17 May 2015 / by Pilot Michael / in 2015 Africa Flying Safari
Rhinos and More Epic Flying
The last camp on the air safari was next to Etosha National Park in Namibia. The camp was a very nice tented camp in a private reserve that was packed with animals. I had one of the most extraordinary animal sightings of my life, I saw up close and personal a huge white rhino and her beautiful calf. We were all sitting at the central area of camp, near the water hole, when out of the tree line appeared this magnificent animal and her very young calf. I sat there in silence watching her drink, her incredible horn which must have been 3 feet long, standing ominously ready to protect her and her young. I didn’t know what to think, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I felt like I was looking at a dinosaur. I look at the photo and I still have a hard time believing that I was there to witness this creature and her calf. Not only did we get to see multiple rhinos at the water hole, we saw a pride of lions and their young, many zebras, beautiful oryx, water buck and giraffe. I wish I had captured a photo of the giraffe, there were 4 of them at the water hole drinking at the same time. If you’ve never seen a giraffe drink, it’s quite funny and mesmerizing at the same time. Giraffe carefully spread their front legs out to each side so that they can get their heads down to the water and when they are startled, they whip their neck up lifting them to an alert standing position. Though the “private reserve” type of safari isn’t exactly the way I want to see animals, it offers an experience I haven’t had while on a true safari, I got to see a lot of animals while sitting in a comfortable chair, sipping a cold drink.
From Etosha we flew Northwest, over incredible rock formations and sand valleys to one of my favorite places on the entire air safari, Hartman Valley. Hartman Valley is in a very dry environment that is home to very few animals, here they only average about 5mm of rain a year. After landing at Hartman Valley air strip we are picked up by our lodge and driven for over an hour through sand desert and jagged rock hills until we reach the Kungwe river on the border of Angola and Namibia. This is a true oasis in the middle of an otherwise uninhabitable area. Along the river there are lush grasses that stand over 10 feet tall, home to birds and other wildlife. The river is full of fish and crocodiles. The water is the center of life in this desert and without it, not much would exist. The vegetation just 50 feet from the river ceases to exist, it’s a very unique sight and for some reason I love it. As I sit here, looking at Angola, I am spellbound by how lucky I am to be able to experience something like this. Taking this air safari is like no other travel I have done, I am seeing such varied sights, hearing such different sounds, experiencing such different cultures and it all changes every couple of days.