The time of wonders & miracles . . .
What better time to be in Namibia than right now in the green season amidst the wonders and miracles of good rainfall after long years of drought when the earth breathes a deep sigh of relief, thirstily laps up the water and celebrates.
On the road heading north to Etosha, I choose music at random from a pile of CDs on the passenger seat. When Paul Simon’s song ‘These are the days of miracle and wonder’ blasts through my robust Camping2Go Nissan bakkie, I know he is right. The countryside is clearly revelling in the abundance and the rivers are running. For many, this last year has been a harsh and challenging one. Seeing life regenerating and renewing so completely presents infinite hope for the future. Nature reminds me that life goes on – beautifully, regardless. And I am thankful for the reminder.
It is a cool day with light intermittent rainshowers and a shy sun peeping through the clouds. Omajowa-sellers (wearing their masks) are selling the giant mushrooms that grow from the bottom of termite mounds during the rainy season. I make a note to buy some later on the journey to fry up with butter and garlic. That gets my mouth watering.
Most people say that it is better to visit Namibia in the dry winter months, but this wonderful profusion of life conveys the message that each season has its gifts. It is also usually recommended to visit Etosha mid-year when the wildlife concentrates around the waterholes, but I’ve found that whenever I have visited the national park in the green season, I’ve had incredible sightings. I wonder what this visit will bring. Splashing through puddles and giving the bakkie a thorough mud bath, I don’t set out to tick off species. Rather, I amble slowly along enjoying the sight of the animals lolling in the green grass and the pools of water that have appeared in the landscape. It is refreshing after many visits of seeing the wildlife desperate to reach the water. I watch springbok, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra that look like they have won the wildlife lottery, and I laugh joyfully at the korhaans performing and calling out to potential mates with their loud frog-croak call.
I am just about to head back to Okaukuejo and the Andersson Gate when I notice a vehicle parked ahead and drive to see what its occupants have spotted. The driver points to the side. It’s a cheetah with a newly-caught springbok, harassed by two jackals that are trying to get their share. It’s one of those green season sights that you don’t often get to witness in the dry. I spend time watching their antics, until the cheetah gets up, replete after a good meal, looks around, yawns and disappears into the long grass.
The cheetah has timed its exit perfectly and I just make it out of the park before sunset to return to Etosha Safari Camp. Now, if you need some joie de vivre in your life, this is the place to go. The bright and cheerful rooms, placed in between the mopane trees, and the colourful and wacky restaurant, modelled on taverns of old, invite you to revel in the wonderful colour of life. It’s a relaxed and down-to-earth venue and the delicious buffet spread awaits me. I join the others in the courtyard to enjoy the meal and listen to the two musicians playing local melodies around the small fire as the warm, butter-coloured lights radiate their happy glow. It’s good to be here after a full day, and I am at peace as I make my way to my room for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow I head westwards to Damara Mopane Lodge, for another serving of nature’s generous abundance.
Ron Swilling is a freelance writer, who has a deep love for the land of big sky, its vast open plains, spectacular scenery, free-roaming wildlife and salt-of-the-earth people.