Entering Etosha via the Galton Gate
Now that we have picked up the new credit card in Kamanjab and could activate it shortly after, we have reacted to the situation and changed our plan. After a two-day rest at Kamanjab Rest camp we set out to enter Etosha Park through Galton Gate in the west.
We booked a two-day permit and wanted to stay at Okaukuejo for the first night and at Namutoni, not far from Lindquist Gate, for the second night. The Idea was to cross the park from the west to the east. Originally, we wanted to skip the park because we had quite some prejudices regarding the Etosha Park
Guido was happy then because the entrance to the park opened up the part of our trip that is mainly about game. The landscape in the park is very varied. It has everything from dense scrub land, to Savannah like areas.
Crowds and some surprising sightings
We were warned in advance that sightings in the western part are often rather lousy, so we looked at that part as a drive-through route to Okaukuejo. We arrived at the huge camp in the early afternoon, and it wasn’t for us. It is too big, too busy and – despite the low season – too crowded for us.
The waterhole gives people the opportunity to relax in the evening and watch the animals. A Waterhole Chalet with a direct view certainly has its charm and would be the best choice for us for this camp. The campground with its 42 sites did not suit us.
The location in the park is great and from a strategic point of view the camp is a must-visit. In the surrounding area there are also some very attractive routes to drive and several artificial and natural water holes, which promise attractive sightings.
We saw elephants several times in the late afternoon and enjoyed the giants once more. Since we rather drove the back roads, we missed a leopard, a lioness with cubs and three cheetahs, which were all not far from the main roads, as we learned from two Swiss and a young Italian woman in the evening.
At a large waterhole, we could spot three lions. They were in good shape and well-fed. This resulted in the bizarre picture that they marched through large herds of springbok and zebra and were not interested in the actual prey.
After a rather noisy night we left the camp the next morning and drove slowly via Halali towards Namutoni Camp. In Halali we stopped for lunch and spent a few hours in the cool shade, escaping the oppressive midday heat.
Namutoni – the bright spot among the camps in Etosha
Freshly strengthened we explored the rim of the big Etosha pan. The view at a never-ending horizon is surreal and impressive. Arriving in Namutoni, we checked in and enjoyed the much smaller and quieter camp. We really liked it!
We explored the surrounding area and circled the Fishers Pan, a smaller pan next to the Etosha Pan. The Sightings Book mentioned a leopard sighting in Klein Namutoni. We drove there and first came across a very attractive waterhole.
Several giraffes were hanging around and after a while of observation we tried our luck and looked for the leopard. We quickly realized that we would need a lot of luck to find him because the environment is very rocky and bushy and if he does not want to be seen, we will never find him.
After about an hour we realized that we would not see him, and we visited the waterhole again. To our delight a Black Rhino had just arrived and so this game drive still offered a wonderful sighting for us. We stayed there for appx. 45 minutes watching the Rhino and Giraffes before returning to camp and preparing for the night.
The next morning we got up early enough to leave camp shortly after the gate opened. We decided to head north along the small strip between the two pans and drove down all the spur roads.
Then suddenly it happened: a huge herd of elephants stepped out of the bush into the open and wanted to cross the road. There was a waterhole nearby, and so we made the short distance to wait there. Fortunately, we could move around easily as we were driving on the road facing away from the elephants.
After a short wait, they came marching through the bush trumpeting in single file and headed determinedly towards the waterhole. There was no end and finally more than fifty elephants arrived at the waterhole. They had also very little ones with them, and we were pleased because such herds usually promise the best entertainment.
After a while the silence was over and several game vehicles from lodges in the area outside the park arrived. They informed themselves of course by radio. We were lucky that we were already standing there when the elephants arrived, and so they spread out, after shortly checking the situation.
It was a wonderful, peaceful experience, and we were happy. Watching them interact with each other is just fantastic. In addition, the youngsters have a lot of fun chasing geese sitting at the water hole with their ears up and trumpeting loudly. For us, such a herd is the very best entertainment program.
The Leopard appears
When they had retreated a bit we made our way to the waterhole where we met the black rhino to see if we should be lucky again. We noticed a game vehicle driving at high speed towards Klein Namutoni. “They have definitely found the leopard,” Guido said and took up the pursuit.
We knew that we would probably not find this master of camouflage without help, so we followed the car and when it turned off the road in the direction of Klein Namutoni, we were confident that the leopard had been found. We saw three vehicles standing immediately on the side of the road and slowed our pace.
A German couple that we had met the night before in Namutoni at the reception explained to us where the leopard was. We waited patiently until the first vehicle moved away, and we could take its place. Despite knowing where the leopard was supposed to be, we could not see him.
Our binoculars showed only bushes and rocks. Then, after another 15 minutes of waiting, the second vehicle left, and we could position ourselves so that we had a reasonably good view of the area. We were careful not to block anyone’s view. Meanwhile, a new car arrived with Lodge guests and the driver behaved very uncool. We intervened and after a short discussion he acted more or less decently and withdrew visibly sulking.
The leopard then moved again briefly and came out from behind his rock, so we could see him poorly. These animals are awesome. They are the perfect camouflage masters, and we were glad that we were allowed to see him after all.
We head in the direction of Caprivi
After we had left the place, we filled up the tank in Namutoni and went on our way to leave the park.
After a friendly chat with the official at the gate we headed to our next destination: Roys Rest Camp.