Safaris to Etosha Water holes Namibia

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Safaris to Etosha Water holes Namibia

Etosha National Park covers an area of 22 270 sq kilometers it is one of the largest game parks in Africa. The pans cover an area of some 5 140 sq kilometers and the size of the actual pan is 4 590 sq kilometers. There are four camps in the Park namely, Okaukuejo, Halali, Namutoni, and the most recently built, Onkoshi. The facilities for visitors are superb with various types of accommodation to choose from. There are camping facilities with clean and well-situated ablution and washing up facilities. No visit to Namibia would be complete without a trip to the amazing Etosha National Park. Etosha National Park is unique in Africa. The park’s main characteristic is salt pans that are so large and can be seen from space. Yet there is abundant wildlife that congregates around the waterholes, giving you almost guaranteed game sightings. At the same time, Etosha National Park is one of the most accessible game reserves in Namibia and Southern Africa.

The park is malaria-free, accessible in a regular sedan car and the rest camps provide a range of accommodation as well as restaurants, viewing decks, shops, and petrol stations. Luxurious camps in Etosha’s remote areas have now added top-end accommodation to the park’s offerings.

The most popular tourist attraction in the country is Etosha widely considered to be Namibia’s best national park. With an impressive array of wildlife in the park, lucky visitors can catch a glimpse of the rare and endangered black rhino as well as the more common white rhino. At night, animals flock to the Okaukuejo waterhole and this makes for mesmerizing and unforgettable viewing; elephants and lions emerge into the illuminated area around the pool to drink in their fill of the freshwater. Meaning ‘Great White Place’ in the local language, Etosha was formerly part of a huge lake that has long since dried up. Now, the Etosha Pan is a dusty white color due to its saline nature. With herds of elephants and impalas kicking up the swirling dust and lions stalking through the savannah; Etosha will forever be etched in your mind.

Etosha is considered an African wilderness Centre for wildlife due to the concentration of water holes that attract large numbers of both big game and predators

History of Etosha National Park Namibia

The early European explores and traders discovered the Etosha area in 1850 when Charles Anderson and Francis Galton visited it. Hunting continued in the area up to 1907 when Dr von Lindquist the German south West Africa proclaimed the reserve as a protected area in 1960 and later named Etosha national park.

Wildlife of Etosha National Park

The abundance of games 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 elephants (some of the largest in Africa due to the vitamins and nutrients found in the ground), the endangered black rhino, and even the leopard. Lions are camouflaged in the pale-golden color 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.

Being an African top game viewing destination the following animals have fairly good numbers in the national park include elephants, giraffe, eland, blue wilder beast, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, impala, zebra.

Predators of Etosha National Park

Etosha is a home to Africa’s top predator population these include caracal, lions, cheetah, leopard which are usually hunting zebras, springbok, wilder beast, buffalo, and other small rodents Spotted and brown hyenas can be seen in this National.

Birds of Etosha National Park

The summers are ideal for birding in Etosha National Park. While game viewing benefits from dry conditions, the summer rains turn some of the vast pans into seasonal lakes and attract migratory and wetland species. Etosha is home to 340 bird species, about a third of which are migratory. The avian residents of the park make up an eclectic mix that ranges from flamingos to the colorful lilac-breasted roller and eagles soaring high above.

One of the best birding spots is Fisher’s Pan. When the rains gather in the pan you can see flamingos and storks wading through the shallow water. African openbill and great crested and black-necked grebe can be seen here as well. After good rains the 5 000 km²

Etosha pans fill with water and attract a pink cloud of flamingo. The curious bird comes here to breed in thousands. The best time to see them is during January and February when water is present in the pan. Usually, the amount of flamingos over this period depends on the amount of rain Etosha National Park is receiving.

Etosha’s 35 raptors feast in dry conditions. Bateleur, tawny eagle, and martial eagle float in the upwind. Goshawks sit in the branches and eight species of owl can be spotted after sunset. The vultures that visit Etosha include lappet-faced, white-backed and hooded vultures.

Namibian specials include Bare-cheeked babbler, violet wood-hope, Carp’s tit, Monterio’s hornbill, rock runner, and Rüppel’s parrot. Record-breaking species are the ostrich as the world’s largest bird and the kori bustard, which is the heaviest flying bird.

Landscape and vegetation of Etosha National Park

The vegetation of the park varies but is made up of mostly mopane woodland, with grassy plains. There are tamboti trees, wild figs, marula, Makalani palms, and several species of acacia thorn trees. The ‘haunted forest’ lies on the west side of the pan. These are moringa trees that look as though they are ‘upside-down trees which Bushmen say were thrown out of the garden of paradise and landed upside down into the ground. This is the largest forest of moringas in Namibia and the only part of the world where these trees grow.

