Southern Africa is home to some of the best safari destinations in the world. From the famed Kruger National Park in South Africa to Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana, and beyond. Etosha National Park is another one of these many fantastic safari destinations.
Found in Namibia, the park is more than 100 years old and as rich in history as it is in wildlife.
Unlike other safaris consisting of dense bush, Etosha adopts its name from the Oshindonga word meaning “Great White Place”, which is in reference to the vast desert-like pan.
In fact, it’s the pan’s unique composition that makes the area so rewarding when it comes to viewing wildlife.
If you want to make the most of your trip to see the animals and breathtaking landscape of Namibia, then you’ll need to read this safari guide first.
Frequently Asked Questions About Etosha
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the alluring beauty of Etosha. So, here are the answers to a few questions to help you prepare before you go.
How many days do you need in Etosha National Park?
A trip to Etosha should be no shorter than two days. This will give you enough time to relax and enjoy the experience without rushing. If you can stay longer, then that’s even better.
What animals are in Etosha Park?
Expect to see four of the world-renowned Big Five in the park. Etosha is home to elephants, lions, the endangered black rhino and leopard (so keep your eyes peeled). But that’s not all.
Is Etosha malaria-free?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. During the winter months in Etosha, malaria is non-existent, however, there is a debate about other seasons.
As a safety precaution, pack mosquito repellant of sorts.
Where is Etosha Park?
Etosha National Park is on the northwestern side of Namibia. Approximately 416 kilometers from Windhoek, the park can be reached in just over 5 hours – if you drive the speed limit.
What time of year is best to visit?
Etosha boasts roughly eight months a year of prime game viewing. From May to December, you can expect the park to come alive and the watering holes to be full.
If you want to narrow down your dates, then visit during the drier, winter months (June to October).
The Etosha Safari Experience
The park is easily accessible with a sedan, meaning that you have the option to self-drive or book a guided tour.
There are four different gates to access the park from various sides, namely:
- Galton Gate – on the western side. Note that they only accept cash for the entrance fees.
- Anderson’s Gate – in the south. This is the closest to Windhoek and the most popular.
- Von Lindequist Gate – on the eastern side.
- King Nehale Lya Mpingana Gate – in the north.
Either way, you’re guaranteed wildlife viewings and an unforgettable safari experience for the whole family.
Despite the dry landscape, there is an impressive variety of vegetation in the 22 270 km² national park. This makes all game drives incredibly interesting and adventurous as the wildlife moves from one area to the next.
There are standard rules for the park. For example, guests must stay in the vehicle at all times. Silence is expected at the watering holes as a common courtesy.
And, while it may go without saying, no wildlife or plants may be removed from the park.
Tour Options at Etosha
There are several ways to enjoy the wildlife and natural wonder of Etosha. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to book a spot at one of the many fantastic lodges, or you can sign up for a camping safari.
Lodges at Etosha
If you enjoy coming back to a comfortable bed, warm shower and a solid door that closes after each day on safari, then you’d probably prefer a lodge.
Etosha boasts a fine assortment of lodges inside the park as well as outside the fence boundaries. By choosing to stay at a lodge, you can enjoy the perks of a swimming pool (in some cases), a deck overlooking a waterhole and a large, cozy bed.
Etosha safari camps
If you’re more of a thrill-seeker and adventure-junkie, then there’s another option for you at Etosha. Camping on safari is a great way to connect with nature on another level, and there are a number of camping sites to choose from in the park.
Choosing Where to Stay in Etosha
If the lodge option tickled your fancy, then you can pick from a selection of quality options. Just take note that these spots are very popular, and it’s highly recommended that you book in advance.
Boasting one of the best views in the park, the 20 luxury safari tents at Dolomite Camp, Etosha, are perched on top of a hill.
The area is in a restricted zone, so booking a game drive in from this spot will offer you exclusive sightings.
Onkoshi Camp is located on the border of the park’s iconic salt pan, offering expansive views that stretch far off towards the horizon.
The low-impact camp consists of 15 free-standing chalets that are perched on wooden structures and offer all the comforts you need.
This camp is not only rich in comfort, but also in history. First used as a military outlet in 1901, the rest camp operates as a fully-serviced rest camp, with a petrol station and shop in the vicinity.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Okaukuejo is the floodlit waterhole which keeps guests entertained for hours on end.
If you’re hoping to spot a leopard, then Halali is the camp to choose. The bush chalets and double rooms are located in an area with thicker vegetation, giving guests a chance to indulge in a slightly different game viewing experience than the norm at Etosha.
Namutoni Camp offers a unique atmosphere. Its foundations were previously an old German fort, and there’s a mood of nostalgia in the camp.
The chalets and double rooms offer comfort and privacy, while the walls of the fort provide an incredible view of King Nehale Waterhole.
As the newest camp in Etosha, Olifantsrus is the only spot to offer a camping-only experience. Guests are brought that much closer to nature when choosing to stay in the more remote section of the park.
Although the area is a campsite, it still features all the amenities needed to make your stay a comfortable one, such as a kiosk, a kitchen and ablution blocks.
Outside the park
All of the above lodges are inside the fences of Etosha National Park. However, there are also great options if you choose to stay outside of the area.
Take your pick from 5-star luxury lodges or more rustic camping options.
Make the Most of Your Experience
A trip to Etosha is sure to be memorable regardless of how much preparation you do. However, there are certain tips and tricks to help make the most of your time.
Plan in advance
Once you know when you plan on taking your trip, which will most likely be during the dry season, then it’s best to begin planning.
Make the effort to book your accommodation, finalize your transport and find out all that you need to know before arriving. This will make your stay significantly less stressful.
The recommended stay is two days or longer, and there’s a reason for this. The park is large and expansive, with so many incredible sights to see.
The park fees are affordable enough that you don’t need to sell yourself short on staying an extra day. As a reference, park fees will cost you 60 NAD if you’re from the SADC region, and 80 NAD if you’re a foreigner.
If you stay less than two days then it can be a rush. You’ll miss out on the opportunity to truly embrace each moment and take the time to relax.
Early to bed, early to rise
As with most Namibia safari experiences, Etosha’s morning game drives start at sunrise which means a rather early wake-up call. If you want to be alert and spot as many animals as possible, then it’s advised that you head to bed early enough to get sufficient sleep.
Balance camera with presence
While safari camera equipment is always at the top of everyone’s packing list, it’s important to take a moment and enjoy the present.
Charge your batteries and prepare your lenses for the ultimate snap, but make sure to put your camera down every now and then to appreciate what the camera can’t.
What Are You Waiting For?
As you can see, there are many reasons why Etosha National Park is a must-visit destination for all nature-lovers and safari enthusiasts.
Rather than put it on your bucket list and get to it in a few years time, why not take the plunge and book your Etosha safari experience right now.
There’s no better time to visit “Namibia’s greatest wildlife sanctuary”. 😉