Rhino in Etosha National Park

Safari Guide: Etosha National Park

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Niarra Travel

Famed for its stunning wildlife and expansive salt pan, Etosha National Park stands as a beacon of transformative wildlife conservation. The iconic park is one of Africa’s largest protected areas and offers visitors a blend of adventure and tranquillity.

The name 'Etosha' translates to 'Great White Place', referring to the enormous, dried pan in the middle of the park, so significant in scale that it can be seen from space. Although the area is dry it has become a key location for animal congregations as a result of Etosha’s various natural and artificial waterholes throughout the park providing for the resident wildlife. These waterholes are central areas that offer excellent opportunities for great game viewing, with some even equipped with floodlights for night-time game drives.

Lions in Etosha National Park

The History of Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park was proclaimed as a game reserve in 1907 during German colonial rule, making it one of the oldest of Namibia’s national parks. Originally encompassing a vast area of 100,000 sqkm, the park has since been downsized to a still impressive 22,270 sqkm

Early tourism in Etosha was unique, as guests slept in bomas within the large expanse of the grassland or camped near the fountain at Okaukuejo Camp. As a result, guests would frequently have to seek protection in their vehicles if dangerous game was to approach them. Etosha has since established secure camps and lodges within the park, making these dramatic escapes a thing of the past.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a vast amount of the park’s wildlife was sadly wiped out either by severe drought or after being caught in the crossfire of a border war that engulfed Namibia, South Africa and Angola.

However, after Namibia gained independence, conservation and the sustainable use of resources became an integral part of operations at Etosha National Park. As a result of years-long conservation efforts, many of the park’s animals have now had their numbers greatly replenished, once again making Etosha National Park one of the best places in the world to experience an African safari.

Rhino in Etosha National Park

The best time to visit Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park can be visited any time of the year, yet both of the two distinctive seasons offer visitors unique experiences.

Dry Season - May to October

Average Temperature: 26°C

Average Daily Rainfall: 0.01mm

This season is often considered the best time to visit for wildlife viewing. As water sources diminish, animals congregate around the few remaining waterholes, making their movements and activities easier to predict. Plus, as the vegetation thins out, clearer views of the animals become more readily available. For those keen on securing the best chances of observing the park’s extensive wildlife, including the Big Five, the dry season is optimal.

Elephants in Etosha National Park

Wet Season - November to April

Average Temperature: 40°C

Average Daily Rainfall: 0.3mm

The wet season alters the landscape into a lush, green haven that attracts an abundance of bird life and new-born wildlife. This period provides spectacular scenic views and is ideal for avid bird watchers and keen wildlife photographers, particularly with the vast expanse of the salt pan as your background. However, animal sightings can be sparser due to the thick vegetation and better availability of water throughout the park, allowing the animals to be more spread out from each other.

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Wildlife in Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including elephants, lions, rhinos, and leopards, making it a prime destination for those hoping to catch sight of the Big Five. Etosha is also involved in vital research programmes pertaining to black rhinos and elephants in Namibia. Notably, Etosha is one of the few places in Africa where endangered black rhinos can be seen more frequently, thanks to these successful conservation initiatives.

Spanning saline desert, savannah, and woodlands, this park provides habitats for over 114 mammal species and over 340 different species of birds. An astounding number of herbivores call Etosha National Park home, from impalas, oryx, ostriches, blue wildebeest, zebras and giraffes, to the more elusive damara dik-dik or warthog population.

The diverse bird species are also sure to inspire you, including ostriches, vultures, hawks, owls, cranes, storks, herons, falcons and herds of migratory flamingos.

Herd of elephants in Etosha National Park

The Best Lodges in Etosha National Park

Etosha is home to several luxury lodges that offer not just comfort but a profound connection with the natural environment. If you are wondering where to find the best of Etosha’s luxury lodges, then here are some of our favourite choices.

Ongava Lodge

Situated on the private Ongava Game Reserve, the lodge is renowned for its high standards of comfort and luxury, combined with an intimate wildlife experience. Guests can stay in one of the 14 rock-and-thatch chalets, each offering beautiful views of the wilderness all-around.

Horizon-spanning views of the park and luxuries like the lodge’s relaxing swimming pool promise an experience you will never forget. The lodge's main area, overlooking a well-frequented waterhole, offers opportunities to observe the wildlife up close while enjoying the amenities - truly the best of both worlds.

Anderssons at Ongava

Anderssons at Ongava is focused on sustainability and immersive nature experiences. Recently rebuilt, the lodge features a modern design that merges seamlessly with the environment. With seven suites and one family unit, each fitted with its own viewing deck, allowing you to gaze over the wild landscapes that surround them.

The lodge is built tactically, equipped with swooping wooden beams in the bar, dining and lounge areas to frame the panoramic overhead view of the neighbouring waterhole, giving you a unique wildlife viewing opportunity.

Whether you're visiting in the lush wet season or the dramatic dry season, Etosha National Park offers not only spectacular game viewing but also luxurious accommodations that cater to the more lavish traveller.

If you would like to experience the spoils of excellent conservation efforts and be part of the reason this ecosystem stays vibrant and diverse for future generations then get in touch with our expert travel team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or explore@niarratravel.com.

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