Namibia: Game Meats and Game Drives

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Africa, Namibia, Play-by-plays | 0 comments

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Entering Namibia was like coming back into the Western world. The border post is fancier. The toilets are stocked with paper and soap, and the supermarkets are huge and have anything and everything you want. I even found hummus! There are more German speakers than I’ve seen anywhere else, save maybe for Germany itself, and all the towns definitely still show signs of German colonial influence with the architecture, draft beers (crappy bottled beer is getting annoying),and even vestiges of colonial clothing.

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We only spent a couple of hours in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, but the stark contrast to the rest of African counties we have visited is worth noting. Plus our dinner at Joe’s Beer House merits a mention. The restaurant is obviously a tourist haunt, but it serves up a variety of game meat, including oryx, kudu, ostrich, zebra, springbok, and crocodile along with typical meats like beef and chicken, some vegetarian and seafood options and German inspired sides–sauerkraut! The bar is stocked with beers, South African wines, and J√§ger.

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I had a taste of just about everything, but sadly forgot which kebab or steak was which animal. I’d say all were delicious– one was too gamey for me (too bad I have no idea who) and the crocodile was weirdly cartilagy (yes that is a word). The oryx carpaccio I got as an appetizer was also excellent. It had hardly any fat, was very tender and it, along with all the other meats made me very hungry on our subsequent game drives in Etosha National Park.

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Having seen a variety of wild animals in the Maasai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro, Chobe River, etc it is hard to get super jazzed up for game drives these days. Still we managed to see different species of zebra, rhinos, and local antelopes like springboks, oryx, etc. My favorite part about Etosha was the watering hole at our campsite. It attracted every kind of animal throughout the day and night and gave us a chance to observe them in as natural of a way as really is possible without getting trampled.

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In the afternoon we watched elephants drink and play around. Then a pack of zebras ran in and out for a sip. And the giraffes were stalking the watering hole super carefully, waiting for the elephants to leave. The giraffes were the most fun to watch because they take utmost care to guarantee their safety and aloneness at the hole. Because it takes them about a minute to lower the neck into water into a super awkward spread leg position that leaves them vulnerably to attacks, the giraffes are on constant alert and really jumpy at any kind of noise. Later in the evening we saw four rhinos grunting around and sharing the watering hole with a giant elephant. Meanwhile birds were flying around and jackals running around scavenging.

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Our last major animal encounter was at the Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park, which I will just call the cheetah farm for the sake of simplicity. The guy who runs it rescues cheetahs that nearby farmers otherwise want to get rid of (cheetahs like to eat the farmers’ livestock) and releases the animals into a reserve. The cheetahs can still hunt and have their wild instincts, but are still fed both on the farm and in the reserve as they are not truly wild. We got to observe the cats, pet them, and watch the feedings. One of the weirdest things was actually seeing one of the cheetahs play with the farm dog: they were really rough–kicking and biting and rolling around–but neither hurt the other as if they thought they were brother and sister.

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Next up we are switching things back to adrenaline activities, deserts, and dunes!

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