Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Etosha National Park - A Timeless Experience

The Etosha National Park is Namibia's premier tourist destination and one of the world's finest game parks.

When it first gained official status in 1907 it was the largest game reserve in the world but over the years, due to politically-motivated changes, it has been reduced to less than 25% of it's original area.

Etosha is 100km from my home in northern Namibia and in the last month I had the opportunity to visit it twice; the first time on a day-trip and on the second visit a three-day camping trip.

There are three main rest camps in the park but I prefer Namutoni on the far eastern side because it has a lot of waterholes in close proximity.

Namutoni is an old colonial German police fort, it has been converted to accommodate a restaurant, coffee shop, and various shops selling local crafts.

'Luxury' accommodation is available but, the prices are tourist-orientated and too expensive for the average Namibian - even the camping spots are priced way above the norm. Above is a pic of our humble camp.

The Etosha Pan dominates the park. The salt pan desert is roughly 130 km long and as wide as 50 km in places. The salt pan is usually dry, but sometimes fills with water briefly in the summer.

Above is a view of the pan from a spot named 'Etosha', where vehicle access onto the pan is possible for about one kilometer.

Two of the many waterholes close to Namutoni, Gross Okevi and Koinachas.

It's the end of a reasonable rain-season here; grazing and browsing is plentiful and there are many water puddles in the bush so the game has no need to visit the waterholes, as can be see from the two pics above.

There's something magical, especially at the end of the dry winter months, in sitting quietly at a water hole watching the comings and goings of the animals - a scene that has been repeated since time immemorial ...

Animal tracks leading out onto the pans - the rainy season this year was not good enough to cause a thin (15cm) layer of water on the pan - which, when it does, attracts pelicans and flamingos.

Twee Palms waterhole - one of the few waterholes where there was an abundance of game at the time. I'll try get back to the pans later this year when it's drier and photograph a totally different landscape.

I've still got hundreds of images to work through and in the coming weeks I'll do a few posts on some of the things I saw.

Have I mentioned before that I love my digital camera?

Related Posts:
Etosha - Elephants



  1. Amazing pics Graham...you are an online safari tour guide to Africa

  2. Etosha National Park is one of those places I have always wanted to visit, but I am afraid my pocket will not stretch to a trip. You are now bringing that visit to me so I will enjoy it almost as much as the real thing. I also am in love with my digital. Do you remember spending a fortune on getting a film developed only to find most of the pictures were blurred!! Diane

  3. The picture of the animals gazing was utopic. You were lucky to experience it. And thank you for sharing.

    I wonder who left the tracks! And at first I wondered why you needed to be near the waterholes.

  4. I've always wanted to visit Etosha - one day! It's such a magical place, I can see...

  5. @ aurora - hey Monica, yeah, I love showing-off Namibia to people, especially visitors - when I talk to others I become aware of things that I often take for granted and see my surroundings with 'new' eyes ...

    @ Diane - well, if you can save-up the airfare I can always lend you my tent, camping is a lot cheaper - yeah, I remember how much it cost to develop film ... initially a digital cam is more expensive but so much cheaper in the long run ...

    a Ocean Girl - yeah Fazlisa, Etosha is magical, the tracks in the pic were probably left by Oryx or Zebra - Oryx especially wander far out into the pan itself, I wonder why because there's nothing to eat or drink there ...

    @ Kirsty - as I described in the post, just to sit quietly as a waterhole is an uplifting experience, the silence ca be deafening ...

    I hope that you make it to Nam someday ... you'll not want to leave, I'm sure ...

  6. great pictures
    From watching documentaries I know some places put observation decks near the watering holes. Did they do that there? I'm not sure if I would just want to be standing out in the open with some of the animals that live there.

  7. They are fab pics and it will be exciting to see the same areas at different times of the year to see different species of game, I hope you can get back there to oblige!

  8. Thank you for showing us such a beautiful part of your country - I have never been, and must admit that I never realised how beautiful it is ! Pity about the high tourist rates for 'locals'. We have the same problem here in our National parks. I look forward to seeing more photo's & yeah, I love my digital camera, too :)

  9. @ lisleman - thanks, all three rest camps are situated at waterholes which are floodlight at night, it can be dangerous as you suggest - a few years ago, at Okaukuejo, a German tourist decided to sleep on a bench at the waterhole - during the night he was killed and partially eaten by lions ...

    @ Peggy - thank you, yes, as I mentioned, Etosha is only 100 ks from my home and I'll try my best to get there this winter - the whole scene changes completely, the bush becomes grey-dry and there's a constant procession of wildlife passing through the waterholes ...

    @ Lynda - thank you, all your comments make me realize how fortunate I am to live here - yes, although locals do get a 'discounted' rate, it is still beyond the reach of most Namibians - digital is the best thing since the invention of the camera ... :)

  10. Oh my, and I get excited when rabbits and raccoons are in our back yard. This is gorgeous. Great camping place.

  11. Thanks for the visit and comment TechnoBabe - yeah, I love camping ... it's amazing though, how often, when I do go camping, a strong wind starts blowing and makes my life miserable ... didn't happen on this trip though ... :)

  12. It looks wonderful. I especially love the last photo where all the wild animals are grazing and drinking peacefully. Do you get lions and elephants where you are? I guess lions, cheetahs and leopards would make this scene a little different. From all your photos I can see that Namibia is a beautiful country. It's a shame we in the west don't know more about the beauty all over Africa. I wonder if you could tell me the cost of camping in tents at the park?

  13. Thanks Joyful - yes Namibia is a beautiful country, I could talk about it for hours ...

    ... yes, there are lions and elephants here, I'll post a few pics soon ...

    The cost of the camping (you have to bring your own tent) was 100 Nam Dollars per person per night ... I don't know what that translates to in Canadian Dollars ...

  14. I looked up the rate of exchange. 100 Nam dollar is just under $14. Canadian dollars. Given Canadian dollar is doing well these days it is about the same in US dollars. So that is a great deal for me though I guess I'd have to buy a tent if I was there. How much is it to stay in the more permanent lodgings there? I always like comparing prices. BTW, thanks for joining me on my walk to the market :-) I posted some pics of African lions today. These are so beautiful.

  15. I'm speaking under correction Joyful but I think the rate in the bungalows is about 900 Nam Dollars per person per night ... many people choose to stay in one of the Lodges just outside the Park - they are also very expensive but more luxurious and the food and service is better ...

  16. I can see why those rates are well out of reach of the locals. It would be a little extravagant for a lot of Canadians but not unreachable, esp. when going on a trip of a lifetime.

  17. I read this again Graham, with a deeper appreciation.