10 October 2014

Namibia’s National Parks, Part 1

Welcome back. It’s been a while since this blog offered a travelogue and there’s never been one on Africa. Who better to take us along with her and husband Barry, professor at George Mason University, than Ellen Haack?

Ellen’s previous guest posts were travelogues of Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta and New Zealand’s South Island (see P.S. for links). As for Africa, Ellen and Barry spent two years in Kenya and a year in Tanzania, where Barry was employed or on sabbatical. Barry has also had projects in Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi, with stays in Egypt and South Africa.

For the travelogue that begins today and continues next Tuesday, Ellen and Barry recently spent two weeks driving through Namibia. 

Namibia in southwestern Africa;
about twice the size of California
with only 2.3 million people.
Namibia had long been on our bucket list. Its sparse population and arid climate are very different from African countries we knew; and we were especially attracted by its famed desert meets the ocean and massive sand dunes. When Barry had the opportunity to work there in August--the perfect time of year--we jumped at the chance to extend his work into our vacation.

We began our tour in the capital, Windhoek. Too late to line up a 4-wheel drive vehicle, we rented a Toyota Corolla and drove north about 260 miles to Etosha National Park.

Etosha National Park

The travel literature presents Etosha, 8,600 square miles, as one of Africa's top parks for wildlife, but we were prepared to be disappointed. We had been in the great wildlife parks of East Africa and were convinced that the semi-desert environment couldn't possibly support the same abundance of animals. We were thrilled to be wrong. Here’s a sample of what we saw while driving through the park.

Lions relaxing or maybe digesting an impala that didn’t make it to the tree line.
Zebra stopping traffic on a park road.
A too-close-for-comfort elephant encounter.
This elephant obviously found mud to roll in.
Albino elephants? No, just a dust bath in Etosha’s enormous salt pan, which covers nearly a quarter of the park. (“Etosha” means Great White Place, referring to the pan, in a Bantu dialect spoken in Namibia.)
Even impala seek shade.
As do giraffes, though they have to duck down.
Gnu (wildebeest), impala and ostrich at a waterhole.
Jackals prefer to be alone.
A communal nest of sociable weaver birds. These gigantic nests sometimes house several hundred birds and can be occupied for close to 100 years.

We’ll stop here for the day, let the Haacks head for a rest camp by a waterhole, and continue next Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by.


Ellen Haack’s earlier travelogue posts on the Retired—Now What? Blog:

Mekong Delta—Life on the Water
Part 1:  www.retired--nowwhat.com/2012/04/mekong-delta-life-on-water-part-1.html
Part 2:  www.retired--nowwhat.com/2012/04/mekong-delta-life-on-water-part-2.html

A New Zealand Journey
Part 1: www.retired--nowwhat.com/2013/04/a-new-zealand-journey-part-1.html
Part 2: www.retired--nowwhat.com/2013/04/a-new-zealand-journey-part-2.html

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