Etosha


If there is a place on earth where you don’t have to drive to see game its in Etosha in the dry-season sitting over a waterhole. Huge herds of elephants, rhino and even lions come to the waterholes. Glistening salt pans, sensational rain .clouds forming, mirages from the distorting heat of the salt pans, wet season fields of yellow blooms dotted with grazing animals, thousands of flamingoes when the pans are full and a fascinating and colourful birdlife make Etosha what it is.

Etosha is one of the largest and best game viewing parks in the whole of Africa. In Ovambo Etosha means ‘huge white area’ or ‘place of dry water’, depending upon whom you ask. For most of the year a vast shallow pan, which was once a lake the size of Holland, shimmers a glaring bright white from crystallised salt across its entire surface. Surrounding the pans is a variety of grass and woodlands amongst which live a wonderful variety of animals and birds, insects and reptiles. The inhospitable pan is 75 miles (120km) long and 45 miles (72km) at its widest, and lone wildebeest or herds of oryx can be seen crossing it or just standing as if mesmerised.

In complete contrast, when the rain arrives, up to three feet (1metre) of water turns the parched surface into an algae-rich soup attracting thousand of flamingoes for whom this is an important breeding ground. Etosha has dozens of waterholes, some are natural while others are artificially fed from boreholes. During the dry season, staking out a position at a waterhole viewpoint is a rewarding way to watch game without moving from one spot.

Plains game such as zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, springbok, impala and eland abound in great numbers on the grasslands and congregate at waterholes in the dry season. Herds of fifty elephants are not unusual. Lions and hyenas are rarer to find and must be searched for. The desert dwelling oryx and the impressive kudu are common sightings. Etosha also contains endangered black rhino and unusual species like the black-faced impala – a larger and darker subspecies found only in south-western Angola and north-western Namibia.

Etosha birdlife is absolutely wonderful with every kind of feathered friend. One to look for is the ground hornbill

The best game-viewing time is during the coolest dry months of May to September, but bird watching is at its peak in the rainy season from November to March. The average daily temperature is 88°F (31°C) and average minimum is 57°F (13.7°C). Rainfall is approximately 14 inches (358mm) per year with January to March the hottest and wettest months. During this time the pans usually fill with water and animals give birth. The dry season is from July to Septemberand the ‘in between’ months, which are neither wet nor dry but somewhere in the middle, are very pleasant.

 Facts

  • As this is a National Park, no off-road or night driving is allowed.
  • Several days are needed to visit this unique park
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