buddy4344

Nothern Namibia - Etosha and beyond, a photographers tale

82 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

I want to open with a 'thank you' to my friends on SafariTalk as your input significantly influenced my trip plans (in a good way)

 

My first trip to Africa was a self-drive trip to Chobe National Park, Botswana in the early 2000’s. I went in with a group of acquaintances from South Africa. On the nights before, I had a lot of discussions about what I would see. Chobe was said to be one of the greatest destination in Africa to see abundant wildlife. That sounded great, but often I would hear ‘the only place where you will see more wildlife is Etosha!”. That trip to Chobe was all I had dreamed it would be and more. Africa was in my blood and I’ve been into the bush more than two dozen times since then; however, I never got to Etosha … and I continued to hear about how great it could be.

 

Today, I lead small groups to Africa locations like Chobe, Timbavati, Sabi Sands, Hwange, Zimanga and Madikwe. I only take folks to places I’ve visited first hand so I really can share with them what to expect. I’m hoping to lead a group to Namibia, including Etosha in 2017, so I decided it was time for a scouting trip.

 

In addition to Etosha, I wanted to check out a few other regions in northern Namibia. In particular, I’ve had great interest from travelers in getting a chance to visit villages, meet indigenous peoples and have a more cultural experience. Since I would be ‘moving quickly’ to check out several locations, I decided to make this a self-drive trip. To share the experience and to have a little ‘back-up’ for the trip, I enlisted 3 friends to go along. We took two vehicles, that way one person could sit up front and shoot left or right and one person could sit in the back and shoot left or right without interference. In addition, the second vehicle would provide a little safety insurance in case of vehicle troubles since we were going rather remote.

 

Just a little more background and I promise to get on with the primary story and some photographs. For my 2017 Namibia trip, we will be with a larger group of photographers via train visiting the Quiver Tree forest for night photography, Kolmanskop for some ghost town taken over by desert shots, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei for the classic sand dune shots.

Considering the size of Namibia and the travel times,

I am concerned that following the first portion of the trip, travelers will not want to go too far before a stop and to see some wildlife. Basically, I wanted to find one high quality stop between Windhoek and Etosha.

The two best options seemed to be Africats (Okinjima) or Erindi. AfriCats is a non-for-profit organization that rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas. While I have heard good things, that sounded a bit zoo-like. In my research on Erindi, it sounded a bit like a variant of the private reserves around the Kruger. Write-ups noted that Erindi is known for big cat sightings and has both self-drive regions and also off road tracking. In addition, they have a few animals I know I won’t be seeing elsewhere in northern Namibia such as crocodiles, hippopotamus and wild dog. While I’ve seen these many times, some of my 2017 travelers will be taking their first and possibly only trip to Africa so these are a nice add.

 

I finalized upon an itinerary as follows:

 

· Day 1 - Arrival night in Windhoek with overnight at a Guest House

· Day 2 - Drive to Erindi in the mornig, afternoon game drive and overnight.

· Day 3 - Morning game drive at Erindi, mid-day drive to Etosha, afternoon drive to Etosha, stay first night at Halali.

· Day 4 - Morning and afternoon game drives and 2nd night at Halali

· Day 5 & 6 – On the 3rd and 4th nights in Etosha at Okaukuejo Lodge.

· Day 7 - Etosha game drive to the western gate (Galton Gate) then proceed to Grootberg Lodge for overnight stay.

· Day 8 & 9 - From Grootberg, head north to Khowarib Lodge, just south of Sesfontein for two nights. On one day I wanted to visit a Himba settlement and on another full day I wanted to look for desert elephants along the Hoanib River.

· Day 10 - On the last morning, we would drive back south to Otjiwarongo for a night

· Day 11 - The next morning, drive to Windhoek to fly out that afternoon to Jo’berg and back to the States

 

That’s a pretty grueling week and a half with 2000 miles of driving including 1500 miles of driving on gravel and dirt. I would never do that schedule with a tour group, but this was a scouting trip and I was taking along some seasoned travelers/photographers.

 

Now, let the story begin!

