A Travellerspoint blog

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK A PLACE FULL OF SURPRISES!

Namibia

sunny
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NOVEMBER 12TH DAY 11

If only I could get used to these early mornings!  A quick shower, breakfast and we are off!

It's a 4 hour drive today and we stop in Tsumeis to stock up on supplies, it's a cute little town very clean and well kept.  You can still see the remnants of the old mining industry that once thrived in the area, 7 different types of minerals and ore were found here and it still is a big part of the areas economy.  The café makes a fantastic latte!

The drive to Etosha is hilly but the roads are modern and well laid out.  The landscape reminds me of home a little!

Once we arrive at the Park entrance Once we arrive at the Park entrance, gate 3 and stop for refreshments the sir hits you when you step off the truck, it is hot!  

With guide books in hand we head out into the reserve, it is dry and rocky, the rains have not been to these parts for a long time, the ground is a fine grey dust, the trees are brown and bare.

The afternoon game drive to our first campsite is bumpy, but with the windows down and the breeze flowing thru the truck I can't help myself, I am grinning like a little kid.

Impala wander thru the dry trees how do they cope with the heat!

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Impala...
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Hellooooo!
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A herd of bachelors!

Giraffes stride thru the bush stopping to look at us, they are taller and darker than the ones in Kenya!  The food source seems so scarce here I wonder how the animals survive!

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Hi gorgeous!
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Aww look at those lashes!

There's a first time for everything in Africa, and this is my first Springbok, catching shade under a prickly dry trees, with ghostly white faces and black stripes, but it's too hot for them to do their famous spring, they are waiting for the rain, and it doesn't look like that's happening any time soon.

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First time I've seen one.. Springbok!

Blue Wildebeest laze in the heat like spindly old men, they are much darker than their cousins in the Serengeti but still as weird looking! 

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Blue Bearded Wildebeest!

We drive to our first water hole, this one is teaming with bird life.   Grey Water birds on long stick like legs! 

Vultures gather at the waters edge. their black beady eyes seem too large for their little heads and they are so scrawny, natures garbage cleaners! 

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Show off!
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Natures rubbish collectors!
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Flocking together!
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Blue Cranes!

What a great start to the day we have only just begun!  

We stop for lunch at the Namutoni Campground named after the old fort built in 1902, the campsite is modern and clean and I wish we had time for a swim!  This campground is built on the site where the 2 European explorers John Andersson and Francis Galton camped in 1897 when they first discovered the Salt Pan that Etosha is famous for.

We have lunch in the shade but it really doesn't do much to quell the heat. 

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Stopping for lunch!
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The Namutoni Fort!

Once everything is packed away, we head out into the reserve for the afternoon windows down and cameras at the ready.

We stop at another waterhole but there isn't much to see, a lone bird of prey and a few Egrets.  

So Ben turns and heads back the main trail!

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Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk!

The second waterhole seems to be where everyone is hanging out.  Zebras are slowly making their way thru the bushes checking their surroundings cautiously as drinking is when they are at the most vulnerable to predators.  

A lone Giraffe is hanging back watching us closely.

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Hey there gorgeous!

A Kori Bustard (such an unfortunate name!) strides around the waters edge.  One of Africa Small Five a Leopard Tortoise suns itself on a rock in the water.  

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What did the Kori Bustard say to the Leopard Tortoise...?

One by one the Zebra have come to drink, side by side in perfect formation.  Feeling safe as drinking is when they are at their most vulnerable to predators.

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A Perfect Line Up!
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There's always one straggler!

Leaving them in peace we continue on further into the park.  The landscape changes as the dry bush thickens, and large thorny trees appear.  A small group of Giraffes roam by the side of the track,  their height giving them an advantage when it comes to eating, how they get around those large spike like thorns without hurting their mouths is amazing to me!

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Yeah you know your cute!
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It's good to be tall here!
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Watch those thorns!
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Only the best green stuff will do...
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... when they can find it!

The drive becomes windy and bumpy, the sparse dry trees give shade to more scrawny Wildebeest, the only grass available is dried clumps dotting a grey dusty landscape.  They don't move much just the odd flick of the tail to swat away the flying bothersome insects. I feel kinda sorry for these funny looking beasts sitting out in this heat.

They are actually quite impressive with their mohawked manes and black faces, it makes them look like they are wearing a mask. 

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Aww the baby of the bunch!
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A little relief from the heat!
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Too hot to bother!
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Too hot to bother!

