Day 1: Etosha National Park

A herd of elephants stand along the edge of the Okaukuejo Waterhole in the Okaukuejo Camp in Etosha National Park. The Etosha elephants are regarded as tallest in Africa.

Left Swakopmund around 8:00 AM, headed east and turned north at Karibib and headed towards Omaruru to save time. Part of journey was on a gravel road that was surrounded with farms. On the side the roads, bamboons and wild hogs were spotted. Too fast to photograph.

Cut through the towns of Otjiwarongo and Outjo on a paved B1 highway. Not much to see on road here except a few game farms for hunters.

Arrived at Etosha at 2:30 in afternoon after a four plus hour drive from Swakopmund. Had to fill out a bunch of paperwork, pay park fees and read rules. Checked in to the Okaukuejo Camp and went to room, but stopped waterhole first.

Looking forward to photograph some real wildlife, we checked into Etosha National Park. Paid vehicle and persons fee, checked into lodge and got bush chalet assignment. Drove around looking for chalet, parked and found room.

Walked 50 feet and there was 32 elephants, who drank and bathed in the waters of the Okaukuejo waterhole. All that driving and disappointments came to pass instantly. Zebra’s and antelope also cooled off in hot afternoon sun as temperatures reached 36 celsius (96 degrees fahrenheit).

Ran into returning visitors who shared tips on where to see leopards and lions. Drove out to one waterhole called Odondeka. A pride of lions were seen there earlier in the day. Drove there and waited, saw one sleeping.

Along the way, we saw plenty of antelope and zebras to photograph. Back to waterhole for sunset. Had dinner and went to bed. Came out to see what I was missing and saw some black rhinos at waterhole. Got cameras and tripod, but it was too dark to photograph with flash extender. Earlier in the evening some giraffes jumped when I used a flash.

In the middle of the night I awoke to hear lions roaring. I went outside to look around. Instead I heard and then saw a spotted hyena with a few pups visiting the waterhole. I don’t sleep well on the road, now the adrenaline was flowing. I could not wait for the sunrise.

Etosha National Park

Waterholes visited on day one in Etosha National Park.

Photos taken Sept. 29, 2012 using a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Digital SLR with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens, a Sigma Telephoto 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO HSM Autofocus Lens for Canon EOS with/without a 1.4x DG EX APO Teleconverter.