Etosha National Park, Namibia
Each time we visited this peaceful waterhole we were treated to a variety of antelope as well as warthogs and a variety of birds (including thousands of helmeted guineafowl).
It was tranquil and the antelope brought an atmosphere of grace all of their own. We sat here for such a long time, many times just watching. It was totally magical.
We were treated to the presence of giraffe on one occasion at this waterhole, but, quickly the small viewing area filled with vehicles who slewed in sideways ensuring their premier viewing but leaving no space for the likes of us hwo had driven for hours and had children esperate to see... it became apparent these ewre Etosha's tours and they were obviously in radio contact for them all to appear from nowhere.
and note of etiquette... do turn your engine off when sitting and watching.
Watching a (floodlit) waterhole at night is wonderful and magical.
The best time for waterholes is in the dry season - the less the water, the more animals that will gather. But, it should be noted that the dr season is Africa's winter and, whilst the days are still gloriously sunny and warm to hot, the mornings and nights are FREEZING.... especially when you are sitting still watching and waiting. In late July/early August padded jackets, hats, gloves, thermos flasks etc... would not have been out of place. We thought we had enough layers but we underestimated - we soon ran back to our room to get the throws to wrap around ourselves and to make cups of tea!
Despite being frozen - as were all, except the very experienced winter night waterhole frequenters, the rewards were quite simply awesome. Our waterhole did not disappoint - 4 white rhino (including a calf) - 2 adult males having a little "disagreement about who had the right to be there) and then several herds of elephants who meeted and greeted one another - stroking trunks and shunning a couple of loners... and our children... more interested in a rat scurrying around near us!!!
If you come all the way to Etosha, really, you need to try to get to a waterhole at night. However, it is at a premium... you are going to have to stay inside the park and that will suddenly bring the cost of your accommodation up a notch because there are only 3 lodges - Okaukeujo, Halali & Namutoni Resorts and they have the in-park-accommodation-market all sewn up!
Having spent 3 days in Etosha, my opinion is, if you are on a budget, stay outside the park except for the one night you would like to be at a waterhole. There are som good and considerably cheaper accommodations to be found literally just outside the gates - so you can still get up, get in and have a full day inside Etosha.
As with everything in Namibia, Etosha is BIG - over 20,000km surrounding the Etosha Pan.
The general public are not allowed in the west of the park (which takes up about 1/3 of the total area of the park).
You can get around the park easily in a 2-wheel drive vehicle. Or you can organise safaris at one of the lodges... You will sit higher up and therefore have a greater vantage point and guides all seem to have super spectacular eye sight BUT if you have your own vehicle it is a waste of money... drive yourself!
There are 3 rest camps in the park (Okaukeujo, Halali & Namutoni Resorts) which all have information centres, shops etc... Recommend you stop at the first one, Okaukuejo Rest Camp (just inside the Anderson Gates) to pick up a map of the park... I had my Lonely Planet map but it was not as comprehensive as the parks official one.
On entering the park you will be asked to fill out the obligatory visitors forms. Payment is per day, so if you are staying inside the park you will pay upfront for the duration. If you stay outside, you will pay for every new day you enter.
Etosha is vast. We spent 3 days there and did cover most of it. It is possible to drive around for ages and not see so much as a ground squirrel but see lots you will and especially at the waterholes. The best ones seemed to be Aus (for eland, kudu and other antelope species), Sprinbokfontein (for more zebra than you could possibly ever imagine seeing in your lifetime) and Kalkheuwel (for herds and herds of elephnats and giraffe).
Apparantly,The Etosha area was used as a backdrop during the filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not particularly relevent to anything else, but I felt you should know!
The Etosha pan is a large salt pan in the north of Namibia. The 120-kilometre-long dry lakebed and its surroundings are protected as Etosha National Park, one of Namibia's largest wildlife parks.
It was first explored by the Europeans John Andersson and Francis Galton in 1851. American commercial traveller McKeirnan visited the area in 1876.
The area exhibits a characteristic white and greenish surface, which spreads over hundreds of kilometres. The pan developed through tectonic plate activity over 10 million years.
About 16,000 years ago, when ice sheets were melting across the Northern Hemisphere land masses, a wet climate phase in southern Africa filled Etosha Lake. Today, Etosha Pan is seldom seen with even a thin sheet of water covering the salt pan.