Ben suddenly has to stop to give way to a little Leopard Tortoise who is on the side of the track.  The little fella is on a misson and just waddles a long without a care in the world!

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And off he goes!

As the bush becomes denser more Zebra appear, I am beginning to think these and Wildebeest are the only ones crazy enough to be out in this heat, not that I am complaining, I am enjoying just being here, and hey who doesn't like a cute Zebra bum sighting!

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A cute face!
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A cute Bum!
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Double the cuteness!

We don't see anything for a while, when suddenly among the trees is a White Rhino, he is magnificent!  He watches us for a while and sensing that we are no threat relaxes and just wanders slowly thru the scrub.

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A magnificent White Rhino Bull!

As he gets closer to the truck you notice his horn, it is magnificent!  This is the first Rhino I have seen with a full horn, all the others I have seen have had them cut down for their protection, but this guy... WOW!

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Only a Rhino needs it's horn!
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He is amazing!
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He is simply breathtaking!

He wanders back and forth amongst the trees, every so often stopping to look at us.  He is weary but not too bothered by us.  Everyone in the truck is silent except for the occasional whisper of awe! 

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He just watches us...!
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He is cautious!

He slowly begins to wander away amongst the scrubby bush stopping to chow down on the long dry grass, so we leave him to his own devices.  I really hope that he stays safe!

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Hope stays safe!
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We leave him in peace!

A grassy plain opens up as we round a sharp bend and a lone male Ostrich is striding thru the thorny trees all legs and neck, but quite regal in its lanky gawky way!

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Ostrich on the go!

Another first, a male Oryx, he is unbelievable, they are solid and strong and the striking black white face that looks like it has been carefully painted.  The long piercing antlers that can grow up 1.5 meters long and can kill a Lion.  When attacked they back themselves up against a tree and use the antlers to stab their attacker... ouch!

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So wonderful!
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Striking features!
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My first Gemsbok Oryx

The plains are dotted with Zebra, Springbok and Wildebeest as far as the eye can see.  I will never tire of views like this, I feel content as we slowly drive past these amazing sweeping views.

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I love views like this!

We turn off the main track and make our on a bumpy windy track.  Victor has a thing for birds and we stop to check out this cheeky curved beaked bird sitting in a tree, it isn't the prettiest bird in Africa but it is quite comical... oh yeah it's Zuzu from the Lion King, hah!  That's why Victor is so excited!

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Zuzu the Hornbill!

The truck stops at another water hole and to our amazement sitting in the water is a Hyena, just enjoying a good soak in the cool water on a hot day, it has the most content look on it's face.  Just when you think you can't be surprised, Africa proves you delightfully wrong!

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Oh Wow!
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Total contentment!

Ben maneuvers the truck as close as possible to the water hole, our Hyena just opens one eye and looks at us, too content to bother.  It's tongue is sticking out and it looks so sleepy.  I think it is so cute, these misunderstood creatures have sweet faces and the pretty spots on it's fluffy furry back.  Awww!

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Nothin like an afternoon soak!
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Hope we haven't disturbed you!
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You're so cute!

What a sight!  After a while it stands up and we realize that she is a heavily pregnant mother to be!  Oh the poor girl looks so uncomfortable.  Victor thinks she is not long before she will give birth as she is very slow and cumbersome.  Now I feel bad for disturbing her peace and quiet.  She stands in the shallows for a while watching us watching her... Thank you Africa you have done it again!

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Future Mama!
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What a wonderful thing to witness!
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Poor girl looks so uncomfortable!

Slowly she clambers out of the water and makes her way into the bush, she stops every so often to turn and look at us, poor girl we did disturb you, so sorry Mama!  Victor thinks she will be making her way to a den where she can hid from other predators, they are pack animals but when a female is pregnant she isolates herself to give birth, and she looks like she doesn't have long to wait, how awesome a new generation! 

We leave the water hole and head for camp, out in the distance Zebra walk in single file like they are playing a game of follow the leader, Springbok ignore us to busy eating, Wildebeest huddle under sparse trees.  Ben doesn't stop as time has got away from us and we have to set up camp before it gets to late.

We arrive at Halali our campsite for the night.  We check in and it is busy, some of us are going on a night game drive and the queue takes a while, but once that is done we set up and help with dinner.  It is the quickest dinner of the trip as we are behind schedule and our drivers are waiting for us. 

We are, of course the last ones to get organized, and as the gates close at 6.30pm so the big animals can't wander into camp we are in a bit of a rush!

Our drivers name is 'Happy' and our spotter is at the ready with a search light, it is dark by the time we head out.

