Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is a 22 750km² wildlife sanctuary in northwestern Namibia – one of Africa’s most stable and accessible countries
There are three tourist camps in the park. The camp at which the headquarters is stationed is called Okaukuejo and is 18km north of the Anderson Gate entrance. Dominated by a castle-like water tower which serves as an observation point, this is a substantial camp with a well laid out complex of bungalows, caravan and camping sites, garage, restaurant, shop, community rooms, museum, swimming pool and floodlit waterhole enabling visitors to view the game from comfort of the camp. Okaukuejo started as a veterinary post created by the Germans during a rinderpest epidemic in 1897. In 1901 a small fort was built there as a military stronghold but has long since vanished.
77km from east of Okaukejo lies the central camp of Halali, said to have taken its name from a German hunting camp positioned on the site in former years. At the end of each hunting season the Germans blew a traditional end-of-seaon halala on their bugle and this sound, denoting the end of all hunts and declaring peace between man and wild animals, is surely an apt name for a camp in a game sanctuary. Halali is a magnificent modern camp,shaded by mopane trees with bungalows, a restaurant, shop, garage and swimming pool.
The third tourist camp is the Etosha National Park in Namutoni, 74km east of Halali. This is the classic camp of the park, made famous by the presence of the beautiful ‘Beau Geste’-type fort built by Germans as a police outpost.
The abundance of game in Etosha National Park is somewhat unexpected, showcasing some of the most common and rarest wildlife species. The areas with thicker vegetation are home to elephant (some of the largest in Africa due to the vitamins and nutrients found in the ground), the endangered black rhino and even leopard. Lions are camouflaged in the pale- golden colour of the grasslands, while giraffes rise- high above most of the dry vegetation.
Birders will love the rainy season in Etosha. After good rains the salt pan fills with water attracting a cloud of flamingos. More than 340 bird species have been counted in Etosha National Park. Among the migratory species, the European bee-eater is possibly the most popular sighting. The game reserve is also home to the world’s largest bird, the ostrich, and the heaviest flying bird, the kori bustard.
During winter the Etosha Pan is bone dry. This endless white expanse is an unlikely venue for a wildlife sanctuary. The park is a wasteland of white dust which comes from the clay in the pan. Bushes along the road turn white as vehicles throw up dust and visitors who leave the park usually have a dusty aura around them! This is also the time when most of the visitors come to the park as the climate is mild and the wildlife concentrates itself at the waterholes. Yet the surrounding areas overflow with springbok and zebra.
The summer in the park is vastly different with heavy rains turning a dry dusty Etosha National Park into a lush green oasis. This time of year means life in the park for new born animals as well as birdlife. Many European migratory birds come south to enjoy the new life that has been washed into the vegetation. Driving during the rainy season can get a lot trickier as roads can be flooded and having an equipped vehicle will make the journey a lot more enjoyable. It is also advised to do a lot more driving to view the wildlife as animals tend to keep clear of the once active waterholes that posed such dangers during the dry season.