ETOSHA NATIONAL pARK LODGE
In the mornings red-billed francolins and guinea-fowl bring the day to life with sounds that seem to emulate the starting of a car on a crisp cold morning, and during the day pale-winged starlings swoop, red-billed hornbills and crimson-breasted shrikes search for delectable morsels and Egyptian geese honk and crash land on the cool water.
The deckchairs overlooking the waterhole are prime seats for the bush show and the outside fire and view, the starlight and smiling moon making them gallery seats in the outdoor theatre.
Zebra, kudu, black rhino, giraffe, impala, springbok, wildebeest and a profusion of birds can be seen at various times, and lions may wander through, their grunting calls possibly enlivening the jackal and hyaena cries, zebra snorts and wildebeest bellows of the night.
An indoor fireplace and well-positioned lights encased in the woven brittle-bush fish traps of northern Namibia infuse the open central area in a cosy, bush ambience.
The sitting area flows into the dining area, and to the open kitchen where the resident chef Taurai Chizu, dressed in black and flaunting a Cheshire-cat grin, prepares his delicious cuisine, including his chocolate cake and eland steak made to melt in your mouth.
Alternatively, when catering for a full camp of eight people, he bakes bread and cooks on the deck fireplace, creating African dishes with culinary flair. Taurai has been with the camp since its inception in June 2007 and has witnessed leopard visits and lion kills at the camp waterhole.
The thatched-roof bungalow guests have no need to fear the proximity of wild and possibly hungry animals, being approximately 2.5 metres above ground, and having the choice of sleeping with canvas walls open to be part of the night and natural world, or if chilly or vulnerable, to zip up for a sound sleep.
A wooden deck with canvas chairs, outside shower and indoor toilet and wash area complete the room. For those nature lovers who enjoy the outdoors, this is a piece of heaven. Sleeping between warm winter sheets under a mohair blanket surrounded by feather pillows and encircled by a mantle of white mosquito netting, you are lulled into a peaceful luxurious sleep by the open-air orchestra.
Activities at Onguma Tree Top Camp include early morning and afternoon game drives into the Etosha National Park and sundowners and night drives into the Onguma Reserve.
A sundowner drive through the area reveals a variety of animals glowing in the afternoon light. Black-faced impala leap over the road, zebra watch warily and wildebeest disappear into the thickets. The soft light accentuates the creamy pom-pom flowers of the black-thorn trees and the subtle perfume of the acacias fills the air with a sublime scent.
The sun catches the fur of a slender mongoose with a black-tipped tail that pauses, standing up on its hind-legs to gain a clearer view, a secretary bird on an umbrella-thorn glances down as the vehicle passes, and a kori bustard walks through the long grass in search of small prey.