Friday, 10 March 2017

Namibia 2017 Part 7. Etosha N.P. Bring it on!

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed our visit to Grootberg, what was there not to like about it ? OK the weather both on the way there and in part whilst we stayed might not have been the best but we did experience something a bit different from the norm in that respect and in it's own way it was a bit special.
The good points are that the location is spectacular but not my favourite, the food was pretty good but not the best, the room likewise was well appointed but not as good as some we were to experience. The Rhino trekking was well ... I have explained that already. Our final bill worked out at £605 for two nights D,B&B, the trek and a £30 bar bill, in my book expensive at an average £300 per night.  We had diverted a long way to get here, changing our original journey plan to accommodate it. 
Was it worth?
Yes, I suppose it was. Would I do it again? Probably not. Been there, done that , writing the story.
But the story isn't quite over yet!
The weather had improved dramatically overnight and the rains cleared again. Rain had produced a flurry of activity. Insects suddenly appearing and with them their predator birds. 
Some new species to add to my list too!
Check out from the Lodge is by 10.00am so I was keen to get some photography in before we left. To save duplicating the walk to and from the car park more times than necessary I decided to put a few things in the X-trail on the way to breakfast.
Oh no!
A wheel jack had been laid out on the floor next to my back wheel to point out I had a flat tyre. 
Great stuff. Not.
My spirits were immediately lifted with the arrival of someone who offered to change the wheel for me. Not only that, he'd take it to his workshop and repair it too. All for 200NR or £12.50. Done deal. I left him the keys and headed off to join Claire at breakfast. 
No longer having to change a tyre I could then indulge myself whilst Claire packed our bags.
Standing on our balcony I managed to add a surprising number of photographs to my trip list.
Yellow-bellied Eremomela
Yellow-bellied Eremomela       Eremomela Icteropygialis
Cape Bunting
Cape Bunting    Emberiza Capensis
and Bokmakierie were all 'lifers " too.
Bokmakierie    Telophorus Zeylonus
The Pale-winged Starling offered a nice wing display.
Pale-winged Starling  Onychognathus Nabouroup
The Mountain Wheatear almost co-operated fully!
Mountain Wheatear     Oenanthe Monticola
The Tawny-flanked Prinia was gone in an instant.
Tawny-flanked Prinia  Prinia Subflava
But the White-fronted Canary gave a good enough view to realise that yesterday's Black-throated Canary wasn't in all probability.
With my car keys returned with an explanation that the side wall had been repaired we were ready for the off. Etosha N.P. here we come!
In the car park a quick check on the tyre and for the life of me I couldn't see any signs of a repair and I wasn't going to check the inside sidewall so to this day I'm not 100% convinced. Strange that there was someone capable of repairing a tyre in the Lodge car park which is miles from anywhere and that he was waiting at 7.00am in the morning. Ah well, who cares.
We had one last challenge to look forward to, the return down the track from the lodge.
Coming up I said it was a piece of cake, we had been down again when we went on the trek but it had been dark.  I decided we'd take a video to demonstrate so for all those intimidated here's the proof.
Piece of cake!
Our journey eastwards took us on to the gravel C40, a fairly uninspiring journey scenically but not from an avian prospective.
First a Pale-chanting Goshawk just had to be photographed even if it's perch was man-made.
Pale Chanting Goshawk   Melierax Canorus
but what I spotted next had the cry to Claire, who was now driving,of
Stop! Stop! Stop! ( a command, in the nicest possible way she would learn to live with later in the holiday!)
There it was , magnificent, a truly impressive bird.
Martial Eagle. Fantastic.
I'd seen one in The Gambia recently but despite efforts to get a photograph by walking 100's of metres through tall undergrowth, I'd failed. Here I just had to nip over a wire fence, avoid being seen ( hopefully by both the Eagle and the landowner), get on the right side for a frontal shot with the sun behind me and bingo.
Handholding the 600mm isn't the easiest but despite a couple of out of focus shots I got a couple I can live with happily.
Martial Eagle   PolemaetusBellicosus
What a bird! Thank Claire for putting up with me while I leave you on your own sitting in the car in the baking hot sun. The result was worth the suffering!!
I only asked her to stop one more time. I mean it can get tedious on a journey, this was on the tarmac'd section of the C40 when I spotted a White-backed Vulture flying over head.
White-backed Vulture      Gyps Africanus
We had stopped at Kamanjab to re-fuel for the third time just to keep the tank topped up. This was the only place I seem to recall that stated they didn't take credit cards but as I was paying cash it didn't matter. Interesting that they chose to fill the car with the fuel nozzle that displayed the meter on the opposite side of the pump so hidden from view. Interesting no receipt was offered.... or asked for. It was only afterwards that I wondered. Suspicious? Me? Of course not! Fuel consumption would have been above average for the previous section as it was so mountainous. Wouldn't it?
Ah well, we were heading to my long awaited destination so I had other things on my mind.
For the record the C40 looks something like this for most of the way we travelled.
Fast, traffic free..... and a bit tedious.
I had already decided to get to our destination, Etosha Village near the Anderson Gate, I would turn left off the C40 and take a more scenic short cut on the D2694 followed by the D2710. For anyone who tries this beware! The first turn right, the D2696, is clearly marked but definitely not the way to go. Our turning wasn't marked at all as far as I'm aware. By the time we realised it was too late to turn back. Our scenic shortcut ended up adding time although probably not too much mileage to the journey. 
This back route though demonstrated that the rains had arrived further east than Grootberg.
Today though was stunning. Beautiful blue skies and sun for the most of it.
It was mid afternoon when we arrived at Etosha Village and we were most impressed. 4 nights here cost £365 for D,B&B. £90 a night. For that you get a bungalow chalet that is huge, complete with your own private garden area.
Etosha Village
Well appointed room complete with lots of electric sockets for recharging and a fridge too! There is even another outdoor covered sitting area outside the French windows.
Etosha Village
Excellent bathroom with a very large walk in shower.
Etosha Village
and what is really good is you can park right outside the door so you don't have to struggle far with your luggage.
Etosha Village
That's just the room though. The restaurant has a huge variety of food in the self service buffet. This was just my salad starter. 
Etosha Village
If that wasn't enough to make me happy the big screen TV behind the bar was showing my team playing live.
Liverpool vs Spurs and we stuffed them. Our run of bad form was finally ended with a superb display.
With Etosha to come in the morning,could I have been happier going to bed?

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