The Lion roars tonight

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Africa
Tags: , , ,

After a long and gruelling (for Muneeza having to put up with my in-flight grumpiness) flight, we arrived safely in Windhoek, Namibia on Monday 21st Sept. After going to the wrong address (LP well out of date) and getting ripped off by a local taxi driver, we checked into the honeymoon suite at Chameleon Guesthouse. Choice decision to go posh after the long flight – massive double room with ensuite and private balcony with outdoor shower. After a few hours of faffing, we crashed and slept like babies.

Tuesday at midday, we hot-tailed out of the rather disappointingly drab Windhoek with our guide Emanuel and headed for Etosha National Park and 3 days of safari. Mange tout. Emanuel was really interesting – explaining some of Namibia’s history and telling us about the war with South Africa during which he and many others fled as refugees to Angola. Sadly his parents were killed in the war, rather sobering conversation, yet he remained incredibly positive and happy. A quick dose of humility.

We got to our lodge outside the national park at sunset to be greeted by a wild zebra that, since evading the chase of lions, had established residence in the lodge gardens. We were woken at 2am by Spotty trotting past our tent, a surreal but wonderful experience. The permanent tents were stunning – our own outdoor ensuite toilet and shower, views across the lodge plains. Awesome.

The first real treat was a suprise wake-up alarm call from a male lion at 4am, announcing his presence and warning lone males to “ger off moi land”. It is a beautiful sound because everywhere is so quiet and the roar travels for miles. After putting on clean pants, we settled back to sleep.

To cut to the chase, we headed off early on safari. Our expectatons were perhaps a little naive; we expected to see the Big 5 (Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Leopards & Giraffe) at every turn. After the instant luck of seeing 3 giraffe tucking into breakfast, we spent the next 4 hours seeing very little apart from herd of Zebra, Sprinbok, Kudu and Oryx (awesome sights in themselves yet not the big boys & girls).

By late afternoon there was an air of disappointment looming when Emanuel stopped the truck to ask a fellow guide for news. He learned that lions and elephant had been spotted a few kms away, so he put the peddle to the metal. Then we got a bit lost and took a wrong turn. And we saw nothing. Gutted.

With little hope left but enjoying the ride and stunning scenery of the arid desert plains, we popped in to the last watering hole to check for fauna. Suddenly Emanuel got rather excited – he spotted Elephants. At first we thought there were only 5 heading for a drink but as we moved up the path for a better view, we hit the motherload. A herd of over 30 elephant were crossing the path. Big Mama stopped and stared. The main bull also had a peek, flapping his ear which apparently is a sign they aren’t happy bunnies.

However, the Olifants soon settled down and decided we were no threat. They proceeded to eat and play. We were lucky to see a tiny bambino, less than 1 month old according to Emanuel. We stood in the vehicle, astonished and in complete awe. No matter how amazing Attenborough is, there ain’t nothing but the real thing baby.

We decided to leave the herd in peace and headed back to the park gate satisfied at having seen such an amazing sight. As we drove back, Emanuel saw another guide stopped by the roadside staring intently out to the Etosha pan (the big expanse that once was water filled). Lions. Not only that but Lions stalking Oryx looking for an early evening kill. This sight is rare, Lions will usually only hunt away from the cars.

We spent the next 20 mins watching the Lions stalk their prey. In the end the Oryx out-smarted them and managed to escape to safety, the Lions (4 females) just sat down and chilled. It was a real priviledge to have seen nature in action.

We won’t bore you with the final day’s quarry, let’sjust say we sat at a waterhole and watched as herds of zebra, springbok, impala, kudu, oryx and various other smaller animals came to bathe and drink in the morning sunshine.

We left the park happy, though slightly disappointed not to have seen rhinos and more lions. We’ve already decided to book another safari, probably in the Serengeti in Tanzania. With the fun over for now, we’re about to step onto a bus to Cape Town – 19 hours of endurance. Poor Muneeza, she’ll have to cope with my tiredness!

Hope you are all well and enjoyed the first update, will drop by again from South Africa where the plan is to go shark watching in a cage! Game on.

Love James & Mun x

Muneeza at the watering hole

  1. Rosalind says:

    Sounds absolutely amazing – I hope you are taking lots of pictures of all these stunning sights….hope the rest of your time is equally fabulous! Take care and enjoy! xxx

  2. Michael Feiner says:

    Hi James,

    Sounds like the two of you are having a blast of a time. I’m envious.

    One of my work colleagues is a Safari veteran. So I took the liberty to ask him about the best Safari parks in Tanzania.

    Here are his suggestions:

    If you plan to travel through Zambia then you should consider going on a safari at the South Luangwa national Park. It is located North East of Lusaka and is accessible from Chiputa on the Great East Road (from Lusaka to Lilongwe).
    Camping at Flat Dogs near the park entrance is meant to be good + you can hire a guide there. You are likely to see loads of animals including your big five plus many other animals with some species only found in this park.

    He considered this park as the top priority.

    In Tanzania, he actually recommends Ngorongoro over the Serengeti for practical reasons. The animals in the Serengeti or on a constant 12-month migration cycle. They should be moving South towards the Serengeti soon but might not be there before November or even December – apparently boarder controls have been tighten up in recent years and it is much harder for many species to get the necessary Visas. 😉

    However, Ngorongoro is a crate and a “self sustained” eco system. Therefore, you are guaranteed to see all the animals you can think of and in good numbers. The only missing animals would be giraffes (as the crater is too steep for them).

    The big drawback is that this park is “crowded” – you are likely to encounter 20 to 30 other vehicles any given day. As a veteran Safari explorer he considers anything beyond 4 vehicles as crowded. But for the rest of us humans it might not be such an issue.

    Other parks to consider are Mikumi and Ruaha which offer good guides, great scenery and interesting animals (i.e. more unique, some rare species of giraffes etc.). But sounds to me like a more “advanced” safari options.

    Let me know if you need more detailed info. My colleague would be more than happy to elaborate.


  3. Yasser says:

    Oi Oi that sounds wicked, you do expect the moon on a string though!

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