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Etosha National Park - Namibia

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One of the world's pre-eminent wildlife areas, at the turn of the century the governor of then German South West Africa proclaimed an area of nearly 100000 square kilometres as a game reserve - until modern times, the largest reserve on earth. Present day Etosha National Park was pared down due to political considerations in the 1960's and is now a modest but still very impressive 23175 square kilometres in extent.

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.

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The Pan itself is believed to have 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 its endemic species of impala, the black faced variety 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.

Etosha's drawback is that the only accommodations within the park are the three large rest camps that become especially crowded during regional school holidays. (Entry is by permit only - reservations should be made well in advance)

Particular points of interest include:

  • Andoni (the northern most waterhole) - excellent birds
  • Namutoni - the former imperial German fort, a good view from the ramparts and tower
  • Klein Namutoni waterhole - the best place to see black-faced impala
  • Fischer's Pan (near Namutoni) - excellent birds, good for springbok and wildebeest
  • Bloubokdraai road - good for Damara dik-dik (Africa's smallest antelope)
  • Chudob waterhole (near Namutoni) - especially good for eland and giraffe
  • Batia (between Halali and Namutoni - near Springbokfontein) - elephant, blue wildebeest and springbok
  • Halali - well shaded camp site in an area of dolomite outcrops
  • The Charitsaub, Salvadora/Sueda waterhole cluster (between Halali and Okaukuejo) - excellent for plains game
  • Oliphantsbad (near Okaukuejo) - excellent for elephant
  • Okaukuejo ("the place of the women") - site of the Etosha Research Station, a good place for black rhino under the floodlights at night, has a good view from the water tower across to the Ondundozonananandana Mountains
  • The Haunted Forest (near Okaukuejo) - a forest of legendary moringa trees (Moringa ovalifolia)
  • Ongava Game Reserve - private reserve at Andersson gate on the southern boundary, night drives, game walks and the presence of white rhino are particularly good

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