In Etosha We Slosha In Galosha

Posted in Travel

In Etosha We Slosha In Galosha

A distant rumble, a short, sharp whip cracks, the skies light up while the heavens become darker, heavier. The smell of rain rolls over the dry, cracked earth. Every animal becomes aware and focuses on the storm as it gathers momentum. Stifling heat cools down. We’ve arrived in Etosha. That place where millions of years ago a huge lake dried up. One of the oldest National Parks it must surely be. It will always be on everyone’s bucket list.

With staggering vital statistics 114 mammal species, 380 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibians and one fish species. Here size counts, it’s a matter of survival. Grazing and water is limited so wildlife spreads out to minimize their burden on the environment. But here we saw the herds, large in size especially after the rains when the grasses and trees sprouted new leaves. Spring had arrived!

We saw a stripe of Zebra with their heads down braving the elements when the heavens opened and the rains came pouring down. On a day we drove north to see a parade of Elephants; bulls, bachelors, mothers with calves splashing and cooling down in the cool fresh waters. For hours we sat just marvelling at these huge beasts gently teaching their young how to bathe.

Etosha is the home of the majestic Gemsbok, Namibia’s national animal. We saw them on the Pans and on the horizon at sunset. A beautiful Leopard sat waiting for us one evening after we’d seen a pair of lions and three Cheetah feasting on a kill. We saw beautiful bat-eared fox and a dashing Honey Badger, too quick to photograph.

Namibia Wildlife Resorts manage the rest camps. Of the three main camps we stayed in Halali. Our two bedroom bungalow was comfortable, here the very friendly housekeeper insisted on doing everything, I didn’t lift a finger while she had her eye on me. Our beds were made with clean linens every day. I felt thoroughly spoilt each time I wrapped up in a fresh, clean, white towel after my shower. But, it didn’t come without a price! I had to answer my Beloved’s cries of frustration when he couldn’t build his fire or barbeque our supper to his satisfaction. The construction of the fireplace was badly planned, the chimney was too short or too long, he couldn’t position his grill and so the lament went. He went on bended knee and grilled our supper on the brick paving.

The kitchen was really inadequate, besides the kettle we had no other means of cooking anything. Neither were there utensils besides a mismatched set of crockery and cutlery. We were horrified but realised that in this way guests are “encouraged” (read as “forced”) to take all meals in the restaurant. As a teaser breakfast is included in the accommodation fee. We tried the restaurant on one occasion at lunch time, but service was non-existent and we left in a huff after 20 minutes. As Precious said, “We can’t complain about the service because there is none”.

Everyone loves to shop and I particularly love browsing in the camp curio shops, there’s always something to take home. A gold mine one would think, especially if you’re hundreds of miles from the nearest store. Not so at Halali. Fridges and shelves were bare, a few well spaced bottles of Brandy or Whiskey and a handful of tinned goods. In the heat tourists flocked there for refreshments, you would be lucky to find one bottle of sparkling water. Such a shame. The staff were disinterested and on a few occasions we were told stock was in a storeroom and the likelihood of someone fetching the goods was nil.

It saddened us to see this lack of enthusiasm and general lethargy from staff at this once vibrant, well run camp. Tourists aren’t blind and the power of word of mouth will surely be felt in the not too distant future or is Etosha’s reputation so amazing that tourists will just put up with bad service delivery indefinitely? I can’t image they will. Management should read guest comments in the visitors’ book, pages of complaints which are seemingly ignored. There was a note written months ago on our inventory list about the missing coffee table and two patio chairs, still unattended too. When will the apathy spill over to the rest of the parks' management?

It’s a shame. Etosha will not escape criticism, it’s time to take note and take stock.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”― Mahatma Gandhi

A little book recommendation:
Alan Levine’s Serendipity Of Collective Nouns – Creatures Big & Small – The world’s largest and most comprehensive list of wildlife terms. Developed, Compiled and designed by Alan Levine. Illustrations by Bruce Backhouse.
For every book sold a percentage is donated to Penreach Literacy Programme.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
― Theodore Roosevelt