Lion! (But don’t get too excited…!)

18 October 2018

Ian and I were both woken during night by the sound of an animal upturning and emptying our bins at about 02:00, then by a member of the camp staff cleaning up the mess a few hours later! It was an unexpectedly cool night again and great to wake up with a cold breeze blowing on your face. It is such a simple pleasure.

Bugsy also woke up in a great mood and stayed that way, despite knowing that she was without her Kindle all day today due to her behaviour yesterday.

We left Halali Campsite and agreed that today we should have a slightly shorter day of game driving, so as to give Cornelia a chance to have a bit of a run around and stretch her legs out.

The route was fairly uneventful, seeing the odd giraffe and herd of zebra (and today we’ve seen both Plains zebra and Hartman’s zebra – the main difference being the stripes going all the way down the legs on the latter) at the roadside, but when we pulled over to Bati watering hole, we were in for a treat!

The savanna was full of wildlife: zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, oryx, springbok etc, with a few elephants in the distance too. I said to Ian that I would check the surrounding grasses as I was certain that a lion couldn’t be too far away with so many animals in one place, but I needn’t have bothered with binoculars, because Ian poked me and said “Shhhh….look at that!” At first glance, I thought it was a rhino, but once my eyes had refocused, I could clearly see the lion standing there, watching its potential prey. It watched the animals, we watched it… and we could see that the elephants had spotted the distant lion and were slowly making their way towards him. Then, the bull elephant (and the largest of the three) boldly and steadily turned to the lion and stomped towards it. The lion stared at the elephant for a bit, unsure as to his next move, but then decided that in a fight, he would lose, and he stood up and walked away. Once the elephant had turned his back, however, the lion hid himself back in the grasses. It was quite fascinating, and although we had been hoping to see a lion have his lunch, once he had disappeared into the grasses, we moved on to Namtoni, the last of the three NWR Parks.

It was immaculate, with a green grass park area surrounding a fort, originally built in the early 1900s (and rebuilt in the 1950s), and (much to Ian’s great delight) an enormous termite mound.

We had decided to have lunch here, and although the restaurant was large, its menu selection was not! Ian had pea soup, and Bugsy and I shared German beef sausage and chips. The sausage was practically raw so I asked for it to be cooked a bit more, and Cornelia ate the whole lot. I barely had a handful of chips! Anyway, she was still in a completely delightful mood, dancing and singing to anyone who’d listen, and practising her handwriting. She was totally full of beans. We wrote and sent a couple of postcards, and drove the last few kilometres to the Tamboti campsite at Onguma Park, the entrance to which is just outside the Van Linquist gate of Etosha National Park.

Drive Botswana wins another pat on the back for this terrific spot. Our pitch is generous, and it comes with its own private ablution block, complete with large shower room, loo and washing up area. The reception is a two minute walk away, where there is a swimming pool, shop and restaurant/bar overlooking a watering hole.

We went straight to the pool – it was nearly 15:00 and 38 degrees – and Cornelia went in first, shortly followed by me. Ian was a little way behind us, but then he also came in and we had a merry old time, splashing and swimming and playing.

There were also two warthogs that visited the pool, having made their way round from the watering hole on the other side of the building, who were completely unbothered by the sunbathers relaxing there. Once I was out and drying off in the sunshine, Cornelia started shivering, so Ian wrapped her up in a towel and they sat together at the other end of the pool chatting away.

Once dry and dressed, Ian suggested we head up to the restaurant area for coffee and cake. I had a beer. And then another one. And ended up feeling gloriously tipsy on just two beers!! We ended up chatting to an English couple, Andy and Cynthia, who had enormous Nikon cameras with them, and had been on several game drives over the last couple of weeks. They had not yet seen a leopard or a cheetah, and were desperate to do so! They told us that a pack of lions killed a giraffe right outside Etosha gate, at Halali a few days ago, and they arrived shortly afterwards to take some great photos. Can’t believe how amazing that would’ve been!

We dragged ourselves away from the comfort of the open air restaurant and back to our pitch, where I cooked pasta bolognese topped with a cheese sauce, while Ian and Bugsy each made their own fires. Cornelia has turned into a complete pyromaniac, insisting on having her own charcoal, gathering her own sticks and lighting it (with great assistance and supervision!).

As the sun was setting, we made our way back down to the water hole, hopeful of some more animals, but it was still rather uneventful there. As Cornelia was getting a bit restless and frustrated at needing to be quiet, we didn’t stay long, returning to our pitch where she and Ian showered before she went to bed.

We discovered we had very noisy German neighbours; a family of five, who just yelled at each other in normal conversation so loudly that I ended up having to shush them in my best British polite way! Luckily, they were good enough to understand that our daughter had just gone to bed, and did lower their voices, but it did make me chuckle about the stereotypes we are meeting on our travels. The Germans (generally) have been loud and inconsiderate of others, but not deliberately so – they are just completely unaware of anyone else around them. It has made me wonder what behaviours are stereotypical of the British – and whether we are any of those things!!

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