The first thing we see is a Hare, , then another, oh wait another, it becomes a running joke in the truck, as we seem to stop for Rabbit and Hare that crosses our path.

A Steenbok runs across our path and we get the odd glimpse of Springbok among the bushes.

We turn off to towards a water hole and an Africa Wildcat darts into the bush, WOW these little Cats are rarely seen, and he is so quick there is no photo op with this one, but hey I never thought I would actually see one!

As we pull up to the waters edge there is a growling sound from behind the truck....

OMG a pride of lions... just walk straight past us... and they are in no hurry at all!

Lead by a Lioness, she turns back to the rest of the pride, a huge male as tall as the trucks side mirror, a young male and 2 more Lioness, they just saunter past without even bothering to acknowledge out presence!

And this why I love Africa!  It's experiences like this that blow your mind and keep me coming back, yes I am addicted  and I want to see more!

They flop down to rest right in front of us, one female stays alert constantly scanning the surroundings the others just close their eyes and chillax without a care in the world.

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She is so beautiful!
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The Alpha and the young fella!
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How amazing is he!

They settle and when the lead female finally rests the Alpha gets up moves over to her and with a a gentle nudge to her face sits down beside her with eyes closed like a sleeping sphinx.  The 2 younger Lioness lay down together keeping their distance, the young male stretches out without a care in the world, with the typical nonchalance of the young!

A small Steenbok approaches behind them no more than 5 meters away stops looks at them and sensing that they are of no threat darts away into the night, not big enough for a meal... but they do like to snack!

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He is simply breathtaking!
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The young male...
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The handsome King needs his rest!
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Not a care in the world!

The Alpha finally rests his head on those huge paws, and he looks like any other cat, except he can take a grown man down in one strike like a we were a mouse!  

The spotter moves his light across them and I think to myself "let them sleep" but I can't take my eyes off them, they are simply glorious, so powerful, so magnificent!

We tell our driver that it's ok to go, let them sleep, we don't want to bother them anymore.  The light is clearly annoying them, they twitch and the Alpha shakes his head in frustration every time the passes over his sleepy head.

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The power in those paws!

But he doesn't listen and we linger for a while, I get the feeling he is trying to kill time before heading back to camp as we only have half an hour left before we must be back .

Finally he starts the engine and I hope we haven't disturbed them too much as they try to rest, it's not an easy life out here even for those at the top of the food chain,

As we are making our way back a sudden stench of death and decay fills the air and to the side of the truck the light catches a glimpse of 3 Hyena running in a clearing amongst the bushes their eyes glowing in the dark.  

But because we are now running out of time we don't get to follow them and miss a chance to watch them.  This could have been the best chance to hear that famous Hyena laugh.

We get back to camp and those who stayed behind are raving about what they had seen at the water hole, I will admit that the listening to their sightings of Rhino and Elephants coming to drink I had a pang of regret but then I would never have seen the magnificent pride of Lions or the elusive African Cat and this is Africa, seeing the wildlife here is a blessing not a privilege.  Although I am annoyed that our driver was busy on his phone for most of the trip.  But hey it was a good night!

It's been a long day on bumpy tracks and so with a good night to my tour buddies I head to my tent!

NOVEMBER 13TH DAY 12

Another early morning and a quick breakfast.  With tents down we are out into the reserve for a morning game drive.  It is going to be another hot dry day.  

The plains have a copper glow as the sun beats down on the dry grass. 

Thorny trees become thicker and small bachelor herd of Steenbok are the first thing we see.  They are pretty little things with tiny antlers and big brown eyes, so cute!

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Steenbok!
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How cute are you!
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How cute are you!

Slowly the trees disappear and the grass thins, and the flat horizon opens up with views that never seem to end. 

We come to the  Etosha Salt Pan and it shimmers in the hot mid morning sun.  Ben drives  into the Salt Pan and we stop at the lookout and stretch our legs. 

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The Salt Pan!

It is so vast, at 4731 km² it looks like it goes on forever.  The greyish salt is dusty and dry, but when the heavy rains come it floods from the Okavango Delta in the north, and the porous  bedrock in the south as permanent water springs, which is hard to believe when you look out into the vastness! 

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A morning stop at....
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....a place you don't want to get lost in!

We take time to soak up the views, have a little fun and fill up our water bottles before we are back on our morning game drive.

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Ben and Emmanuel...
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...our crazy team!
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They made the trip more fun!

As we leave the Salt Pan a scraggly herd of Wildebeest graze on what little there is in the sandy earth, which isn't much!  They are so crazy and awkward looking, there is a legend in Africa, that when god was making the animals he had some parts left over and created the Wildebeest, and looking at them it looks kinda true!

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Surely they could find a better breakfast spot!

It seems the further into the reserve we go the drier it becomes!  A small herd of Red Hartebeest look up at us we stop.  They are stocky, their copper coats shine in the sun,  proud twisting antlers that give them their name, they may not  be pretty like the Springbok but they are impressive!

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Red Hartebeest!
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Quite impressive!
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Can you see how they get their name?

The landscape has become a little for flush with grass, a lone  Jackal roams the plains on the search for leftovers, I think he is in for a long search, poor fella!  

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On the search... good luck my misunderstood friend!

Herds of Zebra and Wildebeest dot the plains, safety in numbers, at least here there seems to be something to eat, as meager as it is!

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The Weird and the Lovely!

The landscape becomes eve harsher as the ground becomes rocky and dusty, the only things cling to life are the scraggly thorny trees. 

A semi dry river can be seen in the distance lush green trees finally making an appearance in the dryness.

But herds of Zebra slowly make their way to find water, blocking the road and you hear giggles thru the truck as the typical "Zebra Crossing" statement is made.  It's not my first, but it still fun to watch!

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On the move!
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Keep going...
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... there's nothing here!
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Such lovely things!
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Come on you lot!
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"Who do you think has the cutest bum?"

Another little Jackal follows the herd, I wonder if it the same one.   It is so close to the truck that you can see it's lovely spotted markings on it's back, it looks so hot bothered but it continues on it's mission and soon disappears into the landscape.

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Hi cutie!
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So hot and tired...
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... he must keep going!

As we leave the river bed behind a empty grassy plain opens up the sweeping view seems void and endless.

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Etosha Savannah!

Just when you think that this place is void of life the herds appear again, finding a small water source in the middle of nowhere, helping life to cling on on this harsh environment.

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The smallest pond draws in the herds!
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Herds that drink together, survive together!

Even a Kori Bustard has managed to find is way to this small water source, skirting around the edge of the herds avoiding heavy hooves waiting it's turn to quench it's thirst.

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Waiting for his turn at the waterhole!

As we make our way to the next waterhole that Victor promises will be worth the visit, two male Ostriches are striding along without a care in the world.  I haven't seen these guys since I was in the Serengeti and even then they were quite a distance away.  They are so gangly and funny looking, their thick black feathers rustle as they walk, twisting their tiny heads on scrawny necks scanning their surroundings.

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Bachelor Boys!
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Quite fluffy aren't ya!

The track starts to twist and turn and we make our way down a bumpy hill, a man made waterhole opens up below and Victor wasn't wrong... it is teaming with life!  

There are Elephants everywhere!   What a sight!  Too many to count, of all ages, sizes , spraying themselves and enjoying a late morning cool down.

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Wow, now that's a sight!
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So Many!
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Elephant Bums!
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Like they are catching up on the gossip at break time!
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What way to spend the morning!

It is hard to know where to look, let alone focus the camera.  Giraffes are making their way closer, Zebra, Springbok, Impala, Hartebeest, Oryx are all there, taking their turn to drink.  Elephants rule at the waterholes which considering their size is understandable.  It is an amazing sight to behold, Oh Africa... THANK YOU!

But it's the Elephants that steal the show.  There are so many ,it's like they have all come together for a good catch up and gossip while sharing a drink!   It is quite spectacular!

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Cute little ones!
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Elephants rule here!
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Family Gathering!
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Spectacular Giants
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What a sight!

There is one little one who is having the time of his life playing in the muddy water.  He is in his own little world kicking and splashing.   Every time any of the other animals attempt to come down to drink with ears flapping he lets out a loud trumpet and runs at  them and they flee in fright.  He has all laughing in hysterics.  

One of the older Elephants comes over, walking up behind him puts a trunk on his back and maneuvers him away from t he water, just like a mother telling a child to behave! 

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The waterhole trouble maker!
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Just having fun!
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Terrorizing the locals!

Giraffes come over from behind the truck slowly and cautiously making their way to the waters edge, they are very skittish as they tend not to drink with the others, they share secret signals among themselves. 

Even a herd of Kudu  have come for a morning drink.

A lone Oryx hangs back until there is a quiet spot to approach.  I could stay here all day!

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What a place to stop for the morning!
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Handsome boy!
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So many in one place!

