peeks at the world through my lens

Wildlife

Valaise Blacknose Sheep

Valaise Blacknose Sheep in front of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland

Click image to enlarge


Etosha National Park, Namibia

 

Days 11-12.  When planning our trip, we designed the last few days to be a little on the easier and more comfortable end of the safari spectrum. Rather then set up our own tents and cook our meals while isolated in the deep wild, we decided to stay in two different safari lodges (complete with hot showers and beds…and crowds of clean tourists and all you can eat buffets overlooking watering holes). It was a bit of a shock, and we felt awkward experiencing Africa in this more controlled and catered manner. The first two days were spent at the Halali Camp, and luckily our original guides stayed with us at this camp and also took us on the early morning and evening game drives in Etosha National Park. Click to enlarge images.

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Black Nosed Impala

Black Nosed Impala

Earths shadow

Earth’s shadow

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Etosha Pan

Etosha Pan

Evening Springbok

Evening Springbok

Giraffe Momma and Baby

Momma and baby Black Nosed Impala

Momma and baby Black Nosed Impala

Pale-Chanting Goshawk

Pale-Chanting Goshawk

Giraffe

Pale-Chanting Goshawks

Pale-Chanting Goshawks

Pan

Etosha Pan

Shayna and Greg and Birgitta

Southern black korhaan

Southern Black Korhaan

Springbok

Springbok

Solveig, Ali, Shayna

Grandma and the girls

Waterbuck

Waterbuck

Pan Posse

Etosha Pan Posse

Etosha Sunset

Etosha Sunset


Crismon-Breasted Shrike

There was nothing in Namibia that impressed us more than the spectacularly beautiful mating season courtship rituals of the crimson-breasted shrike.

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Jackals and Hide

Namibia Day 11 began with a morning game drive, our first at Etosha National Park. Soon into the drive we came across a fresh kill, a springbok that had been taken down recently by presumably a cheetah. By the time we arrived, the cheetah had eaten its fill and moved on, leaving the remains for the scavengers. What ensued appeared as somewhat of a survival “dance” between the jackals and the vultures as they repeatedly parried each other for a chance to feed.

Click on the image below to view a short video of the encounter. Caution: Gory! Also, please change quality to 1080p (auto is 720 ) and view full screen!

 

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Damaraland to Etosha, Namibia

Day 10 brought a drive out of the wild and into “civilization”. We were headed to Etosha National Park (with showers and beds), a 22,270 sq km/8,600 sq mi park which gets its name from the Etosha Pan, a salt pan which covers a quarter of the total area of the park and is so large that it is identifiable from space. Our drive to the park took us through scattered Damara villages, where farmers who subsist on herding cattle, sheep, and goats still live primarily in simple homes constructed from dung and termite mud (collected from MASSIVE termite hills) spread on a wooden frame.

 

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Massive termite hills were scattered throughout the countryside.

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Himba Women out for a stroll

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Springbok “pronking”

Kori BustardKori Bustard

 

 


Rainbow Sunset Over Palmweg Concession in Damaraland, Namibia

 

The long day 7 drive through the concession area was a slow, difficult, and at times uncomfortable (very steep terrain mixed with heavy rains) journey. As we arrived and searched out a campsite, the clouds began to clear and we were treated to a spectacularly beautiful double rainbow sunset over the camp. We were now as far out of touch from the rest of the modern civilized world as I have ever been. Over dinner our guide Sasha described the “lion” protocol for the camp (imagine him telling us this at night as light from the small fire flickered on half of his face):  Never leave your tent alone at night. Need to pee? Take the bucket from outside your tent door into your tent, pee, put the bucket back outside of the tent. Need to do a #2? Wake the three men up and walk as a group to the makeshift toilet as you scan the surroundings with headlamps for reflective “eyes” around camp. Hear something at night creeping outside your tent? Don’t move, make a noise, or turn on your light. Do not call for anyone. Follow these rules, and you likely will not get eaten. We all slept great after that. And for the record, we did hear some hyenas not too far from camp as we were falling asleep.

This is my favorite photo from the entire trip. Click to see it in full resolution!

 

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Erongo Mountains to the Damaralands D6

The Day 6 Namibian agenda called for us to drive out from the Erongo mountains and head into the scenic Damaraland, a massive, untamed, and ruggedly beautiful region in the north-central part of Namibia which is home to one of the oldest nations in cultures in Namibia, the Damara people. Our Damaraland landscape starts with open plains and grasslands, granite hills and deep gorges, but changes dramatically to endless sandy wastelands. Somehow, though, the Damaraland is able to sustain a wide-ranging variety of animals which have all adapted to survive in this harsh and almost waterless desert. Two notable sites along the way were The Brandenburg  aka “Fire Mountain”, Namibia’s highest mountain, as well as a tour of the San (Bushman) rock art in Twyfelfontein, a site that has been inhabited for 6,000 years and was used for a place of worship and a site to conduct shamist rituals.  Throughout the rituals, at least 2,500 items of rock carvings have been created, and as one of the largest concentrations of rock art in Africa, has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Click to enlarge.

