Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure Day 18 and 19 – Windhoek to Mata Mata

13 November – Windhoek

Sadly we had to leave Etosa National Park today. It has been the most awesome visit ever and we are full of all the amazing sightings we have had in the 10 days we’ve been here.
Today we headed to Windhoek and once again checked into AnJo Villa.   We had a long afternoon’s rest and then went to do some shopping before having dinner at Jo’s Beer house.

14 November – Mata Mata

We had an early breakfast at AnJo’s and were fueled and on the road by 7:45.  It was a 6 hour drive to Mata Mata border post and we only stopped for fuel and then a brief snack break on the side of the road.

The last 250 km was on a gravel road.  Our Everest has new tyres with tread meant for rough roads and we were going well on the excellent road.  A few stones were kicked up by the tyres and I hoped that the front windscreen would not get any nicks.   Suddenly we heard a loud bang –like a rifle shot.

What was that – I yelled

In a dead calm voice the Earl replied,  “The back windscreen just shattered.  A stone must have thrown, bounced off the caravan and smashed it.”

He didn’t even stop, saying that there was nothing we could do till we got to Mata Mata.

Our smashed back windscreen

It was to say the least a little nerve wracking as the glass kept caving into the back of the car and stones flew in and landed right up front!  It happened at 2 pm and we arrived at the border post at 3.  We were checked through by the Namibian Border Control and then just had the car checked by officials on the SA side at Mata Mata.

We set up camp and then dealt with the shattered glass.   It was a mission to get all the glass cleared away.   We did not put up the sides of our canopy so Earl used one of them  to cover the hole where the windscreen was for the night
Pat and I spent a short time in the hide overlooking the waterhole and saw some jackal, surricates, ground squirrel and birds.  


Then we went to prepare supper. Just as we started there was a stir and Earl went to investigate.  Just three lions, he reported back, so we dashed for cameras and binoculars, left everything and dashed to the fence.  What an amazing start to our Kgalalagadi visit.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 17 – Okaukuejo

12 November 2018

Today we first went to the waterhole then had breakfast in camp.  We were out by 8:15 and had a lovely morning.

First of all our birding was most rewarding 

Crimson-breasted shrike – National Bird of Namibia

 

Sabota Lark
Purple Roller

Then we went past Gemsbok vlakte and on to Olifantsbad. 

On the side of the road we found this broken-horned steenbok

Spot his wife over the road

There is a picnic spot and long-drop near Olifantsbad and I wanted to have a pit stop there before going to the waterhole but The Earl wanted to check it out first.   If nothing is there he tends to resist waiting a while before leaving.  I wanted to have coffee and a snack in the car at the waterhole, giving us time to sit and wait for the creatures to arrive!

I was quite cross that he wouldn’t listen to me – – – but not for long. As soon as we came in sight of the water hole I spotted them – A whole tribe of ellies drinking.  And that’s not all – there was a variety of other game too.  It was awesome.

Spot the Red Hartebeest Baby following his mommy.

 

Still wobbly on his legs

We spent over an hour watching and photographing.

Then we went past Gemsbokvlakte again and enjoyed another half hour watching all the plains animals drinking. 

A mom and dad ostrich were standing in the sun with wings spread to shade their chicks – It was so sweet.

Are you guys okay?
It’s cool and shady here, thanks Mom and Dad

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 16 – Okaukuejo

11 November 2018

Today was overcast and we had a few drops of rain but the wind died down.  We made our way to Sprookwoud some way away but did not have very good sightings. The animals are clearly closer to the camp.

We stopped at a picnic site for breakfast and found dozens of thirsty sociable weavers.  We poured water into the empty bird bath and they stormed it with gusto. A bul bul tried to join them but they would have none of it.   Then a little goshawk swooped on them and they scattered in fright. Suddenly I heard a splat and couldn’t see through my right eye! I removed my glasses and found that a frightened bird had crapped on them!

Everybody thought it was very funny!

Back at camp we went to the Waterhole and saw a lovely collection of game.

We went out again in the afternoon but saw very little.

