A day of birds

I woke up warm and happy for the first time in Etosha! I had a failed negotiation with Viking Explorer the night before. I thought, being the kind, caring man that he is, he would be only too happy to relinquish his Norwegian sleeping bag and take my North Face sleeping bag. I wanted to understand whether it was the sleeping bag or me that was the problem. The negotiation was very short. “No” was the answer.

I remembered that the kind car hire people had supplied a very light weight sleeping bag when my bag was missing (there is NO WAY that sleeping bag was sufficient for winter camping!). On other trips, I have been known to camp wrapped in 2 sleeping bags, and realised that this was the next option available to me. So, I donned my thermals, wrapped myself in my fleece blanket, climbed into my winter sleeping bag, and then everything went into the summer sleeping bag. With beanie on my head, and the cowl of the winter sleeping bag drawn tightly over my head … I slept warm and comfy the whole night!

Success. Finally. Thank goodness.

Our day on the road was a very successful day on the birding front. We stopped more often and took the time to identify the smaller birds that we had been ignoring. The waterholes we visited had more water and many water birds on the edges and swimming in the reeds. The vegetation changed and the new habitats brought us even more new species. Even as amateurs, we managed to add 20 new birds to our list of 30. A rewarding day.

Animals were less numerous, but still very active at the waterholes. We watched beautiful herds of kudu – the males magnificent with their twisted horns. Zebra were our constant companions. Black faced impala – unique to this eastern part of the park – started becoming more frequent. Springbok were ever present – even unconcerned by a small jackal curled up sleeping.  We discovered that red hartebees have also learned that the freshest water comes straight from the supply pipe. Again, we were fortunate to see elephant – a lone bull having a quick drink.

We stopped for a snack and leg stretch at one of the rest stops. Here, a french couple were obviously having car problems. Their rear passenger side tyre was completely flat. The looks on their faces were of exasperation. We watched as numerous others cars stopped and all but ignored them. As though flat tyres were contagious. During our big trip we had a rule to help where we could – it is the right thing to do – and never leave people in a situation where we could help. Viking Explorer soon joined them on the ground trying to re-inflat the tyre (their car hire company DID NOT provide a compressor whereas our company had!!) and then realised that changing the wheel was necessary.  They were immensely grateful. They changed the wheel and we waved them on their way while we finished our mid morning snack.

We managed to find a campsite at Halali rest camp – successfully avoiding parking near to the overland trucks that had materialised! I was disappointed and saddened by the presence of these big vehicles in the park.

Then, we grabbed our cameras, binoculars and walked to the waterhole nearby. I love the end of the day – the heat breaks, and you can almost feel all life take a contented sigh of relief. Another glorious day in Africa.



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