Etosha National Park
One of Africa’s greatest safari destinations, Etosha delights every time
National Park is one of Namibia’s wildlife highlights. One of Africa’s greatest safari destinations, Etosha delights every time, adding to the already bizarre collection of Namibian landscapes.
A visit to the 22,000 km² wilderness is a top highlight on a Namibian safari, offering unique wildlife and game viewing and 86 springs, fountains and waterholes, including a floodlit waterhole at each of the park’s main tourist camps allowing for fantastic photographic opportunities. The park is completely fenced off for the protection of the animals. Dominated by a vast saltpan its eastern territory formed over 2 million years ago when the Kunene Delta dried up and its riverbed shifted. It covers an area of almost 5,000 m².
Etosha National Park proclaimed as Namibia’s first conservation area back in March 1907 by the German colonial administration by the governor of German South West Africa, Dr. Friedrich von Lindequist. It opened its gates to tourists for the first time in 1955 but only proclaimed a national park in 1967. Reason for the creation of the conservation area was the near depletion of once the abundant wildlife through poaching and big game hunting. The word Etosha means ‘place of dry water’, the ‘great white place’, or ‘place of emptiness’. The pan itself covers a staggering 4 800 km² and is the largest of its kind in Africa.
Wildlife and nature
Etosha is a sanctuary for wildlife and highlighting birds some of the most common and rarest wildlife species. The pan surrounded by grass and thorn savannah, Mopane bushland in the west and dry forest northeast. The pan is just about always dry. However, in the southern parts there are waterholes scattered throughout the area, forming the basis of life for countless game. In the western part of the park, there are 5 natural and 27 artificial waterholes, in the eastern part, 29 natural, and 12 artificial waterholes. These found on the maps that one receives when entering the park.
In Etosha, you can see four out of big five with the Buffalo being the exclusion. An estimated number of 250 to 500 lions are in the park, abundant number of rhinos, giraffes, zebras and more than 2 000 elephants. There is a wide variety of antelope species within Etosha: Oryx, kudu, eland, wildebeest, and impala.
The dainty springbok is especially numerous; at least 20,000 of them roam the reserve. Included in the 114 mammal species found, are the endangered black rhino (largest number in the world), cheetah, and black-faced impala. Etosha’s elephants are the largest in Africa; the tallest, measuring up to 4 m, you are also able to see blue wildebeest, hyena, and leopard.
Bird life is particularly wonderful during the summer months. There are over 340 bird species: raptures, owls, hornbills, Rüppell’s parrots, eagles, harriers and the Egyptian vulture to name but a few. During the rainy season, one million flamingos use Etosha as a breeding ground. Visit the Fisher’s Pan for the best bird viewing.
More about Etosha
The park is easily accessible by road and by air with many private owned airstrips outside the park, making it a great destination for self-drives, guided tours and fly-in safaris. The main entrance to the south is the Anderson Gate; the Von Lindequist Gate lies in the east and the King Nehale Gate northeast.
Etosha National Park has a good infrastructure and has well-maintained gravel roads leading to the waterholes, where game viewing is at its best as these are huge drawcards for thirsty animals. This makes for easy wildlife sightings and exciting predator-prey interaction. Peak drinking times for game is between 09h00 and 15h00. Patience pays off when the game comes down to the waterholes to drink; predators are not far behind. Visitors should approach and depart from waterholes slowly with little noise as possible to avoid disturbing the game.
The four rest camps inside the park are state owned. These offer African styled campsites and chalets with leisure facilities, swimming pools, restaurants, and shops. If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, we highly recommend the private game reserves that lie adjacent to Etosha, offering wonderful accommodation with five-star service and planned safari activities, 4×4 game drives on the reserves and into the park itself, cultural tours and walking safaris.
The park is open all year round, though the gates close at 17h00 in the evening and open again at 08h00 in the morning for visitors to enter. The probable rains between the very hot December and February transforms the area into a lush garden dotted with wildflowers which is great for bird lovers while April to July brings about the best game viewing season thus ensuring a busy park with many visitors enjoying the sunny and warm days with fresh mornings and nights. August to November is the peak season with chances of seeing all manner of wildlife.Outjo
The town founded as a small military base in 1897 and primarily used to explore the northern reaches of Namibia. The main importance of the town lies in supplying the surrounding farms and in its vicinity to the Etosha National Park. Etosha’s Anderson Gate is 100 km north of the town.
It sometimes serves as a stopover for one night for people on their way to the park. The bakery, Bäckerei Outjo well known for its wide selection of cakes and is popular for lunch breaks. The town has several major banks, a hospital, and a selection of hotels, supermarkets, and petrol stations.
Otjiwarongo, a Herero word meaning ‘a good place’, is a large town situated in the central north region of Namibia, situated about 250 km north of Windhoek.