Northern Korhaan – female

Sabota Lark
Quite an effort just to get a drink

Zebra and Gemsbok
Approaching the water hole
Elephant and springbok enjoying a drink toether
Typical Etosha scene
Greater Kestrel

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 15 Halali to Okaukeujo

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.

Big herd of zebra
Springbok find a shady tree

We were excited to find some interesting birds on the way.

Greater Kestrel
Double banded courser with chick

Northern Black Korhaan

We arrived at Okaukeujo at 10:15. 

Entrance to Okaukuejo

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?”

“YES!”

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.

Our Campsite

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. 

The first lion

Then some more

“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 was off!

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!

Leopard escorted by her praise singers

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.

We saw her coming through the trees

Right next to the car

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!

Rulers of the Vlakte
Slaking their thirst at Gemsbok vlakte water hole

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.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 14

9 November 2018

I only woke up at quarter to six this morning and hopped up to go to the showers.  Our little camp was still very quiet when  I returned although The Earl had risen and gone to the ablutions too.  I called to Pat who sleepily replied that she was awake but not dressed!   I put on the kettle and soon we were all enjoying coffee and rusks. 

We decided not to go to the waterhole this morning. I thought this to be a bad move as I was sure we’d see more there than on a game drive – but I was proved wrong!  Today we had the most awesome day as my photos will demonstrate

We visited several waterholes and each one had something special to amuse us.

Of course we stopped for birds along the way.   Our national bird the blue crane and national animal, the springbok appeared in the same frame!

We also saw Norther Black korhaan for the first time this trip.  A major tick was the red breasted swallow, which The Earl spotted.  

Imagine our delight when we pulled into our breakfast stop – Springfontein Waterhole and saw a honeymoon couple right out in the open.  When lions are in love they spend all day together and mate ever 10 to 15 minutes!  We spent over an hour with these two love lions while enjoying our breakfast and coffee.

First they had their backs to us

But soon they turned to look our way – we were in the perfect spot

He cuddled up closely

While watching herds and herds of zebra and other grazers at Salvador I spotted a huge male lion making his way toward the smorgasbord.   As they became aware of his approach the animals stood to attention and only relaxed marginally when he flopped down under a shady tree.

Watch out Zebra – Lion approaching!

While the lion takes a nap, let’s have a drink!

On our way back to camp we came across cheetah!  Cheetah are not seen very often in Etosha so we were thrilled to see three on a kill.   They were behind a thorn bush so photography was tricky.

One of them was kind enough to look up from his meal and almost look at the camera

After supper we sat at the waterhole for an hour or two.  Rhino and elephant came down to drink.  No flash photography is allowed from the hide but I got one or two of the rhino before it became too dark.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 13 – Halali, Etosha National Park

 

8 November

I was up by five thirty this morning.  I made coffee and woke everyone at quarter to six.  By 6:15 we were all at the waterhole and spent an hour or so there.  It was awesome watching the birds and then the animals come down in turns to drink.

First we watched black-faced impala and guinea fowl drinking in the early light

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then a marabou stork flew in, landing like a Boeing  into the shallows.

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A little later kudu arrived

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Lots of little birds were flitting about too.

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Golden-breasted Bunting
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Black-crowned tjagra 

The Earl cooked breakfast and then we went for a drive just after 9.  

We were delighted to see herds and herds of plains animals  The zebra population is certainly in no danger of extinction in the Etosha National Park!

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Plenty of zebra
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This baby tried to hid behind Mommy

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Double Banded Sand-grouse came down to drink too.
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A springbok and kori bustard barely greeted each other as they passed by each other.
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We came across a rhino without a horn  – removed to prevent poaching?  I don’t like that idea.
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We saw these boys at a distance and then they came closer and closer.  They were on their way to a waterhole.

We made it a short day today and returned to camp at 14:30.   Pat and I did some laundry and we all had a swim in the pool.

For dinner we did chicken curry in the Remoska Pot.

After dinner we went to the waterhole. Earl decided not to come. Pat and I stayed from 8:30 to 10:30 but Tony left after he’d seen enough rhino standing perfectly still to last a lifetime!   Pat and I were determined to see elephant and two large males appeared as soon as Tony left!   The rhino made a hasty retreat at their approach and hung in the shadows until they left.

