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A great white place

Blown away by the harsh beauty of Etosha National Park, Rose Gamble recounts her adventures in this vast wilderness
The ‘great white place’. A herd of wildebeest trek, in single file, across the 5000sq-km saltpan.
PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANS LANTING

As the sky purpled into evening, we drew up alongside a deserted waterhole. We had barely rolled down the windows onto the warm air when eight elephants ambled out of the bush. We watched as they drank, the two tiny calves half submerging their faces in the violet water, tails in the air. The sun sank lower and Aperol-orange tendrils crept across the horizon.

A lioness cools off at the Newbrownii waterhole, a few kilometres from Okaukuejo Rest Camp;
DANA ALLEN

After spending half an hour or so splashing and slaking their thirst, the group’s matriarch eyed our 4WD at some length, ears flapping questioningly. The octet then proceeded to march slowly back into the thorn scrub, walking a mere10m from where we were parked. My fingers hovered near the ignition keys. Once the last elephant had vanished into the darkening mopane trees we raced back to camp before night descended. The disappearing sun burnt red behind us while the hot, dusty air whipped through the open windows. I felt totally and utterly alive.

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