Wild Places

The Art of Landscape and Travel Photography

Namibia 2017 – Part 1 (Safari in the Etosha NP)

In August 2017 we spent three weeks in Namibia. After the short trip in 2015 this was our second visit of this beautiful country.

I’m mainly interested in spectacular landscapes, while my daughter Linnéa is more interested in wildlife. The compromise for our travel planning was therefore one week safari in the Etosha National Park followed by two weeks of exploring the west and south of Namibia.

As photographic equipment we took two Sony A7RII and one Sony A7R with Zeiss lenses from 18mm to 135mm for the still images and a Sony X3000 (similar to a GoPro) together with a Sony AX33 camera for filming. In addition we used an iPhone 7 for snapshots and short videos.

We had booked direct flights with Condor from Frankfurt to Windhoek. Since we had reserved for a small extra charge emergency exit seats in advance, the flight was quite comfortable. With Condor I would always recommend to either book emergency exit seats or premium economy class. The space of standard economy seats on Condor flights is always extremely limited.

The immigration in Windhoek was uneventful. At the ATM and exchange office at the airport was the usual long queue, but we knew it from the last time.

We rented a Toyota Landcruiser J200 V8 gasoline at Africa on Wheels. The driver from AoW picked us up at the airport and brought us quickly to Windhoek. This time we had also booked a camping package consisting of a table, chairs, cooker, dishes, etc.. A cool box was not included in this package but this was not a big problem for us. Our plan was to go to local restaurants if available and just cook spaghetti with tomato sauce or something similar when no (good) restaurants are available. There isn’t much then that really needs to be cooled. For drinks, there was a very small built-in cooling box in the center console of the Landcruiser, which was coupled with the air conditioning.

We had brought a ground tent, pads and sleeping bags from Germany. One note regarding sleeping bags: I had read in some internet forums, that it can be very cold at night in wintertime in Namibia and therefore had packed a very warm sleeping bag. Unfortunately that turned out to be a mistake. I did not close it for a single night and even using it completely open as a blanket it was too warm. Next time I would definitely take a much thinner sleeping bag.

After picking up the rental car we went to a supermarket in Windhoek. During the entire journey we always had the problem that we were afraid of leaving the Landcruiser with all our bags and equipment unattended in supermarket parking lots. Although there were often guards at the parking lots, my confidence in them was somewhat limited. Most of the time one of us stayed therefore at the car.

Our next destination was the Etosha National Park. Since we had already explored Windhoek on our last trip we decided to continue to Otjiwarongo on our first day.

Just as we had left Windhoek on the B1 the car in front of us suddenly drove off the road for no apparent reason and rolled over on the shoulder. The vehicle remained lying on the roof. Fortunately, all people inside the car (four young Namibians) were able to climb out unhurt. We stopped our car immediately and asked them, if they need any help. After a squad of street workers arrived from a nearby construction site taking care of everything we decided to leave. The accident rate in Namibia is extremely high. Contrary to what is often written, I have personally experienced the most dangerous situations (and real accidents) in Namibia almost always on paved roads and not on gravel roads.

We stayed the first night at the Bush Pillow Guest House in Otjiwarongo.

The next day we went via the Anderson Gate to the Etosha National Park and our pre-reserved campground in Okaukuejo. In Etosha you can drive around with your own car. But you are not allowed to get out of the car or leave the roads. And you have to be back in the camp before sunset. Night-safaris are therefore only possible with organized group tours. But in several of the camps there are water holes which are lighted at night. You can therefore watch the wildlife directly from the camp even at night. Okaukuejo has the nicest water hole of all Etosha camps.

After two nights at Okaukuejo and of course several round trips in the park with our Landcruiser for wildlife watching we continued to the Halali camp, where we also spent two nights. For the last two nights in Etosha we had reserved the camp in Namutoni.

In retrospect, I find it hard to say which place in the Etosha NP is the most beautiful. From the water hole very clear: Okaukuejo. Regarding animal sightings we had the most luck in the area between Halali and Namutoni. The campgrounds were all ok, but not outstanding. Sometimes it was quite loud there due to large tour groups. In the evening we always went to the respective restaurants for dinner. Mostly there was a mediocre buffet. On two evenings, however, there was a very good barbecue. My recommendation would therefore be: if there is a barbecue go the restaurant otherwise it’s probably better to do your own cooking.

Anderson Gate

Halali Campsite

Namutoni Campsite

Fort Namutoni

Sunset from Fort Namutoni

Here are some wildlife images from Etosha, sorted by animal categories. I will start with the species that you probably see most often in Etosha, the zebras:

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Zebra, Etosha National Park

Also very common in Etosha are giraffes:

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

Giraffe, Etosha National Park

And of course elephants:

Elephant, Etosha National Park

Elephant, Etosha National Park

Elephant, Etosha National Park

Elephant, Etosha National Park

Elephant, Etosha National Park

In addition to zebras, giraffes and elephants you can also see several other mammals in the Etosha NP:

Springbock, Etosha National Park

Springbock, Etosha National Park

Springbock, Etosha National Park

Springbock, Etosha National Park

Black-Faced Impala, Etosha National Park

Oryx, Etosha National Park

Red Hartebeest, Etosha National Park

Blue Wildbeest, Etosha National Park

Greater Kudu, Etosha National Park

Rhino, Etosha National Park

We also saw some other mammals, but sadly they didn’t do us the favor to get close enough for a photo.

Of course you can also find many different birds in Etosha:

Ostrich, Etosha National Park

Ostrich, Etosha National Park

Swarm of birds at water hole, Etosha National Park

Goshawk, Etosha National Park

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudata), Etosha National Park

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas), Etosha National Park

The kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) , Etosha National Park

On a longer day-trip from Halali we wanted to take a short stop at the rest area of Okerfontein. When we arrived there we saw that the fence around it was pretty much destroyed. Since it was a bit urgent and the next rest area at Batia was closed, we had just decided to risk it anyway. Shortly before getting out of the car, suddenly this guy was standing right in front of us:

Lion, Etosha National Park

Lion, Etosha National Park

His look at the springboks could be interpreted that he was slightly hungry:

Lion, Etosha National Park

After he had moved a bit farther away, we drove the Landcruiser very close to the restroom door and one of us kept watching the surroundings from the roof of the car, while the others jumped very quickly out of the car into the restroom.

In hindsight this experience was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. We have seen some more lions, but never again so close.

Lion, Etosha National Park

Sadly the cheetahs we saw in Etosha were always too far away for any meaningful photo.

That’s it with Etosha and the wildlife images. The first week of our three-week trip was over. The next part of this travel report will focus on landscapes in other parts of Namibia.

Here is a direct link to part 2.

One Response to “Namibia 2017 – Part 1 (Safari in the Etosha NP)”

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