As we bad farewell to Etosha, most of which I’d missed due to sickness,and were en route to our next stop, Waterberg, I got a consolation prize. We’d just past a small group of Oryx that had been crossing the road when eagle-eyed Francine spotted a lion lying low in the grass right beside the road. She yelled for the truck to stop. Guide and driver were lower down and had not seen it.. The truck juddered to a halt. All excitement went into silent mode – well mostly anyway – as the truck backed up. We had stumbled across the same pride of lions seen yesterday and our guide said they were now in the initiation phase of a hunt. Their target was likely to have been the Oryx which had crossed the road back down the road. Oryx, with their long sharp horns, tend not to be on the lions’ menu as one of their favourites to tackle but needs must. The lions appeared pretty unconcerned about our presence and continued lying low. Eventually, however, i appeared that the younger male moved at the wrong moment and blew their cover . They began shifting around a little to recompose themselves.
The road is attractive to the animals after rain in the early morning and before any traffic has past to churn up the dirt, offering puddles from which the animals can drink. Several lions took their opportunity. I cracked up thinking of a current TV sponsorship commercial:
Lions in the road, sir; won’t be long
The lions eventually moved on to begin their hunt afresh, We moved on, too.
We left Etosha before our coach turned into a pumpkin and stopped for a second time at the rather indifferent “bakkery” in Outjo for lunch. Here we learned that there’d soon be a change of transport arrangements. As I had suspected, all was not well with our truck’s cooling system, which was still slowly losing water and had been doing so for a few days. quite rightly, leader Louis was concerned that it could suddenly fail catastrophically so he very sensibly arrange for us to be transferred into two Toyota Landcruisers. You do not want to be stranded in the Namibian wilderness, of which there is a considerable amunt in between outposts of habitation. While the Landcruisers were being driven out from Windhoek to meet us, we continued in our ailing truck.
Our next port of call was the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a non-profit charity attempting to rehabilitate orphaned cheetahs, or to give a home to those that can’t be released – those that have had to be bottle fed and became tame-ish, for example. A guide gave us a brief tour, interrupted by a downpour. The most interesting aspect was the fund’s success distributing Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, which they bred, to Namibian farmers for a nominal fee. Cheetahs are prone to being blamed for sheep kills and shot by farmers. The dogs are large and fearless and stand guard over the flocks, scaring off predators. About 900 have been distributed so far. Good thinking! We’ve seen a similar approach with dogs guarding sheep flocks on a mountainside in Italy. I’d prefer to have seen Cheetahs out in the wild but could appreciate the work this charity was doing.
Back in the town near the CCF, we changed into our Landcruisers. Each had a sizable trailer in tow for our baggage and for our picnic lunch equipment. Once everything was loaded, we continued to our next night halt, another Namibian Wildlife Resort on the slopes of the Waterberg plateau. There’s a clue in the name; it soon began thrashing with rain. The approach road is about 10kms of sand, all of which is prone to flooding and rearranging into lumps. The previous tour had become bogged down in the truck and had ended up having to push, arranging rocks around the wheels to try and gain purchase. I’m sure this was a contributory reason for our leader wanting to skip into the Landcruisers. He obviously loved driving this challenging road in a suitable vehicle and whooped with glee once we arrived.
What a lovely resort it was, after the rain stopped, consisting of old colonial buildings with quite plush semi-detached chalet accommodations. We stepped out of the Landcruisers outside our chalets and, lo and behold, dragonflies. Yay! Well, one species, at least, but it was new to me so a delight and as yet unknown. I think I got the complete set: male, female and immature male. Better. I have now identified it as being a Small Scarlet (Crocothemis sanguinolenta).
I investigated the grounds a little more while Francine freshened up, and stumbled across the cutest little Damara Dik-Dik grazing in front of one of the chalets. Considering the fact that these characters top out at only ~38cms/15ins tall and need to be very wary to survive, this one was relatively unconcerned and let me approach quite close before deciding discretion was the better part of valour and disappearing into the bush. I imagine it lives around the resort permanently and is used to Homo sapiens.
This place can, apparently, be plagued by Baboons, and we’d been instructed to keep all windows and doors firmly shut. They are prone to trying to pinch cameras. For us, though, the plague was absent and we saw none. Pity, really, it would’ve been another critter, though we’d driven past several troops beside the roads.
I opted for a slice of antelope with pepper sauce again for dinner. The pepper sauce was curiously identical to the pepper sauce that had accompanied my Kudu when we were just beginning our adventure in Windhoek. With that consistency, I have a strong suspicion that this pepper sauce comes in cans.