Here are three photographs of gemsbok, in Etosha, one in black and white two in colour – I might try the colour photos in black and white, also. What do you think? Also a photo of the Okaukuejo waterhole in the early morning, with zebra caught in the bands of sunlight, and one more (sorry about this) of a zebra misbehaving. All, by the way, from the files I restored on Friday.
One night at Okaukuejo, it might have been our first night there, two male lions materialised out of the darkness, and stepped across the rough stones to the water and drank, in complete silence, before dissolving again, and vanishing into the night, as swiftly and unexpectedly as they had come. Some time later we heard them roaring in the darkness, not too far from the camp – one of those sounds that, once heard in the wild, you never forget. I told you about this some time ago, remember? I grabbed several photos, in the available light and the few available minutes: most of them were blurred, but here’s one that, despite – or perhaps because of – the softness and granularity, might just begin to communicate something of that incredible moment.
Here is a photo of the Okaukuejo waterhole, at daybreak: this one’s in colour, to try to capture that crisp, sharp, brilliant light of the early morning. And a photo of springbok. You’ll notice that the nearer animals are blurry, with the point of focus somewhere there in the middle. It’s an odd effect, and I’m not sure that it works, but I kind of like it anyway because it gives, to my mind at least, the impression of a sea, a wave of springbok sweeping across the veld, which is what it was like, really. See what you think.
Day One in Etosha ended as it had begun, back at the Okaukuejo camp. The camps in the park, run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts, were comfortable and clean, though not always well maintained, and the staff, I regret to say, were for the most part graduates of the Soviet school of hospitality – surly, unhelpful, unresponsive. The food was pretty dreadful, and expensive. The best bet, we discovered, was to get a burger for lunch at the cafeteria, and avoid the dinner buffets altogether. The waterhole at Okaukuejo, famed in the guide books for its ‘teeming’ animals, was mostly deserted. We sat up late and got up early, waiting with tripod and cameras and binoculars for that magical sighting, and were lucky enough to see two male lions appear after dark, the one night, to drink, and then – quite literally – melt away into the darkness. We saw a rhino, too, splashing about in the waterhole after dark, black-backed
The road to Okondeka runs west from the Okaukuejo camp, the main rest camp in Namibia’s fabulous Etosha wildlife reserve. You head out across open plains, waving with grasses, and then the salt pan comes into view on your right, a silver, lunar sea that runs to the horizon. A haze of heat and dust hangs in the air, fine, like powder. We watch for a while as a black-backed jackal skirmishes with a pair of vultures at a carcase; further on, a long line of zebra, preceded by wildebeest, crests a low hill and winds towards us. It is pretty much true to say that over that first morning, and the days that followed, almost all sense of time vanished: the vast expanse swallows you up, and your everyday human concerns and anxieties with it. In that sense, Etosha is a spiritual as much as a tourist experience. Which is a good thing as the latter – aka Namibia Wildlife Resorts – is