Namibia, A Road Trip – 2 – Onguma, Etosha
Our road trip in Namibia began in the capital city, Windhoek
This trip was planned as a photo safari organized with David Rogers. We met up with him and three other friends who made up our group. The adventure began the way most adventures do – by stocking the car with food! True to road trip tradition, we stopped by the side to have a picnic lunch under a convenient – though not shady – palm tree!
We took the inland route and drove up the B1. It took most of the first day to reach Onguma Game Reserve. This park borders the Etosha National Park abutting the Lindequist Gate which is the eastern entrance to Etosha.We had chosen to stay the first two nights in the tented camp at Onguma. Like most camps in Africa, the tents are luxurious and well appointed.The staff are helpful and friendly. The delicious food is presented on elegantly laid out tables.
Early next morning we set off to explore Etosha. The park is about 22,270 sq kms, with a combination of saline desert, savannah grasslands and woodland ecosystems. It is, in fact, a part of the Kalahari desert – the largest expanse of loose sand on earth – about 900,000 sq kms! This desert spans 9 countries from Southern Namibia to the equator. The early hours were a perfect time to watch the various species of birds
and animals frolicking
in the morning sunshine.There were vast stretches of land covered by beautiful yellow flowers as far as the eye could see.We got back to Onguma for lunch and after a brief rest we drove around this beautiful reserve
before the day ended with a spectacular sunset.The following day we checked out of Onguma and returned to Etosha. This time we drove along the Etosha pan. This is a shallow depression in the ground approximately 5000 sq kms across. Every few years when the rains are sufficient, this pan fills in to become a huge lake. This year it was dry and cracked up. The sun was high in the sky and we could see heat waves shimmering across the surface of the pan.The prehistoric, almost lunar, landscape …
We were extremely fortunate to encounter the desert rhino at extremely close quarters. The Namibian black rhinos are recognised internationally as part of the “desert group” for conservation purposes. Though grey skinned, these animals appear almost white because of the saline mud that they wallow in giving them an almost ghostly look. They cover large distances in their search for food and water in this arid land.They have adapted their feeding habits to include drylands plants overcoming the chemical and physical defences of these plants without any apparent harm to themselves. For example, they are one of the few species known to eat the fibrous welwitschia leaves or feed on the candelabra euphorbia which has sharp spines and a toxic latex.We spent the evening at Okaukuejo Rest Camp within the park. This camp, though fenced, also has a waterhole facing it.We set up tripods and a mini snack bar around a conveniently placed bench and settled down to wait. The animals came in slowly.
Impala, Wildebeest, Zebra, Black Backed Jackal, Oryx …As the sun disappeared, this magnificent elephant made a grand entrance.Awaking in the early hours of the morning for a glass of water, we walked up to the window of our chalet and were treated to this fantastic sight …That day we spent driving across Etosha, enjoying the landscape as much as the wildlife.
In the late afternoon, we stopped at Dolomite Camp in the far west of Etosha. We parked at the base of a hill and the camp staff came down in a golf cart to transport our bags!The tent-cottages are built along the curve of the hill at various heights, ensuring that each unit has complete privacy. More than that are the vistas offered into the far distance, no matter which tent is allotted to you. We were welcomed to our retreat by a little friend!An evening drive once again gave us the opportunity to photograph a beautiful sunset.A simple and delicious meal followed.
We got back to camp for a leisurely breakfast. Just before we checked out we gathered at the swimming pool for a quick group photograph and found the pool had become a beautiful big birdbath!And the tree next door was perfect for drying off and sun-bathing!A pit stop at the gate provided us with a book and map of Etosha as souvenirs. We also spotted this beauty on the roof of the office-cum-shop …We then drove out of Etosha towards our next destination, Damaraland.