The first two nights of our Etosha experience were spent at Okaukeujo Camp. When you arrive it is not difficult to see why this is the most popular camp of the three in the park. So nice in fact, that Robert spent the first 30 minutes trying to charm the lovely lady at reception into allowing us to spend an extra night. Unfortunately all that the charm resulted in was a glowing receptionist and impatient looks from the guy next in line, as the camp was “over-booked”!
The next important task was finding the biggest, bestest camping site. There are a few factors to consider when picking your spot; (a) shade, (b) size (it does matter!), (c) proximity to the important facilities (e.g. the watering hole (of the animal-variety), the watering hole (of the human variety), ablutions, etc). With only 30-odd camping spaces at Okaukeujo it’s not difficult to find a spacious spot ((b) – check), under a big thorn tree ((a) – check). However, with all of the ablutions concentrated within 10 meters of each other there is a trade-off between having an en-suite tent and keeping your distance from the overland trucks. I personally prefer to be out of earshot from the droves of tourists dressed and accessorized courtesy of numerous curio shops en-route. Besides, the smell of diesel fumes with a hint of coconut sunscreen emanating from these large people carriers has never really tickled my fancy.
With our trailers stationed and tents up, we moved on to the more important matter – finding animals! Okaukeujo has its own waterhole bordering the camp, which is as popular amongst the animals as it is amongst the visitors. You can settle yourself on a front-row bench, set up your camera and wait patiently – ice-cold beverage in hand – for the perfect shot. Or, if you are willing to loosen your purse strings a little, you can stay in a waterhole-facing chalet, each with its own private balcony over-looking the action. Although we didn’t see 20 rhino descend upon this waterhole, on the first night we arrived to 6 black rhino, with baby, sipping from the glassy surface, which created the most beautiful reflections. The floodlights and a steady hand allowed me to capture some gorgeous shots.
Each morning and evening we would wander out for a drive, to take advantage of the beautiful light. Unfortunately most of the waterholes close to the camp were dry, however the man-made holes a little further out delivered the postcard pictures typical of Etosha. The concentration of game at these holes was like nothing I have seen. One morning we staked-out at Ozonjutji m ‘Bari, the last hole open to the public, on the way to Dolomite Camp. Hundreds of animals were in and around the water, trying to cool off and quench their thirst. As commonly happens with crowds at waterholes (the human and animal variety) it didn’t take long for males from different herds to step on each other’s toes, presenting us with some awesome photo ops.
All in all, I believe that Okaukeujo’s reputation is well-earned. Should you only have a couple of nights in Etosha I would highly recommend that you base yourself here. Not only will you be treated to game right on your doorstep, but also there are great facilities including a sparkling pool and nice bar area where you can cool off after a long morning’s game-drive.
– Roanna Verrinder