Field Journal: Namibia Safari 2015 from Okonjima to Etosha and Kunene
Posted by Giovanna Fasanelli
in Africa and Expeditions
Silly. Just silly awesome. Our Namibia safari has been nothing but amazing with hard-to-believe sightings of everything! The expedition kicked off with spectacular Cheetah and Leopard encounters in the Okonjima reserve, where the AfriCat Foundation has been passionately working to rescue and rehabilitate large carnivores caught in the crossfire of human-predator conflict. If we weren’t enjoying sundowners with the beautiful Leopard known as Shanti watching our every move from 50 yards away, we were walking with the famous trio of rescued Cheetahs (Bones, Spud and Coco), as they chased after escaping warthogs. The pair of floodlit Porcupines and Honey Badgers also delighted, as we marveled at the bizarre forms and behaviour of these rarely encountered nocturnal creatures.
Etosha National Park put on a truly remarkable show from the very first game drive, where we left Spotted Hyena pups lounging beside their den to watch a handsome Black Rhino amble across the clearing. The sightings continued as we bounced from a mother Cheetah and her two cubs overseeing their fresh Springbok kill, to enjoying the interactions of a thirsty, breeding herd of elephants drinking happily at the waterhole, the babies still learning how to use their trunks! The safari journey across the park the following day yielded breathtaking numbers of Lions, along with another Cheetah family striding across the brutally beautiful Etosha Pan. Observing the statuesque, white bull elephants that dominated Newbrownii waterhole, their massive, ghostly forms caked in flour-white clay powder, was an utterly arresting scene and one so unique to this part of Africa.
The waterhole of the adjacent Ongava property attracted yet more rhinos, including a wonderful White Rhino mother and her calf that were amicably greeted by a Black Rhino mother and calf. The two families seemed to know one another and, after a few friendly sniffs, they all quenched their thirst together in the silence of the night. It was only after they had moved off that the rarely seen Brown Hyena was able to do the same.
Our Namibia safari continued into the majestic, geological kingdom of the Kunene region, where desert-adapted elephants roam the ephemeral river beds and Welwitschia plants, some as old as the Bushman rock engravings of Twyfelfontein, lie in messy heaps of tangled leaves upon stony ground. Experiencing the friendly hospitality of the Himbas in their far-away village was a wonderful treat, cameras going wild as we attempted to capture their exotic and enigmatic beauty. Our mountain lodge, Mowani, was something else altogether: nestled amongst giant, granite boulders we gazed out over the stunning landscape, layers of colors and textures that seemed to go on forever. After admiring the incredible ancient engravings of Twyfelfontein we spent the afternoon tracking the resident desert elephants, eventually watching them walk past us as we sipped our cocktails. Following the herd to the waterhole, we watched as they happily vacuumed up the life-giving liquid, taking time to spray the cooling water over their dusty, behemoth forms. Unbelievably, a herd of thirsty cows rushed towards the waterhole and pushed away the elephants into the gathering dusk.
As we push ever westwards into some of the most remote regions of the Namib desert, we hope to explore the exquisite beauty of the dry Hoanib river and its desert-adapted wildlife, and to continue into the world’s loneliest coastline – the Skeleton Coast itself. Let the good luck continue… Stay tuned for more updates from our Namibia wildlife safari!
Read more about our Namibia expedition: Namibia Safari