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Namibian Safari

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Namibia is a country that has so much of the unique African experience yet with a distinctiveness all of its own.This is a huge land, bordered by South Africa in the South, Botswana to the East, Angola the North, and the cold Atlantic Ocean on its Western flank. On arriving at Windhoek a few hours drive to Mt.Etjo Game Reserve made a welcome first port of call for the Namibian Safari.

A late afternoon game drive was highlighted by time spent with a white rhino and her eight month old youngster. Such delightful company in the evening light, so evocative of Africa, made the long journey immediately worthwhile. Tracking a large bull white rhino on foot was an exciting challenge, the bush was thick and the importance of remaining down wind from the rhino was emphasised as each step brought the massive bulk closer and closer. Other wildlife observed included a nyala antelope and baby, black sable, roan antelope, giraffe, kudu, an elephant pushing down a tree with consummate ease, and a pair of pale-chanted goshawks hunting for yellow mongoose.

Further North, Etosha National Park provides a vast expanse for wildlife to flourish, it covers an area of nearly 23,000 square kilometres and at times it can be the harshest of hosts but its openess is usually a gracious provider for many varied species. The word "Etosha" means "Great White Place", this is an apt description of the Etosha Pan which at its widest point is approximatley 110km by 60km. The pan is usually dry except after heavy rains when it floods mainly from the Ekuma and Oshigambo rivers in the North. Permanent springs are plentiful in the South, fed by the water reserves in the porous bedrock which permeates out onto the impermeable clay floor of the pan.

Wildlife Adventures

The Etosha pan is the chosen breeding ground for countless thousands of flamingo during the rainy season, the dry season is vacated by these seasonal visitors as they fly South to trawl the rich feeding grounds of Walvis Bay. During the dry season, looking out across the endless vista of the Etosha Pan, empathy wills wandering wildlife towards the waterholes. The seething African sun lays a shimmering mirage across the horizon and accentuates the daily need of locating sufficient sources of water.

Thankfully, Etosha is blessed with many waterholes that help sustain its healthy population of elephants and all other creatures that wonder from the Pan and out of the bush. Thirst is quenched for flocks of turtle doves, herds of zebra and wildebeest, giraffe and oryx. There seems to be an ordered and pre-ordained rhythm to the waterholes, as dawn breaks the doves fly in to sip at the waters edge, guinea fowl then provide a comical parade as they sprint for their fist drink of the day, kicking up a trail of dry dust in the morning light.

Wildlife Adventures

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The waterhole sequence continues as a long line of zebra approach from out of the bush, winding down to finally drink side by side and knee deep, heads down simultaneously they cast their multitude of stripes across the rippled water. Wildebeest take the zebra's place, followed by kudu, elephant, impala and springbok, all providing wonderful entertainment and spectacle as they preserve themselves against the perils of the scorching African heat. Oryx have a tendancy to drink with the water level at shoulder depth, contented as they are soothed by the cool waters, the reflections of this elegant antelope give and added beauty to the scene. There are no crocodiles in Etosha but those who frequent the waterholes have to be on guard against lion and leopard.

Wildlife Adventures

Giraffes seem to be the most wary at the waterhole, cautiously approaching the open surround, making many aborted attempts before finally straddling their legs to allow their long necks to crane down to drink. With thirst satisfied the giraffe springs upright with a sudden snap movement, aware again of potential danger. Certainly the waterhole is a place of vulnerability aswell as invaluable sustenance. Predators such as lion and leopard are past masters at the art of ambush, making prey of those who expose themselves out of the comparative security of the Pan and bushveld. Black rhino prefer the cover of darkness and often gather in numbers for a nightime drink. These solitary animals are very vocal as they mingle with one another, amazing primeval sounds resonate through nasal cavaties and horn, creating an almost surreal moment in the stillness of a star filled night.

Wildlife Adventures

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The waterholes also provide an opportunity to observe the behaviour of wildlife, certain characteristics become evident with those that are satiated by the life saving waters. Elephants, inparticular, seem to revel in the whole experience, the youngsters break away from the incoming herd with youthful excitement and reach their watery playground with much anticipated joy. Drawing water from trunk to mouth, the elephants take time to ensure their fill. Often they will wade out to the deeper reaches and even fully submerge, making the most of the cool respite and taking great pleasure in doing so. Coming out of the water lashings of mud and dust are exhaled over themselves, swathing them with further protection against the relentless heat of the day.

