Etosha National Park in Namibia, known as the Great White Place or the Place of Emptiness, is one of the largest game parks in Africa, and is a must on any nature lovers list. Although not as densely populated with wildlife as other parks, such as Kruger National Park in South Africa, what makes Etosha so unusual and unique is its spectacular terrain which brings a diverse range of mammals and plant life to this semi-arid area. Seeing the animals pace across this surreal landscape is one of the sights that make Etosha so special.
Much of the park is characterised by a huge salt pan (so large in fact that it can be seen from space), which most of the time is a blinding expanse of flat, white, dry cracked mud. An ethereal stretch that shimmers with mirages and is dotted with spiralling dust devils, however it becomes a huge lake during summers of exceptional rainfall. The first Europeans to hear about the pan were Charles Andersson from Sweden and Francis Galton from Britain who arrived in 1851. Having been told it was a large lake they were very disappointed to find that it was bone dry. The national park was created in 1907 by Governor Friedrich Von Lindequist.
Etosha is a fabulous place to spot unusual birdlife, with over 340 species recorded in the park with about one third migratory including the European bee-eater and several species of waders and raptors. There are also several species of larger birds such as owls, vultures, ostrich, kori bustard and both lesser and greater flamingos – the latter of which congregate on the pan during the rainy season. The diverse vegetation accounts for the abundance of wildlife and you will be rewarded with great sightings of free-roaming big game such as the rare black rhino, cheetah, Damara dik-dik, roan antelope and black-faced impala. Take a game drive and explore the savannah, grassland and lookouts dotted with low-lying scrub and the iconic Mopani and Camelthorn trees. The areas with thicker vegetation are home to elephant, some of the largest in Africa because of the rich nutrients and vitamins found in the soil and are a unique white colour from the fine dust.
Bone dry wintertime turns the park into a barren wasteland of white dust, which comes from the clay in the pan. This is the most popular time to travel as the animals congregate themselves at the waterholes and surrounding areas, which are populated by large herds of springbok and zebra. The summer months bring heavy rains turning the dusty park into a lush green oasis. New born animals litter the plains and birdlife is abundant. Some of the lodges in the park offer the unique floodlit waterholes for night time viewing, recording regular sightings of black rhino in their numbers which were once thought to be mostly solitary creatures. At the end of the day, bed down at one of the luxury camps in Etosha, either in a treetop abode, capacious tent, or beautifully appointed lodge and spend your evening cocooned by the magic of safari by night.
Features in the following itineraries
- An African Extravaganza – Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique
- An Offbeat Namibian Adventure – An Explorer’s Dream
- Namibia Express: Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Etosha
- Namibia in Style: A heady mix of safari, dunes and culture
- Namibia with the kids in tow
- Namibia: Dunes, Wildlife, Coastlines – the Works!
- Starry-Eyed Namibia: The Ultimate Romantic Getaway
- Whales, Dunes, Shipwrecks & Wildlife – From Namibia’s Bush, Desert & Skeleton Coast to South Africa’s Garden Route & Cape Town
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Susan Ford, India
- Leslie Siben, India