 

Okay, I have to throw in at least one photo to start things off.

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Edited by buddy4344
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great looking itinerary

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Posted (edited)

Scouting trip ... I like the sound of those words :) ! Your itinerary could be named "The Best of the North" ... and looking at your attached photo, I know I will have another excellent report to enjoy in these cold foggy days.

Edited by xelas

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Posted (edited)

Arrival in Windhoek

 

On October 24, 2016, we arrived in Windhoek. We collected our rental vehicles. I had originally arranged for two 4 door HiLux bakkies, but due to my adding some time to our trip, these were not available, so we were treated to two Landcruisers. As I noted before, my preference for photography is to have one person sitting in the back seat and one in the front; thereby allowing both travelers to easily shoot out windows of either side of the vehicles. While very nice, the front seat console of the Landcruiser does make photographing through the passenger side window slightly more challenging. Not a big deal.

We spent the arrival night at Villa Moringa and I give them strong recommendations for comfort and view from the patio decks. Parking is a bit narrow, but not a problem. We left early the next morning and headed to Erindi.

 

Onward to Erindi

 

The drive north took about two and one half hours. The drive was a bit dusty as there is a lot of roadwork which appears to be focused on widening the road. Traffic was very light, so I’m not sure why a wider road is needed.

 

Once inside the Erindi property it’s about a 20 minute drive to Old Traders Lodge. During this drive I began questioning my decision to stop here. While we saw a few impala and wart hogs, we really didn't see a lot of large game. We did see a giraffe or two. As a photographer, I was very concerned with the large amount of thick sickle bush along the road. I have encountered this in the past and it really makes seeing and photographing nature deeper into the bush very difficult.

 

Upon arrival at Old Traders Lodge, we were surprised at the transformation of landscape. Outside of the lodge to the rear is a vast savanna and waterhole. At the waterhole were elephants, giraffe, rhino, hippo, crocs ... a little of everything. The viewing area was excellent. That said, it was clear that the drought in the region was significant.

 

The water level was down several meters from the high-water marks. Out on the savanna, there were areas where hay/maize husks or similar 'cattle food' had been dumped to provide food for the elephants, rhino and other grazers.

 

I located one of the game drive rangers and asked the pro's and con's of self-drive vs. the game drive vehicles as well as morning vs. afternoon viewing. I was advised that self-drive trail is excellent in the cooler mornings with greater kudu, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, etc. plentiful. Afternoons, not so much. I was also advised that the best chance of seeing big cats would definitely be on their vehicles due to radio communications, knowing where and when to go, etc. I was also told that the cheetah in the area had not been seen by this guide in 3 months and that leopard sightings had become rare recently, attributed to the drought. This was a surprise as I had seen many images before the trip that showed collared leopard and cheetah and was actually worried that the collars would spoil my photos.

 

We had modified the schedule to only one night at Erindi and the purpose was scouting for future group trips, so I opted for using their ranger/vehicle for the afternoon game drive and to do self-drive the following morning. We hired a private vehicle and instructed the guide to focus on larger game as we would see plenty of birds, etc. on the rest of our trip. We were surprised when a San bushman jumped into the vehicle to be our tracker. The game drive was good. We saw lions twice: one group of females and in a different area, a large, older male lion. We also had two good white rhino sightings; however, these had been de-horned, which makes them less photographic. We saw plenty of antelope including eland, hartebeest, waterbuck and impala. We did off road tracking several times to the lions, rhino, etc. As at the lodge, we often found this game at 'feeding spots' where the maize husks and hay had been dumped for feeding. The reserve has 3 bore hole waterholes and is building a forth. Game was at each, but water levels were extremely low. The white rhino we spotted had all been 'de-horned' a few years back to thwart poaching. While this is good for the rhino, it does take away from their photographic quality. The lioness' we spotted were healthy and in their prime. The one male lion we found was fairly old, based on the look of his face/teeth. Unfortunately, he was a bit on the lazy side that day laying on his side. He did lift up a few times, but the post was not very photogenic.

