Etosha National Park- Tips and Pics
Etosha National Park, in northern Namibia, is simply one of the most incredible places on earth. While getting here takes some effort, it’s completely worth it. The desert landscape is beyond gorgeous, and we saw just about every possible animal, too.
Adam and I were lucky enough to spend Christmas at Etosha, and had an amazing three-day self-drive safari spotting animals in beautiful scenery. Here are my top tips for a visit to Etosha, as well as my favourite photos from our trip here:
There is no public transport to or around Etosha. A rented car or guided tour is a must. We chose to rent a car in Windhoek and drive north, stopping overnight at Tsumeb. The journey is around 433km and took just over five hours. After camping in Tsumeb, we got up early to drive the remaining 100km (around an hour and a half) to the park entrance at Von Lindequist gate, which is just five minutes from Namutoni rest camp.
There are five rest camps in Etosha, and the park is so massive that spending a few nights inside the park gates is a must. Read about each of the rest camps here.
Campsites are available at all of the rest stops. Though if you’re ever going to splurge on fancy accommodation, now’s the time. We were lucky enough to be treated to a chalet as a Christmas gift, and it was the nicest place I’ve stayed in my life!
The chances of seeing animals is higher in the dry season (the winter months of May to September), as they tend to congregate around the waterholes. In the wet season (the summer months of November to April) they remain scattered throughout the park. That is, in theory. We visited during the peak of the wet season, and saw just about every type of animal that calls the park home (though it was admittedly a particularly dry wet season this year).
While Namibia is an incredibly hot country, we found that even in the peak of summer, the evenings were quite cool. And as our days in Etosha were mostly spent in an air-conditioned car, the heat didn’t bother us too much. The midday sun is scorching, though, so when we weren’t in the car, we stayed mostly in the shade.
Driving is not allowed in the park before sunrise and after sunset. Before leaving your rest camp, check what time the gates close and make sure you leave plenty of time to make your way back.
A buffet is available at each rest camp for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each camp has a shop with a small range of snack food and drinks, but there is no limit to what food and drink you bring in from outside (we stocked up on plenty of cheese and wine to have on Christmas day!).
The buffets serve some vegetarian food, and only charged me half price as I didn’t eat the meat (the full price of a buffet dinner at Namutoni was NAD180).
There are four entrance gates to the park. It’s easy to enter through one and stay at a different rest camp each night before leaving through another. Here’s a list of each of the gate locations.
The entrance fees for Etosha are shockingly low! We only had to pay 80 Namibian dollars each per day (around £3.50 or US$5), plus NAD10 for the car (£0.50/ US$0.70). It’s even less for SADC members or Namibian nationals, and children under 16 go free. Such a bargain!
It’s best to book ahead, even if you’re planning to camp. Booking can be done through the park website.
Keep your eyes peeled. While there is little vegetation, the animals blend in seamlessly to the landscape. Particularly lions against a sandy backdrop (we did eventually find some, but even then I struggled to see them until we were right next to each other!).
Start your drive early! We saw the most animals when we started at 6:30am. This was also the only time we saw lions, as they tend to disappear into the shade as the sun gets higher.
Etosha is one of three safaris we did in southern Africa, and, while Addo is more accessible for a short trip, and Kruger is better for animal spotting, nothing beats the beautiful surroundings of Etosha.