Archive for the 'Etosha' Category

08
Nov
10

Landscapes of Africa – Best Photos

Nothing is as evocative of Africa as the  landscape: the physical territory with lots of long shots, sunsets, sunrises, oceans and deserts. Why it should be so, evocative that is, is a bit of a mystery. But when  I  look at these photos, they cry out, “Africa!” and no other place on earth that I’ve been.

Red soil, red sand, champagne glass shaped trees form the setting for the furry creatures most people go there for: but the most evocative, single thing about the continent for me is the land, ancient and worn, new and untested, puzzling and yet strangely familiar. Hope you enjoy them!

Sunset over Serengeti waterhole

 

To be included in this “best-of” there should not be animals or people or at least not the focus of the shot. Getting hoards of people, usually kids, out of the photo is an issue for  being included in this post but not for taking pictures.  In Africa,taking photos, I hardly ever thought, “wait till that kid gets out of the shot”.

On the other hand, if there were a tubby tourist with a blue and cream flowered Hawaiian shirt and skin tight, orange Bermuda shorts wearing new silvered Nike’s on the feet, I’d have no trouble waiting. Anybody wearing cameras and/or snapping photos (yes, like I was) also meant I waited or pointed the lens in another direction.

Here’s  what I found in the photo folder one year later thinking “landscapes, yes, they were striking”.

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08
Nov
10

Birds of Africa – Best Photos

From the hoopoe in Namibia to the crested cranes in Tanzania Africa was a place of marvelous birds and birds very different that the ones we are used to seeing in North America. Only the greater and lesser egrets, gulls (though different ones) and the great blue heron come to mind as birds we are used to seeing here that crossed our path somewhere in the nearly 2 months in southern Africa.

From the Okavango delta to the plains of Serengeti to the Chobe river banks Africa was chock-a-block with peeping, flapping, chirping, kindom animalia, phylum chordata, class aves.

In Africa it’s easy to focus on the big, furry, nursing mammalians but when we got back, there were a surprising number of photos of our avian friends: Africa is a great place for birding. Birders (the real honest-to-goodness fanatical types like Harry and Ted) know this, of course but we novitiates thought only of the hairy things like lions and tigers and bears. Here are the feathered creatures that stayed still long enough to clap a lens on during our seven week trip between Oct. and Nov. of 2009. Hope you enjoy them!

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08
Nov
10

Reptiles, Plants & Miscellaneous of Africa – Best Photos

This is a catchall post from our Oct. to Nov. 2009 southern Africa trip:  those photos that didn’t belong in one of the big 4 categories.  Where do you put a spitting cobra, e.g.?  Or a tse-tse fly or a termite mound or Mr. and Mrs. Dung Beetle? Well, they just don’t belong with mammals or bird or landscapes, I can tell you that!

Still these are pictures worth looking at (IMO). Hope you enjoy them.

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08
Nov
10

People of Africa – Best Photos

Aside from the furry, nursing, large and small mammals, we went to Africa to meet and see Africans at home and at work. With varying degrees of success, we did just that between Oct. and Nov. of 2009. Here are the (IMO) best photos of the people we traveled with and the people we encountered. Enjoy!

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08
Nov
10

Mammals of Africa – Best Photos

Mammals: big and small, furry and nurse their young, our close relatives in the animal kingdom. Unless I miss my guess, mammals are the reason people travel to Africa. Here are the best (IMO) of the previously blogged mammals of Africa taken between October and November of 2009. Hope you enjoy them!

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16
Apr
10

Etosha to 2001: A Space Odyssey

Oct. 30, 2009 – Etosha, Namibia

The map doesn’t do justice to the hot, dry, mostly flat national park, Etosha.  Can’t say or think that name without images crowding forward and a sense of magic, the magic of nature that is, creeping up my spine: chills every time.  Most of Etosha is a vast salt pan, an endorheic (sealed from drainage to the sea) basin where little grows and animals are forced to avoid and  only one of the 50 water holes can save them.

You can see our path – along the edge of Etosha from Okaukuejo to Halali to Namutoni with game drives in Benji along the way.  What looks on the map like a lake (and sometimes it is) usually is salt pan.

Chiyemi and Terry - Etosha Pan

Try and imagine walking across this in the 90 F/ 32 C faultless blue sky overhead, no water in sight nor anything on the horizon. Along the edge where we were allowed to drive: trees, bushes, more water and animals.  If you walk far enough in the wrong direction you would come to the Kalahari Desert where your goose would, quite literally, be cooked.  Still, you would not a total waste – nothing goes to waste – hyenas or jackals would find you and leave your  bones for the vultures.

Jackal Hauls Off Springbok Head - Etosha

Brown Spotted (laughing) Hyena- Etosha

Before that you might be wishing for something like this…

Glen Walker taking a shot of Mark Paulson reaching for a Castle

Mark Paulson Photography

…Thanks also to Mark for several shots in the Slide show/Gallery below…

Africa In Focus Group Shot - Etosha Pan

Etosha, last day of three AiF spent in the fantastic game park in northern Namibia. Then off to the Etosha Pan and later to Ngepi for camping.  You can see the rim of trees in the background, so we hadn’t driven far from the animal haven and water holes just behind us in the little turnout for Benji the truck.

Glen and Mark Shooting Beer Shot Etosha

Someone's bones on the salt pan of Etosha long ago...

