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February, 2012 | Lifestyle Integrity

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14

Feb

Namibia Day 6

Namibia Day 6 – Etosha Continues to Amaze

More on my adventures with The Hostel Life

Yesterday we got face to face with a pride of lions

Today we had to get up extra early to meet with a guide who was going to take us out in his open air truck to look for more game. Long before sunrise or breakfast we climbed out of our tents and quietly made our way out into the park.

Having gotten so lucky the day before and seeing a pride of lions we were all half thinking that we were already as lucky as we could get. Arrogantly, the other half of each of us was eager to see much more. Elephants and a leopard were on top of our wish-list today. Elephants we expected to see sooner or later. Leopards on the other hand are much more rare, camouflaged and shy. Most everyone we spoke with said that we should not expect to see one on our trip. Demanding the extraordinary while in this remarkable country we set out amongst the giraffe waiting for the sun to come up.

giraffe-sunrise

We then spent the next few hours driving around underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, the park is amazing and we saw many animals, from hyaena to blue wildebeast to snakes to giraffes and zebras. Oh how quickly the conditioned mind gets jaded. Then, suddenly, our guide stopped the truck and pointed into the brush along the side of the road. At first I saw nothing and wondered what type of pigeon he might have spotted. How wrong I was! Right there, sitting under the cover of a few branches, right on on the road, was a leopard!

leopard relaxation

We inched the truck forward ever closer until we were within feet of this massively powerful and jaw droppingly beautiful creature. He/she seemed somewhat indifferent to our presence until we tried to get within 10 or so yards. At this point the big cat got up and walked a short ways into the brush. We followed along for some time hoping to see the leopard walk out into open and cross the road. A couple of times she came close, but then turned back into the woods. In all we probably had 10-15 minutes with this magnificent creature.

Leopard Acacia Spikes

After that we called it a day and headed back to the camp. Along the way we saw an adorable group of mongoose hanging out around a sign. It’s hard to believe that these cute little ferret like animals are some of the best snake hunters in the world. We were just minutes away from our camp when suddenly our truck changed directions. Our guide had spotted something he couldn’t let us miss. The Black Rhinoceros is currently classified as critically endagered. Their existence here on earth is in jeopardy. Most will never see one, and our children may not even have the chance should we let them go extinct. None the less, here one was, chomping away on some plants right in front of us.

These animals are huge. With their massive bodies and that huge horn protruding out from its head I really felt like I was looking at a dinosaur. Although completely vegatarian this beast can easily weigh over a ton and is know to be rather aggressive. The thought of all that weight charging horns first is enough to give anyone pause. We kept a safe enough distance, but got plenty close to get a sense of just how enormous this grey, mud covered creature really is. Yet another rare opportunity offered to us here at Etosha National Park.

black-rhino

After that we headed to breakfast letting everyone we saw know just how lucky we had been. That left one burning desire in the group. We wanted to see elephants. We talked to a number of people on the staff of the park and figured out that our best bet was not to look along the southern road that heads straight west through the park below the main lake, but to drive north up another road. We got the name of a promising watering hole and headed out in that direction.

Wouldn’t you know it, luck shined upon us once again. Immediately upon our arrival at the watering hole we spotted a large group of elephants hanging out, drinking water, covering themselves with dirt and having a grand old time. There were young children alongside adults all enjoying the fresh water on this warm summer day.

Etosha-selfportrait2

We spent the rest of the day driving around the park marveling at the vast open spaces teaming with life large and small. Here we were having yet another storybook day in Namibia.

08

Feb

Namibia Day 5

Namibia Day 5 – Nature Continues to Amaze

More on my adventures with The Hostel Life

Yesterday we nearly got run over by Cheetahs!!!!!!!