 

At sundowners, the bushman told us a story in his native tongue of how bows and arrows are made, typical hunts, etc. Our guide interpreted the clicks and sounds. This was a treat worth admission and everyone loved photographing him mocking a hunt and recording video of his story. I will be putting this on YouTube later for others to experience.

 

Back at the lodge for dinner, we chose a table overlooking the waterhole. Great decision as a large pack of wild dog came to the water hole and provided us with nearly an hour of fun as they drank, played chase, etc. Rhino, elephants and giraffe all came to the water hole. Our rooms were amazing. We had rooms 31 and 52 and these had full views of the savanna area and part of the waterhole. In the evening, sitting at our room, we watched jackal, hyena, elephant and Giraffe just meters away. I've been to many lodges and this was by far the most impressive room view I have ever had. The rooms were big with an amazingly large shower in the very modern en-suite bath.

 

The next morning, we did our self-drive game drive as we headed north through the park with our next destination being Etosha. As advised the game viewing was good with sightings of baboon, warthog, impala, giraffe, waterbuck. A bull elephant blocked my roadway for 15 minutes, but finally moved for me to pass.

 

Overall, Erindi was a very good stop for our trip. I was disappointed we did not see leopards or cheetah, but the lodge and room view more than made up for this. Especially considering some of our group had never been on safari or experienced off road tracking of game (and I knew we would be limited to roads in Etosha). If the rains come and the drought conditions cease, this will be a true first class stop for future trips. I am very glad we went there.

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Edited by buddy4344
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I just read my last post and feel I understated how cool the San bushman's story was. He went into great detail to tell us how the sheathing on the shin bone of the giraffe is used to make bow strings. He told us about the arrow points and the poisons used with the arrow. He talked of the tracking of the animal following the initial shot until the animal becomes incapacitated. We were all mesmerized throughout the tale. I have an amazing respect for these people. The village makes some crafts and I bought a bracelet made from porcupine quills that I treasure. As I mentioned, this is a quality stop for the wildlife. When I bring guests next year, I will stop for the wildlife, but also just as much for them to have this bushman experience. I just hope the drought conditions are eased so the animals can flourish.

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Posted (edited)

I just realized that @@The_Norwegian was in northern Namibia about one week after my trip there with both of us staying at Erindi and Etosha. I recommend that you read both reports to get an understanding of sightings/conditions in Oct./Nov. time frame.

 

http://safaritalk.net/topic/16912-my-great-namibian-adventure/

 

I also noted he has mastered external links to Flickr, which makes inserting them into the report at proper points much better, so I will try to master this for future posts.

 

btw, this is a view from the patio at my room (Room 51), It is a muddy extension of the waterhole. Not much to look at, but when you have giraffe, jackal, crocs, and ellies literally at your window, it's pretty nice.

 

 

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Edited by buddy4344
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@@buddy4344

 

Thanks for the shout-out about @@The_Norwegian TR ... another great report!

 

 

It is not difficult to position your photos exactly where you want them in text. There is a separate thread where you will get more info: http://safaritalk.net/topic/14-posting-images-in-the-text/page-18

 

Quick guiding:

- upload your photos to each post using More Reply Options - Choose Files ... (that part you are already doing)

- position the cursor to where you want the photo to be placed, and click on Add to Post

 

I want my photo below this text

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Clicking on Preview Post you will see the post how it would be after Add Reply, so you can make corrections.

 

Simple!

 

Flickr is a bit longer but works the same. Make your photos 1000 pix wide, otherwise they will be compressed. (sorry for attaching an average photo to your excellent collection :( )!

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@@xelas, thanks for the tip. This is for direct upload from one's computer? I prefer to do that.

 

I was reading in another thread (useful tips for new members) on how to do this from Flickr and found I needed to delete some of the BB info Flickr attaches.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, that is for direct upload. I have previously used links to Google+ and to Flickr but am recently only using direct upload. faster and cleaner and less work. With Flickr there are all kinds of complications involved.

 

If you don't mind, please leave the exif with your photos! it is very useful and educative to see the settings used at various type of photos.

