* Prices may differ from that shown
Those who have the courage to take on an adventure to the unknown and might not have been to the splendours of The Etosha National Park in Namibia, sit back and relax as I shall attempt to take you on the road down memory lane, hopefully to entice you to create a lifetime memory of your own.
Friends from Stockton-on-Tees arranged their vacation of a lifetime a while ago and guess where one of our destinations were? Yeah, I know I should not repeat it, but why should I care what you really think as I already know how amazing the park is.
The Etosha National Park covers more than 22 000 square kilometers and in the heart of the park lies a vast salt pan desert which is more or less 130 kilometers long and 50 kilometers wide in some places, wow! It is surrounded with thorn savannah and grass with the pan itself mostly dry. Very briefly during the summer the pan will have some water and then attracts birds like pelicans and flamingo's besides other wildlife species.
There are water-holes scattered throughout The Etosha National Park though which provides the perfect areas for game. Countless species such as lions, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, elephant, springbok and numerous other African animal species. Please do not expect me to give you all the information as I am trying to entice you, remember?
There are three restcamps in the park which is Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni. We decided to enter the park from the main entrance which leads to Okaukuejo restcamp with Janet and Brian being very excited throughout the trip. As we drove about three kilometers Gundi almost had heart failure when she noticed the animal she most feared, yet most adored. It was none other than the "Gentle Giant" of Africa, the elephant! We were so fortunate (unfortunate for Gundi, shame) to see at least five to six of these wonderful animals on our way into Okaukuejo. What a start to anyone's visit, do you not agree?
Camping sites, chalets and hotels are available as well as restaurants, stores and swimming pools. We booked a chalet for the four of us for one night only to spend time at the water hole that evening and take a long drive into the park the very next day. The roads are well-maintained gravel roads(untarred) which leads to many a water hole where the best game viewing are. Within the security of the restcamp one can enjoy the wonderful sight of numerous wildlife visiting the water hole day and night with special lighting being provided permanently.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset therefor, remember to be inside one of the restcamps or you should have already left the park and the only other option left is to sleep in your vechile with sharp-tooth prowlers around you and the sounds of the night. Sounds good to me! Back at Okaukuejo in the meantime all four of us sat at the water hole enjoying the splendour of wildlife, nature and the surrounded noises when suddenly Gundi jumps up almost hysterical, throwing her tin of cooldrink over her shoulder whilst jumping back for another elephant daring to be to close for her comfort! It took a while for us to settle down as laughter broke the perfect silence for a while.
Early the next morning we were ready to take on the park and it's beauty. What a stunning sight when you drive through the park heading to different water holes. I can not imagine someone enjoying such splendour not arranging their next vacation in Namibia at The Etosha National Park. The best time for game viewing would be from May to September which is our cooler months in Namibia and wildlife is in abundance at the water holes.
I hope some of you have enjoyed this short and little adventure with me and to conclude I include some information details which you could use for more information. Until we meet again, thanks for reading.
Namibia Wildlife Resorts.
Private Bag 13378, Windhoek, 9000, Namibia.
Tel ++264-(0)61 285 7200
Fax++264-(0)61 224 900
It's hard to sum up what I think of Etosha, other than to tell you that I am not the same person I was when I went in. It is one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever had. The Etosha game reserve is a huge area of land fenced off by the Namibian government to protect the animals within it. They are not controlled, they are simply protected by the barriers. Tourists are free to drive inside the place on any of the marked roads, and stop at the numerous waterholes. The only rule is that you must stay inside your car, and you must not be in the reserve after sunset. If this sounds like a safari park, let me assure you, it isn't. There are two options: you can stay outside Etosha at a game reserve like Ongava and be taken inside the reserve by the lodge's guides, or you can drive yourself and stay at one of the restcamps inside the fences. We did both. The advantage of a place like Ongava is that they have their own reserve, and can do night drives. We saw owls, eagles, caracal and rhino in Ongava's night drives, and the first time we went into Etosha itself we had a guide to tell us what the animals and birds were. Having spent two nights at Ongava, we then travelled inside and spent two days in Etosha. There is a restcamp at the west entrance, one at the east, and one in the middle. By staying here, you maximize your opportunities to see animals early in the day and late in the afternoon, and can be in the middle of the reserve when sunset is imminent. At one waterhole, we watched an elephant drinking with springbok and kudu (large antelope). Soon, it was joined by twelve zebra and six giraffe. This was a sight like something out of a children's book. Sometimes, you have to sit at a waterhole and wait to see if something will turn up. Sometimes, like at one called 'Olifantsbad', you can watch one bunch of elephants queueing up after another to have a bath. This is not a safari park - y
ou probably won't see the resident lions (we did, but from a distance), but you do see their handiwork. We saw about a hundred vultures devouring what was left of a gnu, and fighting over it with a couple of bloody-faced jackals. Moreover, while the lodges immediately outside Etosha (especially Ongava) are noted for their luxury, the state-run rest camps are pretty spartan (especially Halali in the middle, which is a genuinely depressing place to stay). But nothing can detract from the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat - catching a glimpse of a cheetah, following a giraffe to a water hole, or watching a secretary bird strutting through the bushes. It is truly magical (sounds like a cliche, but it isn't, it's like opening your eyes to a larger world for the first time).