Today we woke up early at the Treesleeper camp, ate breakfast, said goodbye to our new friend Moses and got on the road to head NorthWest to Etosha National Park. We were told that the opportunities to see game in their natural surroundings were many at Etosha, but no one could have prepared us for just how many different animals we would see in such a short time. After roughly an hour and fifteen minutes on mostly dirt roads we pulled up to the gate and headed into the park. Less than two minutes later, just driving up the driveway to Namutoni camp we saw a group of zebras crossing the road and then minutes later our first of many giraffe sightings. Seeing this massive animals cross right in front of our truck stopped us dead in our tracks with smiles on everyones face. After that we pulled into Namutoni to do a little shopping at the gift store, find our campsite and pitch our tents

namutoni

Once we were all set up at the campground we got back in the truck and headed out to find some watering holes and see what animals were out. Watering holes are where all of the animals must go eventually to get a drink and cool off in the hot Namibian sunshine. Before we even got to the first one we came across a large group of zebras. Adults and children walked around on both sides of the road eating, playing and even getting into the occasional playful tussle.

zebra tussle

After that we saw springbok, buffalo, red hartebeest, african storks, mongoose and a large group of giraffe hanging out drinking around the watering hole. It seemed like we couldn’t drive more than a few feet without running into some new animal that none of us had ever seen before in our life. The opportunity to see wildlife at Etosha is far beyond my wildest expectations.

giraffe self portrait

After spending an hour or so shooting video and stills and just marveling mouths agape at the many animals we decided that it was time to get back to our camps. The footage that we are getting here is gorgeous. I can’t wait for everyone to see it. We could shoot all day and into the night, but the weather was starting to worry us. The sky in Namibia is massive. In Windhoek we were at 1660M (5440 feet) altitude so the clouds seemed very close directly above, but due to the flat landscape we could also see for many miles in every direction. Here at Etosha it was very hot and sunny directly above us, but there were storms brewing off in the distance and they seemed to be moving in our direction. Seeing all of the lightning and distant rain we thought about our tents with the windows open and decided to call it a day hoping that tomorrow we would see some of the big cats or any of the other ‘big five’. The big five in Africa refers to the five most dangerous animals, but also the five that most who come hope to get a glimpse of. They are lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and buffalo. We got a distant look at a buffalo, but were yet to see any of the others. The leopard is an elusive animal with great camouflage and a reluctance to be near humans. The rest seemed possible to spot, but seeing a lion would be a real treat for me.

We headed back along the dirt roads in our 4×4 pickup truck when we noticed a couple of other vehicles pulled over to the side of the road as if they were looking at something. We pulled alongside and asked a safari guide what they were looking at. He said that there was a lion in the bush. We looked for a few minutes, saw nothing and then headed on down the road. Evan, our Director of Photography, then said that he just barely saw a lion really far back under a tree behind us. We drove for another half a minute contemplating getting stuck in a massive thunder storm and coming home to wet sleeping bags before deciding that we had to turn around and press out luck. I couldn’t be happier that we did.

lion pride

It took a while, but eventually we too spotted a lion off in the trees. At first I shot a picture of her ears and then two eyes came into view. This was it, an actual wild lion less than 50 feet from our truck. I was firing off photos thrilled to get the smallest bit of fur on film. What happened next I never would have imagined possible. First one lion came forward out of the trees walking right towards our vehicle. ‘Was this safe?’ I wondered as I hung out the window to get a clear shot? Next thing I know I see a little cub, then another, then another. They were bouncing around playfully tackling one another moving closer and closer to our vehicle. It wasn’t long before they were out in the street right right in front of us Mom and Dad keeping a watchful eye on both them and us all the while.

lion cub

We must have hung out with the lion pride of an hour inching along the road following them back towards the watering hole in awe of just how beautiful and peaceful this family seemed. At times it really seemed as if mom and dad were showing off their family for us. They certainly didn’t see us as a threat or show any desire to be anything other than friendly towards us. It wasn’t until the very last minute before we knew the park was to close that we decided to leave the lions to their wild Namibian home.

 

mama lion yawn roar

04

Feb

SexGodRockNRoll

Sex, God, Rock ‘n Roll
I recently became an Executive Producer. Stuart Davis reached out looking for some help with season two of his show Sex, God, Rock ‘n Roll and I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
He’s a freak of the highest caliber. I first heard about Stuarts music through Integral Naked, now Integral Life. He’s a long time friend of Ken Wilber and a ‘twisted mystic poet’ who writes, paints, sings and eventually started making his own TV show. An earlier version starred three versions of Stu bickering with one another. The newest iteration has him co-hosting with the gorgeous Kandyse McClure who all Battlestar Gallactica fans will certainly recognize. Check it out now on HDNet.

Every episode talks about guess what? Sex. God. Rock n Roll. It’s ridiculous, irreverent and brilliant. I’m proud to have played my little part in bringing it to the world. Above Stuart discusses Bayou Nature Mysticism with Kermit the Frog and below he and Kandyse