The yellow line of the road on the map  runs along the south side of the 120 km/75 mile long salt pan of Etosha.  In 2001 Stanley Kubrick used Etosha as backdrop for 2001: A Space Odyssey (youtube Dawn of Man sequence – highly recommended).

I’m an enormous fan of Kubrick and sci-fi so this 1968 film (called the  perfect science fiction film – why make another?) and Etosha add a frisson to the white sand and bleaching bones.  I must hasten to add that Kubrick did not film all of the Dawn of  Man in Etosha and that Tapirs may not have been present nor does current research support early hominids looking like this. Nor is Pan Am, nor were we visited by aliens in order to get our smarts but there is the lovely Strauss music from Also Sprach Zaranthustra to The Beautiful  Blue Danube and all that musical change implies over the course of human evolution from ape men to space fliers: genius in film making with the best transition is all of flim making – the one million year leap.

Slide Show

You can stop the slide show if you like (or back up or go forward) – controls on bottom of image.

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Etosha – Day 3 Gallery

You can click on any image for a better look at a larger image.  You can  even click on the larger image and get full, full size if you like.


13
Apr
10

Etosha…All The Menageries Of The World

All the menageries in the world turned loose would not compare to the sight I saw that day.” Those were the words of American trader G. McKeiran in 1876 when he first trekked to the land that would become Namibia’s Etosha National Park.

We rolled into Etosha 250km from Swakopmund as the crow flies in the heat of mid-afternoon, 27th of October.   We campers scurried around to set up tents in a dry, open and none too shaded campground – game drive in an hour and we were anxious to see what Etosha held for us. All the following gallery shots came from one afternoon in Etosha.


Looking at the SW coast of Africa, you can see in the lower left corner of the map the poetically named Swakopmund where we had just left and in the upper center-right, a largish white area: the Etosha Pan an endorheic basin where water goes in, salts remain and nothing flows out.

Read the fine print - run off the road

In Etosha the idea of zoo is turned inside out – people are in cages or in steel-sided trucks like Benji or the ubiquitous Toyota Land Cruisers. A 850km long (500+ miles) 5 meter high fence surrounds the park (this to keep pestilence out). Your vehicle crosses through one of two gates to the camping areas – we stayed in both Okakueljo and Namutoni.  You then drive across the animals’ territory where they have the right of way and you must drive no more than 60kph (35mph).

Eventually you come to another enclosure in which is your campsite and other amenities like swimming pool, bar with cold G&T’s (mmmm….the best thing for heat exhaustion), rhinoceros viewing stands (really), bungalows, a hotel, and then there was the hard dirt, barren area where we stayed. As we cruised through the gate two elephants were laying waste to the moringa trees just outside the fence.

Benji, tents, kitchen bldg. at Etosha

Little did we know what sort of hellish campsite awaited in the next of the great national parks, Chobe in Botswana. In Etosha we had a small kitchen area, screened with doors (nice for keeping the jackals and crows out) in which there were 220v electricity – we learned that you don’t take anything for granted crossing Africa.

Etosha has been a national park since 1907 – then largest game reserve in the world by the Germans in SW Africa. Name. The word etosha either means 1. place of dry water, 2. mirage or, according to other sources, 3. huge, white area.  All of those describe the great rolling national park, once the largest in the world.  Etosha is entered by one of two gates: Okaukuejo or Namutoni and the road runs along the side of the  park – naturally you can’t drive cross country but there are many dirt roads that lead to the artificially enhanced water holes. We saw 8-10 of these water holes and I’m told there are 50 in Etosha for which the animals are very, very grateful as were the tourists who depend upon this for a place to view game.

The park is roughly 130km by 50km – dominated by salt pan. Average rainfall figures: Okaukuejo: 412 mm, Halali: 430 mm, Namutoni: 442 mm.  Those are roughly 16 inches of rain per year, falling between November and February.  Etosha used to be much wetter with the Kunene river running into the pan forming a large lake – this thousands of years ago. We were there just before the start of the four month wet season.

Mopani Tree

Savannah grassland and Mopani woodland surround the Pan (off limits though roads skirt its edges). Low lying, dry alkaline soil growing the dense, hard to work mopani/mopane tree.

This harsh dry land with little vegetation and salty water if any at all supports little wildlife all year round but is used by a large number of migratory birds. In particularly rainy years the Etosha pan becomes a lake approximately 10 cm in depth and becomes a breeding ground for flamingos, which arrive in their thousands, and White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus). The surrounding savanna is home to a number of mammals that will visit the pan and surrounding waterholes when there is water, these include quite large numbers of zebra (Equus burchelli), Blue Wildebeest (Connocheatus taurinus), and springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) as well as black rhinoceros, elephants, hunting dogs (my notes say we saw them but my camera is silent), lions, leopards, and antelopes.

Black Rhino Mother Nursing Calf

I was more eager to see Etosha than any spot in Africa having seen the National Geographic Living Edens special on Etosha in 1997 or 1998 – the name is magic in my mind. We watched the NatGeo video a couple nights ago as a refresher and every animal that those great photographers showed, we saw with one exception: the African Wild Cat.

African Wild Cat

And in fact saw and photographed many, many more. The following gallery is from the first half day in Etosha – click to enlarge an image.

Mark Paulson Photography

Mark Paulson's Beautiful Leopard Shot - Afternoon Game Drive




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