Now the Ekuma River is the sole source of water. Typically, little river water or sediment reaches the dry lake because water seeps into the riverbed along its 250-kilometre (55-mile) course, reducing discharge along the way.
You can't get out and walk on it as no roads go over it and you cannot leave your vehicle once inside the national park (unless you fancy being a lions dinner!)
Another comfortable Government run rest camp with waterhole.
This camp is distinguished by a fort built by the Germans in 1902-03. It was erected as a border post and was attacked in 1904 by 500 Ovambos during the Herero uprising
.The garrison of seven German soldiers successfully defended fort for the whole day and retreated later during the night. Next day fort was completely destroyed by Ovambos.
After Herero uprising Namutoni fort was rebuild and later used as a police post but during the course of time fall in disuse. Restoration works began on the end of 30s when one of the towers was destroyed by lightning.
In 1950 the Namutoni fort was declared a National Monument
Etosha, which was declared a game reserve by the German kolonial administration back in 1907, covers an area of more than 22 000 sqkms. In its centre lies a vast saltpan surrounded by grass and thorn savannah, Mopane bushland in the west and dry forest in the north-east. About two million years ago, this area was an enormous lake, fed by the Kunene river. However the lake slowly dried up because over time, the river changed its course.
The Etosha National Park has a good infrastructure. Well-maintained gravel roads lead to the waterholes, where game viewing is at its best. In the three restcamps Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni, hotels, chalets and camping sites are available as well as restaurants, stores and swimming pools.
The pan is just about always dry. However, in the southern parts there are have water-holes scattered throughout this area and form the basis of life for countless game.
Be it a lion or an elephant, a giraffe or a zebra; almost all African animal species are represented in the huge nature reserve, approx. 22 000 square kilometres in size. There is an estimated number of 250 lions in the park, 300 rhinos, 2 500 giraffes, 6 000 zebras and more than 2 000 elephants. The dainty springbok are especially numerous; at least 20 000 of them roam the reserve. Often, they can be observed in enormous herds of several hundred animals.
The Etosha National Park consists of three restcamps. The biggest one, Okaukuejo, lies about 120 kilometres north of Outjo - on the south-western border of the Etosha saltpan. This is also the main entrance to the Etosha Park with its administration offices.
The restcamp has a petrol station, supermarket, kiosk, restaurant, picnic spot, swimming pool and a waterhole, which is floodlighted after dark.
Its government run so don't expect to be in the lap of luxury but its well enough run clean and in good condition.
One highlight is to spend the evening at the floodlight waterhole. Its like a mini wildlife documentary with a succession of different animals slipping silently out of the shadows to come and drink. In the space of 2 hours I saw Elephants, Giraffes, Oryx, Hyena, Black Rhino, and a lion.
A vast area on Namibia's central plateau, a haven for 93 mammal species and 340 bird species, the park's focal point is the Etosha Pan - a flat saline desert, 130 km long by 50km at its widest in the eastern sector of the park. The park covers 23175 square kilometres which was reduced from over 100,000 sq km in the 1960s to make way for farmland.
The Pan originated over 12 million years ago as a shallow lake fed by the Kunene River. Subsequent climatic and tectonic changes have since lowered the water level so that the pan only holds water for a brief period each year - it teems with flamingos and pelicans in the summer. The saline and mineral residues together with moisture from perennial springs attract an immense number and variety of game and birds from mid March into November just before the new wet season starts.
Etosha is known for impala, and is said to have the tallest elephants in Africa, measuring up to 4m at the shoulder. The park is also well recognised as being one of the last wild sanctuaries of the endangered black rhino.
Despite the massive size of Etosha, only the southern edge of the pan is accessible to casual visitors. There are three rest camps within the park at Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni. An extensive network of roads links the campsites with over 30 water holes in the central and eastern region - ideal places to sit and wait it out for game.
I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about seeing lots of wildlife but I was not dissapointed. In the course of only 1 day I saw: Giraffe, Elephant, Lion, Leopard (v rare!) Impala, Oryx, kudu, Hyena, Jackal, Ostrich. check out the travelogue section for photos.
Etosha National Park is 22'270 square km and is one of the biggest parks in Africa.
You will have the opportunity to view wildlife when going on game drives as well as observing the animals at waterholes, in the resorts for example. The best times for animal viewing is early in the morning or late afternoon.
We were lucky to see a lot of animals, zebras, elephants, lions, kudus, etc. We could have stayed for hours, sitting silently in the car, watching the elephants. Really amazing experience to be so close to them!