During our vigil hyenas came and went and  we counted 10 altogether.  There were also a total of 10 rhino coming and going during the evening.   Lovely to see that these endangered creatures have escaped the poachers’ guns.

We also saw a genet.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 12 – Namutoni to Halali – Etosha National Park

7 November 2018

I booked three nights in each camp so that we have two full days to enjoy each one.  So today would be treated as a pack up and set up day. We got up at 6:00 had a leisurely breakfast then packed up camp.  By 8:30 we were on the road, The Earl and I ahead as The Mools wanted to visit the Fort Shop before they left.   Because we tow a caravan we did not do any detours to waterholes.  In spite of this the main route of 70 km directly to Halali produced some lovely sightings

The dry arid regions are popular with secretary birds and we were thrilled to find two today.

We continued to stop for the odd jackal and giraffe but were not expecting anything to exciting.

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Then half way to Halali we saw two cars stopped on the side of the road.  “Probably rhino,”  I said to The Earl but as we drew nearer I spotted her in the shade of a bush just a stone’s throw from the road

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– A female lion feasting on what we think was the remains of a giraffe kill.  There were two uninvited guests whom she could easily have chased off but she generously allowed them to chew on a bone or two.

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“There must be others,”  I said, scanning the area with my binoculars.

“I looked,” said The Earl – “Nobody else here”

“I think I see them under that tree,”  I replied.

“No – they’re just logs!”

But then one of the logs flicked an ear!   “One male and three females”  I informed him.
A little while later the dining female got up and went to join the pride.

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They all sat up to greet her and then the male decided he needed more nourishment and went off to the kill chasing the jackal for good measure.  We watched for a bit longer and then made our way to Halali well satisfied with our morning.

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It was just after 11 when we arrived.  We checked in, went to the tourist shop to get a few supplies and then got our caravan set up on site 8 before the Mools arrived.  I was worried that they would miss the lions but although they’d detoured to a waterhole they did get to see them.  They were all under the sleeping tree enjoying a final chew on the bones.

The Mools were soon set up and we had a bite to eat and a nap before setting out for a short game drive at 15:30.

We visited Nuanasa waterhole where we had fun watching the antics of golden breasted bunting, cinnamon breasted bunting,  Cape glossy starlings and red headed quelea.

Goaz is always a good water hole to visit but there wasn’t much to see today.  However, we enjoyed the few zebra and impala as well as the Egyptian geese and redbilled teal.

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When we got back to camp we went to the waterhole, then went back for a braai.   After supper Tony, Pat and I went to the waterhole for an hour and saw a rhino with a baby, another rhino joined them for a while and then they went their separate ways.  A few hyena also visited.

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Halali has the best water hole of all three camps.

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 11 Namutoni, Etosha National Park

Apologies to my regular followers for not posting every day. The internet in the bush is slow and won’t even think of obliging  to upload my photographs!  My diary is up to date so I will post when I can.  There probably won’t be another until I return to Struisbaai.  Today I’m in Windhoek but then it’s The Kgalagdi  where there’s no internet at all.

6 November 2018\

The picnic sites in Etosha are not great so we usually stop at a waterhole and have brekkie in the car.  This can be tricky when it comes to pouring coffee and dishing out cereal but a chopping  board, balanced on Pat’s file which just fits over the box of field guides makes a suitable table.

When we parked off at Groot Okvevi, there was not much to see except for a few doves and starlings taking the waters.  We sat and watched for a while and then other birds appeared to entertain us. Then a dear little steenbok appeared and timidly took a drink before scampering off.

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The Earl captured the reflection so beautifully

After that the action really began – we munched on cereal and boiled eggs while watching zebra. Then a family of four kudu emerged from the bushes and took turns to drink.  They became very alert and then something frightened them and they sprang out of the water and further up the bank.

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A pregnant hyena came loping down the from the thicket and plunged straight into the water.  She sat down up to her neck and the other animals could only look on and hope she’d leave soon. But she was enjoying her bath and stayed for ages.   Tony quipped – I think she’s planning a water birth!

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We also enjoyed watching Namaqua and Burchell sandgrouse fly in to the water’s edge take a drink and then fly off again.  This happens in waves and is fascinating to watch.

