Namibia Part 5: Etosha At Last
From Twyfelfontein, we drove another 300kms North-ish for our biggest adventure; 3 nights in Andersson’s Camp, 8km from the Etosha gates.
We stopped on the way to visit the Petrified Forest on our way up. The ‘Forest’ is basically a bunch of logs that were washed down an ancient river 200 million years ago, and have been fossilised while buried in the sand.
DH and I found it all fascinating as you can see the rings, bark and knots of these ancient trees, but it was very hot and the kids were decidedly underwhelmed. They were just pleased when we got in the car and headed off again.
After about 100km, we left the gravel road and drove on a sealed road for the first time in days. How quiet the car seemed. The approach to Etosha National Park was long, straight and a little boring, so we amused ourselves by spotting as many different road signs as possible.
The gates to Andersson’s are very close to Etosha, but down an 8 km gravel drive. It’s on a private game reserve and so has it’s own water hole. When we arrived we saw zebra, springbok, waterbuck , warthogs and blue wildebeast drinking there together. The kids were hugely excited and couldn’t keep quiet, but the animals weren’t hugely disturbed.
Andersson’s is run as a family camp and welcome kids of any age, unlike many camps which have a ‘No Children Under 12 ‘policy. The staff loved the kids and their behaviour didn’t bother them. Sometimes the place sounded like a kids’ party. Safaris are tough on kids as they have to sit in a slowly moving car for hours and hours; ours enjoyed the viewing part but they found the seeking part rather tedious and just wanted to run around madly at the end of the day.
While in Etosha, you can’t get out of the car unless you are in one of the camps or enter a picnic/ toilet area. We stopped at one of these long drop toilets exactly once and the kids were so traumatised by them that we stuck to the camp toilets for the rest of our visit. These were not the ‘cleaned every day’ kind of long drops!
The cabins are permanent canvas structures with corrugated-iron bath rooms and a tin bath as a shower tray. It’s not quite camping but as close as I like to get.
The cabins are supposed to sleep two people but DD1 was adamant that she wasn’t going to sleep without an adult in the room. I could kind of see her point, as the cabins were right next to the reserve with only a small verandah separating them and we’d been given a big talk on how to sound the alarm if an animal got into the camp. In the end we squeezed another mattress into each room, which was pretty cozy but at least everyone slept well!
The camp also had a large communal area with sofas and tables over looking the waterhole. We ate our food there, there was a bar and a small swimming pool which the kids went in once, but proclaimed ‘too buggy’. There was plenty of room for them to play, with logs and cushions for them to climb on.
We did have an issue when one of the other guests asked us to ‘contain’ our children one afternoon; they had been rather running amok but quite quietly for them! We asked the kids to stay away from the lady but I suspect she really wanted us to remove them from the common area completely. The staff reiterated that this woman had no right to speak to us about the kids and had been rude to most of them about various things too. It seems she hadn’t realised there would be children at the camp, which must have been a shock, but wasn’t our problem.
We got up early ( 5:30am) the days we were going into Etosha. Breakfast was at 6am and we were out the gates at 6:30.
We got to see the sunrise over the waterhole, and although the early morning is supposed to be the best time to see animals, both days we saw more animals from 11am onwards. The second day we got to the ‘good’ water holes by 8am and they were deserted.
We drove ourselves around the park and heaps of animals during our days on Safari. I took many, many, MANY photos. It’s really hard to resist pushing the shutter button when you spot something because you don’t know if that’s the last time you will see this animal, or whether there is a large group of them just around the corner.
It was a fantastic experience, and we wished we had an extra day to hire a guide who might be able to point out stuff we hadn’t spotted ourselves.
We were really sad to leave Andersson’s camp, and hope to return again someday and catch sight of a leopard and rhino, as both animals managed to elude us this time around.