Observing the animals at waterholes is also a must.
Perfect moments like watching the sun go down, while the animals are drinking... Bliss.
Really, you shouldn't miss Etosha Park when travelling in Namibia!
Etosha translates to the Great White Place, which is no surprise - it's pan is most easily seen from the plane, a wide expanse of shimmering white. Seen from the Etosha lookout the white explanse of snow-white sand seems impossibly interminable.
Etosha is one of the prime attractions of Namibia, and one of the best National Parks in Africa. The arid conditions in the dry season cause animals to gather at specific waterholes, making them easy to view compared with other parks in Africa. Also, the park is made for self-driving, which is another plus in itself. Another definitive plus is that this is one of the best places in the world (if not the best) to see rhinos.
Some of the animals in the park include: Black Rhino, White Rhino, Elephant, Windebeest, Oryx, Red Hartebeest, Black Faced Impala, Springbok, Zebra, Eland, Kudu, Giraffe, Dik-Dik, Warthog, Hyaena etc. Of course there are the big cats - lion, cheetah and leopard - though these might take a bit more work to find ... Etosha is also great for birdwatching. Look out for birds of prey, bustards, korhaans, hornbills, rollers, ostrich, helmeted guineafowl and secretarybirds.
For more info about Etosha, and loads of other animal pics, check out my Etosha pages
Etosha is one of the largest game parks in Africa covering an area of 22,270 sq km. The central landmark here is the Etosha Pan. Covering nearly 5000 sq km, the pan is vast salt plain, remnant of a large inland lake. The pan is mostly dry but occasionally floods bringing thousands of flamingos and white pelicans. The surrounding limestone formations create a reservoir that supply the pan and various water holes with water to support the huge numbers of plant life and wildlife. Most of the vegetation grows around the surrounding pan in the limestone ground. Sweet grass and umbrella-thorn acacias provide the greatest source for browsers and grazers. The park boasts 114 species of mammal including black-faced impala, black rhino, mountain zebra, and brown hyena.
Check out my Etosha National Park page for more information.
Etosha National Park
Of course Etosha is one of the must if you come to Namibia.
I went in October, it was very hot, but we saw many animals. How you see them? ... you see them as you go driving along the park, but specially at the waterholes where they go to drink during day and night.
What can you find there?
Black Rhino (I saw)
Elephant (I saw many)
Gemsbok (I saw many)
Giraffe (I saw many)
Zebras (I saw many)
Ostrich (I saw)
Springbok (I saw many)
Red Hartebeest (I saw many)
Wildbeest ( I saw many)
Lions ( I saw many .... two times, over 15 together and one alone)
Kudu ( I saw many)
I did went to Etosha with a very good guide Uanee. Thanks to him we saw all the animals we saw with detail.
If you go to Etosha you should go with a good guide that will make you see every bird and go to the waterholes at the best times
Oukakoueja Camp has (as the other two camps in Etosha Ntl Park: Halali and Namutoni) a waterhole that is lighted in the night. This one in Oukakoueja is the waterhole where you most likely see most animals.
Starting after dark, it seems to be a theatrical play: Here come the giraffae, very cautious and slowly they proceed to the waterhole. Why so cautious? Because there are lions around. You haven´t seen them yet? But you will. They keep the giraffae at a distance, at least until the rhinoceros arrive.... and they only stay until the elefants come...
Don´t forget: the gates of the Camps iin the park close at sunset. You have to be in before that happens
More Tips: Dress with long sleeves and use a repellent against the mosquitoes.
Take a flash light with you (especially, if you are not staying in the bungalows on the camp but on the campsite)
This is a must when visiting Namibia. The siza of park is 4/5 of my island Taiwan. You can see most of the Big Five here. But I saw a lot of giraffs and zebras.
If you go with a organised tour, I think you can standing on the seat of the bus looking out from the roof, which is a wonderful experience.
Etosha NP in the north of Namibia is an absolute MUST!!!
It is a huge salt pan surrounded by flat bushland. You can see almost each kind of African animals there at the water-holes, that are scattered throughout the area of this huge nature reserve, approx. 22,000 square km in size.
The Etosha National Park has a good infrastructure with well maintained gravel roads and three restcamps. Hotels, chalets and camping sites are available as well as restaurants, stores and swimming pools. During high season it might be advisable to get reservations in advance!
Take a couple of days to enjoy all the animals at the waterholes!!! It is absolutely fascinating!