You cant help but watch the baby Elephants roll in the water their trunks swinging uncontrollably in their excitement.  There are no bones in the trunk, it is all muscle and they have to learn to use it for communication, eating and drinking, this takes a lot of practice.  When Elephants sleep they will hang their trunk over one of their tusks.

One bull Elephant is feeling... well... a bit frisky and his version of romance is trying to caress another on the back with his trunk,  but his efforts are denied, probably because it is another young male, but he doesn't give up!

Some of them are stretching just like we would, Elephant yoga! 

It is hard to stop watching it is like something out of a David Attenborough documentary, But Ben starts the truck and there are soft groans of disappointment as we leave!

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Close knit families!
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Sticking together!
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That's enough of that!
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Looks like they are sharing a secret!

We drive up out of the little valley and a dry grey landscape spreads out as far as the eye can see.  It is so dry and dusty tufts of grass try to grow in the heat.  We come to a waterhole in the middle of nowhere, a flock of male Ostrich are drinking in synchronicity, it is actually quite funny to watch their skinny necks bobbing up and down.

Just when we think there is nothing more out here in this vastness, we come to another waterhole in the middle of nowhere, 2 large Bull Elephants facing each other lazily drinking like 2 old men at the pub!

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Two old boys at the local waterhole!

They are covered in fine grey dust giving them a ghostly look, this is why they have earned the name 'Ghost Elephants of Namibia'.

They hardly move except for the dipping of their trunks in and out of the water.

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'Namibian Ghost Elephant!

Springbok watch them cautiously from the opposite side of the pond.  

Zebra have come to drink, and even a couple of male Ostriches have managed to find this meager water source in the middle of the dust, how do they survive out here, in this apocalyptic landscape. 

The 2 old boys leave them in peace, with sleepy eyes they ignore their surroundings.

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The old boys chillaxing!
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Plains Zebra makes an appearance!
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Relief for all from the heat!
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The local where everyone is welcome!
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Here come the weirdos!

A third Bull Elephant is making his towards them.  Where did he come from?  Finally the 2 old Bulls move to check him out as he approaches.  

He is younger and respectfully hangs back until he is given permission from the older Bulls that is ok to approach.  He drinks from the opposite side keeping his distance from his elders.

All of a sudden another young Bull comes over,  he also has appeared out of nowhere.  

Watching them interact is amazing, slowly from behind the truck a fifth male approaches but he hangs back from the others.

A loud trumpet fills the air as the young one gets a telling off and warning step forward from the third Bull who is between him and the 2 elder Bulls.  He has just learnt a lesson in respect!

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Here comes another lonely boy!
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"Can I join you gentlemen?"
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And another lonely boy arrives!
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Amazing!
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All the boys!

​There are no females here as once males reach a certain age they become to big and boisterous around the calves and are made to leave the herd, to make their way out in the world on their own.  It is situations like this when the young males learn about life on their own, wisdom passed down from their elders.

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Sleeping Giant!

The morning is getting late and so we head to our next campground for the night, 'Okaukuejo' and it is really nice.  

Putting up the tents is hot work in the midday heat!

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Campsite for the night!

Huge Weaver Bird nests smoother tree tops and cute little Ground Squirrels watch us prepare and eat lunch hoping for a morsel.

The campsite is next to a large waterhole, and it is void of any wildlife except birds.   It is going to be amazing at night!

So it's a cold beer and a swim.  The air conditioned bar is glorious and once we have plonked ourselves down the swim is forgotten and we stay put for awhile, enjoying the cool air and cold beers!

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Aww these cuties are our neighbors!
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Weaver Bird Nest!

At 5.30 some of us meet at the truck for a late afternoon game drive.  The campsite is situated in the middle of a large plain, the odd tree dots the horizon.

And no sooner are we out of the gate we spot 2 Lioness lazing under a tree.  

One of them looks at us yawns, rolls over and ignores us.  The other sits up looks at us and then stares out into the horizon, I wonder what she sees out there with her sharp eyesight. 

I know I say this a lot but I can't get enough of watching these beautiful cats, they are so enchanting! 

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Etosha Queen!

The 2 of them seem so relaxed.  They are so pretty with big brown eyes, long white whiskers and adorable fluffy white chins.

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"Don't ya just wanna tickle that chin!"

We are so close we can see the faint spots on their back legs and every battle scare.  They have a dark ridge running down their backs. 

They are both stunning!

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Awww... WOW!
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Not bothered by us at all!
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Beautiful!
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Sleepy Girl!
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What does she see out there?
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She is stunning!

