Chris and I could not have been more excited about finally driving to Etosha National Park, doing a safari had been a dream for so long, and we always thought it would be way too expensive but actually, if you self-drive, it is so much more affordable.
As soon as we entered the park, we saw a big herd of zebras and we went crazy photographing and filming them – little did we know that they would be the second main character of the day. In the detour ti the campsite we saw more zebras, then springboks, wildebeest, gemsboks, kudus, impalas, it was just amazing!
On the afternoon drive, we didn’t see anything super exciting and we were nervous because it was getting late and we had to check in the campsite at sunset. We decided to take one more detour and suddenly, we saw something relatively big crossing the road, as we got closer, we realized it was a hyena! Unfortunately, as soon as we got closer, he ran away.
We felt like it had been a successful day one, and began to drive back to our campsite. But as we were driving, we saw something REALLY big on the road, bigger than anything else we had seen so far. As we got closer, it got bigger, and as we started to prepare our photography gear, we realized it was a rhino! Just running along the road! We didn’t want to scare him so we slowly got closer, and he just moved over so we were literally driving next to him!
We were told that because it’s rainy season, we’re better off driving around looking for the animals everywhere, rather than going to waterholes, since they have water available everywhere now, especially after the last rainy days here.
So on day 2, we got up at sunrise and began our drive through the park, making our way slowly to the next campsite. The weather was grey and foggy and we thought we might not see much that day, however, only after 30 minutes driving, Chris spotted a rhino!
He was just hanging out in the field, but close enough to snap some photos. All of a sudden, he started to run, like charge to our car! We freaked out a bit, but luckily, he just crossed the road behind us and ran off into the distance. When we looked at the pictures, we realized it had been a black rhino, which is, unfortunately, critically endangered, so we felt especially lucky to have seen one.
After seeing more zebras, and springboks we kept driving along the main road we saw a car stopped on the side of the road. Since we didn’t see anything in the grass we were about to drive off, but then with the help of binoculars, we saw two lions lying in the grass. Since they were not very active we marked the spot on the map and decided to come back later. Arriving back at 5 pm both lions had at least their heads up. When the older male got up for a downward dog we decided we just had to stay here. Whereas other cars took off after a while we passed the time when nothing happened with playing cards, and our endurance was about to pay off.
We had to leave at 7, so at quarter to 7, we were getting anxious to see some more action. And I guess, we’re just really lucky, cause right then they both got up, started walking, and then running towards the hyena. The older male jumped at the hyena, and the hyena kind of fought back, but then the younger one arrived and bullied him out of the area. We couldn’t believe what had happened, we had just witnessed a National Geographic scene with our own eyes, and we could not be any more grateful.
Back at our campsite, we went to the waterhole just in case, although most of the waterholes we had visited had been empty. And just as we were about to leave, a rhino walked in from the bushes and just chilled there, drank some water, and chilled a bit more. Then, a hyena walked in, making that our 3rd hyena of the day.
After a very uneventful morning without seeing anything, Chris finally spotted in the far distance two rhinos! A baby and its mama. We watched them walk around for a bit but they were really far, so it was more like the silhouette.
Durig the next hour, we saw more impalas, and also red hartebeest, wildebeest, and gemsboks.
Then, for 2 or 3 hours, again we saw nothing. We thought it was probably because it was too hot, and to prove my theory, we saw three hyenas crossing the road, two were going to the shade and one just laid down in a big puddle.
It was only at the detours near the next campsite that we started to see again giraffes (this time much closer!), zebras, springboks, etc.
Then we saw a bunch of birds flying around so we got closer to see what was happening and there were about 30 vultures eating the leftovers of a dead zebra. Kind of sad, but also, very National Geographic.
We then saw two cars parked on the other road, and we saw something but couldn’t identify them, not even with binoculars, but we had terrible FOMO and couldn’t leave without checking it out.
So we started to drive there, and as we got closer we couldn’t really decide on what they were, but there were three of them. But suddenly, it was clear, they were cheetahs! Three cheetahs! Crossing the road, super chilled while all the cars had stopped there to watch them. We took a bunch of pictures before they laid down further away.
Our day started again quietly, not many animals around. I was excited when we saw a wildcat called caracal, and it was beautiful!
A car told us that the elephants were on the main road from Namutoni towards the gate, so we went there right away because that was the only big animal we haven’t seen yet. On the drive, we saw lots of giraffes, but no elephants. We then did a small loop detour and saw a lot of giraffes again.
It was getting really hot so we stopped at Namutoni to have a little lunch break, which took a bit longer after we had to get a plastic cover from the bottom of the car repaired.
Continuing our elephant quest we decided to head North to look for elephants. After a car told us that they had seen a lot of giraffes and elephants just 5kms further we were so excited. Arriving at the spot we saw a lot of giraffes, more than ever, but no elephants! We made it all the way to the end of this main road and we didn’t see one single elephant! So, a bit frustrated we took a detour on the way back, losing almost all our hopes. Then, suddenly, just on the side of the road, there he was! One, just one elephant having a mud bath. We couldn’t believe it! He was enjoying a bath and we just parked near him, but not too close to disturb him and just watched the beautiful show. We were so happy and grateful.
After about 15 minutes, he was done and left. It felt like such a reward after chasing elephants all around the park.
On the way back to the campsite, we saw more giraffes on the road, on the side of the road, and in the distance. So even though we were looking for elephants today, it was definitely a giraffe day.
Etosha was without a doubt one of the best experiences in our lives, and we enjoyed every minute of it, even though it was quite tiresome to get up before sunrise every day and drive around all day, but the reward was huge.
Now we can’t wait to see what else Namibia has to offer.