Namibia is a large W African country with a small pop. of 1.7 million (6% are German/S. African origin). we travelled in Jan/Feb which is summer - usually very hot and wet - however temps this year were in the 80s which we found very comfortable. Winter is very hot and dry and the landscape is more like moonscape - more animals at waterholes then. Roads are long . straight and well maintained so driving was very easy. In Etosha Nat. Park roads are gravel and graded every two weeks. We travelled from Windhoek to Etosha spending one night on the way at Otjiwa ( not to be recommended at the moment - rather shabby accommodation in mobile homes). We spent nights 2 & 3 at Mushara Lodge (just outside the Park entrance) - Top quality, beautiful modern bungalows, excellent food and very friendly hosts. Etosha Nat Park surrounds an enormous salt pan which disappears into the horizon -rather like looking out over the ocean. In Jan/Feb the rains had just started and it was green and fresh. Huge herds of Zebra , Wildebeast, Impala, Springbok, Giraffe and other antelopes were found grazing with their young. However at this time of year waterholes are not so busy - you have to keep an eagle eye out for other animals in the lush vegetation. We stayed one night at Halali (- a govt. camp - half way across the park - husbands said it reminded them of their time in the army!!) - it was very basic, very cheap and served the purpose. We travelled westwards as far as allowed and then spent the last 3 days at Ongava Lodge just outside Andersson's Gate. This was the highlight of our holiday. We had guided tours both in the Park and in their own game park where we encountered 5 white rhinos (approached on foot - rather apprehensively!!). Duncan and Antoinette were superb hosts - meals excellent; eaten together round a huge table - or even in the bush!! Douw, our young guide of 21yrs was incredibly knowledgeable and thoroughly enjoyed his job. We then trav
elled all day to get to Swakopmund on the skeleton coast. This is an old German colonial town - shopping quite good and plenty of restaurants. This is the start of the Namib desert with dunes as far as the eye can see!! We travelled back to Windhoek on the Desert Express train overnight - not quite the standard of the Orient Express - but very comfortable. The people appeared fit and well - we did not encounter any begging. We felt very safe at all times. We would love to go again to see the other half of the country and would urge anyone who can, to go soon before it is spoilt by politicians! Our Tour was organised by Tana Travel - very competitive prices -, and very helpful. We used S African Airways as we made a detour to Capetown to visit family - there is not much to choose between them and B.A. altho' you get better value on internal flights if you use S African Airways
Etosha National Park in Namibia was first established in 1907, when Namibia was a German colony known as South West Africa. At the time, the parks original 100,000 km² (38,500 mile²) made it the largest game reserve in the world. Due to political changes since its original establishment, the park is somewhat less than a quarter of its original size, but still remains a very large and significant area in which wildlife is protected. Etosha National Park has an area of 8,598 square miles (22,269 square km) and one of the largest accumulations of big-game species in the world, including lions, elephants, rhinoceros, elands, zebras, and springbok. Abundant bird life includes flamingos, vultures, hawks, eagles, ostriches, guinea fowl, and geese. The eastern portion of Etosha National Park has a tree-savanna type of vegetation abounding in tambouti a deciduous tree that is locally used for furniture and cabinetwork, wild fig, and date palms.