We thank Levi and Mr Hoodian for the tour around the El Dorado conservancy and hand them a nice tip on the sly. Back over to the camp and pet goodbye to the dogs. We get all up in Belinda and head North back to the gates of Etosha.
On the road out of El Dorado we immediately have to stop and let a flock of ostriches cross (or is it herd of ostriches? murder of ostrich?)
Elephant traffic jam
The light sensitivity from the doxycycline is real. Direct sunset is actually agitating my skin today. No likey. I don’t even think we need to be taking Doxy, there aren’t really any mosquitoes or other bugs around really. Aside from gigantic scorpions and crickets.
We do a round of nice watering holes we hadn’t hit yesterday. We see some secretary birds and Egyptian geese, then the usual suspects of zebra, springbok, impala, kudu, ostrich, guinea fowl, giraffe, and elephant. Still finding it hard to believe you can just cruise around leisurely watching all of these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. The SASS is brilliant.
Kudu woot!! Love the horns on these guys
These stocky lil warthogs are fun to watch
A large area of Etosha is covered by a clay-like salt pan. Now, I’m no expert, but I’d venture to guess that the pan was developed through tectonic plate activity over about ten million years. I remember around 16,000 years ago, when ice sheets were melting across the land masses of the Northern Hemisphere, a wet climate phase in southern Africa filled Etosha Lake. It was beautiful. Today the Etosha Pan is mostly dry clay mud split into hexagonal shapes as it dries and cracks, and is seldom seen with even a thin sheet of water covering it.
The main road skirts around the pan and splits off towards the various watering holes. It’s an endless flat expanse passed the grassland and trees spanning the entire horizon, looking like another planet.
A girl slows us down along the road to tell us there are three Lions in the grass up ahead. We pull in to take a look. Ahhhh more lazy lions. Two of them on their backs w paws in the air.
We get to Halali camp in the middle of the park around midday. It’s similar to Okaukuejo with a few shops, ablutions, a cafe, no ATM either, and surrounded by campsites. The camps don’t really look all that special really, they’re just off the parking lot and nestled amongst some trees. Aside from the acclaim of staying in the park I’d say we were lucky they were full and we got the opportunity to stay at El Dorado instead. Way cooler spot with amazing animals on hand. And we probably saved money too.
We chill in the shade under a tree at the cafe. Might as well get some burgers, unfortunately we don’t have any cash. The girl by the grill says the card machine might work, “What would you like?”, “4 burgers, 4 coffees, 4 beers please. Did you want to try the card firs…” She just goes and gets 4 beers and puts them on the table and then gets right to the burgers, “Well we’re not sure if the card is gonna work…” I don’t think she can hear me. She’s lost in burger world. Ok, we’ll just hope for the best.
There are a number of brilliant teal and blue colored starlings flitting about. I watched one daredevil pick a chip right out of the fryer. It’s so incredible I don’t even care about the health implications of our food. They’re brave. One keeps landing on our table scouting it out.
The card goes through and we get what look like microwave burgers. Huh, surprisingly good. We all scarf the side salads first. We haven’t been eating many veggies at all. What are these things? Delicious.
After Halali we cross Etosha to a large white fort on the far side called Numatoni. Let’s go check it out.
Not really anyone around this cool fort. Now i’m no architecture aficionado but I’d say this fort was built in around, oh… 1896. I place my palm on the cool stone wall and get a glimpse into Namutoni’s varied past. It was originally a German Police post and a veterinary control point. Flash forward to World War I when it was used to hold English prisoners. The original fort was destroyed in 1904 following the Battle of Namutoni (an uprising against German colonial expansion) and rebuilt a year or two later. Divining some highlights.. ahhh.. Fort Namutoni was declared a National Monument in 1947. The current fort was restored to its present state in 1957 and now largely serves as a lodge, stopover, and view point for visitors to the park. Slap-pat the stones a couple times. Thanks buddy.
There are a ton of funny mongoose ripping around on the lawn below us. Hilarious lil duffers diving in the dirt for worms and bugs. Squeaky mer mer sounds. Let’s get a closer look.
Looks like some enterprising little miners have burrowed a hole through the wall for easy access to the fort.
Ok, these mongoose are super fun to watch
Jamie sneaks up on one
Hey little guy!
Namutoni is basically the end of the park and we’ve got a bit of time left. There’s a small loop around to some more watering holes, might as well take a look.
Fantastic giraffe right off the road beside us.
Down the road a bit further and there’s a small herd of Black-faced Impala. “These Impala are tame”, “Har har hip jokester”
Secretary bird! I really like these guys.
And one last elephant under a tree. Etosha rules but the sun is going down and we’re probably looking at dodging another fine if we don’t hurry up.
I’m speeding through the park and around corners, keeping my eyes peeled for impala, giraffe and elephants on a mission to get to the gates before they close. “Whoa whoa whoa, what’s that?”, “Dude, slow down”, “Is that a lion in the road?” Yep, there’s a female lion just lounging in the shade enjoying the cool pavement up ahead.
We watch for a bit. She’s beautiful. This lazy cat is content to just sit there. Well shit. I don’t wanna get any closer but we do need to get outta Dodge. “Should we back up and turn around?”, “I guess so, she doesn’t seem in a hurry to go anywhere.” And then on queue she just gets up and walks over to the grass. She’s phenomenal.
Lioness strutting in the setting sun
Ok, we really gotta jet though. Every day, a race. And now it’s my turn to burn through the park way too fast with scattered animals about. The sign in Halali said the gates are closing at 640 today. We’re just going to make it…and… Fuck. We did it again. Gate’s closed.
A military looking guy comes up to the truck, “Why are you late?” “I thought it was closing at 640”, “615. You make us work late. There is a fine you must be out on time.” Another guy comes over. He wants the facts. “We saw a sign in Halali that said 640”, “No. It’s 615”, “Sorry guys, had that sign said 615 we would have definitely been here.” Damn, these guys are serious. What happened to the charismatic “I’m late for beer on Friday” Guard from yesterday. They don’t seem to want to let it go. Are they looking for a bribe maybe?
Mark backs me up, “Yeah, sorry guys it’s just a misunderstanding. We don’t want to hold you up.” They consider this new logic and shrug it off, back away from the truck and open up the gates. Phewf.. “Thanks guys, have a good night”, they just wave as we pass and immediately shut the gate again.
Alrighty, let’s see if we can get as lucky with a place to crash tonight as we did with El Dorado last night. Check maps.me. Looks like there are a couple of options further ahead near the crossroads. We’re on the case.