CNP Photographic Safaris to Etosha National Park in Namibia is a highlight on the CNP safari calendar for me. As I sat in the plane en-route to Etosha via Windhoek I reflected on what our photography in Etosha was like in 2013 and what I was hoping for our clients in 2014. Questions like how much rain had fallen?, was the grass long and would it impede our photography? etc. went through my mind.
If you are a nature photographer you would know that one thing is certain – you don’t get yesterdays images again today. So what would this first Etosha CNP safari for 2014 deliver. No sooner had we unpacked at Mokuti lodge, which is our base for our 2014 safaris, when I handed out the cameras and lenses required by our clients and we set off into the park in our VW Crafter photography vehicle for our first of 10 photography sessions. I was even greeted with a hug by the kind lady at the Namutoni gate who remembered us from last year. We felt at home 🙂
On the way to the Chudop waterhole we spotted 2 parked vehicles and this turned out to be our introduction to the 19 strong lion pride of the area. The pride is made up of 6 Lionesses, 3 cubs and 10 sub adults of under a year of age. Some of the younger members of the Chudop pride enjoying a later afternoon drink. We were to see this pride on most of the days during our first 7 night Etosha safari.
The Lionesses are keen to teach the youngsters how to bring down a buck by swiping the rear legs and bringing it down. We witnessed this behaviour in play between the 3 young cubs as well. The moms also play rough at times, probably toughening up the younger lions in preparation for fights to come. I am looking forward to seeing and photographing the males of this large pride.
We have missed 2 Leopards at 2 different water holes by mere minutes over the last week and we trust our Leopard luck will change soon. A number of Hyenas have made their appearances at the waterholes at times, never staying for long periods of time. One young hyena did spend a bit of time and took bath at Chudop which we were happy to photograph.
The birdlife has also been good with daily sightings of Martial Eagles in flight or hunting Guinea Fowl at the waterholes, a Brown Snake Eagle with a 1.5 meter long Zebra snake it caught in the brush in front of us, Ovambo Sparrow hawks and Gabar Goshawks bathing and hunting smaller birds at some of the waterholes. Not forgetting the pair of Red-necked Falcons and the ever present Pale Chanting Goshawks. A special sighting was a Secretary Bird hunting and catching small lizards in the grass.
The grazers and browsers are not disappointing with large herds of Black-faced Impala, Giraffes, Zebras and Springbok scattered around the grasslands. Surprisingly the Elephants are absent and we hope the herds will arrive soon.
In short we had a great photographic safari with many special sightings and good photography opportunities to be had by our clients. So did Etosha deliver on the first trip – YES it did!
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