Rateldraf & Klippan
These waterholes lie fairly close together in the previously restricted western section of the National Park, at the northeast corner of a loop road with Klippan being closest to Dolomite Camp and the Galton Gate to the south.
A stay at Dolomite is thoroughly recommended and my wife and I had a fantastic short break here during our second holiday in Namibia. We left Okaukuejo just after first light for the 290 km drive to Dolomite. The accommodation opened in June 2011 and initially only guests staying there were granted access to the surrounding area by driving there from Okaukuejo. Now, however, visitors can also access the western section of Etosha directly from the south via the Galton Gate.
Backed by low-lying hills, Rateldraf is another of Western Etosha`s picturesque spots. The stonewalled reservoir and windmill are about 150 metres away from the trough and don't encroach on the scene. Also, the light for photography is good throughout the day. The action usually starts around mid-morning when Zebra, both Burchell's and the less common Hartmann's Mountain species, Giraffe and Springbok start to appear. Wary animals and expectant photographers can easily scan the distant scrub and vegetation to see what's on approach and the reddish soil adds another element when kicked-up by animals during a sprint or scuffle.
I didn`t take many shots here, spending far more time at Klippan and our chalet at Dolomite Restcamp. Pictured above is one of several Kori Bustards seen strutting its stuff at Rateldraf. The Kori Bustard is the largest of several bustard species in the region and the adult male Kori is the world`s heaviest bird capable of flight. They appear to be fairly common throughout Etosha and I`ve seen several individuals take to the air, although the birds are reluctant to do so and only travel a short distance unless directly threatened.
At first glance it looks as though this male lion is King of the Rateldraf waterhole, but he`s actually seriously injured. It was only when he stood up and began walking that I saw he had a very bad limp, possibly as result of a fight with another lion, or sustained during a hunt. Unable to defend himself or get his next meal, it`s doubtful that he`d survive more than a few days.
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These Giraffes feeding among the trees were spotted beside the main Dolomite loop road...
As mentioned in the Etosha West page, other accommodation options within Etosha National Park, and most of those outside the perimeter, offer an early breakfast so that guests can take advantage of the prime game viewing period around dawn.
Possibly due to the fact that there are no gates or fences at Dolomite, the earliest you can breakfast here is 7am which is just when the sun comes up. Luckily, the two nearest waterholes, Dolomietpunt and Klippan, are only a 10-15 minute drive away, which allows over 2 hours of wildlife watching before returning to eat.
The only disadvantage as we discovered, was that there probably won`t be much left on the buffet table when you get back! I took the shot of the sunrise during the walk down to the car park to collect our 4x4 - not exactly a relaxing stroll as big cats could be lying in wait among the rocks, ready to pounce on unsuspecting guests for their breakfast!
Our early start paid off, finding this lion and lioness, obviously on a mission, just a few hundred metres along the Klippan waterhole road. They crossed and re-crossed the road several times before locking their sights on a mixed herd of Oryx and Wildebeest beside a distant tree-line. There was no one else around and it was just like watching your own real-life wildlife documentary! The door mirror intrudes in the corner of the above shot and shows just how close the pair came to the car.
As the sun rose, it gave the landscape a rich orange hue.
The scant remains of a putrid zebra carcass, which had no doubt been killed by this pair a few days earlier, obviously was no longer an option.
Rather than utilise the area with thicker vegetation to their left for cover the lions made a direct approach but their intended prey took flight, throwing up a big dust cloud in the process. Fortunately for several Ostriches in range, they weren`t on the breakfast menu.
The lioness burst from cover and charged on ahead but her attack failed. Exhausted, the pair lay down and had a short nap.
The big guy must have had some energy left, however, and despite having nothing to eat for breakfast....
Time for Seconds...
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It certainly looked as though missing out on breakfast once in a while isn`t too much of a problem!