Many tourists go on safari to see the Big 5: the Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, and Rhinocerous. These five animals were originally viewed as the most dangerous to hunt, since they could ... and would ... fight back. But today they are marketed as the key sightings on an African safari.
So, how many of the Big 5 did we see in our two days at Namibia's Etosha National Park? Zero. We saw some footprints from lion and elephants and we saw a good deal of, er, elephant dung. But we didn't spy any of the critters themselves. And you know what? We weren't disappointed in the least.
There were mammals and birds everywhere. In two days of game drives (and we mean drives -- you aren't allowed out of the vehicles), we saw the following:
Giraffe (including several pairs of males fighting)
Plains Zebra (some very pregnant)
Dik Dik (world's smallest antelope)
Warthog (who feed while down on the knees)
Banded Mongoose (a family of several dozen)
Bat (species unidentified)
Goliath Heron (world's largest heron)
Blue CraneKori Bustard
Grey Go-Away Bird
Lilac Breasted Roller
and dozens of more species
Rock Monitor Lizard (deceased)
Turtle (species unidentified)
Giant Millipedes (at least 10 inches)
So, why did we see so many birds and mammals but miss the Big 5? Well, it's been very wet of late, so the Etosha "pan" is full of water. That attracts legions of birds. But it also allows the mammals to spread out. If we had been here in the dry season, the mammals would have concentrated around scattered watering holes, making it much easier to see them, including the elusive Big 5.