My first Safari

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
Trip End Jul 17, 2013

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What I did
Etosha National Park

Flag of Namibia  ,
Saturday, June 22, 2013

Started feeling drowsy around 8:30 last night. Asked Danny if I could sleep for an hour, and that was fine. Set an alarm, woke up around 10:00 and realized Danny had fallen asleep. All around us I heard jackal howling. Unfortunately, no matter how long I sleep, whenever I wake up I must use the rest room... "Wee" as the English say. I'll be darned if I was climbing down that ladder and "weeing" where the jackals were. And I shouldn't forget to mention that we were located by the leopard sanctuary. In addition to the enclosed leopards, there is one wild leopard that has been seen to wander the area that the watchtower is located.

I stayed awake until Danny awoke again and began reading. Then I slept for an hour or so more. The cold was so unbearable. I had a tee, hoodie, fleece, leggings, sweatpants, socks and shoes, a fire jacket, hat, ear band, and sleeping bag and I was still shivering.

Throughout the night we heard a random baboon get frazzled and voice his frustration. It dawned on me that a leopard and baboon would probably be the only two animals that could climb well enough to get up into the watch tower. And, call me crazy, but I'd prefer a leopard over a baboon... Leopards are solitary, if you have one baboon, you have thirty baboons. Not to mention, I know a leopard would hurt me, so I would know how to respond. Baboons are so unpredictable, it makes them incredibly scary in my opinion.

About 4:00 in the morning I didn't think I could hold it anymore. But i wasn't about to surrender after I'd made it that long. Around 5:00 I watched the moon set... It was so incredible because I could  literally see the moon sink into the hillside within ten minutes. I've never seen anything like it. Surely, I thought with the moon sinking the sun would come up equally fast. WRONG! It took forever. About quarter till six we packed up our bags and beds as well as all of our belongings. Around ten till we heard and then saw one of naan ku se's truck in the distance. Soon Keith was there to rescue Danny and me from the tower. We threw all of our belongings down and climbed down to be greeted by Keith and his jack Russell.

I've never felt so happy about seeing a bathroom once we arrived at naan ku se.

I had about 25 minutes to get ready in a room taken over by Miss Sheila. And, of course, she wanted all my attention. I ran into Bradley in the bathroom (as well as Chris... We always run into each other as he shaves and I brush my teeth for the morning). Quite sad thinking I may not see my first friend and naan ku se again, but we did exchange information, so at least we will keep in touch and share stories. Then I returned to the room to grab my things and dash.

Emma pulled out a small container from our cabinet and said something to herself about a scorpion. Apparently she had found it in the food prep sink, called researcher Stew, and he told her to catch it if she could and keep it for him in the morning, which is what she did. So in this container was in fact a little tiny scorpion. I was even more thankful for the freezing cold watchtower duty.

Charlotte had Sheila, so I quickly darted out the door, but I wasn't successful. Sheila managed to fling herself out with me. As soon as she got to the deserted outdoors, she changed her mind, and ran right back into the room.

I met up with Allison by food prep, and obraham (one of the San people that works amazingly well with the animals) joined us with who I assume to be his daughter. At 6:45 am , a driver took us into Windhoek and dropped us off at Wild Dog Safaris. The other six people who were going on the safari with us arrived. One of them, Andrea from Ottawa, just got done with a project at the Care Clinic. She filled me in a bit about what to expect as far as living goes, and told me that it is much nicer than life on the farm. I also learned That I will have Internet access... I can't contain my excitement!

Breakfast consisted of a bag of kettle cooked pepper and sea-salt potato chips (or "crisps" as the British say).

We were on the road for about a four hour drive. We stopped at an open market where villagers sell their goods. I have developed a strong dislike for these markets, as I always feel pressure to buy and can never tell if I am paying a good price for something or not. Now I'm wishing I would have bought the big five from the market in Windhoek with Sophia.... She told me she wouldn't let me overpay for anything. Across the street from this market were toilets ($2 Namibian to use), a souvenir shop, coffee shop, gas station, etc. Allison and I went to the coffee shop and I had an extraordinary coffee shake. A few more miles down the road, we stopped at a "Spar" supermarket to pick up "beverages" and snacks. My favorite alcoholic beverage here (most beverages that are available come in the form of beer) is called Brutal Fruit, so I picked up a few of those as well as my new favorite snack "crusties". Chocolate was also on the pick up list.

Then we were off again. Around 13:30 we reached a picnic area on the side of the road. I watched as George and Jup (our guide and the camp assistant) prepare lunch, cutting fresh veggies, setting out sauces, etc. We had salami sandwiches, and I even got to have mayonnaise... Oh how much of a difference it made! I also had an apple with my lunch. George and Jup cleaned everything up and loaded it all back into the truck, and we were off again.

We arrived at Etosha and had time for a short evening drive. We saw giraffe, oryx, springbuck, an elephant in the distance, wildebeest.

We found out campsite and pitched our tents as well as loaded everything into the tent. Supper was prepared as we all grabbed drinks and went to the waterhole just a few feet away from the edge of the campground.

Before i headed over, i needed to charge my camera. it didn't work on the normal outlet provided at the camp ground, so George noticed that My charger was a usb port and would work with his car charger, so we did that. After a bit I checked it, and the camera was having a fit. It dawned on me a bit later that I have to use a converter for their outlets, so plugging my camera into their unconverted car charger probably did it in. When I get back to the States I will have to have it looked at. Hopefully it is just the cold. Thank goodness I brought another camera.

Giraffes were there and soon after we arrived black rhino showed up. We ended up seeing three in the floodlit hole. I can't explain how incredible it is to see such an animal... Some of the last on earth. We all just stared in awe. Unfortunately I couldn't capture very good pictures with the darkness and the floodlights, but that memory will stay with me forever. We ended up seeing three rhino all together at the waterhole.

I returned to sit around the fire and drink for a bit with some of the others. The conversation led to George asking me what I thought caused people to cheat on their significant other. My response summed up was a weak mind, wrong mindset, and that a rough partnership may not have helped the situation but is not an excuse to not remain faithful. I also said that it doesn't help that it is tolerated and more accepted and forgiven in society now (like divorce, etc.). Apparently I have a bit of a different view than the others that were in the conversation with me.

Things I've learned: warthogs are everywhere outside of Etosha but I haven't seen any in the park yet. Giraffe are everywhere in the park. Cadbury makes chocolate other than Cadbury eggs for Easter. I am glad I visited during winter as the only time I see insects are when I'm working with meat, around meat, or at a waterhole. I've also not seen any spiders, snakes, or scorpions, which are all high in number during the summer.

Tomorrow  I must be up and ready for a morning safari around 6:20. We are specifically looking for cats. I'm sure the jackal will keep me up all night if the cold doesn't. Maybe I'll get a good nights rest.
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