Strathspey Wildlife
Discover Namibia- An African safari with Exodus Travel 2008

Monday 22nd.
September 2008

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The usual early start, and of course, breakfast - once we had stowed our bags and emptied the tents. We were away by 8 am, and a fairly short drive took us to the Petrified Forest. This was a fascinating site, with its (extremely) ancient trees. These pine trees, which have never grown in this area,  were brought here by rivers in flood from Central Africa around 260 million years ago - give or take a few months!! As their title suggests,  they have actually been turned to stone, whilst retaining a good deal of their original form. Sections of patterned bark and the familiar rings of fallen trees remain. The similarity ends however when one tries to pick up a chunk of a tree - as it takes on the weight of an equivalent-sized boulder. The forest extends to a huge area with some of the larger trees yet to give up their true size, one being over 30

metres long with a circumference of 6 metres. Needless to say, the site of the forest is strictly protected, with any attempt to remove "souvenirs" attracting severe punishment. Also present in the forest were specimens of "Welwitschia," plants which can survive for 1,500 - 2,000 years. Specimens we were shown were thought to be around 300 years old.  The plant is endemic to Namibia where it survives in the desert by taking is moisture from the desert fogs. It only has two leaves, which help to keep the soil beneath the plant shaded and cool. Following our trip to the forest, the next leg of our journey took us around 100km to Outjo. We stopped here to take on supplies, and the lads returned laden with sufficient to see us through our next 4 nights in Etosha. It was here in Outjo town centre that we recorded our highest shade temperature of the trip as the

thermometer tipped 42˚C - around 107˚F!! Whilst we were there the local children were out on their school lunch. Two approached us and said "hello." A short conversation ensured after which I asked if I could take their photo - and of course they were only too willing. Within a short time I was surrounded by their friends, all of them eager to pose for photos, and all scrabbling to get a view of the images I'd taken. It was here also that I took a photo of a group of local Himba women. After our stop it was good to get going again and get a little breeze blowing through the truck. It was still another 100km however to our first of two stops in Etosha National Park. We made good progress on the excellent roads, and entered the park just after 2 pm. We stopped for a spot of lunch near to the park gate and the lads took off the vehicle's removable roof in preparation for

some serious game-driving on the way in. Adjacent to the park entrance was a compound housing a local community, with most of the resident  children we were told unaware of who their fathers were. The compound was fenced in, with the little faces of the children peering through. On completion of our lunch, Maxwell handed the remains to the lady warden staffing the nearby gatehouse, and a short time later she could be seen handing out small amounts of food to some local children, ensuring that all received a fair share. After lunch we entered the park, game-driving all the way to our first stop at Okaukuejo. On route we saw oryx, black-faced impala and a tawny eagle, along with the bigger guys - elephant, giraffe, ostrich and other antelope. We had our evening meal of pork and beef

kebabs with massive lamb steaks, along with pap and feta cheese salad, followed by chocolate ice cream. It was then time to enjoy one of the highlights of Etosha - those of the floodlit waterholes. ( Tip for photographers: Prior to leaving UK, I was contemplating how to tackle taking photos at the waterholes. I had brought my flash unit out to Namibia, but soon I realised that flash photography was not the way to go, as it over-illuminated the various subjects. Far better results were obtained by pushing the ISO - up to 1600 - and with a well-braced monopod or sturdy base to the camera, the fairly slow shutter speed was sufficient to capture most of the slow-moving subjects.) On this our first evening we counted 25 elephant, 8 giraffe with hyena and jackals - and, best of all, 7 rhinos!!

Rhinos are fairly elusive during the day, but they are thought to congregate  at waterholes during the hours of darkness, so we felt particularly fortunate to see such a group on this our first night. The spectator area was really a quite comfortable seated enclosure, and at this particular camp incorporated widely staggered wire barriers between the spectators and the animals. I can understand how some feel tempted to stay until the early hours of the morning and beyond. However, the day's journey had taken its toll and away we went to bed, but during the night distant roars of lion made for a somewhat restless night, as there was always temptation to go and take a look. Our next game drive was scheduled for the following morning, with a 7.30 am start.


Other Photographs of The Day
 


 

 

 

 


 


 

 
Next day - Tuesday 23rd.September 2008
 

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