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False 22 Travel Namibia Essential Namibia young lions. Or we might catch another glimpse of the impressive black rhino bull we saw yesterday, striding across the pan in broad daylight. But where are those four cubs? We drive along the road still speculating about them. As we slow down to look through binoculars at a flock of vultures in the distance, we hear a soft ‘ mewing’ sound and look down to see where it’s coming from. Peeping over the edge of a ditch by the roadside are two amber eyes topped by a pair of teddy bear ears. It’s one of the cubs, a mischievous young male, who seems to have appointed himself leader of the gang. He’s certainly inherited his mother’s boldness. He’s followed out by another cub, and then another… The cubs have been hiding in a storm drain under the road just a few hundred yards from their mother. Enjoying an early taste of independence, they emerge from their shelter and pad curiously around our vehicle on oversize paws they’ll eventually grow into. As suddenly as they appeared they scamper off to look for their mother. She is casually walking over, calling them to check everything’s okay and calmly greeting each one with a reassuring lick, before leading them into the thorn bushes and out of our sight. TOP WILDLIFE WATCHING SPOTS n FROM NAMUTONI Kleinleinleinlein Namutoniamutoniamutoniamutoniamutoniamutoniamutoni waterholewaterholewaterholewaterholewaterholewaterholewaterholewaterhole close to camp with wildlife that’s accustomed to tourist traffic. Andonindonindonindonindoni Plainslainslainslainslains good in the summer for large groups of herbivores and attendant lions. Tsumcorsumcorsumcorsumcorsumcorsumcor andandand Aroeroeroe waterholeswaterholeswaterholeswaterholeswaterholeswaterholeswaterholeswaterholes popular with elephant herds. KalkhealkhealkhealkhealkheUwelwelwel excellent for photography in the dry season. n FROM HALALI: Goasoas waterholewaterholewaterhole – this is wildlife central in the dry season. Salvadora – a popular dry season spot for huge zebra herds and a good area for cheetah. Halali camp waterholewaterholewaterhole is good for elephant, black rhino and leopard after dark. It’s busiest in the dry season but can be quiet if there’s plenty of water elsewhere. In the camp after dark you should be able to find tiny pearl- spotted owlets, bush- babies and the odd marauding honey- badger. n FROM OKAUKUEJO: Olifsantslifsantslifsantsbad a popular spot with Etosha elephants and a good place to see black- faced impala. Natcoatcoatcoatco good for gemsbok and large elephant bulls. Okaukuejokaukuejo camp waterholewaterholewaterhole offers world- class wildlife watching in the dry season, day and night. It’s also worth visiting the ‘ Enchanted Forestorestorest’ to the west of the camp. The weird Moringa trees turn the place into an eerie dreamscape. We’re driving slowly, staring into the thorn bushes, past small groups of zebra resting bar- code heads on the backs of their neighbours Lion cubs in the wild suffer a huge mortality rate. But somehow we sense Ivy’s cubs may have a better chance than most. Four months later we’re fortunate enough to visit Etosha again. Once more, we find ourselves on the lookout for Ivy. On our last afternoon we head for a waterhole just south of Fischer’s Pan, where people have reported lions. On our approach we’re met by a dozen or so giraffe, all staring fixedly at a stand of trees behind us, mesmerised. Turning to see what holds their fascination, we see four, fat lion cubs sitting prominently by the water. Walking coolly towards them is a well- fed lioness with a brandmark we don’t need binoculars to identify. It’s Ivy and her four rapidly growing cubs, still successfully living their lives on the dry white plains of Etosha. Kicking up the dust. GONDWANA COLLECTION

False Travel Namibia 23 From space Etosha’s 120km- wide salt pan is clearly visible. A sheen of algae and other vegetation produces the green colour. In the rainy season the basin fills with water. M- SAT LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ETOSHA FACTFILE n GETTING THERE: Okaukuejo is 450 kilometres from Windhoek. You can rent new- model camping- equipped 4WD vehicles in Windhoek from N$ 800 upwards. There’s a choice of two entry points – the Anderson gate near Okaukuejo or the Von Lindequist gate near Namutoni. n WHERE TO STAY IN ETOSHA: There are three restcamps in the park: Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni. The latter is noted for its Beau Geste style fort , while Okaukuejo is renowned for its floodlit waterhole. Accommodation types range from basic campsites to luxury chalets. Bush chalets cost N$ 750 per person sharing on a B& B basis at Halali and Okaukuejo. Bush chalets cost N$ 1,500 per person sharing on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis at Namutoni. Camping costs N$ 200 per site plus N$ 100 per person. In addition there is a daily entrance charge of N$ 80 per person. n WHERE TO STAY OUTSIDE ETOSHA: There’s also a growing choice of options on the edge of the park, including upmarket Ongava Lodge ( www. ongava. com), Mokuti Lodge hotel, ( www. namibsunhotels. com. na) and Mushara Lodge ( www. mushara- lodge. com) Meanwhile 40 new self- catering chalets are due to open in October just one kilometre from the Anderson gate ( www. etosha- village. com). The only problem with accommodation outside the park is that you risk missing the best wildlife action at dawn, dusk and after dark. n ACTIVITIES: Night drives from Namutoni camp cost N$ 500 per person. Morning and afternoon drives from Halali cost N$ 350. n HEALTH AND SAFETY: Malaria does occur in this region of northern Namibia, although only rarely in Etosha. Consult a travel clinic or your GP about health precautions before you travel and ensure your immunisation status is up to date. Observe park rules and gate times and give elephants plenty of room. n FIND OUT MORE: The tourism and camps at Etosha are run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts ( www. nwr. com. na). To make a booking email reservations@ nwr. com. na Giraffes on Etosha pan in the dry season. Ann & Steve Toon Blue wildebeest are best seen in east Etosha. Gondwanaondwanaondwana Collectionollection