Yesterday was our first of three days’ stay in Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. After a long drive from our campsite in Damaraland, including a brief stop at a supermarket along the way, we arrived at the Okaukuejo campsite around 2 PM. We will be at this site for two nights before we travel to another site (still in Etosha) for our last night of camping on this trip.

Upon arrival, everyone pitched their tents with their new tent-mates and then sat down for a long-awaited lunch. Then we walked to the watering hole together, which wasn’t far from our campsite. The watering hole is a little snippet of wild Namibia; it acts like a community gathering spot for animals of all shapes and sizes. Because of the current two-year drought in this country, any place where water is readily available becomes a hot spot for viewing wildlife — and so it was. Besides just being a gorgeous landscape view, this watering hole was riddled with springbok, oryx, giraffe, and black-faced impala at first sight. As the sun slowly started to sink, many of the animals started to filter out of our sight. But then an elephant lumbered in, followed by another and then another. In total, there ended up being seven elephants in the watering hole, all males. Elephant herds are dominated by a single, superior bull, and all young males are pushed out of the herd to prevent competition. What can happen is these male outcasts band together until they are old enough to assert dominance over the bull of another herd.

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Cameras and binoculars were pulled out to record the memorable moment. Most of the group remained by the watering hole, observing the elephants, right up until dinner time, and those that did were also lucky enough to catch sight of a black rhino in the dying light.

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After a delicious dinner, a few students chose to return to the floodlit watering hole for some more wildlife observation. They were richly rewarded when they discovered that the elephants were still there, along with four additional black rhinos and seven giraffes. They stayed up fairly late into the night watching these incredibly creatures, and then settled down for a restful sleep at the end of another great day.

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