Location: Little Ongava, Ongava Game Reserve, Namibia
Date: June 2010
Observers: Ilana Stein and Mary-Anne van der Byl
Going on safari usually involves game drives and walks away from the camp, generally returning to camp for delicious food and comfortable beds. However, spend a day at camp, and sometimes the wildlife comes to you!
On a trip to Namibia, we spent a whole day in our luxurious, spacious unit at Little Ongava. This camp is built on a rocky hilltop with panoramic views across the mopane woodland, but even without the help of binoculars, one can sit on one's deck and some of the local inhabitants are sure to drop by.
The infinity pool is a major drawcard for birds who seem to see it as their personal - if somewhat large - birdbath. Red-eyed bulbuls (a southern African endemic) were the most common, in both senses of the word; they were the loudest and took up the best spot - centre stage really - every time. Masked weavers, glossy starlings and the occasional Monteiro's hornbill managed to find place too, splashing about with verve and vigour.
Unexpectedly, a very different sort of bird arrived: a little banded goshawk landed on the pool's edge, sending the avian crowd scattering. He proceeded to give himself a thorough washing for a good few minutes; it was a tremendous privilege to be able to watch this from only a few feet away.
Other inhabitants of the area however, prefer to stay dry. The Kaokoveld dassie, a near endemic rock hyrax, is to be found all over this area, and it seems their favourite spot for a morning snooze is on the boardwalk between the unit and the sala. In the afternoon however, they seek the shade of the sala itself and were most unimpressed when we attempted to join them. The striped squirrels (another Namibian endemic, confined to the north-western regions) joined in the fun, leaping between the branches of nearby trees and the wooden deck, loudly chittering their approval of the accommodation it seemed.
A grand finale before we left the comfort of the deckchairs for a game drive was the sinuous snakelike movements of a slender mongoose which wound its way through and over the rocks near us, his golden tail the last thing to disappear into a cleft in the rocks.