Things to do in Etosha National Park

The number one thing to do in Etosha National Park is to experience some epic game drives, Littered with wildlife, just driving across the park (via the many tracks that connect the various waterholes)  is bound to bring you into contact with a massive amount of wildlife.

Games drives will also allow you to take in the landscape and the vastness of this dry, flat, hot, and baked land and can be taken during the day or at night (no self-drive wildlife watching allowed at night).

The sense of remoteness, off-grid, detachment from the busy world of connection and distraction are also palpable here and provide the sense of a true escape to the wild.

Game drives in Etosha National Park

Morning drives to Etosha National Park commence at approximately sunrise, depending on gate opening times which vary during seasonal changes and return around 12H30 /13H00. These trips last for approximately 5 hours and follow a route through the Andersson Gate to Okaukuejo and further on to various waterholes in a circular route back to Okaukuejo. We include light refreshments coffee, tea, water, juice, and biscuits on the vehicles and guests can also pre-order optional lunch packs to take along should they wish to do so.

Subject to availability full-day trips to Etosha National Park can also be arranged. Full-Day Drives to Etosha National Park commence at sunrise, depending on gate opening times which vary during seasonal changes and return around 17H00. We include light refreshments coffee, tea, water, juice, and biscuits on the vehicles and guests can either pre-order optional lunch packs or they can have lunch at one of the camps inside the park.

Our experienced guides driving these vehicles have extensive knowledge of the area and animals and give a “running commentary” as the trips proceed.

Walking safaris in Etosha National Park

Experience Namibia as the first explorers did, on foot and in awe of its untouched nature and allure. Walks through the Etosha National Park are both awe-inspiring and humbling, as you tread along the very paths animals roam free on and observe their intimate lives from a careful distance. It is the perfect setting in which to appreciate the natural environment. The slow pace of the walk and the interpretive skills of the armed guides open your eyes to a new and fascinating world. The unique perspective garnered during a walk awakens a sense of fulfillment and sensory appreciation. The 2½ hour walk through the park leaves you feeling connected and at one with the earth, offering the perfect setting in which to relax, unwind, and connect with nature.

The walking safari begins with an in-depth safety briefing that outlines how participants should act and conduct themselves when encountering wildlife. Walks are led by experienced and trained guides who tailor the excursions to suit the preferences of every guest, whether it’s to view a certain animal or plant species, to learn about the mannerisms of different wildlife species and their habitats, or simply to enjoy the vast expanse of bush and the panoramic surroundings. Walkers will be instructed on the identification of various tracks, as well as on the smaller wildlife and plants that live in the park and that are often missed during a game drive. Morning walks that head out at the crack of dawn offer great photographic opportunities, with soft, earthy light and encounters with early morning wildlife. They end with a sumptuous breakfast, enjoyed in the outdoors, in full view of the breath-taking landscape and beneath the warm African sun.

Camping safaris in Etosha National Park

Camping in Etosha National park is also an incredible experience and absolutely one of the best things you should do here.

There are 3 official fenced camps within the park grounds; 1 on the east side (Onkoshi Camp), 1 on the west side (Okaukuejo Camp), and 1 on the middle (Halali Camp).

A popular way to see Etosha, therefore, is to camp in one site (either Onkoshi or Okaukuejo depending on which side of the park you enter from) and then spend the next day driving across the reserve to the other camp, stopping at Halali for lunch and a break from the heat in the afternoon.

Birding in Etosha National Park

Although the country possesses just one true endemic (Dune Lark, a Namib special); a further host of near-endemics extends only marginally into inaccessible Angola, which is most easily found in Namibia. These include Gray’s Lark, Rüppell’s Korhaan and Herero Chat in the Namib desert, and escarpment specials such as White-tailed Shrike, Violet Woodhoopoe, Rockrunner, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Rüppell’s Parrot, Carp’s Black Tit, and Hartlaub’s Francolin.

The Cunene River basin in far northern Ovamboland is possibly the best place in the world to find the romantically named Cinderella Waxbill, and in the southern African region, Grey Kestrel and Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush are found only here. Heading eastwards, the moist Caprivi strip offers easy access to Okavango specials such as Slaty Egret, as well as superb woodland birding including Sharp-tailed Starling.

