The jewel in Namibia's wildlife crown must surely be the Etosha National game park.
Etosha is the real deal when it comes to wildlife viewing.
If you have your coffee and camera ready with your early wake up call, you will find it difficult to find a better opportunity to see a wide range of African animals at their waterholes.
Visitors only have access to the Southern section of the park. You can enter through the Anderson gate near Okaukuejo or the Von Lindequist Gate near Namutoni. The newest gate is King Nehale in the North east.
You don't need a booking to get through this gate. Beyond the gate there is a well tarred road of about 20 kilometers on your way to Okaukuejo.
Several wildlife management projects in Namibia that have been introduced since independence of Namibia in 1990 have resulted in an increase in the population of important Namibian animals like elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards as well as lions.
The Etosha National Park is centered on a huge, flat mineral pan of about 5,000 square kilometer in the northern parts of Namibia.
The pan itself contains water only after very good rains, and sometimes for only a few days each year.
From these images you will notice that this is an area of semi-arid savannah grassland and thorn scrub. The dominant tree in Etosha is the Mopane.
This was once the bed of a vast inland lake but now Etosha is bone dry for much of the year.
The summer days can get very hot on a Namibian safari and the best time for wildlife watching is at the crack of dawn or very late in the afternoon because most animals take cover as the day heats up.
During the very dry months of June to November the water points along the Southern boundary of the pan ensures large congregations of the nearly 150 mammal species to found in the Park.
When you visit the park at this time the waterholes are at their most productive, drawing in vast numbers of wildlife from the dry plains.
There are not many places that can match the wildlife-viewing opportunities at the Okaukuejo waterhole in the Etosha National Park.
All the rest camps in the Etosha National Park do have waterholes within walking distance.
Initially you will notice how the animals gather around in the pre-dawn light.
The giraffes, springboks, Burchells zebra, blue wildebeests and elands all wait for the first light. While the light is dim it is still dangerous to drink at the water holes when predators have the upper hand of darkness.
As the light improves you will notice how more and more animals move towards the water and drink their fill.
a typical day on a Namibian safari you will see many black-backed
jackals scurrying around searching relentlessly for some unattended
Your best chances of seeing predators like leopards are early in the morning.
The few cheetahs around in the Etosha national park will also drink very early.
You would expect the flat terrain and high numbers of springbok in the Etosha National Park to be ideal to host many cheetahs but they are actually quite rare here.
The reason for this is that they cannot really compete for their ideal prey like springboks with the bigger cats like lions.
you do get to visit Etosha on a Namibian safari remember that the best
water holes that have suitable cover are probably at Chudop and
Other useful waterholes are that are good for photography is Namutoni and Twee palms.
This means there is life everywhere and the wildlife is not limited to the waterholes. This is the time that the animals disperse to the grassland.
At this time there is not much point waiting at waterholes and I suggest you go driving in search of the wildlife like springboks and blue wildebeests.
The sweetgrass plains are the place where the springboks have their young.
Springboks are very selective feeders and always choose the best quality food available.
The gemsboks are the ultimate dessert specialists.
They have a lowered metabolism that allows them to survive on much less than equally sized animals.
You will notice them in small herds of up to a dozen animals.
Two new lodges, Onkoshi and Dolomite, are camps to consider for those visitors that enjoy a luxurious safari experience.
The Dolomite Camp has 20 luxury safari tents is located on the western part of Etosha and offers you wildlife viewing opportunities at a very active waterhole.
Onkoshi offers the choice of 15 units on the fringes of the Etosha Pan.
You have a number of options here.
Etosha is definitely a very viable self-drive option.
The terrain is very flat and the roads are in good condition for most vehicles.
You should however not consider this option during the rainy season which stretches from January to the end of March when the roads become very difficult to negotiate with a sedan vehicle.
If you however have not done a self-drive safari before we suggest you take a qualified field guide with expert knowledge of the Etosha to accompany you.
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