Happy Campers BotsNam 2018 – Travel log Day 09 & 10
|Place||Okaukuejo Rest Camp, Etosha National Park|
|Type of lodging||Camping (resort also offers chalets)|
|Water at site||Yes|
|Wi-Fi||Yes, must buy vouchers at restaurant|
|Diesel||30.25lt / R400-00|
|Kilometres travelled||222 km|
We headed out to Okaukuejo early on the morning of day 09. We heard from campers who checked the day before that the road between Olifantsrus and Okaukuejo is dreadful so we planned on a leisurely drive through the national park, taking it easy on the gravel roads. We soon realised that the warning about the poor road conditions was not exaggerated, and you could see that hardly any maintenance is being on the western side of the park. Yet I feel like this is part of the pay-off of being in an area of the park that scarcely populated and still untainted.
We stopped for a quick breakfast-on-the-go at a picnic site that we found on the map and after that we got traveling again. We did not see a lot of animals on the road towards Okaukuejo except for the usual zebras and blue wildebeest, and the odd elephant every now and then. The landscape is beautiful though and after our many overlanding holidays, we’ve come to appreciate the scenery and the small animals just as much as the impressive and huge animals.
We arrived at Okaukuejo around mid-day and luckily we could check in earlier due to our campsite already been vacated by the previous campers. I was quite impressed with the camping ground as the stands are quite large and you’ve got proper space between your neighbor’s camp and your own. Our campsite was a short walk away from the ablutions and a quick 5-minute walk to get to the waterhole. This is however when we first saw the huge overlanding buses as well and we were quite apprehensive about standing close to these groups but more on than later. We set-up camp and then we went to find the well-known Okaukuejo waterhole.
We were thoroughly impressed and entertained by the waterhole at this rest camp. There is a steady stream of animals throughout the day and night and you can easily spend your whole day there, sitting in the shade and reading a book. It’s so peaceful and quiet on the benches that is spaced out around the perimeter wall. Late afternoon its gets pretty busy as a lot of the camp inhabitants come down for a sun downer and to get the perfect golden hour pictures but it starts calming down as soon as the sun sets. During the night the waterhole is floodlit so you can still see what’s happening down there. I’ll post some of the waterhole pics at the end of the post so you can see how gorgeous it is.
We stuck to our normal cooking routines, having big filling breakfasts in the morning with a very light lunch and early dinner. My favourite from these couple of days were the delicious roosterkoek burgers that my other half made for us. It was yummy to say the least and we enjoyed the feast watching the sun go down and laughing at the little squirrels that shared our camp site with us. By 18:00 it was time for us to prepare for our night drive that we had booked upon arrival at Okaukuejo. It was really cold that night so we made sure to take our warm jackets and beanies as well as a couple of leg blankets.
The night drive was exhilarating to say the least, we always enjoy seeing the game parks at night as darkness brings a complete different feel to the veld. We saw plenty of jackals going about their night time routines as well as elephants and even a black rhino family at a waterhole. Our guide was super knowledgeable about the area which makes a huge difference and we really learnt a lot about the Etosha ecosystem and how every little insect, plant and animal play their part. The drives from Okaukuejo is highly recommended if you’re keen on learning more about the area.
Our second day in the Okaukuejo region was spent doing self-drives and driving to out to see the Etosha pan, which at 4800km2 spans about one quarter of the entire national park. It’s the largest salt pan in Africa and can actually be seen from space. There’s hardly any vegetation on the pan so you don’t really see animals on there but the salt deposits form a type of a salty clay which the animals use as salt licks. So magnificent to see the pan in real life, and it was then that we realised that this trip was truly one filled with many first experiences. We also saw our first and only lion during our self-drive from Okaukuejo.
Even though we had an amazing time at this camp, this was where we first made acquaintance with Boet&Bro, a group of Cape Townians hell bent on making as much noise as possible during their stay in Etosha. Again, you would think the large overlanding busses and their groups would be noisy but the truth is that they were so quiet that you didn’t even hear them get up in the mornings. Boet&Bro made sure that everyone knows that they’re awake and cracking their first beers at dawn. Little did we know that they were also on their way to our next camp so the torture wasn’t over yet….