Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
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Etosha
"Elephant got such evil eyes
Cased in armour
Twenty-thousand bodyguards"
        - Shriekback

    We arrived in Etosha Park earlier than expected on Tuesday afternoon, allowing us the opportunity of a 70km game drive straight off, basically just to get to our camp site. Etosha is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest wildlife-viewing parks: 20,000 square kilometers that are home to 114 mammal, 340 bird, and 16 reptile/amphibian species. And but so, the way game viewing apparently works is this: mainly folks drive around in trucks, buses, and 4x4s, traversing the dirt roads that crisscross the park, pulling over by numerous waterhole turnouts and seeing if any creatures are out and about. In large part, it's a real matter of luck, and we apparently had some our first time out. Here's what we saw:

Also, alternately, our campsite has a very cool on-site waterhole: a retaining wall surrounds it, to keep the tourists from the big cats, and flood lights kind of gently illuminate the depression. That evening, we went out to this stellar scene, sat in silence (and then in a thunderstorm), and were rewarded with any number of elephants – as well as a lioness and two cubs, and two rhino! However, I missed the lions – and couldn't get any decent shots of the rhino. But I have these two lovely elephant shots for you. Also, I came back at first light, where I sat swatting angry, buzzing flies and passed the time with a single, lonely Goliath Heron.

After that, at a decent hour, we all loaded into the truck, and headed out for another longish drive. Paul: "Okay, the rain has turned all the sand into mud, so there's a good chance we're going to get stuck at some point. When we do, I'm going to take the two biggest men – which I think would be Mick and David – and we're going to go out with the tracks and unstick the truck. Everyone else's job is to keep a sharp watch out for anything that looks like a cat." Doug: "And after the cats come, we'll send out the next three biggest guys." We didn't get stuck. We saw:

Mark and I discussed it, and agreed that the viewing was enjoyable, but not thrilling. It was a little more zoo-ey (or Busch Gardens-like, in Mark's metaphor), than we had predicted it would be – and it also felt a little more like something we needed/were expected to do, than anything we were really that keen on. Still, every day can't be breathtaking, and the pictures came out well, and no complaints. Also, I recalled that I was kind of disenchanted by my first Mayan ruins (Palenque) in Latin America, but subsequently blown totally away by later ones (Tikal). Similarly, we've still got Chobe, Serengeti, and Ngorogoro Crater ahead of us, wildlife-wise. See you on the way!
  africa     camping     photography     pitely     wildlife  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

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ARISEN : Odyseey, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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