Aaaah relief! After 3 days with absolutely no internet access we made a stop at an internet cafe this morning, where we all took to the internet like people who'd been deprived of water for three days. Amazingly there was very little of importance in my inbox, so I guess all is well with the world. I'm writing this on the bus as we make our six hour drive from the Etosha Safari Lodge down to Swakopmund. Today we'll travel through both hill country and then through the Namib desert down to the coastal town of Swakopmud where we'll stay at the ELCRN guest house. Swakopmund has been described as a slightly larger version of New Ulm Minnesota for those of you from Minnesota.
Yesterday was another amazing day. We got up fairly early to observe a few animals at the Moringa water hole at the Halali Rest Camp, but it was a pretty quiet morning. A few zebras, some Kudu, and a bunch of Guinea Hens. We had some breakfast, and then set out for the day. We had to be out of the park by 5:30PM (sundown) and we had a lot of animal viewing in store.
There were two real highlights of the day. First, we witnessed a herd of 42 yes 42 elephants! This herd included elephants of all ages, including babies up to the old bull that was clearly in charge of it all. We saw to older males challenging each other for something, and younger males emulating them. Its interesting to see them face off, then wrap their trunks together and then go head to head pushing on each other. Just think of the strength behind all that pushing. We even heard the old male trumpet to get everyone's attention and get the herd moving again. At one point they must have smelled a lion or a leopard because everyone started running. This didn't last very long and soon they were back to drinking at the water hole. This must have been a unique gathering because even the Namibian's who were working on building a solar water pump were taking a break to watch all of this action.
We saw this same behavior with a huge herd of Springbok and a dazzle of Zebra earlier in the day. They were just standing around doing whatever springbok and Zebras do, when all of the sudden they all took off, David said this is because they smell a leopard. After running a ways they stopped and stood very still, all of them just staring in one direction. We tried to see what they were looking at but couldn't see anything but grass and bushes.
The second highlight of the day came at the end of the day when we saw Lions again. Its amazing we saw them at all, they blend into the grass so well. On one side of the road were four mature lions just sunning themselves, literally lying on their backs legs spread apart, soaking up the sun. Finally one of them got up and moved to a new spot so we were able to get a really good look. On the other side of the road was a Lioness and her cubs, at first all we spotted were the ears sticking up next to one of the bushes, but with patience we were finally rewarded with some nice views of all the cubs and the mother.
A lot of what we saw today was the same animals that we have been seeing since entering the park, and after a while you just get numb to the whole thing until you remind yourself what a rare opportunity it is to see these animals in their natural habitat. Animal Kingdom this is not. One of the new animals we did see today was the heartbeats, another antelope that is the second fastest. It gets its name from its horns which look like a heart when you see them from the front.
Its really crazy that we have just two days in Swakopmund and then on Sunday we head back to Windhoek in preparation for leaving Namibia on Monday.