade and be too small for our Gecko Off Road Caravan plus the Mools’ tent but were pleasantly surprised when we got to Number 23- It was in excellent nick and had a lovely shady tree which hosted the sociable weavers’ nests. Other birds liked the tree too and we saw white-bellied sunbirds, masked weavers and scarlet chested sunbird.
It was hot! We set up quickly and went to check in properly at 11:15. Then we popped into the shop for bitterly cold sparkling water and ice cream!
The Earl then had a nap while I edited photos and did my diary.
The Mools arrived an hour or so after us, set up and had some lunch.
We then we all set off for a drive leaving around 4:30 pm. The trip up had yielded very little so we weren’t expecting too much. All we hoped for were some interesting birds.
Well we were in for a surprise – We saw some cars staring across the veld toward the mopane trees. On the tree line I spotted the first lion. Then another and still two more! We followed them for awhile.
“They’re probably heading to Gemsbok Vlakte Water Hole,” said The Earl. It was quite a distance for them to walk so we left them and carried on to another waterhole – Olifants Bad. On arriving there we saw a few cars watching the guinea-fowl and other birds making quite a commotion. We saw nothing until a ‘jeep-jockey’ called – “Just drive around those cars and look this way,” he said, “There’s a leopard drinking at the edge of the pond.” So we did but it took a while to spot the well camouflaged creature. We watched her drink for a second and then she was up.
She turned around and headed off through the mopani trees. She was escorted by a tribe of Praise Singers in the form of admiring guinea-fowl! They kept pace with her and we guessed that so long as they could see her, they were safe!
We followed the other cars who wanted to see her emerge onto the road on the other side of the trees. They were waiting for her and when she emerged everyone started reversing. We ended up being in the best spot and got some stunning shots of her before she disappeared though the tress on the other side of the road.
Wow! How trilled we were to see this creature so seldom seen in Etosha! We were on a high as we travelled toward Gemsbok Vlakte. There was nobody home when we arrived and no sign of the lions. Then we saw and heard a jackal howling. “That means the lions are nearby,” I said. We drove along the road a little while but quickly turned around when we saw the four rulers of the jungle marching determinedly across the veld toward the waterhole!
It was awesome to observe them slaking their thirst. The skies were darkening and a storm was brewing.
There was thunder and lightening. It was time to return to camp before the gate was closed. Suddenly the wind picked up and caused a dust storm and visibility was so poor The Earl could scarcely see the road! Fortunately it cleared and just before arriving home we spotted a rhino.
At Camp we were just in time to secure all of the canopy and tent poles. Many of the over-lander tents were blown over and campers were scurrying about to secure them.
We decided that making fire was going to be a problem so we bit the bullet and dug deep into our pockets to pay for an expensive meal at the restaurant! It was worth it though and a wonderful way to celebrate our lovely sightings.