An Ultimate Guide to Etosha National Park
From the lush green bushes of the Caprivi to the epic sand dunes scattered across the breath-taking Skeleton coast, Namibia boasts an exceptional mix of stunning landscapes coupled with majestic wildlife, amazing food and a truly unique culture.
Since gaining independence from South Africa in the 1990’s hundreds of thousands of tourists have flocked to this picturesque nation to explore the beauty it holds within. However, no trip to Namibia would truly be complete without a visit to the iconic Etosha National Park.
Spanning more than 20,000 square km’s, and boasting a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes, the vast Etosha national park features something for everyone. So, whether you’ve already booked a safari, or you’re planning on booking a safari trip of a lifetime in the near future, be sure to read our ultimate guide to Etosha national park below.
Why visit Etosha National Park?
Home to over 300 species of birds, as well as over 100 species of mammal, the epic Etosha park provides ample opportunity to see a range of stunning wildlife up close and personal, including four of Africa’s iconic ‘big five’.
The name Etosha, which translates to ‘Land of Dry Water’ or ‘Great White Place’ refers directly to the 130km x 50km wide salt pan which covers over a quarter of the national park. Whilst exploring the landscape you will find numerous waterholes that famously attract a plethora of wildlife so it’s a brilliant opportunity to see some spectacular animals active in their natural habitat.
Commonly regarded as more affordable than some other African safaris, without compromising on either activities and experiences, Etosha boasts a number of lodges and properties that serve as the perfect base for both self- drive and guided safaris.
When to Visit Etosha National Park
Although Namibia welcomes visitors to Etosha National Park all year round the most popular time to visit is during the dry season (May-October).
It’s not impossible to visit during the wetter months (starting from November) but it’s sometimes more difficult to spot wildlife given that thick vegetation and tall grasses tend to consume the vast landscape.
During the dry season, particularly when temperatures are hot, wildlife tends to gather around the few remaining waterholes providing the perfect opportunity to witness zebras, giraffes, springboks and even rhinos up close and personal.
The best time for game viewing, which is applicable to most safari parks, is early morning. Just after dawn temperatures tend to be cooler and animals such as lions, who have been hunting all night, are usually eating their prey at this time.
If you’re not a morning person evening time also provides a great opportunity to view some majestic wildlife. When the temperature drops many animals come out to feed or take a drink from the waterholes.
Etosha National Park Accommodation
Etosha boasts 6 accommodation camps inside the park that are all run by the government-owned Namibian Wildlife Resorts. All of the camps offer similar services and basic amenities including a bar, small shop, fuel station and a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Although these amenities are perfect for some, others may prefer a little more luxury which is why there is also an abundance of alternative accommodation within a short drive of the park, near the southern an eastern sections. Staying in the park does not really offer much benefit, as no driving in the park is allowed after sunset. We would strongly advise to rather stay at privately owned lodges outside of the park.
Regardless of where you choose to stay when visiting Etosha, you can gain entry to the park simply by paying an entrance fee at the gate. Once you’ve paid the fee it’s time to drive along the network of tarred roads until you reach the prime game viewing areas.
For more information about Etosha accommodation options please contact us today or visit one of our self-drive, fly-in safari or guided safari tour itinerary pages.
Should I book a Self-Guided or Private Guide Safari?
Whether you’re looking to venture out on a safari with all the family, or looking for the perfect honeymoon destination, the beauty of a Namibian safari is that it caters for all budgets and preferences- with amazing itineraries that can be tailored to meet your exact requirements!
Self-drive safaris offer tourists a greater sense of freedom and adventure so if you’re someone who enjoys taking the reins and planning the more intricate details of a safari trip then this option could be for you. It’s worth noting that you do not have to be a seasoned safari expert to book a self-drive trip. The road system in Namibia, and surrounding Etosha, is well sign posted and easy to follow, just drive carefully.
If you prefer to explore the wonders of Etosha national park with the experienced hand of a tour guide then a private guide safari may be for you. Embarking on a private guided adventure allows you to focus on the wildlife without worrying about the road ahead and booking this type of trip serves as a great way to learn about the history and culture of the area first-hand.
Other important information
If you’re planning to visit Etosha national park, regardless of the time of year, there are number of things you should keep in mind:
Packing- Daytime temperatures in the dry season can be extremely warm so make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen, as well as sunglasses and a sun hat. For game viewing, we advise you to bring adequate binoculars so you can spot wildlife that’s unlikely to approach your car. If you’re exploring at night bring a torch and always bring a few layers of clothes so you can adjust to the daytime/nigh time temperatures.
Download a map- Although Etosha is relatively easy to navigate it’s always best to be prepared for all outcomes. Download a custom map that corresponds to the area you are travelling in or even bring a good old- fashioned atlas in case your technology fails.
Camera- Make sure you bring a reasonable quality camera complete with plenty of memory card space because you will undoubtedly be taking hundreds of shots!
Be health conscious- Malaria is prevalent in Etosha so we advise you to bring insect repellent and wear long trousers at night to avoid bites. Update: Malaria has been eradicated in Etosha and most other areas of Namibia.
Wifi/Power- In case your mobile or camera run out of battery it’s always a good idea to bring along a power bank as you may be some distance away from the nearest charge socket. Wifi is available in all the camps at Etosha but a small charge may apply.