Etosha National Park

'Etosha' - the name conjures up images of a wilderness of stark, wide-open spaces and that's exactly what this Namibian National Park is - the crown jewel of Namibian Parks.



The park is built around the huge salt pan, which takes up about 21% of the park.

Etosha Pan


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The park is well-known for its waterholes. Each of the three main camps has one and visitors can sit throughout the day and watch procession after procession of game coming down to drink.

You can even sit through the night as each waterhole is floodlit. We have seen leopard, lion, black rhino and elephant at the Okaukuejo and Halali camp waterholes at night.

This picture shows a black rhino drinking at Okaukuejo waterhole after the sun has set. You will notice the pink afterglow in the water (no filters or Photoshop additions here)

Rhino at Okaukuejo waterhole

Here are some facts on the Park and what we like about it:

  • The park was proclaimed in 1907 by the then Governor of German South West Africa

  • Even though most of the park is the salt pan, the surrounding sweet grass plains support the majority of the animals

  • The three main rest camps...

    Namutoni

    Halali

    Okaukuejo

    ...are situated on these grass plains to the East and south of the pan

  • There are 4 entry gates to the park - King Nehale Gate in the north, Von Lidequist Gate near Namutoni in the east, Andersson Gate near Okaukuejo in the south, and Galton Gate near Dolomite in the west. Galton gate used to be closed to the public and only people staying at Dolomite were allowed to use the gate but from 28 February 2014 Galton Gate was opened to all tourists! This means any visitor who wants to experience the previously restricted west of Etosha can do so without having to stay at Dolomite camp.

  • There is also an upmarket lodge in the park called Onkoshi which opened in 2008 and is situated north of Namutoni.

  • In June 2011 the new Dolomite Camp opened in western part of the park. This is not an upmarket camp as it has 3 Premier (or Deluxe) chalets and 17 standard bush chalets.

  • If you prefer to stay outside the park then you have a choice of Onguma The Fort which is situated near Namutoni on the eastern border of the park or Etosha Safari Lodge, situated near Okaukuejo on the southern border and Toko Lodge near Dolomite on the western border.
  • The natural springs and man-made waterholes surrounding the pan to the South and East support the many different game species and make the park a photographer's paradise in the winter months

  • The park's 'big-five' comprise the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and cheetah (there are no buffalo in the park)

  • Keep a lookout for the rare Black-faced impala, found only here

  • When we visit the park we hardly ever go out on drives as the waterholes at Halali and Okaukuejo camps produce such good game sightings. The waterhole at Namutoni Camp is generally not good for game viewing

  • We sadly stopped visiting the park in 2002 as the bungalows, restaurants, air conditioners and ablutions were not adequately maintained. Namibia Wildlife Resorts have, however, upgraded all the facilities - with a more than doubling of fees of course - but the Park is still much more affordable than the East African safari lodges or the private lodges.

  • In 2009 we ventured back to the park and the chalets are now superb! The decor is most appropriate for an African Game Reserve and all the air conditioners are new.

    Namutoni, in our opinion, is still not a nice camp as the waterhole is not productive in terms of game sightings and the accommodation, even though it has been upgraded, is expensive for what you get.

    As at 2011 a double room in Halali and Okaukuejo cost N$650.00 per person per night while at Namutoni a double room was N$1000,00 per person per night.

    (It seems that NWR have realised that many people are not staying at Namutoni so they have reduced the Namutoni rates for 2012 to be in-line with the other camps.)

    There is a low-season and a high-season - November to May is the low-season with lower rates while June to October is high season.

    Don't think there are no animals in the park during the low-season because there are plenty - they just don't come to the waterholes - you have to drive around to find them!

    The low-season is also a great time for birders as the park gets hundreds of thousands of flamingos, pelicans and other water birds in addition to the bushveld birds.

    Here are two views of the room we stayed in at Halali...

    Book your Etosha Safari with 'Your Safari'

    Not bad for 'cheap' accommodation hey!

    Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) have renovated in style - let's hope they maintain adequately in the future.

    To see some of our photographs please visit our Etosha Gallery page and for some tips on photographing in the park please see our interviews with Daryl Balfour who is a professional nature photographer and Kathryn Haylett who is a safari guide and wildlife photographer specialising in various Namibian wildlife destinations.

    To get a feel for the Park please check out our Etosha Trip Reports:

    September 2010 Trip Report

    August 2011 Trip Report

    October 2011 Trip Report

    Jennifer also wrote a most informative article on Photographing in Etosha for PhotographyBB Magazine in their April 2011 issue. To download a PDF of the article please click here

    To download an article on using filters to photograph landscapes in the national park please click here

    To download a brochure on The Photographer's Guide to Etosha National Park site-guide / eBook please click here

    To read a first-time visitor's experience of visiting Namibia's biggest national park click here

    How well do you think you know Etosha?

    To find out, take our 20-question Etosha Quiz




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