On my recent visit to Etosha National Park, I learned that you can’t just rock up to a game park, drive around, and expect to take fabulous wildlife photos. Good wildlife photography is a lot of work and requires equipment that I don’t have, like binoculars and a telephoto lens. It’s also difficult to take good wildlife photos while simultaneously driving a car.
So instead of taking “good” wildlife photos in Etosha, I took quirky, comical wildlife photos.
This shot of a mother and baby wildebeest pair is not necessarily good. But it’s funny. At least I think so.
Giraffes are very funny and they tend to be easy to photograph. So I have a lot of them.
Have you ever seen a giraffe drinking? It’s funny! The light was weird in this shot so I made it black and white.
Zebras are funny too.
This picture isn’t funny but I like it. I took this shot and the two previous ones at the Okaukuejo waterhole, where Michelle and I stayed our first night in Etosha. This was the only waterhole in the park where we actually saw animals.
More funny black and white giraffes.
Funny giraffe through the back windshield.
Funny giraffe in the rear view mirror.
Funny, tiny giraffe (Instagrammed).
Chameleons are funny too.
Chameleons really do change color, although these are two different chameleons. Look at those chameleon feet and the curly tail. So funny!
This shot isn’t that funny but no safari post is complete without an elephant.
This lilac-breasted roller is more cute than funny.
Another funny thing about our visit to Etosha was how much time we spent sitting around at waterholes, not seeing animals. As I mentioned in my previous post, animals don’t have to visit waterholes during the rainy season because there is water everywhere. It took us a while to really figure this out.
Michelle and I would drive to a waterhole expecting “streams of animals”, as described in my Bradt Travel Guide. But with the exception of the aforementioned Okaukeujo, the most we ever saw at a waterhole was a pair of springbok. The “streams of animals” thing became a running joke.
A couple waits patiently for “streams of animals” at the Halali waterhole.
One afternoon, we drove to check out a specific waterhole on the advice of a staff member at the Halali Rest Camp. We had already adjusted our waterhole expectations by that time but decided to give it a shot anyway.
We spent about an hour at the waterhole and saw some ducks. Eventually we resorted to playing on my iPad. And laughing a lot.
The result of our waterhole boredom : a collage of Namibian awesomeness.
I have left the the hyena pics for last. We had several great hyena sightings in Etosha. I used to think hyenas were ugly and gross but now I love them.
Why bother finding a waterhole when you can sit in a puddle by the side of the road?
[Hyena side note: After seeing this pair, Michelle and I had a debate about whether hyenas are cats or dogs. I argued that they are cats; Michelle believed they are dogs. The next day we asked Gabriel, our Halali safari guide, and he said hyenas are more closely related to dogs than cats. But according to Wikipedia they are somewhere in between. Read more.]
On our last day in Etosha we drove from the Halali Rest Camp to Namutoni, where we exited the park on our way to the Waterberg. We had our best animal sightings around Namutoni, including three lionesses striding across the plain with a cub in tow. I didn’t get any good shots of the lions as they were a bit too far away.
But once again, the hyenas came through.
Shortly after passing the lions, we saw this hyena trotting next to the road. We drove along next to him for a minute or so. I was driving and shooting at the same time.
The hyena stopped. We stopped too. He approached the car and regarded us.
If there were a cartoon bubble coming out of this hyena’s mouth, it would say, “What are you looking at, bitches?”
Off he goes. I was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady and I forgot to zoom in.
The last funny thing I want to tell you about is the the Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) rest camps where we stayed in Etosha. The NWR service is poor — so poor, in fact, that Michelle and I found it funny. Apathy bordering on rudeness seems to be a required trait for NWR staff members. The only nice person we dealt with was Gabriel, who was friendly and a very good safari guide.
The food was also overpriced: N$170 (about $20) for an unappetizing buffet served by listless staff in a dilapidated dining hall. During our last dinner in Etosha, huddled under a leaky roof during a torrential rainstorm, swatting aggressive giant brown moths as we picked at grayish meat described by the “chef” as “beef-beef!”, Michelle collapsed into hysterics. It was too funny for words. We loved it. (Really.)
Half-empty dinner plate. Even the moth doesn’t want my leftover “beef-beef!”.
My final verdict: Etosha is awesome but I would recommend staying in one of the private reserves outside the park. Staying in the NWR camps requires a bit too much of a sense of humor.
No matter where you stay in or around Etosha, you’re bound to find some animals to make you laugh.