Edited by xelas

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Posted (edited)

Entering Etosha

 

Within our group, excitement was really building. Erindi was very good, but we had all read a lot on Etosha and expectations were enormous. After entering the gate, we were instructed to go to Okaukuejo to make payments for nights at the park and to get room keys. No problem. We proceded, stopping here and there to watch springbok. Two of my fellow travelers had never seen springbok so they were shooting photos left and right. We got to Okaukuejo’s reservation office to find a significant queue. Upon listening to the office personnel, it was clear all lodges were completely booked and there were people at the front of the line wanting rooms. This slowed things for everyone. 45 minutes later, we got to the front of the queue only to be told we needed to go to the Halali office since that is where we were to stay the first night. TIA

 

We quickly decided that it was ‘photography time’ and that we should shoot our way to Halali rather than rushing over to pick up room keys and then back track into the park. That was my only smart move of the day.

 

Let me digress for one moment. I did not mention this earlier, but we took two 2-way radios on this trip so each vehicle could keep in touch with the other on sightings, etc. Unfortunately, the range of the radios was about a kilometer on flat roads and less where we had hills.

 

I’ve been on self-drive trips into the bush with South Africans numerous times. On the first of those experiences, I had learned that:

 

a) it’s hard to get lost in areas like Chobe or Etosha,

B) it is impossible to get multiple vehicles to want to spend the same exact amount of time at a given sighting,

 

 

Further, each vehicle had drivers with significant safari experience and we discussed splitting up our sightings before we departed for Africa – that’s why we had the radios!

(right about here you may detect a sore spot for me)

 

Okay, back to reality. We hit the road leaving Okaukuejo headed east toward Halali. We were amazed by the barren and austere the landscape. We quickly hit Nabrownii waterhole … and there they were! The giant white ghost bulls I had seen in photos by so many. Wow, what a thrill the first time you see them. We shot a lot of photos of these guys. Also at the waterhole were ostrich, gemsbok, springbok and jackal. What a start!

 

This is a 3 image pan to capture the entire waterhole.

 

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One of the big bull 'ghosts' emerges from the distant trees. The day was very hot and the thermals effected image sharpness. You can really see this if you look at the background brush.

 

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We hit the road again. We pass some many springbok and laugh at how a small herd of the antelope had gathered under the only tree as far as the eye could see to grab that little bit of shade.

 

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We then came to a fork in the road. Should we head to Salvadora or stay on the main track? I chose the main track and made an attempt to radio the car somewhere behind us of our decision. I heard some garble and assumed that meant ‘okay’. I loved our decision as the main road passed near some dried grass fields full of Burchell’s zebra. The light was perfect. I will now bore you with a lot of zebra photos. For folks from African countries, I know these are extremely common and you ignore them like we Americans ignore cattle in a pasture, but for Americans …. Well I’ve probably sold more zebra photos than the sum of all my other wildlife images combined and that’s a lot of photos. Americans love zebras.

 

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My vehicle shot zebra’s for about 45 minutes and the other vehicle never came into sight. I got on the radio and called, got a reply they had gone to Salvadora but were ‘on their way’ and assumed that meant on the road I was on. We shot another 20 minutes. Where is that other car? We said, “they are big boys and you can’t get lost, so let’s head to Halali and get checked in.” and we proceeded onward. Now it was getting late, so, even though we were passing some nice black faced impala, steenbok and giraffe, we rushed onward, assuming we would shoot those another time.

 

When we finally got to the check-in office at Halali, we learned that our other vehicle had arrived 45 minutes before us. Salvadora has two entrances and we had assumed there was only one way in and out. We also learned that the two in the other vehicle were quite upset. They had felt panicked because they had never been ‘alone’ in Africa before. They were quite mad at me.

 

I was mad also, because I couldn’t see a reason they had been so upset. Hours later, I reflected on my first time ‘alone’ in Chobe. I recalled getting stuck in sand, I recalled the stress. Yes, for many American’s even the safest of parks can stress you until you’ve been out there. Over an early dinner (or very late lunch), we worked things out, but we made the decision that a) the radio range was too short and B) we would travel in tandem the rest of the trip.

