Waterhole at Etosha.
The waterhole has gone quiet. In fact nothing is happening. Except of course for the ever present hyena lurking in for a quick sip.
It was all action before. Rhino jousting, it is all about posture and seniority I guess. Amazing to see five rhino drinking around this floodlit waterhole. Then a family of elephants appeared for an evening soirée. The big ones chased the rhino out of the area. I didn't know how intimate they are with each other, the elephants that is. They rub and nudge and rub some more in a group. Taking in water with their trunks and spraying it into their mouths. I never knew! Three young elephants of different ages with their two I guess older much larger elephants. A family?
Then just as quick as they appeared out of the darkness they were gone.
The rhino moved back in , more posturing and positioning, the mother and young one squaring up against a really large male. Then leaving into the blackness only to reappear some minutes later just when the male was forgetting about them and having a drink. Rhino action is quite slow, but amazing to be witness to this play around the floodlit waterhole.
It has gone quiet now, in fact so quiet that nothing is happening. Maybe it's halftime. I lay down on the park bench and was instantly fast asleep. That's what happens when you bring a bottle of red wine to the show. It has been a long day.
This is my second day in Etosha, up in northern Namibia. I have always wanted to come here for as long as I can remember. It is a secret world. You pay your ten dollars at the gate and then you disappear into Animalia. A labyrinth of dirt roads which provide the setting for the African play of life. A postcard of a continent as the wilderness reigns supreme.
My first encounter were with a bunch of giraffe! They are so much larger and cartoon like than you can imagine. Their heads sticking out above the trees like straight out of Dr Suess. Their almost slow motion gallop. Then came zebra, heaps of them, so close. They are just unfazed by cars. Springbok just everywhere, sometimes in small groups, other times on mass. Tussling with each other or just sitting there looking. Sheep I guess. Not sure what they all eat. There is not much grass in areas. Just low trees over a very rocky landscape.
Today I spent much of the morning parked by a waterhole just inside the gates. The normal parade of wild animals just didn't cease as they all position themselves to take turns at moving in for a drink. Heaps of wilderbeast hung around the fringes, chasing each other or grazing seemingly non existent grass. The Kudu with their huge twisted horns moving in ever so slowly. They are a large beast, easy the size of a horse.
I feel a bit guilty for all the delicious Kudu and gemsbok biltong Ive been eating. Sure is tasty. I even tried a zebra steak. Not as delicious as a Gemsbok oryx fillet. Easy my favourite so far.
Oryx are everywhere with their distinctive horns and colouring. They hang about the waterholes in numbers with the zebra an springbok. Just hanging. A giraffe ventured in. It took ages to feel certain of going in for a drink. Wonder what attacks a giraffe? Then slowly came Ostrich. Their progress so slow that every time I looked they seemed to be standing still balancing on one leg, like the game the kids play where you move only when the back is turned. Maybe they think no one will notice them if they just go really slow. Blend into the background with their big black and white feathered bodies and really skinny long necks that bend whichever way. Sure no one notices. When they finally make it other hole that take turns in this dance of always having one with their head up. It is funny.
I can just watch all day in this surround vision drive in movie theatre. I keep looking for David Attenborough to pop up to explain. Every now and then a bus pulls up and instantly out the window come twenty or more really long lenses, all pointing and snapping. It's crazy this nature big business.
The thing about sitting in your car by the waterholes is that you are not allowed to step out of your car. The cats are in camo it seems and unaware tourists are fair game, so stay in the car the signs read. However I still need to stretch and can't help but sneak a quick exit even if I do have my back to the car and my eyes peeled. Apparently the cats are hard to spot, being in camo and all. So hard in fact I still havnt seen one, which is why I am still at the night waterhole.
After the waterhole in the morning I travelled through to Halali, the second camp in Etosha. The park itself is massive, situated around a salt pan that itself measures a hundred by eighty kilometres. It is bordered by huge grass plains as far as the eye can see, before changing into the low tree landscape I saw this morning. It was a fantastic sight in the late afternoon driving through this flat grass plain, with just the abundance of wildlife. It really must be a vision of another time and just shows the importance of these protected wilderness areas. A particular sight is that of small flocks of ostrich grazing the grass land. It must be somewhat how Moa must have been in Aotearoa at one time.
So here I am at Halali. It is reasonably quiet compared to the other main camp. You just pitch your tent on a sandy base! I am used to sleeping on the ground now. It took a few nights to get my camping fitness back! I love it and am glad for my hottie on some of the colder nights. I am eating simply, drinking simply and simply sitting by the fire. It is fun.
Well the waterhole is still quiet. The watchers with their multitude of telescopic infra red cameras have departed. The occasional jackal and hyena are coming by for a quick slurp but it seems the show is over for now. Bugger, I really want to see a leopard, but I guess they are not thirsty yet, or maybe they drink at another venue. The sign at the gate to the waterhole reads ‘Enter at Own Risk’ and I am now here all alone with a ten minute walk down a dark path.
Africa sure can be a scary place…