The Line Between Reality & Dreams – My Namibian Safari (Day 3)

Etosha National Park Safari Roads

The last day of my Etosha National Park safari was about to begin and while everyone else was hoping to see lion cubs, I was secretly wishing for more giraffes. They are my favorite animal. Awkward yet graceful, shy yet funny, beautiful in their own way, I feel I can relate to them the most. When I’m introduced to someone or something new, I’m embarrassed, nervous, anxious. It’s only when I’ve been around them for awhile that I’m comfortable and myself. I wish I could say I was more like a proud, strong, stoic lion, but I’m the giraffe hiding behind the tree.

We drove west from Okaukeujo, entering new territory. The best part about Etosha National Park is that the animals are completely wild, untagged animals. There’s no predicting where they’ll be. It’s truly a safari where your guess is as good as the next person’s guess.

Wildebeest at Etosha National Park

Wildebeest at Etosha National Park

We were around Wolfsnes area when we spotted a large herd of wildebeest. While I wasn’t as excited as the day before when we were stopped by hundreds of zebras, I was still awestruck. Reminding myself that they were completely wild, unpredictable animals, I shut off the truck and watched attentively. They moved slowly amongst impala and zebras. I often thought of wild animals in singular groups rather than mixing but this was quite common in the park. I assume they help each other against prey, but maybe you know better. I’d love to learn more. Now that I’m back to the land of technology and internet, I’ll research more, but while I was there I was able to let my imagination and experience do the talking.

I took too many photos to count and put the camera down to truly take in the experience before leaving. That was the hardest part sometimes. I live in a world and have a career where photos are an important part of my day, but to fully experience and remember an African safari, it was just as important to put the camera down. Some moments I didn’t even pick it up. They were just for me.

Not even ten minutes after seeing the herd of wildebeest, we noticed six giraffe, in two groups of three, walking toward bushes. I was in my glory! They looked like cranes on the horizon and moved in unison. I did snap a few pictures but I could never capture their actual beauty or elegance.

Giraffe at Etosha National Park

Giraffe at Etosha National Park

Another group stood eating and when they noticed us, they stood completely still as if we couldn’t see them. I burst out laughing. These huge, tall, spotted creatures were playing hide-and-seek like children as if we couldn’t see them. It reminded me of Athena when she puts her hand on her face and thinks I can’t see the rest of her body. I wonder if their mentality is similar to a child’s? It left me thinking about them and their thoughts for the rest of the day.

Giraffe at Etosha National Park

We reached a waterhole around Okondeka, I think, and the giraffes continued to impress me. I remember seeing a giraffe poster when I was in university; it was of a giraffe drinking water with its legs spread wide and its head hung low. I loved it so much that I had to buy it and put it up in my living room. I must have looked at that poster a thousand times and wondered why its legs were spread apart to drink. When I saw it in person, I felt like my safari adventure had come full circle. From a dream and a vision to reality, Etosha National Park was everything I imagined and more.

Giraffe at Etosha National Park

I still had four days left in Namibia, but I could have flown home that moment and it still would have been the best trip of my life. I’ve always heard that an African safari was life-changing, but all of my trips are life-changing. Every experience is life-changing. This was different though. While being away from family, friends, and “normal” life, I became more connected to them. It’s difficult to explain but others who have done it would most likely understand.

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33 thoughts on “The Line Between Reality & Dreams – My Namibian Safari (Day 3)

  1. Wonderful photos. What an amazing experience!

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  2. Wow, what a trip! Love this so, so much: “When I’m introduced to someone or something new, I’m embarrassed, nervous, anxious. It’s only when I’ve been around someone for awhile that I’m comfortable and myself. I wish I could say I was more like a proud, strong, stoic lion, but I’m the giraffe hiding behind the tree.” Thanks for the photos, and mostly, thanks for your wonderful honesty.

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  3. I completely understand, there is something about an African safari that is magical, life changing, inspiring. I know it made me feel totally grateful for the amazing world we live in, and totally connected to family to everything. Giraffes were the thing I most wanted to see too. I adore their elegance and also find them so amusing. For a few days we didn’t see any, but when we did I was elated, so I know exactly how you felt!

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  4. Wonderful post. I believe that safaris can change our way to see life. To see the wild animals free is a very special experience. The giraffes have so beautiful brown eyes that it is easy to fall in love with them 🙂

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  5. What an inspired post – welcome to my world! Born into a family of zoologists working night and day on research and conservation management of some of the wildest parts of Africa, I am regularly humbled when I realise how fortunate my childhood was… At the time, tales of city life and international travel were mesmerising – now I am blessed to have lived in both extremes. The outside is inside all of us and your statement about putting the camera down sometimes is so apt… Glad you waited until after you captured these fantastic images! If you ever want to get really close to wild giraffes, add a horseback safari on your bucket list for next time… Best regards – metiefly

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  6. Amazing post !! My daughter Carolyn and I spent 2 weeks in Gambia, West Africa when we visited my son David who spent 3 years there in the Peace Corps…

    It truly was a life changing experience !!

    Blessings in Christ, bruce

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  7. Hi Lesley, as I read your post, I thought that this trip seemed to open you more to yourself and others. It was interesting to hear your thoughts about the giraffes mentality. Travel truly opens the mind, don’t you think?

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  8. Ha ha. I believe I like the giraffes best too. What came to mind after your story about the poster and the giraffe with spread legs is me in high heels bending down to pick something I’ve dropped. I have to do the same thing for balance and to better reach the ground. Too funny. Love the pictures. What an awesome adventure. Stupendous. 😀

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  9. I think giraffes drink like that to compensate for the weights of their long necks, no? They usually eat from trees so they’re not like horses or cows who are constantly bending over to eat grass. When they bend down, it must be an unnatural position for them. At least’s that’s my theory.

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    • So quick update: turns out their necks are too short to reach the ground which is why they bend down on their knees or awkwardly splay out their legs to reach water. The more you know!

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  10. I laughed about the giraffes pretending you weren’t there. The deer that live around our property do that quite often, and it is really funny. They stiffly look the other way. They can’t see us; we aren’t there.
    One other aspect the giraffes persona matches yours: you both are naturals at ‘sticking your necks out.’ Thanks for the enjoyable series and letting your personality shine through. –Curt

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  11. I, too, laughed at the giraffes games of hide and seek. They are the most unusual animals. I think I would probably relate more to the zebras as I was raised with horses, I’m certainly not at all shy and I like bold and bright colors. Zebras are right up my alley! But, all the animals in the wild are just a blessing. I cry when I read about an iconic elephant being slaughtered for its ivory. What person in their right mind would covet something that caused such suffering. I’m glad these animals are protected, at least as far as possible.

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  12. Pingback: My Article Read (6-22-2014) | My Daily Musing

  13. A safari has been on my bucket list for a long time so thank you for sharing this wonderful adventure. I’m hoping in the next few years to do this as well. Awesome pictures and what a thrill to see them in their natural habitat, so free. Beautiful.

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  14. Definitely on my Bucket List. I love the photos you took and your writing about your experience on Safari. I understand the dilemma of taking pictures and stopping to enjoy and absorb the moment for yourself. Great job and great inspiration.

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