 

After food, we grabbed tripods, cameras, transmitters, flash, cable release and headed for the Halali waterhole called Moringa. We were prepared. We had read on the internet all of the correct off camera flash settings, we had tested our gear and technique in America. We had read the eBook by Mario and Jenny Fazekas and Katheryn Haylett, “The Photographers Guide to Etosha Park” and seen their photos. We had seen a beautiful flash night shot of a leopard in the Halali reception office. We were extremely excited and were going to get award winning shots!

 

FULL STOP!

 

As soon as we brought out our flash and transmitters we started getting rather blunt and rude comments from the others at the hide. We hadn’t even turned on the power switch and we are seeing problems. Further, it’s pretty clear that the fellow viewers have an amazing strict ‘no talking, not even a whisper’ policy. We quickly decided we didn’t want to offend others, so we shot with high ISO and long exposures to keep the peace. Our plan was to reconsider our flash plans for the following night, but let tonight go easy.

 

I’m probably opening up a debate here, but I’m still confused if the fellow viewers were more concerned with having a moment in quiet observance or whether they thought whispers from 50 to 100 meters were going to stop highly habituated wildlife. I also wonder if those at the waterhole were concerned that the wildlife at a waterhole lit with 10,000 watts of spot lighting would be blinded by a AA battery powered flash (and Better Beamer) from 50-100 meters?

 

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In this photo, I love how I was able to capture a few of the lions drinking, yet also able to include the rhino.

 

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That first night was magic as we watched numerous black rhino, a pride of lions and even a porcupine come and go at the waterhole. As we left the waterhole, we all agreed Etosha is special and we were in for a great stay in the park. Then we got back to the rooms and the power went out for two hours. TIA

 

Edited by buddy4344
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Now, you have totally ruined my long time dreams to become a tour operator/guide. Folks gets lost in Etosha? They are unhappy because they have had to drive on their own?! Then better to stick to my trusted company .

 

No talking and no flashing is not for the animal comfort ... it is for the viewers comfort! What better way to enjoy the sights and the sounds of any wild place than in total silence?!

 

Most annoying when folks starting screamin' "OMG there is a rhino" out loud, or when they operate their in-camera flashes where light probably does not reach more than 5 meters and only effect is to ruin humans night vision.

 

About Fazekas ebook it is an excellent resource for any photographer; yet fladh photography should be done away from other viewers.

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Posted (edited)

great report! And thanks for the mention! Our trips were very similar! Had an awesome time in Erindi! Haven`t got to the Etosha part yet myself, lots of material to work through :-) as for upload from flickr, it is very easy, pm me and i will walk you through it if you want!

Edited by The_Norwegian

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@buddy4344 Very interesting report with some great photos. I like how you just call it as you see it - always makes a report more interesting for me.

 

xelas is right I think. It's the people who don't like it. It spoils their moment.. But there again, given what the waterholes at Etosha can be like, some people may get a little bit "precious" about an over-loud whisper or two in my opinion. And tutting and making lemon-chewing faces spoils their moment even more. Surprised you didn't see the potential problem with a group firing away with big powerful flashes all at the same time though - I would have thought that was kind of predictable. I see that coming, then fight or flight response kicks in. :D How was it the other nights?

 

And I'm not anti-flash, but I do think the directed, focused flashlight is more likely to blind or distract animals and birds than a fixed spotlight, which they have time to adjust their eyes to as they approach the waterhole and never surprises them. Not likely to be an issue in these circumtances though, I agree.

 

I am not sure I understand your travel companions at all. There seems no logic in wanting to be with you constantly but not trusting you that they didn't need to be with you at that moment. I guess you were the selling point that made them feel a trip they were not comfortable making would be okay? Even if it is ridiculous, you shouldn't complain - sounds good for business to me! :P But I can't help imagining that I'd have been a wee bit offended if I were their guide.

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@buddy4344 Very interesting report with some great photos. I like how you just call it as you see it - always makes a report more interesting for me.

