The Etosha National Park is one of the most beautiful game reserves in southern Africa
The Etosha National Park is one of the most beautiful and important game reserves in Southern Africa. The Etosha Game Park was declared a national park in 1907 and covers an area of 22,270 square kilometers. It is home to 114 species of mammals, 340 species of birds, 110 species of reptiles, 16 species of amphibians and, surprisingly, one species of fish. Etosha Park is one of the first places on an itinerary designed for a vacation in Namibia.
What we call Etosha today was declared Game Reserve No. 2 by the then German governor Friedrich von Lindequist in 1907. With later additions, it became the largest game reserve in the world with an area of ± 80,000 km2. For political reasons, its size was gradually reduced until it was reduced by 77 percent in 1975 to the current area of 22,912 km2. Even so, it is still one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
Etosha, which means “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the bottom of which was formed about 1,000 million years ago. The Etosha pan covers around 25% of the national park. The pan was originally a lake that was fed by the Kunene. However, the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan is now a large, dusty hollow made of salt and dusty clay, which only fills up when it rains heavily and even then only contains water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha pan attracts thousands of waders, including impressive flamingo flocks. The perennial sources on the edges of the Etosha pan attract a large concentration of wild animals and birds.
A San legend about the formation of the Etosha pan tells how a village was raided and all but the women were slaughtered. A woman was so upset about her family’s death that she cried until her tears formed a huge lake. When the lake dried up, there was nothing left but a huge white pan.
The wildlife viewing in Etosha National Park is excellent. The best time is from May to September – the cooler months in Namibia. Visitors to the Etosha Game Reserve can count on numerous species of goats, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and lions. More happy visitors will see leopards and cheetahs. There is a road network that connects the five camps and side roads that lead to different water holes.
When Etosha Park was originally proclaimed at the turn of the century, it consisted of an area of 100,000 square kilometers. This was the largest reserve in the world, but in the 1960s political pressure led to the park being reduced to its current size.
Traditionally, Etosha’s visitors had a choice of three rest areas – Namutoni, Halali and Okaukuejo. Each camp has tourist facilities such as a restaurant, a shop (where only basic goods are sold), an auto repair shop for fuel and basic repairs, and a swimming pool, as well as various types of accommodation and camping facilities. In September 2008 the Onkoshi Camp opened, a brand-new lodge in Etosha – this was the first development within the park in several decades and offers an environmentally friendly luxury experience. The accommodation options in the park were further expanded by the opening of the Dolomite Camp and the Olifantsrus campsite in the previously restricted western Etosha.
Three of the five camps have illuminated water holes, with the exception of the Dolomites and Onkoshi camps. Of these three, two are a great way to watch the game at night. Rhinoceros and elephants can often be seen at the Okaukuejo waterhole. The Halali waterhole has a reputation for attracting leopards, and visitors who spend the night here are likely to see one. However, the Namutoni waterhole competes with the artesian springs of Klein Namutoni and Koinachas, which is why it attracts fewer animals than Okaukuejo and Halali. The Onkoshi Camp offers an incomparable view over the eastern Etosha pan, which attracts thousands of flamingos and other water birds during the rainy season.
The Dolomite Camp has some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the park, especially Hartmann’s zebra, which is not found in the eastern part. Visitors not resident in Etosha, i.e. H. Guests staying in one of the many private lodges and hotels in the Etosha area can now visit Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni, Onkoshi and Dolomite to rest, relax and recharge their batteries. Enter the Galtons Gate before 1:00 p.m. to get to Okaukuejo.
The dominant vegetation in Etosha is Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) or Omusati in a national language, and it is so widespread in northwestern Namibia that a region in Owambo is named after it. The western areas of the park mainly support mopane scrub, while in the south of the Halali area and in the camp there are extensive forests with tall trees. One of the most spectacular trees in the park is the African moringa (Moringa ovalifolia) or ghost tree. There is a specially fenced area about 30 km west of Okaukuejo to preserve the unique and grotesquely shaped trees known as the haunted forest. This is an unusual habitat for the moringa, as they usually occur on slopes and grow in a variety of strange shapes, and since many of the trees have multiple trunks that emerge from a swollen base, they are often thought to be baobab trees but not related with you. The second most common species in Etosha is the red bush willow (Combretum apiculatum) and locally known as Kudubusch (German), aptly named because Kudus and other game species search the nutritious leaves, while rhinos consume whole branches and elephants prefer the bark.
Many guests choose lodges outside the park. There are multiple reasons for this. One of the most compelling reasons is that the quality of accommodation and service is generally higher there than in the camps within the park. Another popular option for visitors to this part of Namibia is to use a combination of private facilities and a few nights in the park to experience the best of both worlds. Many of these privately owned facilities offer private game drives, either in their own game reserves or in Etosha Park.
The main entrance to the park is called “Andersson Gate” and is located near Okaukuejo in the south. The eastern entrance is called “Von Lindequist Gate” and is close to Namutoni. The new “Nehale lya Mpingana Gate” (King Nehale Gate) was opened in early 2003 in the northeast.
The Galton Gate (Otjovazandu) was officially opened on February 28, 2014. Visitors who drive to Etosha can now enter the park via this gate. Entry is not unlimited. The distance from Okaukuejo to Galton is approximately 200 km at a top speed of 60 km / h. Time management becomes important and it takes at least 4 hours to drive from the gate to Okaukuejo. If you stop at water holes and watch game, this time will be extended.
Visitors should note that the park is only open from sunrise to sunset. Outside these times, visitors must either stay in one of the camps in the park or in a private lodge outside the park.
In line with many other African game reserves, Etosha offers its own guided safaris in the morning and in the afternoon. Other private lodges around the park offer daily game drives to Etosha. Another option is to participate in a planned guided safari to Etosha (usually from Windhoek) or a bespoke private guided safari through the park.