We watch these 2 beautiful girls for a while.  One of them is grooming herself, just like any cat she is meticulous, I am amazed at how content they both are in our presence.   

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She just lays down...
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... and starts grooming herself!
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A twitch of her ear is the only movement!
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So wonderful to watch!
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She doesn't even stir!
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The Queen at rest!

They really aren't bothered by us at all!

Finally we see what she was looking at.  There are 3 more Lioness wandering in the long grass, they blend in with the dry grass so well, when they lay down they disappear completely, no wonder they are such good hunters!

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How amazingly they blend in to their surroundings!

We drive a little further up the road, and if Victor hadn't spotted him we would have missed him completely.

A young male Lion is stilling next to kill, there isn't much of it left mostly bones.   

Unlike in the Serengeti were the Lions food source is in a densely populated area they will leave a kill once they have satisfied their hunger.  But here their prey is spread over a vast area so they sometimes go along time between kills, so they guard the leftovers, well... pizza is still good the next day right!

Our young male is guarding it against scavengers, it seems to be the remains of an Oryx the horns and the face can be seen sticking out of the grass, awww poor thing but it is the circle of life.

This boy has only the beginnings of  a mane, scraggy and golden, I wonder if this is a young pride or if there is a larger Alpha out there somewhere that we can't see!

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Keeping guard...
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... over the leftovers!

Ben starts the truck and we continue on I cant help but hope to see a Cheetah as this is the perfect hunting ground for these elusive cats, wide open spaces with herds of Springbok and Impala scattering the horizon.  

But suddenly there is a loud pop and Ben slows the truck down and all you can hear is a thudding sound.  We pull up on to the side of the road and Victor and Ben take a look.  We have a flat tire.  Luckily for us there are 2 tires on each side of the axle and we slowly make our way back to the campground.

Once back at camp I help with dinner prep and then take a Gin and Tonic with me to  waterhole to watch the sunset.

I find myself  bench seat and settle in with camera at the ready.

It is a beautiful way to spend an evening, as the sky turns from a beautiful pink and purple to a flaming orange, the dusk gives the water a wonderful orange glow.

Giraffes are making their way down to drink, spreading their front legs awkwardly to bend down, perfect mirror reflections are cast on the still water.

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Casting perfect reflections!
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What a Sunset!
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More, more come to drink!
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It's a perfect evening!
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Beauty in the awkwardness!
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They just keep coming!

A lone Jackal comes down to drink.   As he is scampering up the rocks he finds a bird carcass  and has difficulty dragging it up the rocky incline.  He is joined by his mate and the run off together out of sight.

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Awww... My little friend makes an appearance!

Birds hop from rock to rock avoiding hoofs, a mohawked African Hoopoe is so cute with reddish feathers and long beak, I like him! 

A White Tailed stride walks along the shoreline like he owns the place. 

But as lovely as the bird life is, it's the mammals that steal the show!

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An African Hoopoe!
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A White Tailed Strike!

A herd of Plains Zebra have found their way and after scanning their surroundings are comfortable to come to the water and take a drink.   One by one they line up and dip their heads casting perfect reflections on the water!

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One last check before they can relax!
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Another perfect line up!

More Giraffe have made their way, their silhouettes casting long shadows.  

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You would look awkward too if you had extra long legs and neck!

As the sunsets deeper they quench their thirst in that awkward way they do. 

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Perfect yoga Giraffe poses!

Finally it's time to depart and slowly they start to disappear!

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And off they go!

A lone youngster is hanging back until his mother turns back and gives him a look and an unseen communication of  "Hurry up, come on you" and he quickens his pace to catch up and they slowly disappear into the horizon.

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Mum gives little one the hurry up!

You can't beat an African sunset, but this... this is beautiful!

The sky turns from pink to purple and them deepens to a rusty orange, the animals make it so much more spectacular.

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What away to spend an evening!

One by one they all disappear into the dusky night and it's time to head back for dinner.

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Just when you think an African sunset can't get any better!

Another fantastic meal.  The team talk takes longer than expected, and all I can think is I wanna go back to the waterhole.

It turns out that those who missed the afternoon game drive are upset about  missing out, as they didn't know about it.

I don't know how, we spoke about it at breakfast and again at lunch... oh and the morning game drive.  I wonder if they would be this upset if we didn't see Lions.  It reminds me of work when passengers miss a flight and it's everyone else's fault but their own!

Finally, I head back to the waterhole with a cup of tea in hand and a lone Impala drinks at the waters edge, little girds are swooping everywhere, catching insects in the air, all is quiet.

