One of the most memorable aspects of visiting Namibia has been the animals, so we’ve summarized some of our favorite encounters here.
LionWe watched these two lions in Etosha for about 40 minutes from as close as 50 feet away. We felt lucky to get such a close view as Etosha is a large area (8,600 sq miles) and tourists are restricted to a limited number of roads and cannot leave their vehicle. These guys were hanging out right by a road. We arrived and quickly figured out that they were mating (short sessions every 10 minutes or so). This photo is the lioness letting the lion know that they’re done. Max + Henry claim that this experience should fulfill any sex ed requirement for the rest of this year.
We got a chance to see elephants at several of the waterholes in Etosha. This is a breeding herd at Okaukuejo. The most memorable experience was at Olifantrus at night viewing the elephants from within a large viewing hide.
Rock HyraxThe rock hyrax or dassie is one of my favorite animals in Namibia. Believe it or not, they are the closest living relative of the elephant. They hang out on the rocks in the desert and can scale seemingly impossibly steep rock faces and jump from ledge to ledge. They owned the giant pile of boulders that we picked as a campsite in Spitzkoppe and so we got to know them well. They were all curious about us and some of them were brave enough to stand their ground as I approached to photograph them. This one was from about 6 feet away.
Agama Lizard (male)We saw a lot of Agama in the desert and they are strikingly colorful, especially the male. After getting used to so many animals that have adapted so well to disappear in to their environment, it’s surprising to see these guys sticking out like neon.
Springbok are everywhere in Namibia, especially within Etosha. We started to take them for granted after a while. We didn’t really appreciate them fully until we saw a bunch of younger ones together actually springing around together at play (pronking), which is very impressive.
OstrichWe saw ostrich in several areas of Namibia. They’re easy to spot even from far away as a big black circle against the landscape. Such a large and funny looking animal. It was a treat to see a few families in Etosha, with a dozen or so chicks.
For height reasons, it seemed fairly easy to spot giraffe in the wild. Sometimes we could seem them from miles away against the horizon line. To see them walk around up close was a treat.
We only saw a few hyenas as they are mostly nocturnal. We saw this one in the morning getting a drink near the road. I thought it might be rabid as its mouth was foaming and it was moving back and forth slowly and seemed a bit confused.
These things just look cool. I feel like most of my prior exposure to the wildebeest was on nature documentaries, starring as the prey of choice for a big cat. So, it was good to see them relaxing. They seem to hang out with zebras a lot.
OryxOryx or gemsbok are one of the most visually striking antelope and are impressive for their ability survive without water for long periods of time. They are very well adapted to the desert and were one of the few large animals that we saw deep in the Namib.
Like the springbok, wild zebras were exciting to see at first. But, they are so common in Etosha that we started to take them, too, for granted after seeing hundreds of them. They like to travel in big herds and block the roads for drivers and completely take over the waterholes.
We only saw these two rhino – at night at the waterhole at Halali campsite. They are endangered and not commonly seen. Etosha lodges have game spotting logs that guests can use to record the details of sightings so that others know where to look. There are notices on each log book banning the recording of rhino sightings for fear that poachers will use the information.
Common DuikerThe common duiker is one of the smallest antelopes in southern Africa. They’re super cute. Even the adults look like babies. This one let Max and I get pretty close while on a hike in Waterberg.
Damara Red Billed HornbillI only saw one of these – in Spitzkoppe near our campsite. The red bill was striking.
There is much more to say about Namibia, so more posts from us and from the kids are coming. We’re off to Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow, trading 8% humidity for 83% – this should be interesting.