But don’t neglect the coast with abundant waders and shorebirds, pelicans, and herons not to mention Damara Tern and Cape Fur Seals at Walvis Bay Wetlands. Here too are African Black Oystercatcher, Hartlaub’s Gull, South African Shelduck, Cape Cormorant, Cape Gannet, White-fronted Plover, Chestnut-banded Plover & Terek Sandpiper.

Where to stay in Etosha National Park

Accommodation options inside the park.

Dolomite camp

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 water holes offer great game sightings.

Onkoshi camp

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

Famous for its floodlit water hole, Here you will see lion elephants and rhinos 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

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.

Namutoni camp

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 Namotoni.

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.

Accommodation option Outside the park

Emanya lodge

Emanya is situated on a game farm – rich in wildlife and situated close to the iconic Etosha National Park. Visit Emanya Lodge now to stay in one of the 20 luxury chalets, and join in on some of the many activities on offer. Come and be inspired by the substantial number of kudu, eland, waterbuck, oryx, and giraffe seen regularly in this area.

Mokuti Etosha Lodge

Situated on a vast game farm right on the border of the majestic Etosha National Park, is Mokuti Lodge. Enjoy the wide variety of accommodation, cuisine, entertainment, and diversity of games. Wildlife here ranges from kudu to giraffe, oryx, and many other species.

Mushara collection

A wide variety of accommodation options cater to each traveler’s needs; ranging from luxury lodges to exclusive villas. Located on the eastern side of Etosha, it’s a mere eight kilometers from the iconic Etosha National Park’s Von Lindequist Gate.

Onguma collection

Situated on 34 000 hectares of protected land and wildlife habitat, the Onguma Collection resides in a privately-owned game reserve and offers a wide variety of accommodation and activities. An abundance of wildlife and safari scenes can be enjoyed within the reserve as well as in the Etosha National Park.

Southside (Okaukuejo)

Situated on the southern side of the Etosha National Park just outside of Etosha’s main entrance – the Anderson Gate – you’ll find numerous lodges tailored to suit any safari desire.

Whether you are a lone traveler, in a group, or on a fantastic family trip, you’ll find what you need here. The variety of fun activities, restaurants with delectable dishes, swimming pools, and bars are bound to keep you entertained and satisfied throughout your safari adventure.

Epacha game lodge

Situated on a private reserve to the South of the world-famous Etosha National Park is Epacha Lodge. Enjoy this five-star bush experience with breath-taking views and surroundings. Embrace the diversity of wildlife in and around the lodge before joining the guided tour into Etosha.

Etosha safari lodge

Set on a hill just a few kilometers away from Etosha’s main entrance, is the Etosha Safari Lodge. Ideal for travelers wanting to explore the areas in and around Etosha, and perfectly suited to self-drive tourists. Not in the mood for a self-drive tour? Join one of the guided group tours and enjoy amazing African views, wildlife, and spectacular service.

Etosha village

Etosha Village is an award-winning lodge situated a mere four kilometers from Etosha’s Anderson Gate. Choose from one of the 45 accommodation units nestled in the mopane forest and then set out on a self-drive or guided tour into the park – enjoying the spectacular views and the wide variety of game gatherings at one of the many waterholes.

Ongava collection

Ongava Private Game Reserve is a 30 000-hectare nature reserve, protecting the beautiful Namibian wildlife and plains situated on the Southside of Etosha. It provides you with a variety of accommodations, ranging from five-star resorts to authentic camping sites. Their rich game life and proximity to the national park provide you with the best opportunity to explore the diverse areas in and around Etosha.

Toshari Lodge

Toshari Lodge is situated a mere 25 kilometers from Etosha National Park’s main entrance – Andersson’s Gate. If you plan on taking a self-drive safari adventure, then you can drive in and around Etosha to experience the African wildlife, or else join the Toshari group and take a guided trip into the park with a knowledgeable and professional game ranger.

Best time to visit Etosha National Park

The best time to visit Etosha is during the dry season when the further limitations of this arid area are upped to the max.

What this time of year does is send animals flocking to the few remaining waterholes, meaning the chance of spotting a huge amount of wildlife is even higher.

Etosha’s dry season is in keeping with that of its surrounding geography and Namibia’s dry season runs from September to December.


Game drives in Etosha national park
Walking safaris in Etosha national park
Birding safaris in Etosha national park
Camping safaris in Etosha national park
Sunset viewing at the Etosha water holes
photographing in Etosha national park
Filming in Etosha national park


Dolomite camp
Okaukuejo camp
Mushara Lodge
Little Ongava
Ongava Lodge
Eagle tented Lodge and Spa
Okutala Etosha Lodge
Etosha Village


Best time to Visit Etosha water holes Namibia


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