Etosha National Park is Namibia's top game-viewing destination and is rated as one of the best safari destinations in Africa. Covering some 22,270 square kilometres of dramatic landscapes in northern Namibia, Etosha is home to a rich diversity of wildlife and birds, despite its stark appearance. The open terrain and sparse vegetation are ideal for spotting animals, especially when they congregate at watering holes during the winter months from June to August. The unique Etosha Pan stretches out over about a quarter of the park in an endless dry expanse where mirages rise in the heat. When the rains come, the barren desert transforms into shimmering, shallow lakes.
- One of the best game parks in Africa
- Game viewing up close at watering holes, floodlit by night
- Dramatic Etosha Salt Pan scenery
- Wildlife concentrated at waterholes
- Established rest camps and private lodges
- Good road network for exploring the park
- White salty sands cause trademark 'white' elephants
Dominated by the desert-like Etosha Pan of northern Namibia, towards the Angolan border, this famous national park provides a stark and captivating setting for watching its high concentration of African wildlife. The action-packed wildlife show of Etosha Park boasts a dazzling cast that counts the endangered black rhino and black-faced impala in its number of 114 mammal species.
In Etosha, visitors will see big game wandering along the fringes of the vast white-sand pan and emerging from the mirages to roam across the open plains. The easiest way to spot an assortment of game is to stay put at one of the many watering holes that dot the bush, south of the dusty pan. Out here in the harsh environment of Etosha, the dramatic battle for survival plays itself out as hyena, lion, cheetah, jackal and other hunters compete for prey. The smorgasbord of fair game for hungry predators includes zebra, giraffe and a varied selection of antelope, such as gemsbok, eland, kudu, roan, red hartebeest and blue wildebeest.
Exploring Etosha – Inside the Park
Etosha game drives mostly explore the open grasslands and plains along the southern edges of the inhospitable Etosha Pan from Namutoni in the east to Okaukuejo in the west. The rolling hills in the western part of the park, lying further from Etosha Pan, offer a slightly different game-viewing experience to the barren pans.
Oliphantsbad (Afrikaans for elephant's bath) in the southern part of the park, closest to Okaukuejo Rest Camp, is known as a good place for sighting elephant. Okaukuejo itself has a reputation for being the best place to watch rhino at the camp's watering hole after dark, as well as being a good spot for seeing a variety of large game throughout the day. Halali's waterhole, mid-way between Namutoni and Okaukuejo, is known for its frequent leopard sightings at night, along with good lion and rhino sightings. The newest of the camps, Dolomite, sits in the previously-restricted western part of Etosha, where high concentrations of wildlife roam.
Staying in Etosha Park
The main camps are well maintained and feature a variety of amenities and accommodation options catering for low-to-moderate budgets, from basic camping to luxury chalets. The three older rest camps each have a floodlit watering hole for spotting nocturnal wildlife and birds. The main public camps are Namutoni, Halali, Okaukuejo, and the newer, more exclusive Onkoshi Camp, on the edge of Etosha Pan, and Dolomite Camp, tucked away in the west. The main camps feature restaurants and bars, fuelling stations, shops and swimming pools.
The drive between Etosha and Windhoek takes about six hours on a well-maintained tar road. There is no public transport to and from, or within the national park; you can either travel with a tour company or embark on a self-drive safari from Windhoek.
Etosha is one of Africa's most accessible game parks as it is easy to reach and explore in a sedan (2WD) vehicle. The park can be accessed via four main gates
- Anderson in the south,
- Galton in the west,
- Von Lindequist on the eastern side and
- Nehale lya Mpingana (King Nehale) gate on the northern border.
When travelling to Galton gate, arrive before 13h00 if you're heading further than Dolomite Camp. If passing through King Nehale gate, check that it will be open at your time of travel.
Halali Camp is one of the three main camps in Etosha, run by NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resorts). The camp is centrally situated and boasts a large swimming pool and a viewing hide overlooking a waterhole.
Okaukuejo Camp is one of the three main camps in Etosha, run by NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resorts). It's the most popular camp in the park and has a beautiful floodlit waterhole where you can watch the animals come and go.
Namutoni is one of the three main NWR (Namibian Wildlife Resorts) camps in Etosha, open to the public. It's built in the style of an old German castle, a bit of an odd-looking white structure in the dry surroundings.
Mokuti Etosha Lodge is a private lodge on the 4000ha Mokuti reserve, adjacent to Etosha. It is close to the national park's eastern gate and offers easy access to the park.
Mushara Bush Camp and its sister lodge, Mushara Lodge, are situated just outside Etosha and offer affordable safari accommodation close to Etosha's eastern entrance, the Von Lindequist gate.
Set on the private, established Ongava Game Reserve, these three safari camps: Little Ongava (flagship), Ongava Tented Camp and Ongava Lodge, offer the best of both worlds: unhurried private game viewing within Ongava and excursions into the world-famous Etosha National Park. Aside from elephant, all the larger game are free to roam between the two parks, known for healthy numbers of black rhino, white rhino, black-faced impala and lion.
Andersson’s Camp will be closed for a rebuild from 1 January 2018 to August 2019 for a more upmarket offering with seven guest units and a family unit. The new campus for the Ongava Research Centre will also be established here before the reopening.
Andersson’s Camp is family-friendly and ideally located to enjoy the extensive and private 30 000-hectare Ongava Game Reserve, with excursions into neighbouring Etosha National Park – Namibia’s most famous wildlife safari destination. It's also one of the best places to see black rhino and white rhino in southern Africa.
Etosha Safari Lodge and Etosha Safari Camp are situated about 10km outside of Etosha, and offer upmarket accommodation with beautiful views over the surrounding landscape. Popular with bigger groups.
Etosha Mountain Lodge is situated on a hill outside the Etosha National Park, with beautiful views over the surrounding landscape.
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Andersson’s Camp will be closed for a rebuild from 1 January 2018 to August 2019 for a more upmarket offering with seven guest units and a family unit. The new campus for the Ongava Research Centre will also be established here before the reopening. Andersson’s Camp is family-friendly and ideally located to enjoy the extensive and private 30 000-hectare Ongava Game Reserve, with excursions into neighbouring Etosha National Park – Namibia’s most famous wildlife safari destination. It's also one of the best places to see black rhino and white rhino in southern Africa.