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Etosha National Park

Size

22,270 sq. km (8,600 sq. mi)

Founded

1958 (protected wildlife area) | 1967 (national park)

Best time to visit

June to October

The Great White place

Etosha National Park is one of the most unique wildlife sanctuaries in the world. The vast plains upon which zebra and springbok can be seen in large numbers and the congregation of various animal species at its many waterholes make the Etosha National Park one of the best safari destinations in Africa.

Wildlife at waterhole Etosha National Park

Namibia Safari in Etosha National Park: Wildlife and waterholes

For those who wish to see wildlife on their Namibian journey, the Etosha National Park is a must visit destination. It is the most popular national park in Namibia and can provide fantastic wildlife moments to those who explore it.

On an Etosha tour it is common to encounter large numbers of elephant, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest as well as a host of antelope species including springbok, oryx, kudu and impala. The predator that is most often seen and heard is the lion. Etosha’s apex predator is most active just after dusk or in the early hours of the morning. Harder to spot are leopard and cheetah, though both are present in the park.

Every animal has a story to tell and nowhere is this truer than in the Etosha. For example, when you look carefully you will discover that there are two different species of zebra living in the Etosha National Park. You can find the common plains zebra as well as the Hartmann’s mountain zebra, the latter of which is by far the rarer of the two. The Hartmann’s mountain zebra has adapted to survive in rocky and mountainous areas and it is regularly sighted in the western Etosha.

Birders can look forward to 340 species of birds on their Namibia safari in Etosha National Park. A third of these species are migratory and the most popular is probably the European bee-eater. The 35 raptor different species include several types of vultures, as well as eight species of owl. Larger birds found in the park are ostrich and the world’s heaviest flying bird, the kori bustard.

The secret to the success of the Etosha is its many waterholes, most of which provide water throughout the year to the thirsty animals. These include both natural fountains and springs as well as artificial boreholes. It is quite common to witness multiple animal species, even predator and prey alike, sharing a waterhole simultaneously and this has the makings of a tremendous wildlife spectacle. Famous waterholes in the Etosha include Nebrownii, Okaukuejo, Rietfontein, Goas, Kalkheuwel and Namutoni.

The huge Etosha Salt Pan is certainly also worth a visit. At 130 km long and up to 50 km wide in places, it is comfortably the largest salt pan in Africa and is the park’s most distinctive and dramatic feature, visible even from space. It is so quiet you can hear your thoughts and so vast that your eyes can gaze over the flat landscape all the way unto the horizon. During periods of heavy rain, the Etosha salt pan can fill with water and flamingos flock to this temporary lake to harvest on the blue and green algae which form, creating an oasis in middle of this otherwise dry environment.

Etosha is malaria free in the dry winter months, but most international health organizations still advise on taking some form of prophylaxis during this time as well as during the wetter summer months, roughly from December to April. The best game viewing is in the dry season, roughly from June to October, where daytime temperatures are cooler (but still pleasantly warm). The green season can get very hot, but it is also the better season for birders.

The park is entirely accessible to two-wheel drive vehicles and offers plenty of accommodation options, both camping and lodging, inside the park and near the park’s entrance gates. The lodges inside the park are state-run and give you the opportunity to go on guided night games, whilst the accommodations outside of the park’s boundary often are more intimate and charming.

The Etosha National Park offers you a safari experience unlike any other. By exploring this immense wildlife sanctuary, you can get a fantastic insight into the lives of the many animals who play an important part in Namibia’s greater ecosystem. Even if you have visited the Etosha before, it remains a fantastic national park to revisit as you will never know what it has in store for you this time around.

Namibia Etosha National Park Okaukuejo map
Excellent game viewing

Excellent game viewing

You can witness a great number of large mammals, including four of the ‘Big Five’ (only buffalo is missing) as well as many other animals, some of which are considered rare or endangered.

Unique landscapes

Unique landscapes

You will understand why the word Etosha derives from a local word meaning ‘great white place’ and is likely in reference to the enormous 4,800 sq. km large salt pan in the heart of the National Park.

Floodlit waterholes

Floodlit waterholes

You can relax at Okaukuejo’s floodlit waterhole which puts large mammals such as black rhino, elephant, lion and giraffe literally in the spotlight.

Elephant giraffe zebra at waterhole in Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is known for its excellent wildlife viewing during the dry season when different species of animals congregate at the remaining waterholes.