 

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Himba woman in traditional clothing

 

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The Brandberg ‘Fire Mountain’, from the effect created by the setting of the sun on its western face, which causes it to glow red like molten metal.

 

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Twyfelfontein, one of the most extensive galleries of rock art in Africa.

 

 

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Springbok grazing at dusk (one of my favorite pics from the trip)

 

7. Scorpian at Aabadi Camp

Welcome to Aabadi campsite, guys!

 

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Sunset over the Damaraland

 

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Sundowner at Bulls’s Party, Namibia D5

Our second hike on day 5 sent us straight into a rainstorm as it rumbled towards our afternoon sundowner (happy hour) destination, Bull’s Party rock formation. Bull’s Party formation stems from regional volcanic activity dating back 110-130 million years, followed by erosion of the earth’s surface, which resulted in massive granite blocks being exposed throughout the area. Millions of years of extreme day/night temperature fluctuations caused the blocks to chip off and form rounded boulders, which rolled down into the valley. The formation gets its name from the belief that the boulders resemble a group of bulls facing each other.

We enjoyed our anti-malarial Gin and tonics under cover of the massive granite boulders as the sky opened up and torrential rains created streams and waterfalls where seconds earlier there were none. The Gin Gods were smiling down on us though… for the rains ended as abruptly as they began, and, as the sun set below the clouds, our surroundings were illuminated by an unearthly yellow-orange hue. As we left the protection of the rocks and headed back to camp, the intense colors made it feel as  though we were walking across a Martian landscape. As the eerie colors faded, the clouds gave way to the last rays of the sun and a magical perfect double rainbow over the Elephant Head cliff formation.  As always, click to enlarge.

 

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Baboons taking shelter from the approaching storm

 

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Bull’s Party Panorama

 

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Taking our medicine: anti-malarial Gin and tonics

 

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Walking on Mars

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Elephant Head cliff formation


Erongo Mountains, Namibia D5

 

Day 5 in Namibia found us setting out at sunrise on a hike through the Erongo plains to visit Phillipps Cave, a shallow cave hidden in the steep granite cliffs of the Erongo mountains. The cave, which is a national heritage site, is famous for it’s cave paintings by the nomadic San People (Bushman), which include hunting scenes, antelopes, giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, antelope, springbuck, kudus, zebra, the famous white elephant, and 6 imprints of human hands. Some of the paintings date back to approximately 3368 BC. As always, click to enlarge.

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Sunrise Hike to the Cave

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Man Hunting Ostrich

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Antelope

White Elephant

White Elephant.

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Men Standing in Cave

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Man Sitting in Cave

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Family Sitting in Cave

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View from Phillipps Cave

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Stone tools dating to 3500 years BC,

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View from Phillipps Cave

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Bearded Dragon protecting the cave

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Ants drying their grass seed harvest, a morning ritual.

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Greater Kudu

Female Greater Kudu welcoming us on our return to camp

 

 

 

 


Tinkas Plains to Erongo Mountains, Namibia D4

Day 4 in Namibia had us setting out from our first wild campsite in the Tinkas Plains and driving to the Erongo Mountains. Throughout the day we were treated to extraordinarily beautiful landscapes and the most amazing wildlife. As always, click to enlarge.

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Breakfast in Tinkas Plains

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Three generations welcoming the morning sun

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On the road again

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Rock formations in the Erongo Plains

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Quiver Tree, a succulent plant indigenous to Southern Africa, get its name from the San people practice of hollowing out the tubular branches to make quivers for their arrows. Quiver tree numbers are in decline as a result of climate change.

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The dried leaves also make for great Commedia dell’Arte masks

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Ostriches

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Springbok herd

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Shieldback Katydid. These pests covered almost every bit of foliage and fencepost throughout all of the Tinkas and Erongo plains.

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Safari Guide wannabe

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Sascha with his new friend which he narrowly avoided while driving down the road

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Chameleon

monitor lizard

This massive monitor lizard strolled across the road an hid from us in this tree. Our guide Sascha says that this was one of the largest monitor lizards that he had ever seen.

Warthog

Warthog

Tinkas to Erongo