Etosha National Park
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There is nowhere in Namibia that matches the exceptional game viewing experience of a safari in Etosha National Park. This vast and arid area is of huge conservation significance in Namibia and is a haven for a variety of iconic African wildlife species including lion, elephant and rhino.
About Etosha National Park
The name Etosha means ‘great white place‘, referring to the huge salt pan that covers almost a quarter of the park’s 22,912 km² expanse. To the south of the pan is a network of watering holes, which are connected by well-maintained dirt roads that form the route of a typical day on a tailor-made Etosha safari.
To the east and west of Etosha are private reserves which usually maintain full traversing rights into the park itself. There are several excellent Etosha safari lodges to choose from on these neighbouring reserves, perfect for people who are looking to enjoy their evening sundowners away from the crowds of the park.
Etosha National Park Wildlife Safaris
A full spectrum of wildlife can be found on a luxury safari in Etosha National Park. Recorded mammal species in Etosha exceed 100, and four of the Big Five – elephant, lion, leopard and rhino – are all frequently spotted here. Sightings of elephant are particularly common on bespoke Etosha safaris, with over 2,500 individuals in the park. They have earned the name ‘ghosts of Etosha’ thanks to their covering of white dust, which makes for excellent photographs.
Zebra, oryx, black-faced impala and springbok are all seen in large numbers on the open grasslands of Etosha. Giraffes are also common sightings, and during the dry season groups of over 50 can be found near watering holes. Cheetahs are found in the park but sightings are rare.
During dry season wildlife gathers in incredible numbers around the watering holes, which are great places to witness interactions between species jostling for access. As a result, game viewing in Etosha is both easy and rewarding.
Etosha National Park safaris are always done as game drives. Self-drive safaris are possible, but we would never recommend visiting without a 4×4. Guides are available for hire, either with their own vehicle, or accompanying you in yours. In the reserves that neighbour the national park, activities are more varied, and it’s possible to arrange walking safaris and sundowners since the land here is privately owned. Game drives can also be done on the reserves and a vehicle and guide are often provided. Wildlife populations in the reserves are usually very good but do not match the experience of Etosha National Park itself.
Birding in Etosha National Park
Recorded bird species in Etosha exceed 340, with 35 types of raptor including the martial eagle, Bateleur eagle, pygmy falcon and the rare Verreaux’s eagle.
Ostriches and Secretary birds are often seen striding across Etosha National Park’s open plains alongside Africa’s heaviest flying bird, the kori bustard. Near endemic species such as Moneiro’s hornbills, bare-cheeked babblers, and violet wood hoopoes also make their home in Etosha.
Best Places to Stay in Etosha National Park
Etosha accommodation within the park is government-run, with three comfortable rest camps - Namutoni, Halali and Okakuejo - to choose from. Visitors can relax during the evening and watch the wildlife come for a drink at floodlit waterholes. The camp locations within the park means early access and later game viewing in Etosha is possible.
The neighbouring private reserves boast an excellent selection of accommodation, ranging from mid-level Etosha family safari camps and lodges to premium luxury safari lodges ideal for honeymooners. As a result, there is something for everyone and staying here is a great opportunity to escape the seasonal crowds of Etosha after a full day of game viewing.
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Best Time to Visit Etosha National Park
During the dry months from June to October, an almost inconceivable amount of game can be found around the watering holes of Etosha National Park. This is because there is less surface water around and the animals stay closer to permanent water sources. During these months the vegetation is thinner and so spotting wildlife is easier.
Etosha can be visited throughout the year. However, during the wetter months wildlife viewing can be less exciting. Animals tend to disperse across greater distances and are harder to find. This is particularly applicable between the months of December and April.
To see our month by month guide on the best times to visit Namibia, click here.