Etosha National Park is one of the largest in Africa at 22,270 square kilometres (8,600 square miles). 1st established in 1907 as “Game Reserve Number 2” it was a stunning 80,000 square kilometres! Over the years the size has been reduced and in 1958 it was renamed Etosha National Park. Starting in 1956 numerous boreholes were drilled throughout the park to provide year round water access and today these waterholes are gathering points for all the wildlife.
Despite the fact that we had a flat tire along the way, we still arrived at Etosha in plenty of time for an evening game drive.
We had a lovely encounter with this old bull elephant (est 50-60 years old), he approached us very gently and just stood there looking at us as though we might understand what he wanted to say. Notice his very short tusks – the elephants in Etosha have very small tusks due to breakages from mineral deficiencies in their diet and genetics.
There are 4 species of giraffe – the Masai, Northern, Reticulated & Southern. (for more information visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s website https://giraffeconservation.org/giraffe-species/). Within those 4 species are several sub-species. These Angolan giraffes are a sub species of the Southern Giraffe and it is estimated that there are about 20,000 of them left in the wild.
Our first game drive ended with a herd of wildebeest under a beautiful sky, or so we thought!
As we were heading back to the lodge a mother rhino & her baby (more likely a juvenile) came charging up the road in front of us. It was almost dark, so my camera was put away. Some of the others captured it on video, but I couldn’t find my phone . I really hope they weren’t running from poachers, but it is possible given that 11 rhino were killed by poachers in the park the week before – very sad..
At this time of year (late June) Namibia is very dry, so most of the action happens at the waterholes. The next morning, we rolled up to one of the waterholes to find some young lions resting in the grass and watching for opportunity.
And Springbok assessing the threat level…
As we were heading to another waterhole, we spotted a group of lions in the grass watching a herd of Springbok. The lions are well camouflaged in this grass – it’s easy to spot 2 of them, but there were at least 5!
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount and variety of wildlife in Etosha. We saw a lot of giraffe, zebra, elephants, springbok, kudu, wildebeest and black rhino as well as several lions.
Having the opportunity to photograph a giraffe having a drink is really special; they are extremely vulnerable while doing so.
And no trip to Africa would be complete without the lilac-breasted roller!
In 1960 it was estimated that there were over 100,000 black rhino in Africa, today that number is estimated to be less than 5,600. Namibia is the only place where they are still allowed to roam freely and protecting them has its challenges.
There is nothing like a good wallow in the morning!
And then, the elephants arrived – walking up to the water hole like they owned it!
Baby elephants are always a joy to watch – their antics are guaranteed to leave a smile on your face!
Eventually this herd moved on, and right on their heels was a very large breeding herd. Always protecting the youngsters, they moved in for a drink.
Black rhino are browsers, they feed on leaves and branches as opposed to the white rhino who are grazers. Much smaller than their white counterpart, the black rhino’s two horns are closer in length to each other while the white rhino has a long, somewhat pointy front horn and a short back one. This is a black rhino…
Most elephant photos are of the elephant in their environment so its very difficult to convey their size. On this afternoon, 2 very large bulls were heading to the waterhole, and one of them walked literally right in front of our other vehicle. It was a great opportunity to capture his size – he made the full size truck look like a toy!
As I mentioned, rhino sightings are pretty rare so it’s really special to be face to face with one!
The next morning we drove out to the Etosha Pan, a vast (4800 square kilometre) salt pan that occupies about a quarter of Etosha National Park. There wasn’t much activity but we did have a beautiful sky, and saw an oryx (foreground) and 4 ostriches in the distance.
And just like that it was time to head back to Windhoek and ultimately home. Namibia is beautiful at every turn and even the drive back to the city didn’t disappoint! I leave you with a few shots from the road.