Reader Alistair Buchanan shares the adventure of exploring Etosha and its wealth of wildlife. Isn’t it great to know that you can do this exciting trip with a Sprite Swing?
After months of preparation, we left Edenvale and headed west to Hartebeespoort Dam, Swartruggens and Zeerust, and on to the Pioneer Gate border post. I had had trepidations about the formalities of crossing the border, but we got through without a hitch. In fact, the border officials were very friendly and helpful, which made the experience a pleasure.
Once in Botswana, it was a short trip to Labotse and the Cumberland Hotel, where we spent our rst night. My wife Beryl and I, with our Sprite Swing, arrived before the rest of our group and had the chance to enjoy ice-cold drinks under the thatched lapa alongside the pool while we waited for our travelling companions: Dirk and Carol Visser, who had been to Etosha before and were towing a B’rakhah Ingonyama off-road caravan, and newcomers to camping Eric and Olwyn Frost, who were tent camping.
We were up early the next morning and were on the road to the Namibian border at about 06:00. It was an uneventful trip – apart from a speeding ticket for both vehicles! Fortunately the penalty was reduced to a single fine, which we shared. Once again the border officials greeted us with smiles and gave us a pleasant experience. Now we were in Namibia and en route to Gobabis and the Big 5 Central Hotel, where my wife and I camped in the caravan park while the others stayed in the hotel.
Another early start was called for, and we were on the road again at 06:00, covering the last part of the journey to Etosha. We stopped at Otjiwarongo to shop for all the goods we’d need while in Etosha: the girls to the Spar for the meat and veggies, the guys to the bottle store for the more important items.
Finally we arrived at the Anderson Gate. Formalities over, we drove through, and the last 17 km to Okaukuejo Camp went without a hitch. Booking in had its problems, but once they were sorted, we settled in to our sites, against the fence and within walking distance of the waterhole. Even though it was just white sand and stone, the site was good as we were off the main section and so had very little traffic, which meant it was relatively dust-free.
After dinner of ‘sole in a shrimp sauce à la Carol’ we all took a stroll to the waterhole, where elephant, rhino, giraffe and various buck were drinking. However, that was nothing compared with the spectacular sight we were treated to the following morning. An estimated 2000 animals were at the waterhole, and we counted ten different species: elephant, zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, wildebeest, impala, black-backed jackal, rhino, kudu and springbok, along with plenty of birdlife. If I had to pick one, single highlight of the trip, I would say that was it.
The next three days followed a similar pattern: up for coffee, out into the bush, and then back for brunch and some relaxation (including the campsite pool). Then, in the afternoon, we’d all go back out again.
When our time in Okaukuejo was over, we headed for Namutoni Camp, on the eastern edge of Etosha. We found this the best camp by far, as it has grass and is well cared for by its staff, whereas the other camps are very dusty and stony. We’d initially booked only for two nights in Namutoni, but we liked it so much we arranged to stay an extra night. Carol, Dirk, Olwyn and Eric spotted a giraffe that had been killed by lion near the Kalkheuwel waterhole. The following day it was the turn of the black-backed jackal to have a go at the remains, while, sitting high in the few trees, the vultures awaited their turn. We took a short trip on the ‘Dik-Dik Drive’ just past Klein Namutoni and were thrilled to spot three Damara dik-dik, which are small, very shy and skittish buck.
Beryl and I took the direct route to our last camp at Halali, while the others went the long way round, as they had a 4x4 vehicle and caravan. Settled in for the next three nights, we found this campsite to be the dustiest, although on the plus side it had the newest ablutions. Halali has a wonderful waterhole, within easy walking distance from camp. Leopard are common in the area – although we didn’t see any – as are elephant, rhino, and buck. Honey badgers run around the camp in the evenings, and while they are cute to look at, you do need to be careful when they are around.
Day 11 in the park saw us make an early start back down to Okaukuejo, and from there we took the tar road to Anderson Gate and off to Walvis Bay for the next three nights.
In our ten days in the Etosha Pan, we’d seen plenty, taken many photographs and stayed at three camps, each with its high and low points: Okaukuejo Camp and its magnificent waterhole, Namutoni and its grass sites and animal sightings and, in the centre, Halali Camp with its new ablutions. We had travelled almost 6000 km, with an average fuel consumption of 13.14 l/100 km. Vehicles and caravans had managed without any problems, other than broken microwave mountings, a few broken wine glasses, some screws coming loose in our Swing and plenty of dust.
Would we do this trip again? The answer is a very definite yes, although our next trip will be to a new place with a stronger caravan. This is not to say you cannot do this trip with a conventional caravan, but we have chosen to go the Nomad route. If you are contemplating a trip, stop contemplating and go!
(This article was published in the Dec/Jan 2010/11 issue of Caravan & Outdoor Life)