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The Great Escape, Namibia. (1 Viewer)

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
It may be apocryphal but when I stayed at Okaukuejo in the 90's there was a story that a guest had decided to sleep in the outside B-B-Q area immediately in front of the entrance to his 'hut' and had been killed / taken by a Lion. It certainly kept me inside in the hours of darkness so possibly just a tale by the staff to keep the guests from wandering around too much late at night.
It was 1993. I was at Etosha in that era too, it was a German guy and he had been watching the waterhole and fell asleep/decided to sleep in the area near the waterhole, the fence is low here, and still is.
 

DMW

Well-known member
It may be apocryphal but when I stayed at Okaukuejo in the 90's there was a story that a guest had decided to sleep in the outside B-B-Q area immediately in front of the entrance to his 'hut' and had been killed / taken by a Lion. It certainly kept me inside in the hours of darkness so possibly just a tale by the staff to keep the guests from wandering around too much late at night.
I don't blame that lion. I could have happily killed some of the tourists at the Okakeujo waterhole myself!

One of the problems with Namibia is that it's an enormous and mostly empty country, but almost everybody goes to the same few attractions. At least before Covid, the sudden increase in direct flights from Europe made some of those places feel distinctly overcrowded in the high season. I suspect Jo's must virtually have it to himself at the moment.
 
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rosbifs

Well-known tool
France
I read the newspaper in horror. Why was this person so stupid (albeit there was only one other reported 'local' Lion attack and that 1904) to sleep outside? Secondly, the Lions were destroyed - it wasn't their fault(!) but I'm guessing that is the rule of the jungle and the way it has to be or is. Once the alarm was raised they couldn't scare the Lions away, even though it was too late, which suggests that they had become too humanised.

I will publicly say if this happens to me throw my remains over to the other side of the fence and let the vultures polish me off....
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
I suspect Jos must virtually have it to himself at the moment.
Indeed, very few tourists around, generally campsites are empty or near empty. Most of the few tourists are doing similar to me, spending the entire season here rather than sitting it out in Europe.
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East

I read the newspaper in horror. Why was this person so stupid to sleep outside?
To be fair to the guy, he was in an area where people sit and wait every night overlooking the waterhole, the last persons often there totally on their own. I wandered over there a few times alone at night, including when I heard the Lions calling. Mind you, I accept some might say I am stupid too 😂

I think it likely he simply fell asleep by accident, the fact he was in a sleeping bag means little - quite chilly there at night in August and folk often take a blanket or something to keep warm while waiting.
 

foresttwitcher

Virtually unknown member
United Kingdom
It was 1993. I was at Etosha in that era too, it was a German guy and he had been watching the waterhole and fell asleep/decided to sleep in the area near the waterhole, the fence is low here, and still is.
Thanks for that Jos and for the link to the article, that clarifies things. Having read it, I now remember it was at or near the viewing point rather than at his accommodation. I was there in October '93 so I guess it was all still raw for the staff as we were warned by the telling of the story not to stay by the waterhole too late and alone; although I admit to staying as late as possible myself!
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Day Three. 23 December.

Amazing morning run - first mammals, literally minutes after leaving camp, two impressive full mane Lions sauntering across the track, nicely catching the first rays of the morning sunshine. Metres further, one Black Rhino grazing acacia bushes, then not much further, at the now bare bones, skull and ragged skin of the deceased Lion of earlier days, a total of 15 Spotted Hyena squabbling over the remains. And just beyond, a further hyena strolling off over an adjacent ridge ...not sporting sports however, but long hippy hair! Stone me, one Brown Hyena, fantastic, only my fourth ever!

And so continued an excellent day, slowly meandering towards Halali camp, no less than four Black Rhinos, two White Rhinos, a solo female Lion, massive numbers of Black-faced Impala and the first herds of Red Hartebeest. Took several hour to get to Halali, a lot of top class birding en route. Once there, relaxed a while in Halali camp, now a hot day, touching 39 C. Very pleasant however- mature Mopane woodland supporting Tree Squirrels and plenty of birds, including Green Wood-Hoopoes, Bare-cheeked Babblers, Southern White-crowned Shrikes, Carp's Tit, etc. Also supposed to be Violet Wood-Hoopoes here, but I didn't see.

