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Namibia, March 2015

My sister had moved to Windhoek a few months earlier, so we took a trip up to see her. After a few days in the capital, we headed out to Swakopmund (aka Germany), and then to see animals at Etosha National Park. Total population of Namibia is 2 million people, putting it at the #2 in the world for lowest population density, just after Mongolia. So, there are a lot of long, empty roads in the country...

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   Windhoek
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   Headed back home


Windhoek

Not an intersection you will find in the US.

Swakopmund

Finn finds a train on the road to Swakopmund.
Flamingos in Walvis Bay. They are such strange-looking flyers.
We had seen large herds of flamingos a few years earlier in the Yucatan, in Mexico.
Check out that flamingo excrement!
The salt drying ponds outside of Walvis Bay... another top spot for flamingoids.
One might not think that a perpetually cloudy site would be very good for making salt, but apparently most of South Africa's salt needs come from this location.
We've headed up the Skeleton Coast. Heidi takes advantage of the long sight-lines of the Namibian beaches.
Running on the beach away from a Namiban trawler that ran aground in 2007. There is a lot of fog here and no city lights, so there are a ton of old shipwrecks... although due to GPS navigation, there have been a lot fewer in the last 10 years than previous decades.
Just a small portion of 100,000 Namibian Cape Fur Seals (which are actually sea lions, despite the name). Most of the dark ones are babies... about 3 months old.
Run Piper run! Just another 10,000 km of desert ahead of you.
In the middle of the Mars-like landscape of the Namib desert, we came across tables selling huge salt crystals. No one was at any of them -- just take a kilogram of salt, and leave Namibian dollars in the rusted can.
More salt ponds...
Namibia may be Africa, but the coast is cold and cloudy. And dry too -- very little precipitation, despite the fog.
I take some time out to shoot a nice car commercial...
Heather has recovered (temporarily) from an overdose of fish and apple turnovers.
It is the 'Skeleton Coast'...
Perhaps our third trip up Dune 7 in two days.
Astro does an amazing job climbing sand dunes... already made it 100 meters up!

Etosha National Park

Goats on the road, headed to Etosha.
From the watering hole at Okaukuejo in Etosha... our room was about 200 meters from here.
Whoa! 10 minutes into our drive through Etosha, look what we came across. Nine lions, in the final stages of tear apart an oryx (aka gemsbok). No telephoto here: these were within a foot of the road. Before we got to the kill site, we saw probably 10 jackals perusing the area... no doubt ehyw ere interested in the possibility of a few oryx parts left behind.
Etosha is a large national park. With the exception of some concession areas, everything is self-drive, like Kruger in South Africa but unlike most of the safaris we did in SA.
So many gemsbok aka oryx.
In Etosha, most of the action happens at the watering holes. The terrain is nothing like South Africa. In Etosha, the sand and salt means that in the dry season, the only source of water is at the watering holes. Most are natural; some are fed by pumps. We were there in a transition period... pretty dry, but it had rained recently, so the animal density was high, but not extreme.
A lonely oryx heads out to the salt flats. Might be a long one-way trip for that individual...
We had been in the car driving for virtually the entire day... we entered the park at the earliest time possible, and had about an hour left until closing. 12 hours and 250 km, and all we wanted to do was find a leopard or cheetah. We turned onto Cheetah Road, and then...
Piper: "CHEETAH!!"

Heidi: "BS"

Piper: "NO, REALLY!!"

Heidi: "What, on an animal cracker? Do you want another snack?"

Piper: "OVER THERE!!! RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU MOM!!!"

Too many photos of this, I know. But after three years in Africa, this was the first time we'd ever seen a cheetah on the hunt.
So amazing to follow it.
We followed it for about 15 minutes along the road. Eventually it cross the road in front of us, and headed toward a pack of springbok. We'd moved to try to get a better view. That didn't work, so we headed back to our first spot. As soon as we got there, we saw the dust puff up from the desert floor, half a km away. Cheetah takes off like a Ferrari, catching up with an impala and taking it down. I've never seen anything like it. One of our most amazing safari sightings ever.
Watering hole at night, at Okaukuejo.

Headed back home

One of the things I love about Africa is flying through the airports and NOT RECOGNIZING ANY CITIES! OK, having been here for a few years, I now know many of them. But those destination boards continue to feel so exotic and unknown.
Astro does the best to decorate herself for to pass airport security protocols.
And we have a surprise waitng for us at home...

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Henry Throop

Last modified Wed Jul 6 12:09:52 2016