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Pamela MacNaughtan

It’s sad to think that Etoshia is the last game drive  of my classic journeys trip from Kenya to Cape Town. Sure, we’ve already had like 4 or so, but this is the last one, which means I’m close to the end of my trip! I must admit, it’s a very sad thought -although game driving in itself is quite exciting.

Unlike our other game drives, we’ll be doing this one in our awesome beast-of-a-truck Kitonga (yes, our Intrepid truck has a name), which means we’ll be higher up than most safari vehicles -making it easier to spot game from a distance. Plus, Ben and George have amazing eyes and spot game way before we do.

Our first game (Giraffes) was spotted near the entrance to the park, naturally, we stopped. It’s amazing. I have so many photos of Giraffes from the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, but even after 30 days, I still take loads more. I absolutely love watching them. It’s odd to see how they walk with front and back right legs, then front and back left legs. When they run, it changes and they run with both front legs, then both back legs. I’m not sure why I am so fascinated by this, but I am. I could sit in the truck all day, watching.

We continued to drive through the park to our campsite for the night and make small stops along the way whenever we saw game near the road. As it turns out, our luck with game drives is holding out pretty well, and before we arrived at our campsite we spotted a Rhino (my second Rhino on this trip)! Although he/she were far away, I didn’t really care. I’ve seen Gumboots up close, I can handle seeing the rest from a distance.

Located in Northern Namibia, Etosha National Park is a 22,750 km2 game reserve, which includes a 5,000 km2 salt pan. Unlike the Serengeti, Etosha is relatively flat, with very few trees, making it easier to spot game from a distance (and then stop and wait for them to come closer), which is super helpful for those of us who are traveling sans binoculars!

After pitching our tents (and a couple hours of free time) we boarded Kitonga once more and headed out for an afternoon game drive. The game seemed to be hiding a wee bit. We drove to watering holes where we spotted Kudus, Vultures and some Zebra, but no Elephants or Lions. I wasn’t too worried though. We’re in Etosha for 2 nights, plus one cannot control Mother Nature. Spotting game is based a lot on patience and a lot of luck.

As we drove around Etosha, our patience was tested and we came out the winners.

We sat inside Kitonga watching a bull Elephant at a small watering hole -I never tire of watching them drink. The sun was low in the sky and cast a warm glow over the scene in front of us. I watched as another bull Elephant arrived. A bigger bull Elephant. As he approached the watering hole there was a bit of a stand-down before the smaller Elephant reluctantly backed off. I have to admit, I wanted to see them fight. George assured me that I didn’t want that to happen, however, I still think it could have been interesting, right?  We sat in the truck for quite some time, watching the Elephants stare each other down and drink from the watering hole before Ben started the truck up and we headed to another watering hole.

As it turns out, lady luck was definitely with us on our second day in Etosha, as we spot not one, not two, but 7+ Lions (including cubs) at a couple of the watering holes in the park. It was simply amazing. I stood in the truck and craned my neck out the window to watch Lions being lazy un small trees, while one or two cubs walked around trying to find a comfy spot to relax. I watched a lion laying on the ground within feet of our truck and not caring that we were there. I watched as an older Lion with a full mane of hair approach a watering hole, sit to drink and then walk passed our truck. George was floored (as we all were) by how many Lions we came across. Apparently, THIS is not normal. Our group was definitely a very lucky group.

Etosha National Park was our last game drive, but it was also one of the best game drives.

Thinking of traveling to Africa?

Traveling in Africa, solo, can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travelers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I traveled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again. 

 

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    October 5, 2011
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