Drinking hierarchy

Third and last day in the Etosha park. We have a whole day to explore the eastern side of the park today. We start by driving around Fisher pan through beautiful landscapes, but not too many mammals. We see lots of birds though.  At some point, we see a car stopped on the side of the road, and a couple looking intensely towards the bush. I don’t know exactly how I can qualify their way of observing as ‘intense’, but you can kind of see their eyes concentrating and brain smoking. We try to imitate them but the object of their attention eludes us. So we ask them. Oh, now that you tell me, I also see this female lion lying under a tree. So we stop for a while and look at the lion. Unbeknownst to us at the time, that is the last lion of our holiday.

Lion at Etosha National park

We stop for lunch at a very pretty water hole, which also turns out to be very busy. When we arrive, a group of elephants is drinking and many zebras are observing, waiting for the elephant to go away before being able to drink. As we were able to see over the past few days, there is a clear drinking hierarchy at the waterholes. First, size matters, so being an elephant definitely helps. Then the importance goes to horns, and oryxes are well positioned with their impressive horns that even keep the larger zebras away. So unfortunately, the poor springbok with its small horns and tiny body does a lot of watching but not so much drinking.

Later through the day, we see giraffes drinking at different waterholes. It’s an interesting process, as they need to spread their legs apart so that their heads can reach the water.

Giraffe drinking at a waterhole

At the end of the day, we return to the Mushara bush camp. The dinner is organised outside around a bonfire. It’s beautiful but very cold. There is game meat on the menu, so it seems that we can summarise this trip as: “watch them at the waterholes during the day, eat them at the lodge in the evening.

Curious giraffes, Etosha National Park


The Etosha pan

Today we cross the Etosha national park from west to east with our car. We don’t have a guide with an eagle eye to spot and identify the animals for us, so better keep our eyes open! The advantage of being in our closed car is that we don’t freeze to death in the early morning. However, the field of view is considerably reduced compared to the open vehicle, and we are also seated lower. However, we are still able to observe countless animals. The bes encounter of the day is an elephant that crosses just in front of our car. We also notice a few car stopped on the side of the road, so we stop as well and try to identify the object of the passengers’ attention. Oh there are some lions. They are a bit far away, but it is always nice to observe the predators.

I think he has spotted us…
But he doesn’t seem to care…

For the most part, the road follows the edge of the huge Etosha pan that forms the large part of the park’s area. We use the little map/guide we bought to identify animals. If we can manage for the mammals, the task is harder for the birds: there are so many different species.


We stop for lunch at a rest area, but unlike the other ones we saw that were all fenced with an entrance gate, this just open in the park. We hope that lions won’t be attracted by our picnic.

Zebras at Rietfontein

Our stop for the night is at Mushara bush camp, a lodge with tented rooms. A dad that we saw at the previous lodge seems very keen on showing us the pictures and videos of the animals he saw. We ask him whether he saw a rhino. He says he has, but we decide he is lying: he was so enthusiastic in showing us his elephant pictures, so why not also shove the rhino pictures in our faces. When we come back from the dinner, we discover that the maids have put hot water bottles in the beds, which is a really nice touch!

Bird at Rietfontein