We leave Ongava for our shortest drive – just under 200 km – right across the Etosha game reserve. There are a couple of small administrative settlements along the way but, after we’ve had our passports scrutinised and paid our fee (N$170 for two adults and a vehicle – about £10) we’re free to roam pretty much anywhere. The rules are simple – don’t get out of your car. The park opens at dawn and closes, promptly, at dusk and the times, which vary daily, are clearly advertised. They don’t want anyone stuck in their cars after dark.
Our expectations were that it would be busy and we would drive steadily through in 2-3 hours. Wrong on both counts. We drive slowly through the park, stopping regularly to let groups of wildebeest, zebra and springbok leisurely cross the gravel road. Giraffe browse happily right at the road edge, and elephant saunter down to the waterholes. There might be two or three cars at the waterholes, sometimes five or six, but overall it’s very, very quiet. Everything is white, the dust clinging to the bushes, trees and the animals themselves; we see the famous ghost elephants of Etosha, where they’re turned white from rolling in the white mud. We finally drag ourselves away to leave the park and head for Mushara. Unlike Orongo, the entrance is about 10 km from the park gates and there are three properties. Mushara Lodge; Mushara Outpost, where we’re staying, and Mushara Bushcamp.
Mushara relies upon the Etosha Park for its game drives, so we really weren’t expecting unique sightings or experiences. It just goes to prove that, with an experienced guide a whole new world opens up. We watch rhino and, as the guides exchange information with one another, we come across three cheetahs resting in the shade of a tree. Before long they’re moving, and we follow as they begin stalking two springbok out on the pan.
Mushara Lodge is unexpectedly beautiful and luxurious. A recently renovated and extended house, the furniture, art and photographs are impeccably tasteful and the detailing carefully executed. Everything is, as they say, in the best possible taste. The public areas are spacious, seemingly over generous for the sixteen guests. The tented rooms are similarly beautiful – large and well equipped, the tents having recently been renewed and extended. Each tent has two showers – both external if you wish and completely private. Unlike most of the camps dining here isn’t family service (where you all eat together at a long table) but set out as a restaurant. The food is excellent and the presentation stunning; this is really a very upmarket country house hotel rather than a Safari lodge. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
Safari Lodge Mushara Outpost