Hyenas Make Me Laugh

by | Jan 16, 2013 | Instagram, Namibia | 24 comments

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.

giraffes drinking

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 drinking

Zebras are funny too.

giraffe landscape

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.

giraffe trio

More funny black and white giraffes.

giraffe crossing

Funny giraffe through the back windshield.

giraffe rearview

Funny giraffe in the rear view mirror.

giraffe instagram

Funny, tiny giraffe (Instagrammed).

chameleon green

Chameleons are funny too.

chameleon brown

Chameleons really do change color, although these are two different chameleons. Look at those chameleon feet and the curly tail. So funny!

lone elephant

This shot isn’t that funny but no safari post is complete without an elephant.

lilac-breasted roller

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.

waterhole waiting

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.

namibia collage

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.

hyneas by road

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.

hyena crossing1

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.

hyena crossing2

If there were a cartoon bubble coming out of this hyena’s mouth, it would say, “What are you looking at, bitches?”

hyena crossing3

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.)

moth on plate

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.


  1. elisabettabottiroli

    Wooow these amazing pics make me soo nostalgic!! I loved South Africa so much!

  2. catherine

    sounds like you really had a wonderful time in Namibia! as always you’ve made me feel like going back to Africa…and hyenas are really fascinating animals!the more you read about them, the more interesting they are.
    Do you have a good book for safaris?an easy to use and informative one is Game Ranger in your Backpack by Megan Emmett and Shawn Patrick, published by Briza.

    • 2summers

      Thanks Catherine, I will check those out before my next safari. I need to start getting better prepared 🙂

  3. eremophila

    Loved the pic of the three giraffes!! As to your experience, it reminds me of a time a friend and I went horseriding in Spain – it was hilarious also! So I get where you’re coming from 🙂

    • 2summers

      Sometimes the most challenging travel experiences are also the most humorous.

  4. Sandra

    Have been following your blog since I lived in Joburg in 2011. NIce to read u visited Nam, have relocated here a year ago. Can’t agree more on the apathy of Namibian staff though… Working in a hotel, my own personal challenge every day…

    • 2summers

      Cool, thanks for following and commenting! Where in Namibia are you based?

  5. chuckv88

    Because I like ‘funny’, this is one of my favourite posts from you to date.

    • 2summers

      Thanks very much! I’m glad you found it funny. I wasn’t sure if it would seem funny to someone who wasn’t there.

  6. Jeroen

    You should come back in winter, this is what that same waterhole looks like in August 🙂
    NWR is indeed pretty shitty and pricey – that’s why we camped and brought all our own food. The chalets did look quite nice though.
    Oh, I love hyenas too, not ugly at all, quite fluffy. And impressive jaws, once heard one bite a little impala, crack crack crack.

    • 2summers

      Wow, is that Okaukeujo? I can barely recognize it!

      • Jeroen

        Yup – same tree as in your picture, I believe.

    • 2summers

      Oh, and yes, the chalets were pretty decent. Although our double room at Okaukuejo was a bit cramped for two people, and one of the AC units in our Halali chalet was broken (leaking water everywhere) and the workmen couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Besides that though, we enjoyed both places. The rooms were comfortable and recently renovated.

  7. lisa@notesfromafrica

    I think you got some beautiful shots. It looks like Etosha in summer, is like the Kalahari – you have to have a strategy to get to see any animals. Don’t know if you ever saw my post re: Kalahari safari tips (http://wp.me/pYuZP-1bl)? We’ve been lucky in getting some good shots, but also need to get a proper zoom lens for our wildlife adventures.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a post of yours where you expressed your dislike of something so clearly! 🙂 Like Jeroen, we plan to camp and take our own food.

    • 2summers

      I love your Kalahari posts! Will reread this one now.

      Yes, I must say that I was pretty amazed by the bad service at Etosha. I’ve been so lucky with all the other African safari trips I’ve taken so I guess I wasn’t expecting it. And especially when paying such a hefty price. I definitely think camping is the way to go if you’re staying inside Etosha. Although I must say, I also felt bad for people who were camping when we were there, with all the bugs and the torrential rains. Better to camp in winter when it’s dry 🙂

      • lisa@notesfromafrica

        Don’t remind of all the “pleasures” of camping! We camped when our family went to Namibia the first time, and I ended up sharing my sleeping bag with a scorpion.

        • 2summers

          Hahaha. Yeah, I love idea of camping but actually doing it is another thing entirely 🙂

  8. Megan

    Your photos are so flippen great! I want to visit Namibia one day

  9. Megan

    PS: I lloooovveee hyenas! They are sooo beautiful

    • 2summers

      Haha. I’m glad you agree. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Tenney

    Loved the giraffe in the rear view mirror and the waterhole collage

  11. gundi ella

    I really like your post about Etosha! Yes it was awesome at the waterholes, won’t forget that soon, too. All this animals…unbelivable 😉
    I uploaded my pics as well, sorry the text is in german and very long, but I tried to wrote down everything I learned from Gabriel. Here’s the link:

    Cheers!! =)

    • 2summers

      Thanks Ella, I’m glad you liked the post. Great pics!


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