And with that, we then drove back to Okaukuejo. Despite the temperature sticking at 36-38 C right to sunset, still more nice stuff - as well as many raptors, including Whalberg's Eagle and Secretary Bird, also saw both Banded and Yellow Mongoose, plus yet more Lions, a pride of five this time. And then, skipping over a couple of hours, a splendid conclusion to the day with more magic at the evening waterhole - to a sinking sun, a male Lion in to drink, spooking Zebra and Giraffe, then shortly after at least six Black Rhino and several Elephants bringing the day to a very nice end. Or almost to an end, one nice Barn Owl near my tent again.
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Day Four. 24 December.

Relocation to Halali camp. Another excellent start to the day - all in the space of twenty minutes, one Black Rhino just outside Okakuojo camp, two Lions dozing under an Acacia nearby, then a pride of eight Lions a few kilometres further, this latter group three lionesses and five small cubs. Then onward to Halali, Blue Crane among the bird highlights, plus a Ludwig's Bustard, a number of Kori Bustards, one Black-bellied Bustard and oodles of Red-crested Korhaans and Northern Black Korhaans. Also plenty of Pale Chanting Goshawks, a couple of Bateleur, two Lanners and other raptors such as Tawny Eagle, Ovambo Sparrowhawk and, in Halali Camp, two Little Sparrowhawks.

Siesta in Halali Camp, tempertures near 40 C again, Bare-cheeked Babblers and Southern White-crowned Shrikes et al seen again, plus Great Spotted Cuckoo and Jacobin Cuckoo. Thereafter an afternoon trip along Etosha Pan - most notable for an amazing thunderstorm brewing in the eastern skies! Just as we encountered an amazing area full of Red Hartebeest, Wildebeest and Zebra, so the skies turned black, violently punctuated by repeated bolts of lightning. Lilac-breasted Rollers and Yellow-billed Hornbills tried to distract, but we were on target for a direct hit with this storm. Being the only metal object on an otherwise open plain, I didn't think this was the most wise place to be. Couple this with the knowledge that I had left my tent without rain flaps down, it seemed a good move to outrun the storm ... and so we did, pulses of rain hammering down, but lightning always a kilometre or so behind, we hightailed the 30 km or so back to camp, arriving minutes before the rain did.

Whole camp without electric, rain also putting pay to fire, no coffee this night! Still, as the rain subsided, five Pearl-spotted Owlets and two Barn Owls found in camp.


Day Five. 25 December.

Christmas Day. No electricity in Halali camp, no possibility to obtain petrol. Decided to drive the 75 km to Namitoni camp to fill up, driving slowly there from dawn, rather more rapidly back in the heat of the day. Perhaps associated with the day before's onset of rain, an apparent influx of Palearctic migrants this day, not least massive flocks of European Swifts, several Lesser Grey Shrikes, quite a number of Hobbies and two separate flocks of Amur Falcons. Adding local African flavour, plenty of other raptors too - Tawny and Wahlsberg's Eagles, two Bateleurs, three Lanner Falcons, a few Yellow-billed Kites, both Rock and Greater Kestrels.

Pretty good for mammals too - four Black Rhino during the morning run, two Lions and, unfortunately frustratingly brief, one Aarkwolf. Good numbers of Hartebeest too, plus Giraffe, Damara Dik-dik, etc etc. Given it was Christmas Day, decided to celebrate by doing a mini 'Big Day', so after a very productive morning drive, adding all the usual finches and other passerines at assorted waterholes , it was welcome indeed to add further species at the Namitoni camp's waterhole such as Maribou Stork and African Spoonbill, as well as Great Spotted Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Hornbill and Grey Go-away Bird in scrub around. Also in the camp, several Banded Mongoose added for the mammal list.

In hot and humid conditions, nothing much added on route back to Halali, but later towards evening a few more bits and bobs, one more Black Rhino, a Yellow Mongoose, Ostriches with newly hatched chick, a couple more Lanner Falcons and assorted passerines such as Capped Wheatear and Spike-heeled Lark. As darkness fell, rounded the day off with yet another Black Rhino and Elephants at the Halali waterhole, flocks of Double-banded Sandgrouse piling in too, Freckled and Rufous-cheeked Nightjars hawking. Back at the tent, Barn Owl and Pearl-spotted Owlet completed the day's species tally - my mini Big Day had netted 113 species of birds, 20 species of mammals.
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Day Six. 26 December.

