Fredo and Janey are now on their third comprehensive Etosha experience. Fourteen days in 2013, 21 days in 2015 and now 14 days in 2018 – this place grows in you. This is not the place you come to for a few days here and there, rushing from one water hole to the next, often driven by game rangers who have instructions to make sure the people in their vehicles see the most animals possible in the shortest possible time.
You also do not stay outside and come in every day for your ‘animal rush.’ No. to experience the heart and soul of this wonderful place, you need to take it slow and you have to be where the action is.
[divider]When these outside game drivers get to what could be a special experience, the people they are driving are rushed through taking their photographs became their mates somewhere else have already told them that there are some exotic animal somewhere else and they have to get there quickly. Their radios disturb the peace. Big buses with thirty or forty people inside push others out of the way – all in order to let the ‘sardines’ in the bus think they have now really seen the best of Africa’s wildlife.
In fact, the best way to get them out of the way, is to stop next to them, ask how they were and then point in the opposite direction mentioning the word ‘RHINO”. Soon you will have peace to enjoy nature.
Here there are no quick fixes because Africa’s children rewards those who are patient and quiet and often follow the unbeaten track, as well as those able to read the bush and understand that things often happen unexpectantly.
[divider]A case in point was Janey and Fredo’s decision this afternoon to drive the odd 15 kms to Gemsboksvlakte when all the other vehicles were already heading back to camp. In the late afternoon sun we watched the springbok having their last drink of the day, their brilliant colours bright and shiny. The young Jackall lay with his head on his paws barely three yards from Janey – inviting her to take his picture, staring at her with his piercing little eyes. On the way back, with closing time approaching at the gate at Okaukeujo, we saw a most brilliant sunset. The sun dipped behind the horizon and dusk settled in. The Ranger’s head lights were on – 15 minutes to closing time.
[divider]Suddenly, some 60 yards ahead of us a shape rose out of the middle of the road. We stopped and there was an old male Lion standing proudly in the middle of the road. His tail was up, he turned his head towards us and suddenly, deliberately, started walking towards us. Our cameras were clicking and he kept coming, until we were making eye contact with those piercing yellow eyes. What if he put his paws on the bonnet and jump up? He continued and passed less than 60 centimetres on Janey’s side. In the corner of his eye he must have sensed there was movement in the cabin of the Ranger. He suddenly jumped forward and sideways, instinctively, to avoid danger.
Then he continued down the road – we turned the Ranger around and looked at him from the back. Broad, proud and almost fierce and threatening from the front, he now suddenly looked thin and weak from the back. We realised that he was old and weak, having been kicked out by his pride. He was finding it difficult to hunt and faced a bleak future. Yet he continued with what his instincts told him = continue to hunt. In his world there is no place for the weak – you carry on or you perish. There is no lion old age home where he can live out his last days.
During the night the local Okaukeujo lion pride settled near the water hole. Three of them drew hundreds of visitors to the lookout where during the evening one can watch the animals under flood lights. We saw six rhino there a few nights ago.
Last night and until the early morning the old male kept us awake with his mating rituals. We counted eight times when his roars sounded over Olaukeujo. Every time the roars and sound effects were heard, all the jackals in a radius of two to three kilometres joined in the chores. It was the real Etosha choir at its best.
Yes, Africa rewards one with the most special experiences and we were lucky to be part of it.