The Etosha National Park is Namibia’s top tourist attraction. The 22 270 km² park is the most visited Namibian wildlife sanctuary. It is home to impressive numbers of giraffes, elephants, black rhinos and antelope.
Etosha’s waterholes are famous amongst tourists for spectacular game viewing and scientists for the presence of endemic species. Consider visiting Africa for a safari during the dry season.
The terrain is out of this world! You can expect to see Southern Africa’s largest salt pan in the east, Marula Trees in the north, Moringa Trees in the west, and lots of Acacia thorn trees in between.
Read on for the ultimate guide to the Safari’s, Landmarks, Wildlife and Camps found in the Etosha National Park.
A self driven safari differs greatly from the well orchestrated safari’s offered by South African and Namibian companies. When self driving with children try to travel short distances to allow for game viewing. You can give them the responsibility of identifying and recording the animals once spotted. The gravel roads in Etosha are well maintained and are suitable for a rental or normal passenger car.
Commercially offered safari’s have the right vehicle for the experience offering unobstructed views and a guide who can respond in real time. You can expect your guide aboard a multiple day overland safari to greet each of the twelve passengers by name. With the itinerary planned and accommodation booked you can relax and enjoy your safari experience.
The name ‘Etosha’ means ‘Great White Place’ and is easily understood when viewing satellite imagery of the large salt pan. Measuring 130 km in length and up to 50km’s in width in some places the Etosha pan is enormous and is even visible from space. Following rain during the summer season the salt pans are visited by thousands of birds including flamingoes.
Etosha receives approximately 14 inches (348mm) of rainfall per a year with the months of January through to March recording the most rain and the highest temperatures. The rainfall is lowest in the western areas of the park with rainfall records averaging 2 inches (50mm).
The winter months from July to September usually receive the least amount of rain. The dry climate and scarcity of water provide a great opportunity for wildlife viewing. We recommend visiting the Etosha Pans during the months between the two seasons for a safari which is neither wet or dry.
The Etosha Pan is by far the most distinctive feature of the National Park. It covers roughly a quarter of the National Park. Visiting the pan in the early morning or late afternoon on a game drive provides the best lighting for photographs.
The pan was once the location of a great lake whose tributaries have long since disappeared and changed course due to shifting tectonic plates and changes in climate. Namibia’s Etosha National Park was originally inhabited by the Hai//om, a group of hunter gatherers, who co-existed harmoniously with the wildlife in the area.
Etosha National Park Game
Namibia has recorded 217 species of mammals and 676 bird species. Of these, Etosha is home to 114 species of mammals and attracts over 340 bird species seasonally. Four of the Big Five can be found in the Etosha National Park with the exception of the buffalo.
The best animal sightings are usually during the bone-dry winter months when the animals are drawn to the numerous watering holes. It is not uncommon to sight a black rhino at these watering holes. Some of the camps in the park have floodlights at the watering holes providing a great opportunity to see hyenas, leopards and cheetahs visiting the water at night.
Etosha National Park: Map
We suggest downloading a satellite map of the area you are visiting as well as picking up a physical map with detailed road markings. The Etosha National Park is easy to navigate with well marked gravel roads making it suitable for self drive safaris.
Remain in your vehicle unless signs permitting you to exit your vehicle are visible. Assign a passenger in the car with the task of marking off your locations and sightings.
Etosha National Park Accommodation
There are five different camps in Etosha. These include two luxury lodges that are located in secluded areas of the park. The accommodation available in Etosha ranges from camping and 3 star accommodation to luxury lodging. All of the camps are fenced except for Dolomite and Onkoshi which do not offer camping facilities.
Halali has bush chalets, camping, a restaurant, and a swimming pool. It offers great wildlife viewing from a flood-lit wateringhole and guided drives in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The camp offers basic groceries and has a convenient fuel station.
This historic fort is home to the Namutoni Camp which offers bush chalets, double rooms, camping, a restaurant, swimming pool, jewellers and a bookstore. Visit the fort for a unique vantage point at sunset or view wildlife from the nearby flood-lit waterhole.
Okaukuejo is the largest camp and serves as the admin headquarters. The waterhole has floodlights providing a great night time viewing of Black Rhino, Lions and Elephants.
Olifantsrus only permits camping and does not provide accommodation. It does however feature a dual level hide which is perched above the nearby watering hole.
Dolomite Camp is a luxury camp located in the far west of Etosha and offers permanent luxury tents perched on a dolomite hillside.
Onkoshi is a full-service luxury camp on the edge of the Etosha pan. Guests arrive at Namutoni before being transferred in the camp’s own vehicles. The chalets are built on raised wooden platforms and have canvas walls and a thatched roof.
Other Namibia National Parks
Namibia has a proud conservation record and is recognized internationally for its conservation efforts. The country has 20 state run protected areas which cover a total of 17 % of the land in Namibia. You might be asking, how big is namibia?
Namibia is 824 292 km² and can take a considerable time to travel from one side to the other. The Etosha National Park covers 22 935km² and is the focus for most overseas visitors. The Fish River canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and is worth visiting during your trip to the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park on the border between Namibia and South Africa.
It is likely that you have seen the massive sand dunes at Sossusvlei in a movie before. Dune 7 is the highest sand dune in the world (383 meters) and is located in the Namib-Naukluft Park.
Namibia Vegetation: Trees & Plants
Upon first glances the Etosha and Namibia at large have very few trees and plants. There are however over 4,300 plant species in Namibia with nearly 17% occurring nowhere else on earth. Visiting Etosha you can expect to see Namibian Mopane trees, Tamboti trees, Wild Figs, Makalani palms, Marula trees, and several species of Acacia thorn trees.
The pans in the Etosha park are considered saline deserts and have no presence of plant life with few savannah grasses able to grow close to the borders. Visit the haunted forest made up of Moringa trees on the western side of the pan.
Final Thoughts on The Etosha National Park, Namibia
No trip to Namibia is complete without a safari, game drive and wildlife sightings! Etosha National Park is the largest National Park and offers affordable and luxury accommodation. The wildlife within the park attract visitors from all over the world for an authentic experience.
Visit Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni for an unforgettable camping or chalet experience.
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