The campsite at Okaukuejo is surrounded by a tall fence and located on the perimeter of a large watering hole. During the day the gates to the campsite remain open, but monitored by park rangers. At night the gates are securely closed to keep out the lions, cheetahs and other predators. Of course because the holes in the fence are quite large, jackals roam freely around the campsite scavenging for leftover food.
The high walls not only enclose the campsite, but also the visitors center, gift shop, bungalows, pool and restaurant and bar. Honestly, despite the fact the camp is surrounded by wild animals, it feels more like a resort than a campsite.
Once we arrived at camp Tarynne’s team prepared lunch before we hit the pool to cool off.
After a good two hour pool and football throw and catch session, we headed back to the truck for our first “game drive” through the national park.
Our first game drive started at 5 p.m. and lasted about two hours. Prosper surrendered his shotgun position and rode in the back with us to detail everything we saw outside the windows.
Although it was already 5 p.m. the sun was still high in the sky and beating down with tremendous warmth onto the dry plains surrounding us. Because of the heat, during the day most of the animals are found in the shade or next to a watering hole.
On our first drive through Etosha we saw rhinos, zebras, giraffes, springbok, impalas, ostriches, elephants, jackals, vultures and wildabeast.
We returned to camp around 7 p.m. and while Tarynne’s team had to cook dinner for the group, I headed to the edge of the campsite and found a park bench overlooking the watering hole on the perimeter of camp.
The watering hole attracts so many visitors that the park has constructed a concrete promenade where campers can sit all through the day and night and watch the wildlife come and go.
As the sun set behind the trees in the distance and the temperature began to drop, the many wild animals of Etosha National Park began to stop by the waterhole for a drink.
When I first arrived there were 13 giraffes, three rhinos and two elephants all standing together drinking from the small pool.
With the dark of night beginning to cloak the bushes around the watering hole, the prize sight slowly emerged from the tree line and cautiously weaved through the shadows toward the water’s edge.
Although the watering hole was surrounded by potential prey, the lone female lion kept her distance from the other animals and crouched alone by the side of the pool quietly lapping up the cool, fresh water.
After about 15 minutes the lion turned around, and slowly moved back into the cover of the darkness and surrounding bushes.
Having seem the main attraction I hurried back to camp for dinner.
With our bellies full of Tarynne’s famous Pad Thai (made with Spaghetti noodles) we walked back to the watering hole together where we set up shop and watched the animals drink until almost two in the morning.
Throughout the evening we saw all the usual suspects: springbok, elephants, rhinos and giraffes, but unfortunately no more lions.
On Monday we awoke bright and early to leave on a 7 a.m. game drive. Fortunately for us, the game drive kicked off with the sighting of a male lion cruising across the open plains.
The morning game drive was almost three and a half hours long and we saw a wide array of animals both near and far from the truck.
We arrived back at camp around 11:30 a.m. and went for a quick dip in the pool before lunch. After lunch we just snoozed by the pool. Tarynne painted her nails and then we played catch with the football.
As 5 p.m. approached Tarynne and I decided to forgo the evening game drive to sit next to the watering hole to watch the animals drink while the sun set behind them.
After the sun dropped completely behind the tree line we walked back to camp for dinner, then returned to the watering hole once again to watch the animals.
Under the dark of night we were graced with the presence of a baby rhino with mama, plenty of giraffes, hyenas, zebras, owls and the other boring animals.
The main attraction onstage that eventful Monday night were two very frisky male elephants. Tarynne uncontrollably laughed (okay, cried) during their performance. I don’t think gay marriage is legal yet in Namibia, so maybe there’s an extra spot for those two elephants at the Woodland Park or Point Defiance Park Zoo.
Tired from the lack of sleep the night before and the early start, we headed back to our tent at 1 a.m.
On Tuesday we had to be up by 6:30 and on the road to the Namibian Capitol, Windhoek, by 7:30 in the morning.