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Etosha Pan - This is what you can expect to see in Namibia's flagship game park

The jewel in Namibia's wildlife crown must surely be the Etosha Pan located in 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.

Etosha national park Namibia mapThe real beauty of the Etosha lies in the fact that wildlife sightings here are virtually guaranteed.

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.

Namibia national parksAnderson gate near Okaukuejo

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.

Etosha Pan - where to find spectacular wildlife sightings

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.

Etosha Namibia wildlifeThe elephant population in Etosha has increased to more than 20 000 from the 4 000 elephants they had in 1990.

The Etosha Pan is centered on a huge, flat mineral pan of about 5,000 square kilometer in the northern parts of Namibia.

Etosha Namibia panThe stark Etosha Pan occupies almost a third of the park.

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.

Etosha National park pictures

This was once the bed of a vast inland lake but now Etosha is bone dry for much of the year.

Game reserve NamibiaThe bleached calcite soils and thorn trees in the Etosha Pan gives it a bare and desolate look.

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.

Etosha has something like 110 reptiles, 115 mammals and 340 bird species that have been positively identified.

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.

Namibia travel guideThe Etosha national park features a number of man-made water-points and natural springs around the central pan.

All the rest camps in the Etosha 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.

You should always arrive at a waterhole early in the morning and wait for the wildlife procession that is arriving.

On a typical day on a Namibian safari you will see many black-backed jackals scurrying around searching relentlessly for some unattended young prey.

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.

Namibia National ParksThe Etosha lions are usually looking for their chances to ambush some prey at the watering holes but need a bit of suitable cover.

If 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 Kalkheuwel.

Other useful waterholes are that are good for photography is Namutoni and Twee palms.

The Etosha Pan is transformed during the short wet summer. Most rains fall between January and March.

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.

Etosha National Park reviewSpringboks are usually restricted to arid zones and are well adapted to these dry and unpredictable conditions.

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.

Etosha Safari Camp

Etosha Safari Camp is only 10 km from the Andersson Gate on the C 38 between Outjo and Okaukuejo. It is perched on a hill on the Ondundozonanadanana ( try saying that after a few beers in the Oshebeena Bar) 

Children under 5 years old can stay for a free bed and breakfast. Children between 6 and 13 years gets a 50% discount of the normal rate including VAT.

It has 50 twin-bedded bungalows are very clean and comfortable and each of them is equipped with mosquito gauze, air conditioning and its own bathroom and small porch.

You are able to arrange dinners which features food items featuring oryx, kudu and springbok meats at a charge of N$300.00 per person.

Onkoshi camp

Onkoshi Camp is set on the rim of the Etosha Pan and is an environmentally friendly location with only 15 units. It provides a very personal and exclusive experience away from other tourist areas. You are allowed to drive their own vehicles to the camp.

This a good camp to try if you want to enjoy a luxurious Namibia safari experience.

The best ways to go on safari in Etosha

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.

 Guides should be booked well in advance because they fill early.

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.  

Have you been to the Etosah Pan? If you have, please share this page with your friends by liking it and give us a comment below about your experience here.

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