Etosha National Park

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The second day of our Namibian adventure landed us in the northern desert of Etosha National Park.  Our lodge was nestled up among the trees on a scrubby hillside, where we could sit on the front porch watching the sunset with our bottle of Bombay and Schweppes bitter lemon.

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The kids were in heaven, out playing with sticks and swimming in the pool even though it was freezing!  But I guess they had some energy to burn off after so many hours in the car.

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But early the next morning we were all up with the sun, ready to start our game drive through Etosha!

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And wow, were there surprises in store.

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Pretty unbelievable!

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The park is a huge “salt pan,” so called because it is like a dried-up inland sea, with a covering of salt that in some areas is several feet deep.  The animals have to travel across the park to find water.  Some of them we saw as we were driving through the park (including a pair of charging black rhinos that barged across the road in front of our car like freight trains), but the most game could be seen at the watering holes.  Here is one, where we saw zebras, impala, elephants, jackals, and the beautiful oryx with its long, black horns.

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Jake took this picture of a white rhino, out in the marsh.

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We all took turns with the binoculars!

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Everything was amazing.  We stopped for lunch at the only restaurant in the park for some sort of sorry grilled cheese and gross hamburgers, but were grateful in the end because in the parking lot we noticed our tire was flat.  Wow, what luck.  These guys helped these other guys fix our tire:

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By this time we were getting hot and animaled-out, so decided it was time to head home.  The park closed at sunset and if we weren’t out by that time, we’d have to spend the night inside the gates! With only some bad biltong and a pack of Twizzlers, this would be a bad situation.  Unfortunately Kelly chose this moment to sit in the back and let the men drive, which meant an hour later we found ourselves lost. But looking on the bright side, we would have missed this!

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and this,

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and the wildebeasts too!!

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Fortunately, we made it just in time.

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That night, we were treated to a delicous “braai.”  That’s what they call “barbecue” in this part of the world.  Springbok medallions, kudu chops, impala sausages, and eeland osso bucco.  The chef was named Freida, and our kids sure took a liking to her.  Maybe it was because she’d made them pancakes for breakfast?  Anyway, we stuffed ourselves with all this weird barbecue meat because who knew when we might have the opportunity to eat it again.  Although if I can be cynical for a moment, I will say that it pretty much just tasted like steak.  Steak is steak, right?  Does the springbok offer something that the cow or deer does not?

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The musicians with their guitars serenaded us outside under the stars, singing Namibian folk songs and dancing once in a while.  Even the chef was dancing!  Inside at the bar, we were able to catch the last half hour of the world cup.  The kids all know Messie and were cheering him on.

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We slept that night with dreams of oryx and zebras dancing in our heads, excited by our first two days and happy to be with our friends.  We are in Namibia!  Wow, is it cool.  And for the record, none of us would EVER eat giraffe.

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