Etosha-Namutoni (and more gravel road than you thought possible)

On the road to Namutoni
Between Okakueujo at the west end of Etosha to Namutoni at the east lies 120km of white, gravel road. I have never in my life driven on so much gravel nor travelled such a distance at 50km/hr (except once with a spare tire 80km outside Rochester, NY on a Sunday). It was along this road however, that I saw cheetah in the wild (very rare), and more springok than you could shake a bunny rabbit at (they are Namibia’s rabbits). Half way between Okaukuejo and Namutoni is Halali where I stopped for lunch. Going out however, I followed the sign pointing us in the direction of Namutoni but encountered a road closed sign with directions for a detour. I travelled along this road for a good half hour and with each passing minute I concluded that we had been led down a blind alley. The road itself seemed to be parallel to the one we were on before the detour and going back in the direction we came. I turned the car around, doubled back and got some info. Yes, the sign was wrong but they hadn’t gotten around to putting up a sign at the exit from Halali that the direction to Namutoni had changed. So sorry, have a nice day. Ok, then!
Along the way I encountered several stopped cars. Now when cars are stopped and no one is saying a word it is because something special is happening. In this case, it was a family of cheetahs resting in the shade. This was communicated to us in a loud whisper. While we obviously did not pose a threat to the mother, she nevertheless decided to move further away. I managed to photograph some of the action from the car window in between other cars moving forwards to get a better view. It was kind of amusing as everyone’s eye were on the cats and only peripherally on where they were going.
While the wrong was long and wearying, I did see many wonderful animals. Here is a gallery of pictures from that portion of the trip. The photo captioned DSC_3563 is a mirage. At first I thought it was a lake but with the searing heat I knew it could not be true. What I saw but knew not to be true collided in my mind. I realised fairly quickly that it was a mirage, but while I had seen what looked like water coming off a very hot highway, I had never seen a true mirage of such huge proportion before. Such is Africa.

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