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We spent about three hours just at this one waterhole.  The hyena did eventually leave the water but she plopped down under a nearby tree and had a sleep in the shade.  When we returned in the afternoon, she was back in the pond.

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We went back to camp just before 11 and spent some time at the Camp Waterhole then rested till 2:30 when we went out again.

After stopping off to see our pregnant hyena we drove some roads and the highlights were at Tsumcar waterhole which is really popular with the in-crowd.  Not sure what the waiting list here is but it’s always busy.

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This warthog had fun rolling in the mud

We also enjoyed the shore birds

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Marsh Sandpiper

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Kitlitz Plover

We arrived at another waterhole just in time to see the elephants come down for their evening drink and bath.

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Our day ended with a delicious chicken stir fry.  Pat and I prepared the ingredients and Tony cooked it expertly on the Skottel.

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Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 10 Namutoni, Etosha National Park

5 November 2018

This morning we packed a breakfast basket and set off at the gate opening time of 6:00 am.  It is cooler in the mornings and the animals are most active then so the earlier you get out there the better your chances of seeing interesting wild life.

 

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The first bird of the morning – Kalahari Scrub-robin

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How amazing to spot these two endangered beauties.   These are Black Rhino  – the leaf eating, narrow lipped variety.

We stopped at a waterhole where guinea fowl and doves were taking the waters.  The coffee craving had set in so we sat in the car to enjoy our breakfast.  This turned out to be a great thing to do because the waterhole became a hive of activity.  Warthogs came to wallow and buck to drink but they soon scuttled off when they smelled somebody approaching.

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This hyena came down to drink

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Off he went after slaking his thirst.

We followed him until he disappeared into the thickets

My favourite is this elegant and graceful, long-necked creature

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There are thousands of guinea fowl in the park and one tends to overlook them – but they are really rather beautiful

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A tawny eagle

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We saw two like this wily jackal out on the salt pan

 

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The Kori Bustard also fancied a walk on the pan

 

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A rrufous-naped lark entertained us with his lovely song and wing flicking

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Seen frequently were Pale Chanting Goshawks

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The scaly-feathered finch do look cross but they’re very sweet

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This little skink caught our attention

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Gemsbok or Oryx are very handsome creatures

Later in the morning we visited another waterhole on the pan where we found a huge gathering of animals and birds.

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What a handsome brute

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The water’s lovely once you’re in!

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Mud glorious mud

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Kitlitz Plover

As we continued our drive we saw more lovely creatures

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Namibia’s National Bird – The Crimson Breasted Shrike

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Red Hartebeest

Back at Namutoni we visited the camp waterhole again and were delighted to see a few animals come down to drink and the highlight for me was the Marabou Stork who preened and displayed beautifully.

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The marabou stork reminds me of an undertaker!

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Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 9 Namutoni, Etosha National Park

4 November 2018

We left The Waterberg and enjoyed a very pleasant trip to Namutoni.  Check in went well and we were excited to be back in Etosha National Park.  We had thoroughly enjoyed our trip in July 2015 and were very much looking forward to this our first caravan trip to the park.

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Entering the Etosha

 

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Within minutes of entering the Gate we encountered springbok, black faced Impala and this gorgeous giraffe

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Entrance to Namutoni Rest Camp

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We were assigned a lovely shady campsite

Once we were set up we had some lunch, a rest and then set out at just after 4 pm.  Etosha is made of saline desert, woodlands and savanna grasslands.

The salt pans in the park are mostly devoid of vegetation with the exception of a protein-rich grass that is used by wildebeest, zebra, oryx and springbok among other grazers.

Although our first drive was a short one we saw a number of interesting birds and animals.

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Kori Bustard

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The sabota lark welcomed us with a song

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There was little to be seen at Two Palms

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Lesser Grey Shrike

We were on our way back to camp when this fellow appeared and crossed the road.

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We followed him for 15 minutes – there was only one other car to share the experience with.

IMG_1954Each camp in Etosha has a waterhole that you can visit any time of day or night.  Before dinner we popped over to Namutoni’s Hide to watch the sun set.  We did not braai tonight, but instead cooked chicken and vegetables in the Remoska Pot. It was an awesome end to a delightful day.