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Where the Wild Things Are 

After we recovered from an evening at the cheetah park bar (Tina had set us up with tabs, this was a bad thing for most involved), we drove to Etasha national park. For the next three days are lives revolved around seeing wildlife. If we weren't eating or sleeping, we were driving around looking for game, or sitting at a watering hole waiting for game.

A wildebeest checking out our truck.

The landscape is just like you see in the discovery channel specials, wide open expanses of grasslands. It is the dry season, so the vegetation is quite sparse, making it easy to spot the animals. There sure must be a lot of grass in the wet season to support the number of big mammals we saw.

An onyx.

In short order, we had seen some of the more common animals: zebras, giraffes, onyxes, jackals, and springboks. It was great fun, Neil and I were heavily armed optically. I had the equivalent of a 400mm lens and Neil was out to 300mm. We would drive around, scanning the landscape in all directions, ready to buzz the driver when we saw anything good and wanted to stop. After a time, you learned how to differentiate the different animals at long distance from a bumpy

Two Kudus, my favorite antelope because of their curly horns.

The park is like a reverse zoo, after sundown, all the humans have to return to their fenced in campsite "cage". The campsites all have a lighted watering hole on their perimeters. It seems a bit contrived, sitting on park benches watching animals under the incandescent glow of streetlights, but it is better than a zoo. The animals come and go as they please, there is no schedule and there are certainly no guarantees about what you'll see.

A springbok, or less affectionately JAFS.

The jackals kept on the springbok for about a half-an-hour. Then very suddenly, we heard a muffled roar and saw a shadow flash near the springbok. It was over before it started. In place of the springbok was now a snacking juvenile lion. Awesome! Not many people get to see the drama of a lion kill unfold from start to finish. We camped out on the park benches that night, but we had no hope of topping what we'd already witnessed. It was still a memorable night, waking up periodically on the uncomfortable bench, opening your eyes to the sight of elephants, giraffe and rhino drinking. Not your typical nights sleep, magical. In the morning, we got a good look at the lion as it crossed the watering hole on its way out. The annoyed jackals could finally get to "their" springbok. There is no fair play here, the weak die, the strong kill, the others wait for scraps.

Two warthogs zipping around the land.

We packed up camp and took a game drive across the park. We stopped at another campsite for lunch, spending our free time at the watering hole in the baking sun. Almost nothing was about, too hot that time of day. We did get to see a warthog come zipping in for a drink. There was a zebra also drinking, both were skittish, neither could figure out who was suppose to be scared of who. The watering hole at our new campsite was a bit disappointing. Almost nothing showed up during the hours after sundown. I was the only die-hard to spend the night out at the hole. It was as comfortable spot to sleep as any, so I figured what the heck. I was treated to absolutely nothing, not even any JAFS (just another fricking springbok).

Lioness with an onyx looking on with interest.

On our last day in the park, we took a long game drive out of the park. We spotted several lions lounging out in the grass. It was great to see them in the daylight, hopefully the photos of them will turn out. We also saw a few warthogs waddling about. It was a good ending to a great three day safari.

Sunset at the watering hole.

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