Etosha National Park is one of Africa’s premier wildlife reserves: plenty of big game against the scenic backdrop of Etosha’s salt pans, pink with flamingos in the wet season.
Etosha National Park in northern Namibia is one of the finest wildlife parks in Southern Africa. It’s certainly one of Namibia’s most iconic destinations. Etosha means ‘Great White Place’ in Herero, an apt description of this park as it encloses a vast saltpan. Dry and shimmering for most of the year, the pan fills with water after good rains. Then it forms an immense, shallow lake attracting great numbers of flamingos and other water birds. In the dry season the perennial springs and waterholes attract the wildlife as they are a much-needed water source for the wildlife.
During the dry season in Etosha (which is generally from late April to mid November), the flat open plains are home to tens of thousands of animals. Large herds of springbok, gemsbok, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe and elephant gather around these waterholes. The ever-hungry predators follow them – particularly cheetah and lion. The diminutive Damara dik-dik is one of the rarer, but delightful, sightings in Etosha. Raptors such as the bateleur eagle, pale chanting goshawk and red-necked falcon are fairly common.
An Etosha safari can be undertaken using your rental car. Or you can stay at one of the private Etosha safari lodges on the edge of Etosha and join their guided game drives instead.
Note that after the first summer rains (typically sometime in November), much of the game moves away from these waterholes and nearby plains, which have been eaten to almost nothing. They head for the open plains in the north of the reserve which will now have a fresh supply of new grass. Here you cannot follow, as there are no roads.
Thus game-viewing on an Etosha safari will be noticeably quieter during this time. It is still worth a visit as many plains species remain on the southern plains. Plus at this time they give birth to the season’s young after the sporadic rains. But don’t expect vast herds of game, especially elephant.
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