By Lucille Chapuis - Oceans Research Intern July 2010.
Etosha National Park… a small taste of Eden
Although we enjoy greatly the aquatic fauna of Walvis Bay, we were quite happy when Simon accepted to let us have 3 days off in a row, which allowed us to visit the one of the world’s greatest wildlife reserves: Etosha National Park, 20 000 sq km of inland protected habitats, around the Etosha Pan, a huge flat and saline desert that is transformed in a lagoon during the rainy season. Having spent a night in a camp site near the park, we leave on an early morning and enjoy the sunrise entering the gate. Only a few minutes later, giraffes, zebras and springboks are already shining in our eyes… The time flows as we explore the bush and grasslands and discover their inhabitants: grass eaters like blue wildebeests, impalas, oryx, steenboks, jackals and ostriches are very abundant. The predators and the bigger ones are of course more difficult to spot. We face up to the challenge and with our budding biologists nose, we find a horde of 40 elephants having a communal bath in a waterhole, a leopard chilling under a bush, one lioness and her three cubs sipping quietly some water from a pond, as well as an immense and solitary elephant crossing the road nonchalantly. We rushed through the exit door under a beautiful “Etoshan” sunset, in high spirits and satiated. We drive back to Walvis Bay on the next day, looking forward to meet our sea-friends again. This week-end was just a part of our epic journey that we interns have been undertaking here for more than three weeks, experiencing an untouched, although elusive, “wild” wilderness.