Exploring Etosha National Park
Nestled in northern Namibia is my favorite destination in the country Etosha National Park. It’s the largest and most diverse park in Namibia and derives its name from the massive Etosha (meaning great white place) pan that dominates the park landscape. I visit it minimum 2 to 3 times annually and decided to add it to my blog due to its popularity with tourists.
One of the main reasons for Etosha’s popularity is due to the abundant animal and bird life and the guarantee that you will be able to view them en masse. It is described as the best destination to view wildlife in Southern Africa (Lonely Planet and Getaway Magazine). In all of my visits, and there has been many, I have never failed to see at least three of the Big Four (there are no African Buffalo) present in the park. On occasion I’ve seen herds of 40 plus elephant at a time and I’m not even mentioning all the other animals. Note that the best time to visit is during our winter months (May – October) when animals are forced to the man made watering holes. I have visited during the rainy season and the difference is significant.
Typically a day in the park starts with getting up early, making coffee and heading to the waterhole to enjoy some early game viewing. Afterwards you’ll enjoy breakfast followed by spending the day in your vehicle exploring the park and searching for those perfect photo opportunities. Just before sunset you’ll head back to camp (the gates close at sunset) have a quick swim whilst enjoying an ice cold local beer. With your beer in hand you can head to the waterhole again for some night game viewing. For dinner you can either head to the camp restaurant or prepare the perfect meal on you camp fire.
The most frequent question tourists intending to visit Etosha ask is where do they begin. There are several entry points to Etosha and with the recent opening of the Western side the number of gates have increased to four. I always decide where to enter based on where I want to leave from i.e. If I am heading to the coast after my visit to Etosha I’ll enter at Von Lindequist (East) and exit at Galton Gate on the Western side. If you are arriving from Windhoek (south) the easiest gate to access is Anderson Gate via Outjo or Von Lindequist via Tsumeb.
Which camps should you visit? By far the best, mainly due its amazing waterhole which is lighted at night is Okaukuejo. Because of its popularity booking is essential if you intend to stay over here. Bookings can be done directly via the Namibia Wildlife Resorts website or via email or phone at the Windhoek or Swakopmund office. In my opinion, the worst camp and one that you can give a skip is Namutoni. Maybe have a look at the Old fort and then move on. Also remember that the camps are managed by the Government of Namibia and are not privately owned. This means that facilities and experience may differ significantly at the various camps and do not expect 5 star luxury. Many of the camps have basic facilities and at times can be a bit run down. Etosha’s beauty is the landscape and the animals that inhabit it and that is where you should be spending your time. I have not visited the newer camps so will not be able to provide an accurate assessment of these.
Etosha is a must see if you are visiting Namibia regardless of how many parks you’ve visited and animals you’ve viewed elsewhere. It is unique in so many ways and a trip to Namibia would not be complete without it. I can, as many others do, highly recommend it.
-Please refrain from posting photos of rhino or discussing rhino sightings on social media and other public platforms as poachers use these to locate our precious rhino.
-If you are on a budget purchase your supplies at one of the chain stores in Windhoek. All the camps have a shop, but its contents are basic and overpriced.
-Rent your own car, its easy to get from Windhoek to Etosha and will allow you a lot freedom once there. A 4×4 is not necessary.
-To truly enjoy the park you need to spend a couple of days there moving between the various camps.
-You have to spend at least one night at Okaukuejo for which booking is essential. Recently, NWR has introduced an online booking function on their website.