 

xelas is right I think. It's the people who don't like it. It spoils their moment.. But there again, given what the waterholes at Etosha can be like, some people may get a little bit "precious" about an over-loud whisper or two in my opinion. And tutting and making lemon-chewing faces spoils their moment even more. Surprised you didn't see the potential problem with a group firing away with big powerful flashes all at the same time though - I would have thought that was kind of predictable. I see that coming, then fight or flight response kicks in. :D How was it the other nights?

 

And I'm not anti-flash, but I do think the directed, focused flashlight is more likely to blind or distract animals and birds than a fixed spotlight, which they have time to adjust their eyes to as they approach the waterhole and never surprises them. Not likely to be an issue in these circumtances though, I agree.

 

I am not sure I understand your travel companions at all. There seems no logic in wanting to be with you constantly but not trusting you that they didn't need to be with you at that moment. I guess you were the selling point that made them feel a trip they were not comfortable making would be okay? Even if it is ridiculous, you shouldn't complain - sounds good for business to me! :P But I can't help imagining that I'd have been a wee bit offended if I were their guide.

 

I think we underestimated the size of the crowd at Halali. We were going in late Oct. which we thought would be well past peek visitor time and many photos we saw of this waterhole's viewing area only showed a few folks viewing. In addition, many very well known professional photographers have been showing photos on the internet that they took at night at the water holes. They even shared lens size, flash settings, positioning of off camera flash, etc. We just (mistakenly) took for granted that most there would be photographers and would be understanding and the crowd would be more sparse. The viewing at Halali was amazing both nights there. Viewing at night at Okaukuejo was less dramatic action ... but some interesting moments. You will see as we get further into the story.

 

Regarding my fellow travelers, I was surprised. That said, when I reflect back on my first trips in Chobe (which was a littel more confusing with road options 15 years ago), I was pretty nervous when all of the other vehicles were lost from me for a while. I just have to remember Americans are used to paved roads and very specific street signs. BTW, didn't mention it in my post but I had Garmin GPS with the Tracks4Africa maps on both. These are great maps, but my friends didn't try using the GPS until the next day when I showed them how they could just plug in the name of the waterhole and it would take you straight to it.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for your Erindi info, including the San tracker and his hunting explanation.

 

Hope the conflict over your buddies being on their own for a few hours did not spill over into the trip. Or were your buddies clients who had paid you to guide them on a photo trip?

 

Halali is a more intimate and smaller waterhole where flashes can be more disruptive to other guests than Okaukeujo, for example. The no whispering rule can be a good idea because if "whisper only" is the rule then those whispers can escalate to loud voices. While some species may not care about people noise, black rhino (which Halali is known for) can be more skittish than other species. If the animals have become accustomed to a silent waterhole, a change to even whispers could agitate or frighten them.

 

Nice job on the white elephants!

Edited by Atravelynn
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Thanks for your Erindi info, including the San tracker and his hunting explanation.

 

Hope the conflict over your buddies being on their own for a few hours did not spill over into the trip. Or were your buddies clients who had paid you to guide them on a photo trip?

Yes, Erindi is a pleasant surprise. A real jewel.

 

Re: conflict and fellow travelers, this was scouting and I never try making money on scouting as I am also learning. The fellow travelers were long time friends, and we quickly 'kissed and made up'. I shared this with reluctance, but thought it important to note what may feel 'common' to an experienced safari traveler may be unusually stressful to someone doing something alone for a first time.

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Makes sense with your buddies. Namibia could provide you with years of scouting. So diverse and expansive.

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Day 2 in Etosha

 

For this day, our plan was simple: Since this was to be the furthest east we would be staying, we planned to head to Goas waterhole to start the morning and then, depending on viewing, head back west toward Rietfontein waterhole.

 

Goas in the early morning was amazing. As soon as one herd of zebra left the waterhole, another herd would take their place. We really liked that this waterhole had a roadway that allowed one to position the vehicle on either the north or south side of the waterhole and we took advantage of both as the sunlight was coming from the east (again, it was early morning).

