Element of surprise

Issue 4 (May 2009)

I’d just spent three chilly hours on a night game drive in Namibia’s Etosha National Park and seen very little bar a couple of dik-diks and some springbok.


We all know that good wildlife sightings are never guaranteed on safari, but it was hard not to feel a little disappointed as I walked back to my chalet at Okaukuejo. My visit was a short one and there was no chance to go out again the following evening. As I put my key in the door, I turned round to take one last look at the camp’s floodlit waterhole, a few metres away. There, quietly quenching their thirst, were no fewer than seven rhinos. I watched them for an hour, ripples from the water reflecting on their armour-like hides. It was quite magical and my disappointment soon turned to elation. In this edition we showcase photographer Steve Bloom (Portfolio, p8). He managed to capture a very similar scene when he visited Etosha. It’s one of those photographs that I never tire of looking at.

Many of my favourite moments in Namibia have been surprises – from running down a Namib dune and hearing it ‘roar’ under my feet to being captivated by the luminosity of the women’s skin the first time I visited a Himba village. These are all things that guidebooks don’t prepare you for.

For many, Namibia’s biggest surprise is Caprivi. It’s an improbably narrow strip of land that juts out of the country’s northeast tip like a crooked finger, a green finger. In a country renowned for its arid landscapes, Caprivi is shockingly green. In this edition Stephen Cunliffe explores the strip’s four national parks (Wet and Wild, p28). The parks are overlooked by many tourists, but are now tipped to become one of the next ‘hot’ destinations for adventurous travellers.

I am, I confess, a closet twitcher.  I’m not alone – a recent RSPB survey found that half of us feed birds in our garden. As Martin Benadie writes, Namibia’s birds are particularly captivating. He recently set himself a challenge to see how many different species he could spot on a fortnight’s holiday. Turn to p 44 to find out how he got on.

Finally, don’t wait too long before visiting Kolmanskop. As Steven and Ann Toon explain (Castles in the Sand, p36), the abandoned diamond mining town will, one day soon, yield to the encroaching desert.

Happy travels,

Mary Askew (Editor)

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