Ongava Lodge - July 2011

Aug 1, 2011 Ongava Lodge
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Weather and Landscape
During the month the weather warmed up a little as a result of the prevailing easterly wind. Temperatures have been ranging between 18° C in the early morning to 31° C at midday and cooling down in the evenings, bringing the daily average to 24° C.

July and August are the pinnacle months for the dry season and the vegetation has started to thin out dramatically making game viewing much easier. The animals are concentrating around the winter waterholes in huge mixed aggregations, all with the same goal in mind - to quench their thirst. The waterholes in front of camp have been particularly productive, with constant activity throughout the whole day and night.

Game viewing has been spectacular in both Ongava and Etosha, highlighting how well the wildlife has adapted to the harsh environmental conditions. The best game viewing was done at the winter waterholes, which provided activity all the time. Huge herds of eland, oryx, kudu and black-faced impala collect at the waterhole.

The Ongava lion pride has developed an interesting tactic to aid in their hunting strategy - we have found them a number of times on top of the Ongalangombe Waterhole hide, using the elevated position as a lookout point, scanning the surrounds for any thirst driven prey. It is still a work in progress as they have not made a kill in the vicinity of the waterhole, but we are sure they will hone this skill and take full advantage of it.

The waterholes in front of camp have been great, allowing our guests the luxury of viewing the myriad wildlife from the comfort of their rooms. What has really been fantastic at the waterholes is the rhino activity. Both black and white rhino have made it a daily routine to come for a drink in the evenings, allowing us some great close up views of the fantastic animals. The two species often drink at the same time, which is an excellent way to highlight the physical differences of black and white rhino to the guests.

In the middle of the month, two Etosha elephant bulls decided to visit Ongava and spent a couple of days enjoying the mopane stands. We have only seen them a handful of times, but their presence is clear by their tracks and feeding signs. The adjoining image is of one of the visiting bulls.

Birds and Birding
Birding has taken on another form at Ongava during July. Huge flocks of Red-billed Quelea have arrived, swarming the waterholes and grassy plains in search for seeds and grain. Red-billed Quelea have been described as the most abundant bird species in the world, forming enormous flocks that can darken the sky. It was a real treat to watch them arrive at the waterholes in front of camp and drink. They resemble a school of fish and move as one huge ball of activity. On one occasion, a Shikra darted into the middle of the flock, causing a frantic explosion of Quelea in all directions. The Shikra cashed in and won a hearty meal before flying into the canopy of a nearby tree and starting to feed. Some of Namibia's near endemics have been seen close to Camp, such as Hartlaub's Spurfowl, Ruppell's Korhaan and Ruppell's Parrot.

Camp News
This month, the lodge was visited by John, a chef trainer who spent some time spreading his knowledge amongst the kitchen staff. We have changed our menu, which has received great feedback from the guests and left the kitchen staff energised and excited.

Staff in Camp
Managers: Agnes, George and Jason.
Guides: Kapona, Willem, Michael and Abraham.

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