Etosha translates to mean The Great White Place. Located in Namibia, Etosha Pan became a park in 1907. We entered Etosha through the Anderson gate at the east end of the park. Set camp up at Namutoni. We walked to a flood lit water hole and sat and watched. There was a rustling in the reeds and two wildebeest appeared…next were a couple of black backed jackals. They are the thieves of the African animal kingdom. One came into our camp and stole a plastic bag. Another ran away with meat, another group was getting ready to cook and another…he took a shoe that was sitting outside a tent. Took a slow drive through the park. Zebra and gemsbok were eating and we could see a leopard in a tree in the distance. The wildebeest mingled with the zebra. A small bat-eared fox stuck his head up from the tall grass and black backed jackels ran about. We saw two rhinos in the brush and the little white birds that accompany them. The weavers were darting in and out of their nests on the trees and ostrich were walking through the plains. I noticed that one of the ostrich were a much darker color and found that these were the males.
The following day we drove to Okaukuejo, our campsite within the park for our second night. The site was sand and not much to see but within walking distance of a water hole. We set up camp and walked to the pool at a nearby resort where we all spent the next few hours. There was another game drive scheduled but I decided to skip it and spend the time at the pool. On the way back to the campground I stopped at the water hole. I was the only one there. I could hear a noise in the distance and noticed a huge cloud of dirt coming toward me. All of a sudden I realize what was stirring up so much dust…a herd of elephants running toward the water hole and me. The scene was so amazing. They stayed in the water hole for almost an hour. I watched the young elephants lift the water in their trunks and then try to coordinate the trunk into their mouths. Most of the time they missed just like a small child trying to put food in their mouths for the first time.
The sun was starting to set and the shine on the backs of the elephants picked up an orange glow from the water. It was dark when the elephants walked back into the bush. I returned to camp and revisited the water hole after dinner. They had flood lights set up to make it easy to view the hyena, jackals, and birds that visited. Wildebeest came down to drink. The scene of the elephants running toward me will always be imprinted in my mind…this is what I came to see.
That night hyenas and jackals were running through our campsite howling and screaming and making all sorts of noise. They were brushing up against the side of the tent and kept waking me up. In the morning, I crawled out of the tent to find they had left their scat all over the place. Looked like they had a party. Packed up early and walked to the waterhole one more time before leaving Etosha. A few wildebeest came for a drink. One was running toward the water at full speed when all of a sudden he stopped and laid down. I can only guess that he figured he ran far enough and decided to take a rest before continuing on. Five zebra showed up and followed the trail around the water. Their reflections became distorted from small birds drinking at the waters edge. A springbok walks past and a few hyena can be seen in the distance as the pink lavender sky lit up the land from the rising sun.
Back on the truck we drove through Etosha and toward Damaraland. We spotted giraffe in the bush and more impala before leaving the park.