An interesting feature in town is Namibia’s first crocodile farm, ‘The Crocodile Ranch’. This is one of the few captive breeding programs for ‘The Nile Crocodile’. The crocodile ranch offers additional attractions such as birds, rabbits, tortoises, and snakes. Enjoy light meals, including crocodile delicacies on the patio.
The town has all the usual amenities associated with a large town, restaurants, shops, petrol stations, banks, and ATM’s, pharmacies, accommodation providers and a hospital.
A hidden jewel close to Etosha is Tsumeb also called the ‘Garden Town’ the gateway to the northern parts of the country and has a total population of approximately 15,000. Tsumeb is a large city, offering wonderful accommodation options for tourists as well as activities and attractions to excite the whole family.
Ovamboland (Owamboland) is a region in Namibia bordering Etosha Pan to the south, Kaokoveld in the west, Angola in the north and the Kavango Region in the east. After the capital, this region has the largest urban concentration of people in the country. The area covers a total surface area just over 56,100 km². The term Ovamboland originally referred to the parts of northern Namibia inhabited by the Ovambo ethnic group. It comprises mostly of communal farming land, which is land where there is no individual ownership or demarcation, where the majority of the inhabitants live from the existing farming. The Ovambo people reside in the flat sandy grassy plains north of Namibia. These plains are generally flat, stone less and are at high altitudes.
Watercourses, known as Oshana’s, irrigate the area. In the northern regions of Ovamboland, you will find tropical vegetation sustained by abundant but seasonal rainfall that floods the region into temporary lakes and islands. During the dry season, these pools of water empty out. The Ambo people have adapted to the widely varying seasonal weather patterns with their housing, agriculture, and livestock practices.
A visit to the region provides an opportunity to meet the Oshivambo speaking people, experience local culture, tastes and traditional homesteads. The best time of the year to visit these regions between April and May after the rains when the heat of the summer has cooled down, the roads are more suitable for driving, and the wetlands still host a wide variety of water birds, such as cranes, storks, ducks, herons, and small waders.
Found about 25 km northwest of Tsumeb, the Otjikoto Lake is a source of many myths and stories. The lake is 125 m deep and together with the neighbouring Lake Guinas is the only natural lake in Namibia. German troops sank some of their weapons into the lake in July 1915 before surrendering to the superior South African Army. Some weapons were retrieved and restored and are now displayed in the museum in Tsumeb.
Surrounding Private Game Reserves
There is a variety of private game reserves outside the Etosha National Park. Lodges provide a selection of accommodation from bush camps to luxury suites.
Is a private lodge on the doorstep of Etosha National Park, only 8 km from the Von Lindequist Gate, this gate is on the eastern border. The Mushara collection offers everything from child-friendly bush camps to the supreme luxury of the Mushara Villa. The variety of accommodation and the quality of the finishes make the Mushara Collection unique. You can make the most of your holiday while relaxing in one of their beautiful lodges.
Ongava Game Reserve
Is located between the mountains to the south. The Anderson’s Gate in the south is the nearest gate. At Ongava, they pride themselves in luxury and comfortable accommodation. What sets Ongava Game Reserve apart is the large conservation area within the perimeter of the reserve. Guests can experience a unique and exclusive wildlife.
The 30,000 ha conservancy
offers visitors the perfect escape into the Namibian bush.
Onguma Nature Reserve
Is one of Namibia’s best-kept secrets. There are five lodges, two campsites and a 34,000 ha of private wilderness to explore. You can be sure of a comfortable stay.
The Nature Reserve situated on the eastern side, bordering the Fisher’s Pan. The location is ideal for visitors who want to see an abundance of wildlife in their camp while avoiding over-crowded campsites.
The lodges are a perfect destination for the appreciative naturalist. There are more than 300 bird species, making it a bird watchers paradise during the summer months. The Reserve offers a selection of activities from interpretive bush walks to massage therapy.
The Nature Reserve has numerous plains game including kudu, giraffe, eland, oryx, hartebeest, mountain and plains zebra, and impala. Big cats such as lion, cheetah, and leopard have become everyday residents of the area. The latest addition to the already abundant wildlife is a family of black rhinos!
Etosha Heights’ Safarihoek Lodge
Is located on one of the largest private game reserves in Namibia, sharing an approximately 70 km boundary with Etosha National Park and offers a robust 60,000 ha of unspoiled wildlife and tranquillity. Experience this untamed and untainted wilderness from Safarihoek Lodge. Nestled on a hillside amongst Mopani trees overlooking a large waterhole and the vast expanse of Etosha, Safarihoek is a spacious and elegant lodge.
Epacha Game Lodge and Spa
Is situated on the 21,000 ha Epacha Game Reserve. There are 18 luxury chalets spread over the hills overlooking the private game reserve. The lodge boasts a luxury villa. Game drives in the Etosha National Park are available throughout the day as well as in the Epacha Game Reserve.
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