Exploring Northern and Central Namibia

Gail Davis

07 Sep 2017

Vast Wildlife and Rugged Terrains

Back in early June, a friend and I spent 10 days in northern and central Namibia. It is a beautiful but dry country just north of South Africa. We got our car and drove north to a fantastic lodge in the Ongava Reserve.

That same afternoon, on the first game drive in the reserve, we found a rhinoceros and her calf.

The guide checked out the area and invited us to get out of the jeep and walk up to them, which we did very carefully and quietly. Such a thrill!  

While staying on the reserve, we split time between the reserve and Etosha National Park. The game sightings at both places were varied and fantastic. Given how dry the country is, while in the park, we traveled from water hole to water hole. We waited at one while a lioness patiently lurked in a crevasse for something to get close enough to pounce. A zebra finally ignored all the other game’s caution and got close enough for her to make a play.  She rose up, leapt, tripped on something and tumbled to the ground.  The zebra lived another day.

In the reserve we spent 2 days observing a pair of lion cubs with mom and their big sister.  They were just getting old enough to introduce to the pride.

Every day there was something new to see

From watching the lionesses chase off some hyena who thought their kill (or cubs) would make a nice meal, or getting to a specific water hole in time to see the breeding herd of elephants that show up there every day between 10 and 11 am. Even when not at a water hole, there were sightings of animals, a flock of ostrich or a lonely Oryx crossing the impressive Etosha salt pan.

Our next stop was Damaraland, the habitat of the desert adapted elephants. We stayed at Doro Nawas, a luxurious camp with 16 individual units perched overlooking the dry Aba-Huab river valley.

One night everyone walked out from the lodge to have a fabulous dinner under the stars. While here, we saw herds of oryx and mountain zebra, as well as the elephants, including a large breeding herd. Again, our guide had a sense of where the wildlife would be and each drive opened new vistas to enjoy.

This area was much dryer than in the north.  Our guide told us tales of the elephants learning how to turn the spigots on the water tanks to get the water flowing. The terrain was generally more rugged and a lot of the driving to find wildlife was off road. Thank heavens for a guide who knew where to go and more importantly how to get back.

Our last stop was the Africat’s Okonjima Plains Camp.  The Africat Foundation works to rehabilitate and reintroduce big cats and wild dogs back to their habitat when possible.  They also work to educate and assist the rural population in understanding and dealing with the big predators.

We spent 2 days tracking leopards and cheetahs in the reserve and, on our last morning, we visited the animal hospital, education center and holding pens for cats that can’t be taught to hunt on their own. 

The stay there was every bit as luxurious as our other 2 camps with a water hole positioned right outside the dining room window so the antics of the animals was theater for the meal. We had some great sightings of leopards and cheetahs as well as an elderly spotted hyena, warthogs, mongoose, antelope and other denizens of the area.   

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