Mega day - on a drive from Halali to Namitoni, a real bumper crop of species, starting with a family of Cape Foxes, then continuing with a mother and calf Black Rhino, a Honey Badger and then a White Rhino grazing on grasses adjacent to Etosha Pan. And then, crown of the day, a mere kilometre from the White Rhino, one splendid Cheetah sitting in the morning sunshine. Completing the morning's haul, also a pride of seven Lions relaxing under an Acacia bush! Yet more fun in Namutoni Camp – in a couple of hours dedicated to butterflies (almost 20 species, tops Wandering Donkey Acraea, Spotted Jokers, Purple-brown Hairstreaks, Common Scaret and Green-eyed Monster), also discovered an African Wild Cat lurking in long grass at the edge of the campsite!

Moderately quieter in the evening, mostly admiring the sudden appearance of many newly borns among the grazing herds – with amazing syncrononism, within days of the first rains, suddenly the rapidly greening grasslands were abounding with Zebra foals taking their first steps, ungainly Wildebeest youngtsers and scrawny Springbok young. No predators this evening, but yet another White Rhino found, a stately individual standing on a ridge. Thunder and lightning from 7pm, heavy rain not much later ... the rainy season had truly arrived!
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Day Seven. 27 December.

Notwithstanding a Honey Badger, a couple of Spotted Hyena and Elephant, a moderately quiet on the mammal front this day, neither Lion nor any rhinos seen for the first time since entering Etosha. Not bad for birds though, with a continuing feast of raptors, including a Martial Eagle, my first Red-naped Falcon of the trip and several Red-footed Falcons, these nicely complementing the Amur Falcons of previous days. Also two Blue Cranes, my first Black Crakes and Rufous-winged Larks of the trip and, serving as quite a contrast to birding elsewhere in Etosha, a couple of productive hours at a flooded corner of Fisher's Pan, the waters a magnet to a positive cocktail of waterbirds - in greatest numbers, several hundred Greater and Lesser Flamingoes, plus many dozens of common ducks (Cape Teal, Red-billed Teal, Hottentot Teal and South African Shoveler) and waders (predominantly Avocets, Greenshanks, Ruff and Little Stints). Also present, a scatter of other wetland attractions, not least 16 Maribou Storks, seven Yellow-billed Storks, a Comb Duck and a Black-winged Pratincole.

Also, in humid mid-morning hours, spent a couple of hours trying to track down the very active butterflies in Namitoni camp. With relative greenery, not a bad number now on the wing - over 20 species, including numerous Pierids (Brown-veined Whites, African Migrants, Zebra Whites, Topaz Arab, Red Tip, Common Orange Tip), a scattering of blues (many Velvet-spotted Blues, several Topaz-spotted Blues, one Common Zebra Blue, a single Dotted Blue, a few Sooty Blues) and a nice range of others – one Foxy Emperor, many Spotted Jokers and Yellow Pansies, several Wandering Donkey Acraeas and Broad-bordered Grass Yellows, a few Common Diadoms, regular African Monarchs, three Purple-brown Hairstreaks and two Common Scarlets.

Many thanks also to a worker at Namutoni camp who had the good grace to come and get me when he found a Flap-necked Chameleon slowly ambling across the campsite lawn ...quite a cracker of a beastie!
 
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Jos Stratford

Beast from the East

Day Eight. 28 December.


Final day in Etosha. Ended in style with a dawn drive out to Ngobib waterhole notching up a family of three Cheetahs en route, frollicking in the grass, plus a few Spotted Hyena and, at Ngobib itself, one White Rhino. As everywhere in Etosha, a selection of birds too. Quite a nice ending to Etosha! In our week in the national park, we had logged no less than four Cheetahs, 43 Lions, one African Wild Cat, 41 Black Rhinos and five White Rhinos! Far exceeded my expectations.

