Etosha

The kudu ram had intended to cross the road from behind the cover of a bush at the exact same time that we drove past. I’m not sure which of us got the biggest fright: After staring into each other’s eyes for a split second,we veered off into different directions. It all happened too fast for photographic evidence, sorry!

Our visit to the Etosha National Park during late January this year was a mixture of positive and negative experiences: We did see quite a few animals, some of them featured in the images posted here, including a lot of youngsters and even newborns. That’s always nice to see.

The landscape is predictably very flat and dry, not very dramatic, unless you love heatwave ripples over a dry white pan. Etosha means “Great White Place” and it’s the dried out, salty bed of the lake that used to receive water from the Kunene River before that changed its course thousands of years ago. Very little water or sediment reaches the pan from rivers today. There were some spots where a single tree provided something for my camera to focus on.

On the downside, the park appears to be managed and staffed by a host of rather disinterested people. Not really interested in providing real service, not even interested in lifting their butts out of their chairs when addressing you from behind their counter, where they can continue their conversation with their colleagues and over their cellphones while they pretend to respond to you. Certainly not interested in keeping the facilities clean and in shape. I only saw a flicker of interest from the staff at the restaurant at breakfast time, when they carted off some of the contents from the buffet for their own use.

We had pretty good (but expensive) accommodation in Halali Camp, even though there were a few little maintenance issues there too. There’s a nice waterhole on the edge of the camp, a short walk there passes over some interesting geology on the hillside. Sadly, on that particular day, the only traces of wildlife were the stromatolites in the dolomites. These are the structures built many millions of years ago by mats of blue-green algae that collected the calcium and magnesium on the from the ancient shallow seafloor, creating massive layers of dolomite rock and at the same time producing the oxygen that makes our life on this planet possible.

The rest stops (with toilets) in Etosha are few and far between, one really needs to monitor one’s intake, to avoid undue pressure as you drive towards the next stop… Having found one, you are likely to be disappointed. Amused, maybe, as the images will show, but certainly disappointed. I’m sure that there’s never enough funding in a government-owned operation, but how expensive can it be to erect some more sturdy facilities and fences and to maintain these properly? Just have a look at what they are able to do in the Kruger National Park!

Sadly, the upshot of this is that we can say “been there, done that” about the Etosha National Park, and we are not too keen to return anytime soon.

2 thoughts on “Etosha

  1. I loved Etosha! Your opening paragraph is exactly what we experienced. I think we almost felt like we had a heart attack. Very sobering because you don’t want to have to be roaming around there if your vehicle gets smashed.

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  2. Oh my! I remember some hair-raising ablution experiences on our trip. I debated to mention them but decided against it in the end. But it was almost as if I developed a obsession for photographing evidence because it was almost too unbelievable to be true. 😜

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