A lone Bull Elephant makes an appearance as if out of nowhere, slowly he makes his way to the waters edge quenching his thirsts after a long hot day roaming.   He is oblivious to us until some idiots photograph him with the flash on.   He shakes his head in frustration, looking up straight at us.

I watch him for what seems like minutes but my tea has turned cold and I look at my watch, it has been over an hour. 

He slowly departs the same way he came in, his huge feet not making a sound as those spongy pads on his feet absorb the every step his large steps make, and that is how something so huge can appear so silently.

I wait a while long in hopes of seeing something more, but it remains quiet, so I make my way back to my tent and sleep!

NOVEMBER 14TH DAY 13

I am woken up by an almighty roar, it sounds like it is right by the camp, I sit up then snatch up my camera put on my jandles and run out to the waterhole.  I pass some German tourists who give strange looks, haven't they seen a women in PJs before.  

The sun is starting to rise but the waterhole is still dark but empty of wildlife, that Lion roar sounded like it was coming from here... I was so loud... so close!

I sit for a while and the light comes to start the day, I am now wide a wake that roar is the best alarm ever!

Disappointed I head back to my tent, shower and pack.  Today we leave this amazing place. 

During breakfast my tent neighbors ask if I am ok as all they heard at 5am was the Lions roar and me saying "I'm up!"

Finally we are all packed up and back out into the reserve.  We dead out on the same long dusty road where we saw the Lions yesterday.  

Victor is making fun of me about this morning, but says that the Lion could be miles away as they can be heard over long distances, but I had to go an look for myself, he just laughs at me.  It's OK it is a sound I will never forget!

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Heading out into the dusty wilds!

To my amazement they are still there, the pride has come together, the young male and 3 Lioness, lounging in the shade of the only tree for miles.  Further back there are another 3 Lioness laying together one of them sits up as we approach.

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WOW... The pride is still here!

He lifts his head up and looks at us and then plonks back down.  He is so young his mane hasn't reached maturity and is short and scruffy.  His large amber eyes blink with tiredness as he stretches out and goes back to sleep.

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They look so chillaxed!

One of the girls gets up and makes her way thru the pride, rubbing heads with each of the other girls, before sitting down to keep watch over her family, who just laze about without a care in the world.

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What a beautiful girl you are!
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Communication thru interaction!
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I love watching them!

The male simply continues to sleep, ignoring the world around him.  The only movement he makes is the flicker of his ears and tail at intrusive insects.

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Lazy boy!

Some of the girls just sleep opening the occasional eye, the rest of the girls stir some sit up some simply yawn and roll over.  What an amazing young pride this is.

They look at us, their beautiful faces stare at the truck for a while before they decide we are of no interest to them and just ignore us like we aren't even here.

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Some just continue to sleep!
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Some watch us and others ignore us!
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Others look about with curiosity!
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What a family!

He sits up the stirrings among the ladies has peaked his interest.  He looks at us with those gorgeous amber eyes, and simply closes them content with his surroundings.

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Such a handsome young fella!
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What an amazing pair!
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They are just so unbelievably relaxed!

We are so close we can see every detail, he has thorns embedded below his ear, they don't seem to bother him in the slightest.  He has a scar that runs down the side of his nose and his mane is all knotted and mangled, it looks like he has been in a few scrapes.  But he is still a handsome boy.

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WOW!

What a beautiful young family, watching the harmony between them is wonderful.

These ladies will rely on him for their protection, they will hunt together ensuring that he is strong, he will always eat first to keep his strength up, to defend the pride against other males and predators.  Only when the prey is too big will he join the hunt to help the Lioness to bring home the kill... working in perfect harmony.

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"What you looking at!?!!"

Victor indicates that it is time to go, the the traditional "Sawa Sawa" which is Swahili for "OK OK", we really don't want to go but we have been here for a while and I guess  we have a schedule to keep. 

With one last look at this beautiful young pride the truck starts and we pull away heading out in the reserve once again.

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Grow and prosper precious ones!

Victor indicates that it is time to go, the the traditional "Sawa Sawa" which is Swahili for "OK OK", we really don't want to go but we have been here for a while and I guess  we have a schedule to keep. 

With one last look at this beautiful young pride the truck starts and we pull away heading out in the reserve once again.

We are leaving this wonderful place today, so this is our last game drive of the tour, I am still holding out a smidge of hope that I will see a Leopard or Cheetah.