 

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One thing about this waterhole and several other waterholes at Etosha is that the edge of the parking area is still a good distance from the water. In particular, this waterhole is quite wide, so shooting wildlife on the far bank was tough for me. At 400mm, I was a little limited on getting that classic shot of zebra lined up drinking. On the positive side, since there is roadway west of the waterhole and parking north and south, it’s easy to get into position to photograph a lot of the wildlife coming and going. A photo tip: It seemed the highest percentage came from either the north or the west.

 

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This hyena image was shot looking east and as you can see, he is back lit.

 

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We probably should have stayed longer at this watering hole as I could see greater kudu and hartebeest in the distance and if we would have stayed later, I think we would have had a wide variety of sightings.

 

This was only day 2 in Etosha and we were eager to explore so we left this active waterhole to head east. Along the drive we saw plenty of springbok, some giraffe (though these were in fairly think bush) and a number of birds which those with larger lenses took time to shoot.

 

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A couple of kilometers east of Rietfontein, we saw two cars stopped at the junction of one of the many side (detour) roadways. Wondering what could be happening, we joined the spectators. Much to our amazement, there was a young leopard UNDER the concrete directional sign and resting in the shade. We didn’t want to stress this somewhat surrounded animal, so we took a quick documentation photo and moved on.

 

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A funny side story: A friend of mine was in Etosha in May, 2016. Once home and when I shared the photo of the leopard, I was directed to her web site and …. There she had a photo of a leopard under one of the concrete directional signs. Denise got a much better photo than me, and it can be seen at this link: https://deniseippolito.smugmug.com/Photography/Namibia/i-dbrPLJ9/A I’m pretty sure it’s the same monument and therefore, I think it is the same cat and this is a favorite ‘hang out’ from the sun!

 

As we approached Rietfontein, we noticed a large ‘lump’ in the shade of a tree. Could it be? Yes, a lion. It was a fair distance away and the thermals made use of really large lenses impossible, so I opted to shoot a few ‘sense of place images’. To my good luck, some elephants in the distance were headed for the waterhole and provided me with some background for my shots.

 

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Moving onward, we arrived at Rietfontein just as the elephants were leaving. No problem, they were quickly replaced by giraffe and springbok. I shot a lot of giraffe photos, but also had a fun time shooting a pair of kori bustards and also a pied crow. That completed our morning shoot and we headed back to Halali for lunch and some rest. BTW, the only meal choice was a buffet which was pretty much the same every day at Halali and similar to the main meal choice at Okaukuejo. You will not be staying there for the gourmet food. It was mediocre cafeteria quality at best.

 

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stunning pictures! I have to check out that directional sign next year! Looking forward to more!

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stunning pictures! I have to check out that directional sign next year! Looking forward to more!

 

Thanks, @@The_Norwegian. I may have a few other tips on where to shoot by the time this is finished. I'm also loving your trip report.

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@@buddy4344 I love the shot of the leopard underneath the directions marker. Not your usual leopard photo.

 

Matt

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@@buddy4344

 

What a find! I can only hope that this indeed is a regular hanging spot for that leopard ... about 100 days to check it for myself :) ! The food is really caffeteria style ... although we have always skipped the lunch part, driving back to the lodge was just not an option.

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Lovely trip report with so many superb images. The white elephants, the kori bustard in front of the giraffes and that Springbok portrait - just perfect.

 

Thanks for the TR so far.................................

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One more image from the morning. I thought I would share one 'close up' of the big male. As you can see, the heat and distance made this shot less appealing than the wider image.

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The morning had been quite productive, but we still had not seen what many feel is one of the better viewing holes, Salvadora, with wildlife, so we headed back in that direction. Just as we arrived there was one vehicle leaving. The driver pointed downward, just over the hillside from the car park then drove away. There she was, a lioness getting up. Unfortunately, she was merely getting up to re-position herself and really didn't give us any memorable shots. We did not locate any others of her pride, so we sat with her for awhile; however, clearly, she was waiting for the heat to die down as sunset before she had any action plans.

 

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We moved onward to the nearby tree which had been a background tree in many of our zebra shots. It had a lovely shape, so we felt it deserved its own landscape treatment. The sky was rather bland except for a few puffy clouds so I attempted to also feature them in the shot.

