Weather and Landscape
Looking out over the horizon of Ongava Reserve, one can see the green and yellow colours of the white syringa (Kirkia acuminata). This is an indication that summer is passing, slowly giving way to autumn. With the sun setting a little earlier than in the height of summer, guests are leaving a little earlier for their afternoon drives. And the good news for guests is that they can wake up a little later in the mornings.
With winter closing in, we are experiencing cooler mornings, making the morning drives very pleasant (and productive because the antelope are more active as they prefer cooler temperatures). The days are lovely and warm, with temperatures dropping in the evenings, which means it's easy to sleep and there are fewer insects.
With no major rainfall this month, the terrain is generally arid, and we have been fortunate to spot large numbers of game at the waterholes. Most of our drives have been very enjoyable with regular sightings of antelope, lion, jackal and spotted hyaena. Guests were greeted one morning by a pair of klipspringer at Room #1. The inquisitive antelope froze for a few minutes, posing elegantly, before loping off the rocks.
The waterhole in front of camp has been very full of activity this month. In the early mornings the antelope come to drink water. At one point we observed seven different species of antelope drinking and grazing around the waterhole at the same time. They were waterbuck, kudus, red hartebeest, zebra, oryx, impala and springbok. It seemed like they were all guarding one another - understanding innately the concept of there being safety in numbers. In the late afternoons it's the turn of giraffe to annex the waterhole. They are extremely skittish because they are so vulnerable when they drink, and sometimes they run off before they've actually had a chance to drink.
Then, after a few hours of motionlessness, the lion come out to play. They first drink water and then settle around the waterhole. On one evening the guests were relaxing at the lapa when they witnessed a large black rhino chase a group of approximately nine sub-adult lion. It looked like they were playing hide and seek. Although the lion clearly didn't enjoy the game - they soon decided to run away.
A few weeks ago we were seeing cheetah on most afternoon drives on the reserve. Cheetah sightings have been even more common in the Etosha National Park, with guests getting great, up-close pictures of them.
Guests were also pleasantly surprised on a night drive with some unusual nocturnal animals - hyaena, chameleon and even an albino scrub hare.
This month has proved to be a good one for bird watchers - we've spotted Dusky Sunbirds; Pearl-spotted Owlets viciously circling and snatching rodents and reptiles to feed on; Lilac-breasted Rollers perching on treetops; Francolins and Short-toed Rock-Thrushes. One of the most unusual sightings we had this month was a pair of Red-headed Finches occupying and laying their eggs in the nest of a Southern Masked-Weaver. They didn't seem to mind that they were surrounded by other weaver nests.
One of the best sightings we had was a Secretary Bird perching on the top of a small tree in Etosha. These birds are usually in pairs, hunting on savannah, farmland and open woodland.
We had some guests who were very keen on the Namibia, its people and cuisines. They asked us to make them a local dish for lunch - so after much hesitation, Kapona, one of our guides, decided we should cook traditional mopane worms. When presented with the plate of pan-fried worms and a spicy salsa sauce, the guests wasted no time in tucking in. They thoroughly enjoyed it, much to the amusement of the staff, and commented on the leafy taste. This was one of the best cultural interactions we've had with guests.
"Simply the best service from a camp that we have ever experienced, and we have been lucky enough to stay in many of the world's top hotels. The staff were utterly compassionate, incredibly attentive and went to enormous lengths to ensure that we had the perfect stay and were looking after us at all times - to the camp manager in particular many thanks."
"After many years of world-wide travel - this comes close to perfection. Faultless, charming, courteous and comfortable. All staff deserve the utmost praise. Everything was beyond expectation."
Camp Manager: Florensia Mutrifa
Relief Camp Manger: Michael Kaeding
Camp Guide: Gabriel Haufiku
Camp Relief Guide: Michael Haidongo