So there we were…driving through Etosha game park when suddenly two spotted hyenas jumped out of the bush and in front of our car. Slamming on the breaks, we watched as they crossed the road and disappeared back out into the flat, arid desert. Self-driving the park was an incredible way to experience our Namibian safari.
After months on the road, our first visitors from home arrived to Windhoek, Namibia. Luke and Lindsay, some friends from Arizona, made the long flight into the capital city. Picking up a rental car and some camping gear, we immediately took off for Etosha National Park. Its name means ‘Great White Place of Dry Water’ and it comes from the Etosha Pan, an enormous, flat, saline desert that spans almost the entire park. The landscape was like nothing we have ever seen and very different from our first safari at the Masai Mara in Kenya. The barren desert leads into sparse bush and grassland which provides a surprising home for so many game animals. Since the land is so dry, small water holes have formed in unique areas around the park which is where we did most of our game viewing.
Also different from the Masai Mara, we camped each night inside the park gates. Splitting our time between two different camps, we were able to enjoy our game drives all day and then head back to the gated camp to sleep. Each camp also had their own watering hole which was open 24 hours a day for game viewing. It was a great place to stop by early in the morning or just before going to bed to see what animals were hanging out. You could just sit and let the animals come to you!
We saw plenty of antelope species: springbok, oryx, kudu, hartebeest, eland and wildebeest. Lots of hoofed animals: zebra, giraffe and warthog. And of course some of the big game. Rhinos were most popular at the water holes after dark, but we also saw spotted hyenas and prides of lions. At one point, we came across 8 female lions crossing in front of the car, which was rare to see during the middle of the hot day.
The park was easy to navigate around in our own car and having the freedom to do game drives when we wanted was very nice. The experience was wonderful to share with good friends, we had plenty of laughs along the way. After a few days in the park, it was time to head back to Windhoek. We dropped off the rental car and boarded a bus with Luke and Lindsay. It was time to head to Cape Town…
- Game viewing at the watering holes inside the camps, you could sit and enjoy a beer or glass of wine, all while watching rhinos and other animals come for a drink of water
- Welcoming our good friends Luke and Lindsay to Africa
- Having our own car to drive around the park, it was nice to have a more personal safari experience
- Getting extremely close to running out of gas in the middle of nowhere
- Eating at Whimpy Burger (the McDonald’s of Southern Africa) – yuck!