3:30 AM: my chunder machine was at it for a third time sans digital assistance. There wasn’t much left by now, so hopefully that’s an end to it. It’s quite amazing how ones body knows when it should get rid of something unpleasant. Clearly, I wasn’t going out on our second day’s game drive, either. Bloody marvellous: sod all in the way of Namibian dragonflies in evidence as yet and my wildlife big game highlight of the trip had now been scotched.
It transpires that two more of our number are also suffering intestinal issues, though not, I think, nausea; more to do with Namibia’s version of Montezuma’s Revenge. More interesting is the fact that a handful of poor souls from a similar Danish group are suffering. They had also stayed at Toshari Lodge when we had. This is too much of a coincidence, methinks. My suspicions about Toshari Lodge having been the cause gathered weight with Leader Louis, who very kindly me a chocolate bar “to help me recover”. Yum?! Maybe later. 😉
Francine plied me with a glass of sugar and salt dissolved in water; This is supposed to replicate some sort of rehydration fluid, I think, sort of a homemade isotonic concoction. I tried sipping it cautiously and discovered it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. I drank a little more. Francine reluctantly left me in my prison to recover and went off on a full day’s game drive heading towards the eastern edge of Etosha Pan, the huge central clay pan, to try her luck with more large game. I assured her that she should go; there really wasn’t any point in us both missing out.
Yesterday, before deteriorating, we’d seen a Redbilled Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus) which had seemed to regard the camp as home. As I was dozing in recovery mode, a loud tapping stirred me. At first, I thought a fellow invalid was knocking on the door but discovered it was the Hornbill tapping on the sliding doors beside my bed. I wondered if it might be after insects, or tapping at its own reflection, or trying to prompt for food. I dragged the door open as gently as I could and it stared back at me briefly before hoping/flapping off. Cute.
Mid-morning saw me feeling a bit brighter – maybe the rehydration fluid works – though tired and a bit lethargic. I went looking for the Hornbill around the camp but drew a blank, so I sauntered to the waterhole, which today was blissfully free of noisily picnicking Homo sapiens representing any nation. That wasn’t all that was quiet, the waterhole was, too. A lone pair of Blacksmith Lapwings entertained me for a few minutes. As I returned I rounded a corner and stumbled into my Hornbill friend catching prey just in front of me. Snap!
That effort required a rest. I nibbled a small amount of Louis’ chocolate bar, a Bar One, which turned out to be Nestle and clearly Namibia’s answer to a Mars bar. It gave me the strength to go and see what else I could find. One thing I found was a Forktailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis) which cooperated nicely for the camera. These birds apparently mimic other birds and animals to try and scare others into dropping food. Clever little sucker. The camp is also home to Bush/Tree/Yellow-footed/Mopane Squirrels (Paraxerus sp) – how many names does a squirrel need? – which I also stalked for a while.
Meanwhile, back with Francine and the 10 other healthy travellers in our tour truck, not long after leaving the camp on an all-day game drive, a pride of lions had been spotted not far along the road.Now for Francine. Now they’d got some real carnivores, the top of the food chain. Lions usually cause great excitement and this encounter was no exception. The pride appeared to resting. Oddly, there were two males, one clearly getting on in years; it certainly bore the scars of battle, its nose well disfigured. A younger male, not yet fully maned, was also present. Two sexually mature males in a pride is quite unusual. The lions moved further off into some shade; the tour truck moved on, heading further east along the Etosha Pan. Louis thought the lions would still be there in the shade when they returned later and so they turned out to be.
Mid-morning produced some new herbivore species, first in the shape of a group of Red Hartebeest, then a group of Giraffe and later my favourite antelope-on-a-plate, Kudu (this one is a female). Yum! Or, at least, Yum when I’m feeling healthy. Approaching lunchtime, a group of Burchell’s Zebra used up several more pixels; their striking markings are always fun to click.
Another camp at Namutoni provided a lunch stop for the group and made a very favourable impression on Francine. So, if you’re going to stay in Etosha, this could be the place. 😉
The truck slithered and slid its way around more of Etosha in the afternoon, finding more Giraffe, more Hartebeest and another carnivore, a Blackbacked Jackal. Incidentally, I’m not sure why African names like this aren’t hyphenated, thus: Black-backed Jackal. I’d hyphenate it, probably because all such dragonfly names are hyphenated. This couple of shots should give an indication as to just how much water was freely available in the park during this wet season.
Speaking of dragonflies, Francine did very well, in between slithers, to spot a rather diminutive female dragonfly perching on the ground. She did even better to snag some decent shots of it considering that she was using my lens, unfamiliar to her, which I’d left set on a restricted minimum focus distance of just 3m/10ft. (That makes it faster to focus when shooting from the truck. Never mind, her EOS 5D captures great images that can be cropped very successfully. This is a female Little Percher (Diplacodes deminuta).
My relative isolation ended when teh truck returned at about 4:30 PM. I was feeling brighter. Poor Francine had been so looking forward to seeing her beloved elephants but, alas, the only elephant seen was a wooden effigy at Namutoni. I know only too well what such disappointment feels like.