Namibia - Etosha National Park by Alysa Pakkidis

Staff Report: Namibian Highlights -- Etosha National Park

My heart was racing and I could barely take a breath as I snapped away at the two lions a mere 15 feet in front of our jeep. I felt like a sitting duck as my fellow travelers, our guide, Jeremiah, and I all sat mesmerized and terrified at the two beasts about to mate right there in the road. We were lucky to see them, everyone said, but somehow between heartbeats, I wasn’t feeling that way.

The day had started early as we headed out on safari at Etosha National Park, divided into two open-air jeeps for better wildlife visibility and photography opportunities. (This, we noticed throughout the day, was a luxury that GeoEx had arranged for us. As we passed packed tour buses and more than a few crammed jeeps making their way through the park, everyone jealously eyed our comfort and space.)

Etosha National Park is teeming with wildlife and a landscape that could not provide a more striking backdrop, ranging from dense bush to open plains, creating wonderful opportunity for game viewing. Among other wildlife, we saw giraffe, ostrich, helmeted guinea fowl, oryx, springbok, wildebeest, elephant, and, of course, lion. The water holes came to life like an open-air theater where we witnessed several different species interacting and vying for a spot to quench their thirst.

After watching the different species come in for what looked like animal happy hour, we continued through the park to see if we could spot one of the elusive lions. Just as the sun was beginning to set and we were headed for the gate, there they were, just off to the side of the road, a male and a female. Once we stopped our jeep to watch them, they came closer to us, stopping in the road just in front of us. I had never been that close to lions out in the wild and it was exhilarating and terrifying. We watched them well over half an hour before they continued on their journey through the jungle. I was then able to take a breath again and realize just how lucky I really was.

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Don George, Editor

Don George is Editor in Chief of Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. He has been Travel Editor for the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle and Salon.com, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications. Don has published eight books, including Travel Writing, A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and Tales from Nowhere. E-mail him at don@geoex.com.

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