Etosha National Park is an excellent national park for wildlife viewing, the best time being Namibia’s cool season from May to September. One of the largest national parks in Africa at a whopping 22,912km sq, 21% of the park is covered by the magnificent Etosha Pan.
763km of open roads around the park make for the ultimate self-drive African safari. Herds of elephants, black-maned lions and the world’s largest population of rare black rhinos gather at the 86 waterholes, springs and fountains found around the edges of the pan.
Etosha is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species and 16 amphibian species. The dominant vegetation in is Mopane – Omusati in the local language – and it’s so widespread in the north-west of Namibia that a region in Owambo is named after it. The western areas of the park support mopane scrub, whereas there are extensive woodlands of tall trees in the southern parts of park.
Dry season is from April to December, when Etosha National Park is formed by dust, heat and the never-ending Eotsha Pan. The pan is essentially a large depression of salt and dusty clay which fills for a few days each year after the heavy rains, and attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. Between January and April the rains come and there’s an explosion of color on the plains, with grasses, flowers and water pools.
The park is only open from sunrise to sunset (actual times are posted daily at rest camps and entrance gates), but if you’re staying inside the park, each of the camps has a floodlight waterhole where the game viewing can go on through the night. Okuakuejo waterhole in particular is renown, with sightings of rhino almost guaranteed just after dusk, along with herds of zebra, springbok and giraffe.
Day entry is $11 per 24 hour period, with an additional $1.50 fee per car.
Chill out by a waterhole for a few hours and watch the wildlife come to you.
Activities at Etosha National Park:
Guided drives are run by the three accommodation camps for $60, or night drives for $65.
Getting to Etosha National Park:
Etosha is in an isolated part of the country, – 325km north of the capital Windhoek – and public transport is not an option. You’ll need to either have your own vehicle (2WD fine for most roads in the park in dry season), or arrange a tour with a Namibian safari company..
Staying at Etosha National Park:
There are three main camps in Etosha – Okaukuejo, Halali and Nautoni – run by the NWR. A range of accommodation options are in place in all three camps, from great camping facilities ($20pppn) to mid-range chalets ($80pppn) and a few high end bungalows ($150+). There are also a range of mid-range accommodation options on the edges of the park around the Anderson Gate, as well as a few full on luxury lodge-type nature reserves.
Photos of Etosha National Park: