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.

lions walking across the open savannah in Etosha National Parklions walking across the open savannah
Three Ostriches walking on Etosha panThree Ostriches walking on Etosha pan

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.

There are 4 entry gates to the park - King Nehale Gate in the north, Von Lidquist 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 the park can do so without having to stay at Dolomite camp.

Galton Entrance gate into Western EtoshaGalton Entrance gate into Western Etosha

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

Animals on Etosha panAnimals on Etosha pan

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

Animals gather on Etosha PanAnimals gather on Etosha Pan
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For self drive or guided safaris to Namibia contact Your Safari


Sunset over Etosha pan image taken from Onkoshi lodge in EtoshaSunset over Etosha pan image taken from Onkoshi lodge

"Thank you for sending me the updated Etosha eBook at no cost!

The extra seventy pages with new lessons and featuring nice lodges outside the park really makes the book an indispensable resource for visitors."

- Klaus Schmidt, Germany


Etosha National Park has three main rest camps;

Namutoni

Halali

Okaukuejo

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

Namutoni Fort walkwayNamutoni Fort walkway
entrance gate to Halali campentrance gate to Halali camp
Okaukuejo main entrance gateOkaukuejo main entrance gate

Etosha also has an upmarket lodge inside the park called Onkoshi  which opened in 2008 and is situated north of Namutoni....

Onkoshi Lodge in Etosha National ParkOnkoshi Lodge overlooking the Etosha pan

In June 2011  Dolomite Camp opened in the most scenic area, on the far western part of the park. Dolomite camp offers 20 chalets- 3 Deluxe chalets with their own plunge pools and 17 standard bush chalets...

Dolomite camp from the waterholeDolomite camp from the waterhole

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 and Etosha Safari Camp , both situated near Okaukuejo on the southern border and, near Dolomite camp on the western border, Toko Lodge.

HDR image of Onguma the Fort CourtyardHDR image of Onguma the Fort Courtyard

Visiting Etosha also provides opportunities for people to visit   Himba villages, like the Himba village at Toko Lodge.

HDR image of a Himba family in their village at Toko Lodge in NamibiaHDR image of a Himba family in their village at Toko Lodge

Stopovers are also an important part of your safari and it's crucial that you choose them wisely. Here we list some of our favorites to and from Etosha.

The image below is one of the suite bedrooms at Olive Exclusive in Namibia.

The bedroom of Olive Exclusive in NamibiaOlive Exclusive bedroom

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The park is well-known for its waterholes and each of the three main camps has one;  Halali and Okaukuejo camps produce such good game sightings, visitors can sit throughout the day and watch procession after procession of game coming down to drink, however the waterhole at Namutoni Camp is generally not good for game viewing......

Kudus and Black face impalas at Halali wateroleKudus and Black face impalas at Halali waterole

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....

elephants drinking at moringa waterhole in Halalielephants drinking at moringa waterhole in Halali
Leopard drinking at Halali waterholeLeopard drinking at Halali waterhole

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

the waterholes in camp also make for great landscape photographs, like at sunset....

Okaukuejo camp waterhole at sunsetOkaukuejo camp waterhole at sunset

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.....

Etosha lions drinking at Salvadora waterholelions drinking at Salvadora waterhole
Lioness lying in wait at the waterholeLioness lying in wait at the waterhole
lioness drinking at a spring in Etoshalioness drinking at a spring
Kudu at the waterhole in EtoshaKudu at the waterhole

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

Etosha lioness with two of her cubslioness with two of her cubs
black rhino with her calf in Etoshablack rhino with her calf
Etosha cheetah on the open plainscheetah on the open plains
Elephants walking to Okaukuejo waterholeElephants walking to Okaukuejo waterhole
Leopard drinking at Halali camps waterhole at sunsetLeopard drinking at Halali camps waterhole at sunset

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

Black faced Impala in EtoshaBlack faced Impala

You also have the choice of doing self-drive safaris, guided safaris or going on safari tours where you have the option of various activities and adventures around Namibia.

The park has a few picnic sites with basic ablutions and lovely viewpoints overlooking the Pan, where you can get out of your vehicle....

Etosha picnic siteEtosha picnic site
basic ablutions at picnic site in Etoshabasic ablutions at picnic site in Etosha

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We sadly stopped visiting the park in 2002 as the bungalows, restaurants, air conditioners and ablutions were not adequately maintained. Namibia Wildlife Resorts did, however, upgrade 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 decor is more appropriate for an African Game Reserve and all the air conditioners were new and working. 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.

Not bad for 'cheap' accommodation hey! Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) have renovated in style - let's hope they maintain adequately in the future.

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

views of the room we stayed in at Halali
view of the room we stayed in at Halali

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

The waterhole at Okaukuejo in the low season- summerThe waterhole at Okaukuejo in the low season- summer
Gemsbok on the Etosha plans during the high seasonGemsbok on the Etosha plans during the high season

Don't think there are no animals in the park during the low-season because there are plenty - 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. 

egyptian geese bathing in the pan in Etoshaegyptian geese bathing in the pan in Etosha
Pelican at Fishers Pan near Namutoni in EtoshaPelican at Fishers Pan
Flamingos on the Etosha PanFlamingos on the Etosha Pan
This image of gulls was taken at Klein Namutoni waterhole in Etoshaimage of gulls taken at Klein Namutoni waterhole

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


Old Etosha map for the Western side of the parkOld Etosha map for the Western side of the park

Etosha Maps

To download some park and camp maps please click

here

Mountain zebras and giraffe on the Western side of EtoshaMountain zebras and giraffe on the Western side of Etosha


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Namibia - Beyond Etosha

wild horses of Namibiawild horses of Namibia
HDR image of a dead tree at Deadvlei in NamibiaHDR image of Deadvlei in Namibia

Namibia has so much more to offer in addition to Etosha. There is the Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei, Deadvlei, Kolmanskop, Solitaire, Damaraland, the Kalahari, Namib Naukluft Park, Caprivi Strip and the Skeleton coast to name some of the more famous tourist hot-spots.

We have travelled to most of these hot-spots and share them with you on our Photographing Namibia page.

Jenny photographing in one of the old houses in KolmanskopJenny photographing in one of the old houses in Kolmanskop

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Would you like to return home from your Etosha safari with amazing photos? If yes then this eBook is for you...

Photographer's Guide to Etosha National Page

"Your time and money are valuable and the information in this book will help you save both." - Don Stilton, Florida, USA

"I highly recommend the book to anyone visiting Etosha National Park to photograph the animals - or anyone considering an African photography safari in the future." - Anne Darling, Cognac, France

"If you intend visiting Etosha National Park this ebook is a must have item! It is a detailed guide that shares park secrets with photographers to help you take amazing safari pictures" Lovelyn Bettison, London, UK

"Quite simply, the Photographers Guide to Etosha eBook is an absolute must have for those travelling to Namibia with the intention of taking stunning photographs of the wildlife congregating around the waterholes of Etosha. The authors are real experts on advising how to get into the right position, at the right time to effectively capture your subject" - Rhys Powell, Namibia Tourism Board, UK

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