Then back to Namitoni, packed up and departed. First mammal in, last mammal out, one pack of Banded Mongoose bounding along as we exited Etosha. Thereafter, a three-hour drive up to the far north, destination Rundu on the Okavango River.
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
What an amazing place - that Honey Badger and Aardwolf get no mention in the highlight reel!

I'm also loving the confluence of migrants from right across Eurasia - Red-footed and Amur Falcons, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Black-winged Pratincole.

But we most of all absolutely need a picture of the Green-eyed Monster!

Cheers
Mike
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Rundu. 28-29 December.

On route east, a brief taster of the Rundu area, staying overnight at Camp Hogo on the banks of the Okavango River. Hot and humid, green and lush, quite a contrast to most of Namibia. Arriving late afternoon in this semi-tropical setting, I had expected a butterfly bonanza to greet me … but alas not, a wander along the river soon revealing a remarkable lack of butterflies! In total, a measly six species - several African Monarchs and Common Diadoms, reasonably common Zebra Whites and Brown-veined Whites, four Sooty Blues and two Yellow Pansies.

Fortunately, even though I was leaving the real highlight of the Rundu area until my return in a few days, the birding was pretty good. A nice flavour of the birds in the evening, but even better at dawn - in a mosaic of small flood pools and acacia thicket, flocks of White-faced Whistling-Ducks, several African Jacanas, a dozen or so Long-toed Lapwings, several Woodland Kingfishers and Little Bee-eaters, flocks of Hartlaub's Babblers, singles of both Senegal and White-browed Coucal, plus many small birds such as Blue Waxbill and Red-billed Firefinch. A kilometre or so from Camp Hogo, a reeded inlet of the Okavango produced more birds, most notably a Lesser Moorhen, a not easy bird to find. Also Little Bittern, Lesser Swamp Warblers and African Reed Warblers.

Didn't give it too long here however, by 8.00 am, I was ready to depart, a 200 km hop and I would be at Popa Falls/Mahango, the jewels of the Namibian section of the Okavango.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Rundu. 28-29 December.

On route east, a brief taster of the Rundu area, staying overnight at Camp Hogo on the banks of the Okavango River. Hot and humid, green and lush, quite a contrast to most of Namibia. Arriving late afternoon in this semi-tropical setting, I had expected a butterfly bonanza to greet me … but alas not, a wander along the river soon revealing a remarkable lack of butterflies! In total, a measly six species - several African Monarchs and Common Diadoms, reasonably common Zebra Whites and Brown-veined Whites, four Sooty Blues and two Yellow Pansies.

Fortunately, even though I was leaving the real highlight of the Rundu area until my return in a few days, the birding was pretty good. A nice flavour of the birds in the evening, but even better at dawn - in a mosaic of small flood pools and acacia thicket, flocks of White-faced Whistling-Ducks, several African Jacanas, a dozen or so Long-toed Lapwings, several Woodland Kingfishers and Little Bee-eaters, flocks of Hartlaub's Babblers, singles of both Senegal and White-browed Coucal, plus many small birds such as Blue Waxbill and Red-billed Firefinch. A kilometre or so from Camp Hogo, a reeded inlet of the Okavango produced more birds, most notably a Lesser Moorhen, a not easy bird to find. Also Little Bittern, Lesser Swamp Warblers and African Reed Warblers.

Didn't give it too long here however, by 8.00 am, I was ready to depart, a 200 km hop and I would be at Popa Falls/Mahango, the jewels of the Namibian section of the Okavango.
Truly a vacation to remember.
Far from Covid, far from Angela, Putin and Macron, far from Trump and Biden, but close to Honey Badgers and Green Eyed Monsters.
You did something right!!
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Not to steal Jos's thunder, (as if I could) but we actually came across a lot of these, (but no large predators) including one I picked up from a busy road to stop it getting squashed.

Regarding Halali, my wife suffered an excruciating, Scorpion sting on her foot as we returned from the water hole at night here.
 

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JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Not to steal Jos's thunder, (as if I could) but we actually came across a lot of these, (but no large predators) including one I picked up from a busy road to stop it getting squashed.

Regarding Halali, my wife suffered an excruciating, Scorpion sting on her foot as we returned from the water hole at night here.
I love the way it's trying to copy your tattoo!!
 

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