The Etosha park is dominated by the enormous salt pan centrally in the park, which is holding one quarter of the parks area. The park itself is as big as Vermont State in USA if we count in the new extension towards the Atlantic sea which recently became open to visitors. In addition to that - most areas (except north of the park) has a very low human population, and the wilderness continu beyond the park. But the park itself has the waterholes who really attracts wildlife.
|Dry and hot! The Lions are guarding the waterhole, outside Okaukuejo Camp, Etosha NP, Namibia 2012|
The word Etosha has its origin among the local tribe languages - and is translated as "the great white place". It clearly refers to the salt-pan itself, which is as big it can be seen from space! The area beyond the pan is first dry savanna, slowly moving into bushveld and even woodland to north and east and along the few watercourses.
The animal life of the area is rich and easily available. Due to the areas dryness, animals as well as most birds will congregate at the waterholes for daily water and survival, at least in the dry season (there might be some rain in january - march timeframe). Africas Big 5 and other attractive game are present, and it's the first place i've been able to watch both species of rhino in a day and really do a comparisson.
|Namaqua Sandgrouse, outside Namutoni Camp, Etosha NP, Namibia 2012|
The birding might not be as spectacular as other places in Namibia, even though smaller passerines like larks and sparrows are quite special in this fauna. The birding at the waterholes were good. Everyting from Ostrich to eagles, eagle-owls to bustards and sandgrouses to vaders were present. A lot to see and take photos off.
|African Scops-Owl, Halali Camp, Etosha NP, Namibia 2012|
The two camps we would like to mention will be Okaukuejo and Namutoni. Okaukuejo Camp has a very special attraction in its waterhole, kept lightened throughout the night, making it impossible to go to bed! In Africa you get used to early nights, and the safari is over, but here it never ends. Continously new animals and even birds arrived. Fantastic!
|Tawny Eagle, Kori Bustard and Black-backed Jackal at Okaukuejo Waterhole, Namibia 2912|
Namutoni had more water, and that is probably the cause to that this place is a historic old German fort. This was the north-eastern limit for the empire, hrere they met with the more peaople rich bantu tribes from the woodlands in north and east, which still populate the fertile areas in north Namibia. What's left is now a national park camp, the main building clearly an old fort.
So why not a hundred percent satisfied? Honestly we were there at the end of the dry season, the rainy season not so far away (we could here thunder from north now and then). It was a very hot and dry experience. A lot of the larger animals, like elephants and antilopes, had moved north to meet the rain. So there were some driving with less animals and experiences than expected. We were there in late november.
All in all, the experiences arond the waterholes, daytime as well as nightime, make Etosha well worth a visit if you cet a chance to go there.
More from our Namibia holiday:
Here is the link to the parks official web-pages: http://www.etoshanationalpark.org/