White ghosts elephant herd Etosha National Park

Elephants in the national park protect their skin from the harsh sun and insects with white clay – which has given them the name ghosts of Etosha.

Lion climbing rock

The big cat most frequently seen in Etosha National Park is the lion.

Oryx walking into waterhole at dusk in Etosha National Park

The best time to visit Etosha is during the dry season when visibility is good due to scarce vegetation and animals come to the waterholes.

4x4 self-drive vehicle Etosha National Park

You can go on game drives as part of a guided tour, do a self-drive game drive or book a guided game drive with your accommodation.

WHEN TO GO

Best time to go to Etosha National Park

You can go on an Etosha tour at any time of year, although many will argue that the best time of year to visit the Etosha is during the dry winter months. Water is scarce at this time, forcing the various animals to come to the waterholes to drink. This allows you to experience fantastic wildlife moments. The green season also has its rewards, as the park presents itself at its most beautiful during this time. Animals look their happiest and plumpest during the green season, which always makes for a lovely sight.

Dry season

Dry Season

May to November

Best for wildlife viewing at the waterholes

Rainy season

Green Season

December to April

Best for birding and beautiful landscapes

Why to go

See the "Ghosts of Etosha"

The elephants of Etosha like to cake themselves in mud to protect themselves from the harsh Namibian sun and when this mud dries, it gives them an eery white appearance. These white elephants are a magnificent sight, particularly when contrasted against the deep blue sky in the background.

Tent camping night sky
We will always remember that lion in Etosha National Park. Each night, he roared loudly. Such experiences in the wild, while staying in a tent, are unique.
Gengenbacher Family | Tailor-Made Tour
Safari game drive vehicle in Etosha National Park
Classic game drives

Look for lions, elephants, and rhinos.

Zebras drinking at waterhole at sunset
Visit the many waterholes

Relax as the animals come to you at the waterholes.

Elephant at a waterhole at night in Etosha
Night game drives

Seek the nocturnal animals of Etosha National Park.

Things to do

Different types of game drives in Etosha National Park

You can experience a fantastic wildlife safari in the Etosha National Park by witnessing a variety of animals on traditional game drives, by visiting the many waterholes and by going on a night game drive in the Etosha National Park itself.

  • Classic game drives
  • Visit the many waterholes
  • Night game drives
Two rhinos running towards waterhole
Black Rhino

The critically endangered black rhino can often be sighted at the Okaukujeo waterhole.

Oryx antelope namibia
Oryx

Namibia’s national animal, the large Oryx antelope is a regular and impressive sight.

Springbok herd on savannah in Etosha National Park
Springbok

Large herds of Springbok can be seen in the Etosha National Park.

Elephant taking a mud bath at Etosha waterhole
Elephant

The elephants of Etosha like to take mud baths at the various waterholes.

Young male lion resting in shade
Lions

Escaping the midday heat, lions can often be spotted resting in the shade under a bush or tree.

Black-faced impala Etosha
Black-faced Impalas

Namibia is one of the few places where you can see this very rare and beautiful sub-species of the commonly seen impala.

WILDLIFE AT ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

The Big Four and many more

A safari in the Etosha National Park is unlike a safari in any other wildlife region. When on safari in the Etosha, you can visit the various waterholes and allow the animals to come to you. Your patience is then often rewarded with tremendous wildlife moments, especially during the early morning hours and the late afternoons.

Where to stay in Etosha National Park

Mushara Bush Camp Etosha Area

Mushara Bush Camp

Etosha Safari Camp cottag

Etosha Safari Camp

Onguma Bush Camp

Okonjima Plains Camp accommodation on 4 day Etosha safari

Okonjima Plains Camp

Hobatere Lodge Hobatere Concession Etosha Area

Hobatere Lodge

Onguma The Fort pool area

Onguma The Fort

Ongava Lodge Namibia

Ongava Lodge

Location

The Etosha National Park is located in the north of Namibia. The park has four entrance points and is open all year, from sunrise to sunset. The entrance gates are the Anderson Gate in the south, the Von Lindequist Gate in the east, the King Nehale Gate in the north and the Galton Gate in the west.

Experience the Etosha National Park

Zebra closeup Namibia
Namibia travel expert
Sand dunes Namibia

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