The Salt Pan of Etosha Namibia

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The Salt Pan of Etosha Namibia

Inside of Etosha National Park, there is a giant salt flat the stretches for many miles. Salt flats make for great photo opportunities. You can play with perspective here making your subjects bigger or small by positioning them on the endless horizon of the salt flat of the pan.

The Etosha Pan is a vast, bare, open expanse of shimmering green and white that covers around 4,800km², almost a quarter of the beautiful Etosha national park At 130 km’s long and up to 50km’s wide in places, it is comfortably the largest salt pan in Africa and is the park’s most distinctive and dramatic feature, visible even from space. The pan was originally a lake but over time the earth’s climate forced the rivers that once fed the lake to change course and flow into the Atlantic Ocean. If one were to try to find where the lake once lay today, only the dry baked alkaline clay marks would give you a clue.

In the language of the Ovambo tribe, Etosha means ‘great white place’, a name passed on to the first Europeans to come across this “immense hollow”, Sir Francis Galton and Charles Andersson in 1851, with the help of traveling Ovambo traders. The area was originally inhabited by the Heli/ om- people who were well-known hunter-gatherers and co-existed in harmony with huge herds of wildlife in the area. It was only in 1851 when the huge pan first became known to Europeans. Explorers Charles Andersson and Francis Galton reached a cattle post called Omutjamatunda which is today called Namutoni. The two explorers provided the first written account of the pan.

It is believed that this natural mineral pan was first formed over 100 million years ago. About 16,000 years ago, the Kunene River in Angola would have flowed all the way to Etosha, forming, for some time, a huge and deep lake. But the river would later change its course due to tectonic plate movement and head for the Atlantic, causing the lake to slowly dry up and leaving the salt pan behind.

How to get to Etosha national park

The drive between Etosha and Windhoek takes about six hours on a well-maintained tar road. There is no public transport to and from, or within the national park; you can either travel with a tour company or embark on a self-drive safari from Windhoek. Etosha is one of Africa’s most accessible game parks as it is easy to reach and explore in a sedan (2WD) vehicle.

Where to stay while exploring the Salt pan of Etosha Namibia

Dolomite camp

Dolomite camp is perched on a hill in the exclusive western part of Etosha National Park. Luxuriously appointed safari-style tents offer views of a vast area that has been almost untouched by tourism. Several waterholes offer great game sightings.

Onkoshi camp

Onkoshi camp is set on wooden platforms right on the edge of the Etosha pan The views of the park’s characteristic park change from flickering mirages to flocks of flamingo depending on the season. The camp has a minimal environmental impact and offers game drives in an exclusive area of the park.

Okaukuejo camp

Okaukuejo camps is famous for its floodlit water hole. Here you will see lion elephant and rhino drinking side by side. Etosha’s busiest camp offers chalets with views of the waterhole and is structured around a tall stone tower.

Halali camp

Halali camp is centrally located in the park within close proximity of some of the most popular waterholes. The camp has a floodlit waterhole and the largest swimming pool in the park.

Namotoni camp

Namotoni camp is a former German fort. The tall white protective walls of the fort give this camp a unique personality. Two restaurants offer a wide variety of tasty meals and sundowners on the fort’s walls are a must when visiting Namutoni.

Olifantsrus camp

Olifantsrus is Etosha’s newest camp and the first accommodation option in the park to offer a camping only experience, allowing you to feel that little bit closer to the incredible African bush all around you.

Size & Location
How to get there
Areas of interest
When to visit
Where to stay


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