28 December 2012- Kamanjab, Namibia
What a day! Another long one, its seems like every day is several days sometimes. We left Etosha this afternoon, we stayed in the middle of the park last night and went out to the waterhole (which not much luck, although it was beautiful) and then got up at 3 am to go again (again not much luck) and then went back to bed for a few hours. We are going to spend a bit of time in the northwest of the country so decided we would just make our way though the park and out the south gate today and move on. Well as is the case with wildlife, you just don’t know what you will see, so moving on can take longer than expected! We ended up watching five lions (including two cubs) for ages.
We pulled up next to a couple from SA who said they saw a lion but it was really far off, sure enough through the binoculars we could only just make out an ear every now and then, behind a rock. We waited and waited and waited. And then… movement. Two lionesses started to walk our way, still very far off though. They paused and kept looking back to the rocks and soon we saw a large mane emerge from behind a rock, the male, he looked around and then laid back down. The surrounds were very open and stark and we knew they would seek shade (all the lions we have seen have been in the shade) and we happened to be right at a small bridge that seemed to offer the only shade around. The two lioness walked for a bit then looked back at him and stopped when it became obvious he wasn’t going any further. We waited and waited and waited some more, just us and the other couple. A few cars came and went when they didn’t see anything quickly. Our patience was rewarded as after a while the male decided it was time and all three of them made their way directly to us, literally within a metre or two of the car before ducking under the bridge and into the shade. It was amazing seeing them stride towards us, muscles flexing, perfectly shaped, large paws padding the ground. Its pretty intense seeing them come right towards us and the other couple who were directly over the bridge quickly rolled up their windows! Earlier we had glimpsed a cub but when the three adults came over we thought we had been mistaken but after we saw two cubs in the distance! They were walking about with their oversized feet and confidently strode in the direction of the adults (right under us by this time) but stopped as soon as they hit tall grass (much taller than them) and turned around and despondently went back to where mum had obviously left them. They popped up on top of the rock one or two more times to scan the area but it was obvious they would not go anywhere without the adults.
We had a bit of a moment with the other couple, the four of us exchanging huge silly grins as the lions came to us and again when we all saw the cubs. As we all went to leave they pulled up and had a chat- turns out he has done some overland travel in Africa and gave us some tips as well as heaps of encouragement not to listen to people who discourage us by talking of the dangers of the trip and said he thinks the most dangerous part of our trip we have already done- SA (according to him!) They were delighted to hear about our plans and we all wished each other well.
After the excitement of our morning off we went through the last little bit of Etosha approaching the gate to leave. We were not sure where we were planning to stay tonight but thought we should get a few hours outside the park. A few km later we ran into a herd of elephant. We pulled over and there were elephant on both sides of the road and on one side there was a water hole with elephant, giraffe, zebra, red hartebeest, springbok and gemsbok- magic!!!
After watching the five big male elephant drink, scuffle, and absolutely cover themselves in mud (we could hear every squelchy step) we finally left the park! We are now a few hours away at a great camp. We have had dinner and are listening to the village dogs and donkeys carrying on, could be worse, could be people noises!