Monday, November 28, 2011

On Etosha National Park and The Okavango Delta

Etosha National Park

The sun beat down on our big blue overland truck as we inched closer to the two lions and their cubs. I could feel the sweat beads slide slowly down my neck as I pressed my eyeballs deeper into the round lenses of my black binoculars. I turned the dial on the top of my second pair of eyes, trying to focus them on the beasts. A quick, sharp intake of breath told me a cub had emerged from the bush, though I had not seen it. I was still struggling to focus my binoculars on the animals. A sudden hush had fallen over the other ten students who surrounded me.

We were half way through our second safari of the day and I felt somewhat exhausted. We had attempted to eat rusks and tea at 4:40 the same morning, and then hopped on the bus, some of us falling right back into our sound slumbers. Others of us clustered around the front windows, peering out into the early morning sunshine. Suspense hung in the air as we sped along the dirt road of Etosha National Park in the Southern part of Namibia. Our group was not whole, five lucky girls dwelling with their parents. The remaining girls jokingly called themselves the orphans, some of us feeling slightly jealous of the girls with parents. At the end of the day however, our group was reunited each one of us with a different astounding story of an animal. -by Jessie, OR

A Day in Etosha National Park

My classmates and I woke from our tents at the crack of dawn for tea and rusks before setting out on a morning game drive in Etosha National Park in Namibia. From the windows of our truck, we watched the sky transform into orange with the rising sun. The morning consisted of only antelope herds and we were losing hope. Then the bus jolted to a stop and the bus driver yelled 'lions!' In the distance two female lions were surrounding their kill with blood stained on their faces. The late morning and afternoon was spent at the campsite either studying or swimming in the pool. In the evening, we once again climbed onto the blue overland truck for a game drive. Cameras were out and jaws were dropped at the sighting of three lion cubs with three females and a male lion. A running baby giraffe and zebras were also the excitement of the evening. On the way back to the campsite, everyone participated in a dance party on the truck. We danced and sang to songs such as “Welcome to Africa” and “Take Over Control”. Back at the campsite, I completed my homework while waiting for the famous African sunset and animals to arrive at the campsite watering hole. At the watering hole, I watched two kudus fight each other while three elephants were drinking and splashing water with their trunks. I then headed back to my tent in the dark and said, “rarashakanaka.” -by Hannah, WY

Out of the Depths

As our guide dipped her long wooden stick into soft marshy mud and propelled us forward, I knew I was in for an incredible experience. Our mokoro was padded with thick grasses, collected from the delta to stop water from seeping into our boat. With each push, she jutted us forward about ten feet. A thick array of water lilies in white, pink and purple, along with lily pads lined the top of water. Setswana, the native language, could be heard echoing down the channels of the delta.

“Hippo,” someone suddenly whispered, as our channeled flowed into a large, clear body of water. At first my eyes scanned the surface of the water and I saw nothing as our guide stuck to the edge of the pool. Even though we couldn't see the hippo, she understood one thing; hippos are more deadly than crocodiles. As our boat moved around the side we suddenly heard a spout of water erupt from the lake and I quickly turned my head. To our left, twenty feet away a hippo head emerged from the depths of the water. I had heard about hippos’ size but had never imagined them to be so giant. The hippo’s head was easily half the size of my body. The eyes which turned to me gave me a look as if the say, “Get out of my territory now!” as her yellow teeth protruded from her mouth in a yawn. I suddenly noticed our ten-foot boat sunk till only two inches showed above water. I nervously turned to my guide to ask a question and remembered she did not speak English. As our boat polled down the channel opposite of our entrance I gave one last look to the hippo as she sunk back down to the depths, and thought what other adventures lay ahead of me? - by McCall, MT

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