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There She Goes Again

Discovering myself, one trip at a time.

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Oct '11

Ongava Arrival

The drive today isn’t so boring – I’ve brought the little speaker and my iPod and we’ve rigged up a makeshift sound system.  Quite hilarious.  Almost all 80’s all the time.

Sound System

Improvised stereo. It actually worked really well.

On our way to Etosha we stop at the Petrified Forest.  Again, not what I expected.  I thought it was going to be petrified trees standing upright – like the dead trees in Dead Vlei.  In my defense, I wasn’t the only one in our group expecting this.   How I thought a tree which wasn’t actually from here and was now ROCK would be standing upright I don’t know. Guess I wasn’t really thinking.  Anyway, it’s petrified trees lying on, or in, the ground.

Petrified Tree

That's not a tree, it's a rock, no it's a tree, no it's a rock. It's a rock tree.

While we were there a GAP Adventures truck pulled up.  Good lord am I glad I didn’t go with them.  The truck is enormous, the guide actually sits in the front completely separate from the group and the group is huge – probably at least 18.  There’s no way they’d see any elephants in Damaraland unless the elephants were hanging out on the road.

The ubiquitious Warthog sign

The ubiquitious Warthog sign.

We stop for a lackluster lunch then finish the drive to Etosha.  Right before the Etosha gate we turn at a sign that says “Anderssons Camp.”  I still don’t realize what is happening.  Regan starts looking this way and that and I say “will you see animals here?”   I wonder how that’s possible since we’re not in Etosha yet.  He replies Yes and keeps on looking.  We arrive at a gate and head into Anderssons.  Holy moly, talk about swanky.  And we’re the only ones here.  Unfortunately it’s not like our other two camps where this is intentional, it’s just the way things work out.  There’s a watering hole right in front of the lodge.  A watering hole with animals around it!  It finally sinks in that we are in a Private Game Reserve, Ongava.  One of those places I really wanted to go but couldn’t afford to go.  One of those places where guides go out and talk to each other so you can actually find animals.  Woohoo!!!  Then I see my room.  Yes, it’s a tent, technically but wowza.  And oh my god, the porch is actually IN the reserve.  They point out that the fence around the deck isn’t electrified but the fence immediately to either side is.  Not that it would happen but an animal could quite literally come onto my deck and, if the door were open, into my room.  C O O L!


Warthogs at the watering hole. They were so entertaining to watch. Digging up dirt with their noses, rolling around in the dirt, all around having a good time.

We head out on a game drive in Ongava and don’t see much of anything.  What the heck, where’s my plethora of animals in a private reserve?  Oh wait, there’s some zebra, and a giraffe. Then more nothing. The radio is chattering although I don’t understand parts of it.  They’re speaking in English but every once in a while there’s a word you can’t understand.  Turns out they call the animals by other names so that guests don’t hear there’s been a cheetah (or whatever) sighting and then get all bummed when they arrive and the animal isn’t there.  The animals aren’t exactly on a schedule here.  All of a sudden Regan stops the car, he’s spotted rhinos.  They’re startled and run off. Then he spots a mommy and a baby off in the bush.  We wait FOREVER (OK, so not really forever) hoping they will come out but they don’t.

As the sun is setting we hear something off in the distance.  Something that sounds very pissed off.  Turns out it’s a leopard up in the hills.  We don’t see it but after hearing what he had to say I’m not sure I want to see him!  Then Regan practically drives into two more rhinos who are in the road (he didn’t really almost drive into them but they were in the road).  And they’re the elusive black rhino.  By this time it’s actually dark so we head back to camp. Regan starts saying “Giraffe in the road” and of course we all parrot “where, where?” Uh, it’s right in front of us, in the road. How am I ever going to go back to a life where I don’t see these incredible animals in their natural environment?

We finally arrive back at camp and as we pull in we’re told to hurry, there are lions at the watering hole.  We run to the watering hole and as we do the lions start to leave.  There are 12 of them.  4 cubs and 8 adults.  Regan tells us to grab our cameras and get to the truck, Erwin is going to drive us to find them.  What?  How do you drive us to find them?  Well he does.  Drives to the other side of Charles’ tent/cabin and there they are.  They use a red light to illuminate them.  They’re all just hanging out.  Regan and Erwin talk about how they’ve obviously had a good meal quite recently.  I cannot believe this.  I go from practically no lions to 12 right in front of me.  How does this happen?  God, I love Africa.


It's really hard to focus in the dark but I tried. Then I gave up and just admired the kitties.

We finally decide to stop bothering the lions (I still feel bad about shining lights at them but they don’t seem to be very irritated by it – I’m sure they’d let us know if they were) and start driving back to the lodge.  Until we see three rhinos that is.  What is this place, Rhino world?  We finally head back to the lodge and after we eat another rhino shows up at the watering hole – this one black.  And shortly after she arrives a male black rhino shows up trying to put the moves on her.

Black rhinos

This is so much better than watching TV.

It actually might be a good thing there aren’t any elephants in Ongava otherwise I’d never have gone to bed. Ongava is an enormous park but you can’t have just one or two elephants and because elephants aren’t territorial they can’t have a herd here.  They did, however, have some elephants here recently.  There have been fires in Etosha (we could see one in the distance when we were driving back to the lodge last night) and some elephants broke through a fence to get away from the fire.  That’s fine with everyone here although they’re back in Etosha now.  Since they do have elephants in Etosha we’ll be heading there tomorrow.

I’m been woken up twice during the night by the lions.  SO COOL!

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