Namibian Safari First Timer
On approaching the gates to Etosha National Park, I was welcomed on my first ever African safari by a group of giraffe. Their heads were peaking through the treetops like radars scanning the horizon giving me the first of many wonderful wildlife encounters.
In the blazing heat we set out on our first game drive. To everyone’s surprise there was a leopard resting in the middle of the road – seemingly oblivious to our approaching vehicle. Eventually, he looked lazily in our direction, and as if annoyed by the disturbance, slowly got up and made its way to the bush. We all froze and sat in silence - the only sound to be heard was the clicking of cameras. Just before disappearing completely, the leopard stopped, turned his head towards us and posed for a few seconds more before vanishing. As leopard sightings are so rare, it felt like a real honour to see one.
Later that afternoon we saw creatures like dik dik - a tiny antelope, and a giant Verreaux’s Eagle Owl with the most amazing pink eyelids! Our guide considered us very lucky and was slightly worried that the rest of the stay in Etosha would have nothing to impress us.
He was so wrong! I never imagined I would see so much wildlife let alone get that close to it. On the second morning we drove to one of the many waterholes in the park and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a recent kill and a pride of lions were feasting on the body of a rhino with their cubs innocently playing around it.
It was not until later that we found out it was the park rangers that had shot the injured rhino and left it to be eaten by predators. However, this discovery did not take away the excitement of witnessing such a magnificent scene. The pride, including the cubs, did not seem at all bothered by our presence, in fact, quite the opposite – they looked very calm and relaxed, as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
The campsites in Etosha are amazing, each with its own waterhole. Just two minutes from my tent and I was in nature’s open theatre. Sitting out during the night watching the ever-changing scene as a wealth of different animals came to perform their drinking rites was a magical experience. The giraffes were most amusing with their synchronised movements. It took them forever to get close enough to the water to drink only then to be frightened by a falling leaf and lope off to the safety of a nearby tree. The herd of elephants entered with such confidence they looked like they owned the stage, while jackals scampered around looking small and humble in comparison.
If you are a safari first timer, you absolutely must experience Namibia’s most amazing place - Etosha National Park - home to 114 mammal and 340 bird species with unforgettable scenery. Don’t be put off by camping; the roaring lions and laughing hyenas are far enough away from your tent, and the 10cm mattress is actually surprisingly comfy!
So now I’m hooked and off to do another safari soon to compare my experience – I wonder if it can be beaten?
By Aurelija Selvestraviciute, Exodus' Customer Operations Executive