 

 

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In the nearby field were also wildebeest. My car mate had never photographed wildebeest and the light was pretty good, so that was the next subject. Personally, I’ve never taken an interesting photo of a wildebeest. I’m sure if they were running or jumping into the Mara River, they are quite a site, but grazing, they just look like black blobs. To make shooting even more challenging, their eye is dark against a dark hide, so the face really is lost in the images. Anyway, here was my attempt. At least I chose a moment with the head up.

 

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Boring shots like this is why I really don't get excited about going to see the wildebeest migration for the wildebeest. Yes, I know there are thousands and a crossing is amazing, but my trips to the east would be more for the predators which follow the migration ... but I digress.

 

Moving onward, we came across one of many jackals you will see at Etosha. This one seemed a little bolder and the scruffy hair made it worth the moment to take a few shots.

 

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The sun was beginning to get low so we headed back toward the lodge. Along the way, we spotted a lot of springbok where we didn't stop. This is a shame. I came home with so few springbok shots mainly because they were so common and frequent. I’ve noted the same bland attitude regarding shooting impala or maybe warthogs when in parks near the Kruger.

 

· Photo tip #1: Take the time to get great, respectful shots of these animals also! When you get back home, and your looking out your back window as some small brown bird, you will wish you had a herd of springbok to photo. You are in a special place. Use it!

· Photo trip # 2: Upon editing, those springbok and impala photos are favorites of many who see my wildlife shots. I think it is because the average person living in America or Europe can relate since they do see deer in their homelands.

 

We did stop to photograph some giraffe. I don’t think we stopped for these shots because they are special giraffe, but because we were amazed that such a large animal can exist on such barren vegetation. These plants barely had leaves!

 

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Back at the Halali Lodge, we grabbed our gear and once more headed to the Moringa waterhole. I didn’t shoot as much this night as I had learned from the prior night that really high ISO was needed to freeze the action and the light color was horrible. I did shoot some, but let me tell you the stories!

Envision the water hole right in front of you. Beyond the waterhole at 2 o’clock position and on the edge of the bush is the carcass of a dead giraffe. I suspect this was placed in position by park rangers. One can see numerous lions around the giraffe. The lions are pretty full, so they come and go to the water to drink.

 

First out from the 4 o’clock position is a black rhino and calf of less than 2 years old. They give the lions a look, which backs off the lions just a little, and begin to drink. In comes 2 much larger black rhino from about 5 o’clock. They go straight to the waterhole and begin to drink. This doesn’t seem to satisfy Momma Rhino number 1, so she comes over to the two and challenges them with a guttural bellow that shocked all viewers. There is a face to face stare down. The two big rhinos yield, so Momma starts to chase them. As she leaves her baby, the lions approach the baby with curiosity. Momma turns and give chase to the lions as the other rhino wanders off in the 8 o’;clock direction. While Momma is handling the lions, a few hyena emerge from the bush at the 10 o’clock position and head to the water. The lions, seeing they were having no luck with the baby rhino, break into an all out sprint to chase the hyena. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, the baby rhino gets bored, lays down and takes a nap. In the distant bush for the next 30 minutes we can see the glowing eyes of the hyena and hear their ‘laugh’, but status quo has returned to the water hole as the lions are back on the giraffe carcass and just drinking and momma and baby go back to drinking.

 

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But wait, the lions clear out in a panic again! The rhino also look nervous and head into the bush. What’s up? Nothing more than a herd of about 30 thirsty elephants. They crash into the scene from the 12 o’clock position and surround the water hole. They drink, bath, throw mud and, after about 15 minutes, leave in the 7 o’clock direction.

 

This was all ‘high drama for us’, but reflecting on the sleepy young rhino’s reaction, this is just another day in the bush for the wildlife of Etosha. Man leads such a boring life.

While this would have been great photo chances in good light, I didn’t shoot much that night primarily because on this occasion, I was perfectly happy to watch the stories unfold. Another magical night at Halali.

 

We head off to bed, eager for the next Etosha sunrise.

 

 

 

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