Wildlife Adventures

An idyllic scene of a lone springbok in the first light of day was suddenly interrupted by two spotted hyena's loping across the plain. The springboks reactions were instinctive and instant, assuming a lying position facing the troublesome duo with its eyes and ears fixed on the intruders as they fortunately passed by into the distance. One springbok wasn't so fortunate having succumbed to the advances of four lions. As the lions cleaned themselves after the feeding frenzy there was a far off roar of a dominant male, sending them into an anxious trot in the other direction.

Wildlife Adventures

Out in the wilds I had learned to beware of abrupt movements. The creatures with which you are dealing there are shy and watchful, they have a talent for evading you when you least expect it. The civilized people have lost the aptitude of stillness, and must take lessons in silence from the wild before they are accepted by it. The art of moving gently, without suddenness, is the first to be studied by the hunter, and more so by the hunter with the camera. Hunters cannot have their own way, they must fall in with the wind, and the colours and smells of the landscape, and they must make the tempo of the ensemble their own. When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find that it is the same in all her music - 'Out of Africa', Karen Blixen.

Wildlife Adventures

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Unbecoming of their sartorial elegance a pair of oryx battled with one another, swords drawn as the duel saw them thrust their lethal sabres to pierce hide and limb. The sheer aggression and power of these animals in combat was a warning to any uncautious onlooker who may be beguiled by their beauty. Not all is blood and thunder, the gentle coo of dove is a constant reminder that there is a peace to be found in this great and exciting land. Another day in the African wilderness drew to a close with the setting sun staging some giraffe against the horizon as they gently sauntered along their way. Time spent in Etosha is a privilege and inspiration, it's uniqueness is unquestioned and yet it remains a quintessential African experience.

Several hundred kilometres South West of Etosha, nestled in one of the world's largest natural harbours, lies Walvis Bay. A place of refuge from the hazardous Southern Atlantic seas, this location is a welcome haven for huge numbers of birds aswell as other seafarers.

Wildlife Adventures

The Southern Winter sees many migrating birds pass through the algae and crustacean rich waters and shoreline of Walvis bay. Prominent in numbers are the Greater and Lesser flamingo's, a recent survey accounted for 32,000 Greater and 26,000 Lesser flamingo's. Sharing the Bay's benevolence flocks of pied-avocet congregate, together with black oystercatchers, greenshank, and white pelicans, each seeking out their favourite delicacies. Such large numbers of birds happily co-exist with eachother mainly because of the abundant food source but also due to the fact that they have differing tastes and requirements. The Greater flamingo's primarily feed on crustaceans that are aroused from the mud by the circular dancing repertoire of the flamingo's feet, then sifted with its filtering inverted bill. Meanwhile, moving amongst their larger cousins, Lesser flamingo's opt for the algae that thrives in the shallow waters.

Wildlife Adventures

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Rooibant Dunes run adjacent to Walvis Bay and hosts its own variety of birdlife. The dune lark is a rare sight and can be spotted making darting flights between bushes or scurrying over the undulations of sand. Black- breasted snake eagle and shrike also favour this terrain.

These things can be told. But there are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm ... the strong attraction of the silent places, of the large tropic moons, and the splendour of the new stars; where the wanderer sees the awful glory of sunrise and sunset in the wide waste spaces of the earth, unworn of man, and changed only by the slow changes of the ages from time everlasting - 'African Game Trails', Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.

Wildlife Adventures

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The Wildlife Adventures section of the website comprises of writings and images based on BAS' research trips around the globe. If you have any questions about the artists wilderness experiences then please contact BAS , there is much more gained from such wildlife adventures than can be expressed on these pages. Here you will learn of his wildlife encounters and the impressions that the varied locations made on the artist as he sought inspiration for his wildlife and nature art . More locations will be added to this section as BAS continues his passion for being immersed amongst the natural wonders of the world.

 

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