Along the southern fringes of Etosha National Park, Namibia’s flagship park, are scattered a handful of camps and watering holes. The oldest of these is Okaukuejo, 18 km from Anderson gate in the southwest corner of the park. At Okaukuejo, the “bush chalets” are oriented around the watering hole in a westward-facing orientation, which makes for amazing sunset photos. The bush camp is separated from the watering hole by a 4-foot stone wall, and a row of benches makes it possible to sit and watch at all hours the constant flow of animals coming to drink (especially in the dry season, August to October). Of course, a closer look reveals that behind the stone wall, a network of electrified wires ensures a hungry lion or angry elephant stays on the correct side of the wall.
Admittedly, the place has a bit of a “zoo” feel to it, especially at night, when the watering hole is floodlit. But the animals are free to roam to park at will, which is half the size of Switzerland. And while the watering hole is manmade, there is no friendly zookeeper to come by and clean up in case there is a mishap. At times there are maybe a hundred people lining the rock wall, yet the place is nearly silent except for the constant click and whirr of camera shutters. Which is not like any zoo I’ve been to!
In spite of the sometimes challenging customer service environment at Namibia Wildlife Resorts, it’s possible to rent (call months in advance!) a room with a balcony overlooking the watering hole. There you can watch the comings and goings all day and night. You can stay outside the park, but the gates close at night. This way, you can leave the balcony doors open, and in the middle of the night, sit up in bed to see elephants or rhinos drinking 100 to 150 meters away.
I put together this sampler of video at Okaukuejo showing the sights you can see over a 24 hour period. We also did a few game drives – one paid/guided, and several on our own, which is no problem (just stay in your car!). The video gets a bit blurry at times because I used a relatively inexpensive screw-on conversion lens for my Sony camcorder. But I think the best part is the sound – I used a Rode microphone, which as you will see, allowed me to pick up sounds like a lion 350 meters away, or the click of horns hitting, as two springboks were fighting near the side of the road.