samedi 20 mai 2017

Namibia, Day 11, Tuesday, 25 April 2017. East Etosha Park

We went on a morning game drive. Fortunately they distributed blankets because the desert at 6 AM in an open jeep is a cold place. Our guide, Anna, was very knowledgeable and a fun person. We saw how an elephant shook a palm tree with its trunk and with its backside in order to make the nuts fall down and eat them. Then we watched a Cheetah stalking a mixed herd of Wildebeests, Springbocks and giraffes. The herd knew he was there and watched the cheetah but they also knew that they were too big a prey for him. He just followed them at a distance. Fascinating to observe how the animals go about their business of survival.
After a good buffet lunch followed by a rest and a visit to the snake park on the Makuti premises, it was time for the afternoon game drive. Now it was warm and more enjoyable. In Anna's  jeep there were the four of us and the brothers Bob and Kevin. We had a great time, and asked a lot of questions.
The guides communicate their sightings to all the other drivers by walkie-talkie, and so, all of a sudden Anna changed direction and drove full speed to find Number 1. We didn't know yet what was Number 1, we soon found out it means lions. And there they were, three lionesses very near the road, one was the mother and she had a sore paw and was limping, the other two her daughters. They completely ignored our presence. They were licking and grooming themselves before sinking away and disappearing into the grass. This experience is nothing like seeing a lion in a zoo. Here all the power of their muscles, the liquid movement of their stride and just the whole body language of these magnificent predators came to the fore.
Next came a call for Nr 5, that meant Rhino! When we got to the place, the rhino was not very far but hidden in the bush, you could only see his back. It was a black rhino, they forage the leaves of bushes but they don't graze as the white rhino does. Also they have a pointy mouth compared to the wide mouth which gives the white rhino its name (“wide”). We couldn't really see all that, Bob got very anxious to actually see for himself the pointy mouth! Anyway, so the other jeeps left the scene, but Anna said "let's wait a bit, I think he is going to cross the road to get to the puddle on the other side". Well she was right and we witnessed a fabulous spectacle! He splashed into the puddle, rolled over, jumped around, galloped a few paces, rolled in the mud again and then he walked over to a rock which was just the right height to fit under his belly, and scratched himself rocking to and fro. Wow, and all this about 15 m from the car. We have visited Kruger twice as well as other reserves in South Africa, but we never got to see a full rhino, they were always hidden in the bush. So we really appreciated this display of rhino behaviour.
Because of the time spent watching the rhino we only saw the last bit of an elephant family that had also delighted the spectators, but that was a good trade-off.
Of course those "big" game steal the show, but all the other animals are just as delightful. There was a very cute jackal, some warthogs, one with impressive massive defenses. They are not pretty, but they have a great attitude and with their tails straight up I find them really funny. There where the lovely zebras,  the elegant antilopes and the the not so elegant wildebeests (gnus) plus all the birds and ducks.
The supper was as pleasant as yesterday's, followed with quality time at the bar. We are starting to be a bit sad as this is the last day of Etosha, tomorrow we are on the return journey and that's never quite the same.
Safari ride in the morning, 141km
Google Earth view of our safari rides
Rather cold at 6:20 AM
Our guide Anna
At 6:40 AM we're at the gate
Plain zebras
Nice specimen
Elephant shaking a palm tree by pulling it...
... and pushing it!
Cheetah, almost invisible
Here's the cheetah
Kori bustard family
Moorhen bird
The zebra has right of way
Blue cranes
Word went around for Number 1
Enjoying life
Not bothered by all the spectators
Chanting Goshawk
Lilac Roller
Back to the lodge for lunch

Safari ride in the afternoon, 72km

Trio of giraffes
Lourie bird (Go-away bird)
Quite a family
Look at the crowd for No. 5... A black Rhino.
Black Rhinoceros
These horns are worth $500k in the black market

He decides to cross the road
Hey! a mud puddle
Feels great
I love it!
Rub a dum dum
Whynah bird
5 PM. Heading back to the lodge,
Mother and baby Rhino

Sunset giraffe

Just before leaving the park. One last giraffe

Snake park at the Lodge
Puff adder
Boom slang

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