As we slowly make our way to the main gate the landscape turns rocky and grey, with very little grows here with the exception of thorny bushes.

We stop at our last waterhole, except there isn't much water here, but it is teaming with wildlife, Oryx, Impala and Kudu skip over the rocks vying for the small puddles of of water. 

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Oryx and Black Faced Impala hang out together!
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And along come the Kudu!
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Herds that stick together survive together!

A small herd of Zebra have made their way thru the hot baron landscape, their heads hang wearily in the heat.  It can't be an easy life out here.

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Awww poor things look so hot and bothered!

They all mingle together peacefully, but somehow they stick with there own kind.  They all seem relaxed, which seems to indicate that there are no predators in the area.  

When Ben starts the truck I feel a little sad as this is our last stop in this amazing place, I could spend the rest of my holiday here. 

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The Bachelor Hangout!
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"Hey mate, it's a bit crowded here today"
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Two Antelopes which couldn't be so different!
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Those markings are amazing!

As we approach the main gate I make a silent vow to come back here.

Today we drive to Spitzkoppe no one wants to have the windows open, maybe they don't want to ruin their hair, so all the windows are closed, which I find really annoying, as it is my turn to sit at the back and it is so stuffy!    So I suffer in silence!

I can't help it if I like the wind in my face when I am driving.

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Namibia passes by!

We stop under a huge tree for lunch, the landscape is so arid, like a rocky desert.  Everyone is hot, tired and quiet.

With lunch over it is back on the truck and thank god for Victor who  says it's too hot and opens some windows.  

We drive small remote villages, out in the middle of nowhere, how do they manage out here?

Small neat, clean towns have a hint of their German past in the architecture.

Slowly large rock formations appear on the horizon, the Matterhorn of Namibia slowly rises as we closer!

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Namibian Matterhorn!

We get to stretch our legs as we stop a small outdoor market selling semi-precious gems and jewelry.  All the stones are mined in this area.  The local ladies are welcoming and friendly, they leave us in peace to browse.  I restrain myself and keep the spending to a minimum.

But soon Victor is giving us the hurry up, and we are back on the truck.  The drive to the our camp for the night is the shortest of the day and as the Spitzkoppe comes into full view we stop to enjoy the magnificent sweeping views.

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Spitzkoppe!
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They have an amazing reddish glow!

Once at the base of the Spitzkoppe, we have to check in, this takes a little time so we make use of proper toilets before we head to our no facilities campsite.

The drive takes us thru beautiful burnt orange rock formations and sparkling rust coloreds sand that glows in the late afternoon sun to our designated campsite in the wild.

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What a spectacular landscape!

Our campsite is at the base of a huge smooth granite rock formation.  We help set up for dinner and some of us put up tents while others have opted to sleep up on the rocks, me I like the comfort of a mattress.

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Camping in the Namib Desert!

Some have gone for a hike, the rest of us, climb up the rocks to watch the sunset, in parts the rocks look like someone has tried to create art by balancing pieces in weird formations.  The rock is speckled with black and white and sparkles in the late sun.

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Natures Artwork!

Furry large Hamster like animals scatter on the rocks as we approach, Rock Dasssie, they are kinda cute, very skittish and soon disappear into cracks and crevasses.

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Rock Dassie!

Sitting on the top of rock the sun is setting and the sweeping views of the desert spread out forever, the sky  turns from a dusky blue edged with gold. 

It is so peaceful up here but that silence is broken when the others return chatting away  non-stop, oh well, lets just enjoy the view!

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Spitzkoppe Golden Sunset!

I am enjoying the tranquility up here in the desert, watching the sky change color, the night air is comfortably cool and it feels so peaceful.  

The night sky glows a fabulous gold and orange the night sky looks like it is on fire, it is so beautiful, it is one of the most glorious sunsets I have ever seen!

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Fire in the night sky! 

The sun is big golden globe slowly disappearing, as it does the rock formations in the distance form 2 peaks and for a moment it's as if the world is holding up the sun, so as to hold on to it as long as it can.

This truly is an amazing planet, that we get to watch scenes like this, as I look out I wonder what other spectacular sights and scenes are out there that make you feel so small and significant.

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[i]It is like the world is on pause! [i]

With the disappearing sun we make our way down, and we have dinner around the fire. 

We all chat for awhile having a few drinks, those who are sleeping under the stars make their way up the rocks.  Some of us stay and chat with Victor.   

I actually don't remember how much we drank, but I do remember I managed to make to my tent and somehow without falling over!

Posted by Tracy87 07:59 Archived in Namibia

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