Etosha National Park Travel Guide

The park surrounds the Etosha salt pan, which attracts animals, particularly in the drier winter months.

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All the info to prepare your trip to Etosha Park. How to get in, maps, activities...
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Etosha National Park is the 2nd largest of Namibia’s game reserves (after Namib-Naukluft National Park , Africa’s largest and the worlds 4th largest nature reserve). It spans 20,000km² in Northern Namibia. The park surrounds the Etosha salt pan, which attracts animals, particularly in the drier winter months, because it is a source of water in a very dry land. Its name means “big white place”, referring to the Etosha Salt Pan. All facilities inside the park are run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts, a company owned by the Namibian Government.

History

Namuntoni: The waterhole in the camp first came to notice of Europeans as the place where travelers John Anderson and Francis Galton camped at the time that they discovered the Etosha Pan in 1851. From 1897 Namutoni served as a control post during the “rinderpest” epidemic. When the epidemic abated it remained a frontier post which supervised trade with Owamboland.

Landscape

The park surrounds the Etosha salt pan, which attracts animals, particularly in the drier winter months, because it is a source of water in a very dry land.

Flora and fauna

Wildlife that can be seen here include: Rhinos, Lions, Zebra, Giraffes, Gemsbok, Springbok, Wildebeest, Elephants, and Jackals.

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GET IN

To visit Etosha, one needs a vehicle. Visitors are not permitted to wander around the park (except in the enclosed camping/hotel areas) on foot. The B1 (from either Oshakati or Tsumeb) brings you to the park’s eastern gate at Namutoni. The C38, from Outjo bring you to the park’s southern gate.

There are also several safari companies operating from Windhoek and Swakopmund which offer tours of varying length in Etosha. Safari companies are also allowed to enter the western part of the park which is closed to private visitors.

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GET AROUND

As mentioned above, you need a vehicle to get around the park. The roads are all well-graded gravel, so there is no need to have a four-wheel drive. Since the dust generated by traffic is damaging to the environment, the speed limit is 60 km/h (37 mph). Be careful when driving on gravel roads especially when braking as there is very little traction available and one can skid very easily. Remember to fuel up in advance as the fueling stations are only at the camps and distances in Namibia are deceptive.

SEE

  • Animals! Throughout the park, particularly at watering holes, of which there are many.
  • Rest Camp watering holes At all three rest camps, there is are watering holes just outside the perimeter fence. At night they are lit with flood lights and visitors can sit and watch as the animals come down to drink, flirt and occasionally fight well into the night. They are ideal places to wander down to with a sundowner after getting back from a days game spotting.

Visitors are not allowed out of the rest camps after sunset so the waters holes can provide the opportunity to continue watching the animals after dark.

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DO

What else to do then see the wildlife! From every hotel there are possibilities to do a game drive, be sure to bring your binoculars as some animals (like lions or cheetahs) can only be watched when distance is kept. Also when close to animals be very quiet, most animals will be scared by the slightest noise. The best time to easily see a lot of wildlife is in the afternoon around 15:30, beware however that most hotels and lodges close their gates at 6 in the evening. When you want to visit the park after the gates are closed you will need a special guide to accompany you.

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Buy

A good map that has all the water holes that tells you where to see the animals you may want to see.

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SLEEP

There are three designated rest camps for visitors, enclosed by walls and fences. All three having camping and more permanent accommodation, petrol stations, pools and shops for those things you forgot. The gates for camps open at sunrise and close at sunset. You are not allowed outside of a camp during night. Bush camping is not permitted. All three camps have waterholes with floodlights.

  • Namutoni – At the east gate of the park. This is on the site of an old German fort which was burned down many years ago in a raid by the Ovambo people from the north. Today the fort is a hotel. There is also a shop where you can buy food and basic supplies.
  • Halali – South of the pan and situated about half way between the other two rest camps. This has the most impressive floodlit water hole with a viewing platform – you can walk down after setting up camp and sit here at sunset, drink a sundowner and watch the animals come down to drink.
  • Okaukuejo – At the south entrance to the park. There are small huts available, as well as a restaurant and pool. Be sure to have a look at the waterhole around midnight, you can often see rhinos even during wet season. This has the best layout among all the camps and the best waterhole for sitting down and watching animals.

Prices

All three camps have been renovated currently. From November 2007 prices will go up extremely; a room for two persons in Namutoni is 150 N$ per person and night today, from then on it will be 1200 N$ per person and night, but including breakfast and dinner. Prices for campsites will doubled in most cases.

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Stay in your car; wild animals can be dangerous. There are plenty of picnic spots around the park where one can alight from your vehicle, but these are not all fenced so be on the lookout for animals. At night, jackals may walk around your campsite, they will usually flee when they see you but be careful, some jackals cary rabies. Although all campsites are fenced, do not sleep outside, especially not on the benches surrounding the waterholes. The fence is not high there and not really an obstacle for a lion. Etosha is in the malaria zone, so take appropriate precautions.

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North-east of Etosha the Caprivi Strip offers more game parks and is en route to the Victoria Falls.

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Etosha National Park is the 2nd largest of Namibia’s game reserves and it spans 20,000km² in Northern Namibia. The park surrounds the Etosha salt pan, which attracts animals, particularly in the drier winter months, because it is a source of water in a very dry land. Its name means “big white place”, referring to the Etosha Salt Pan.
Travel and tourism in the Etosha National Park. How to get in, maps, activities & where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Etosha National Park Travel Guide.

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Michel Piccaya

About

As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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