The Etosha National Park is one of the greatest places in Africa to watch animals and enjoy the wild life of Africa. It is very easy to find your way, as roads are marks as well as to spot the animals.
Etosha National Park
Of course, Etosha is a protected area and there are rules to abide by for the welfare of the habitat, animals and visitors.
A list of the rules can be found in the following website:
But I will outline the main rules:-
** You are not allowed out of the car outside the restcamps or picnic sites
** Speed limit is 60km/h
** Keep on the road
** Restcamps open at sunrise and close at sunset, so it is important to be back at the restcamp in time as it is not allowed (and it is dangerous) to sleep in the car in the middle of the park.
If you are really into animals, invest in a wildlife book and a bird guide and study them a bit before the Etosha safari. These will help you identify the animals, and will outline some behavioural traits that may help you find them or interpret what they are doing.
The most important thing is then to get hold of information about waterholes, where they are, and which animals frequent them. I have found the following book INVALUABLE in this regard. It is named Etosha National Park: Guidebook to the Waterholes and Animals. It is a small, cheap book that is on sale at the shops in the restcamps. It has maps of the waterholes, information about the park, information and pictures about the animals in the park and most importantly lists of animals found at each waterhole. It will prove invaluable to helping you plan your days according to what animals you want to see.
Also, if you can, take along a pair of binoculars – they will help you see the birds better and also take a closer look at the bushes or horizon to spot any animals.
Patience is a virtue, especially for wildlife viewing. Take your time at the waterholes and lie in wait, silently observing what is going on. Scour the skies and branches for birds, and look out for any slight movement or sound – many animals are very well camouflaged.
Fondest memory: Finding the animals on your own gives you a great satisfaction, and enriches an already wonderful experience of being in this special place.
This is a tip especially for those planning a self-drive through the park. With a few pointers you shouldn’t be worried about not seeing any animals – Etosha is a great place to self-drive and find the animals on your own.
First of all plan at least 3 nights to give you enough time to see as many animals and as much as the park as possible. Secondly – don’t fall into the trap of trying to see too much by visiting everywhere! Thirdly, to maximise the time at the park if you have 3 nights, spend a night at each restcamp. In that way you will cover all the areas with ease without having to worry about getting back to the restcamp at sundown (the gates close by that time!)
So here’s the deal. The animals congregate at waterholes, so the strategy here is visiting the waterholes and not driving around aimlessly. So get hold of a good map, and visit some waterholes each day. Plan to spend some time at the waterholes, switching off the car, making yourself comfortable and waiting in silence. Work your way through waterholes this way until you arrive to the next restcamp.
Fondest memory: Etosha will surely provide special unforgettable moments for everyone, but surely what will remain imprinted in my mind are the glorious lighting of dawn and dusk, the nightlife at the floodlit waterholes, the encounters with the rhinos and lions, and the elephants which crossed the road in front of us just a few metres away …
I thought these birds were kori bustards until I got this email of a birdwatcher VTer, roamer61. He checked in his guide to the Birds of Southern Africa before informing me that
Kori are actually brown in coloration and have a prominant crest. So these birds on the pic are actually blue cranes. Thank you very much roamer61 ;-))
"A mirage is usually defined as a phenomenon where light is reflected from a shallow layer of very hot air in contact with the ground, the appearance being that of pools of water in which inverted images of more distant objects are seen" (http://www.bufora.org.uk/archive/mirages.htm)
We saw many of them in Namibia, especially in Etosha and in the Namib desert. In some places we really believed it was water but we soon realised our mistake ;-)
Contrary to the squirrels found in Europe, ground squirrels don't live in trees, even if they can climb trees very well, but in the ground where they dig burrows. Ground squirrels are widespread in Namibia and are not afraid of people at all. There were plenty of them in the campground and they even came to eat in our hands. They are so cute, we couldn't resist.
Very impressive fact : ground squirrels have, in proportion to their size, the largest testicles of the mammal in the world but for a sense of decency, I won't load the picture on vt ;-)
Favorite thing: The top of the food chain. Vultures feed almost entirely on dead animals. Once they find a meal, they circle it in the sky before descending. We saw some of these huge birds on our last day in Etosha. Some were waiting on the trees, some were still flying around the carcass of a large animal, and others were already eating. Very impressive.
Favorite thing: Small antelope (about 50 cm) with large ears covered with white hair. We were very lucky to see such small antelopes like the Damara Dik-Dik or the Steenbok because they are much more difficult to spot at the end of the rainy season due to the high grass.
Favorite thing: One of the most impressive moments of our safari was when we saw a spotted hyena - also called laughing hyena - crossing the street in front of our vehicle to go hunting the game on the other side of the road. It was so unbelievable to see it so close to us but we were not the only ones staring at this dangerous predator : the giraffes and the springboks suddenly stopped eating and watched in the direction of the hyena (see my intro pic). It was fantastic to see.
Favorite thing: Do I have to mention this was one of my favourite moments in Etosha ? Not only is the giraffe one of my favourite animals because it's so pretty with its long eyelashes and elegant long neck, but in this breathtaking sunset, it looked even more beautiful. We actually saw a whole bunch of them walking in front of the sun, it was just like in a dream.
Favorite thing: I initially wanted to take a picture of the sunset behind the only palm trees we saw in Etosha but we drove a bit too fast and instead of having a paradisiac picture, I have a huge termite nest in the sunset ;-) But anyway, it's a good example showing how big these nests can be. It's amazing to see such a big nest for such small animals.
Probably one of the ugliest, but also one of the funniest, always running with its tail in the air ;-)
Fondest memory: One of my favourite moments was when I came back from the swimming-pool to have a shower, I found myself face to face with a warthog that was quietly walking around the ablution blocks in the campground ;-)
Favorite thing: Two kinds are to be found : the red and the blue wildebeest. They are usually found in herds but this one was alone and we followed it for a while. Poor thing, it looked so skinny and tired. The wildebeest can in fact walk very long distances in search of food and water.
Favorite thing: We saw plenty of them in Etosha. Here, they were crossing the road in front of our vehicle but some of them seemed to be too tired to reach the other side and just had a little rest in the middle of the road ;-)