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Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park, one of Namibia’s most well known national parks, covers an expanse of 22,270 square km, of which 4,800 square km is covered by Etosha Pan, after which it is named. Over the years, Etosha Pan has been known by many names: in Oshindonga, a Bantu language, Etosha translates to the ‘Great White Place’, it’s also known as the ‘Land of Dry Water’ and ‘Place of Mirages’. Etosha National Park is home to a 114 recorded species of mammals, including many of the most popular African safari animals. The park has many waterholes, which is where camps are often strategically placed, so incredible wildlife viewing can be experienced as the animals and birds come to drink at the waterholes.

Timeline For Etosha National Park

  • 1851 – Discovered by the European explorers Charles Anderson and Francis Galton.
  • 1876 – McKiernan, another European, witnessed Etosha Pan in all its glory surrounded by animals.
  • 1896 – Germany sent troops to the Namutoni region.
  • 1899 – The German troops built a fort named Namutoni.
  • 1904 – Ovambos raided and razed Namutoni.
  • 1905 – Germans rebuilt Namutoni, which remains an attraction today.
  • 1907 – Dr. Von Linddequist, German Governor of South West Africa, proclaimed Etosha (100,000 square km) a game reserve.
  • 1970 – Over the years, the park was reduced to 20,000 square km.
  • Late 1970-Early 1980 – Etosha lost a majority of animals due to droughts, and some were caught into the crossfire of the border war.
  • 2020 – Conservation efforts have helped Etosha regain a lot of the lost numbers.

Wildlife In Etosha National Park

  • Animals

Etosha is home to four of the ‘big five’ with a steady population of elephant, rhino, lion and leopard, but buffalo has not been resident here since the 1950s. As well as lion and leopard, other predators such as caracal, cheetah, hyenas and jackals are also found in the park. Like African buffalo, wild dogs have also been extinct in Etosha for some time. Two members of the big five, the lion and the solitary leopard, have a diet quite different from each other. Where the elusive leopard preys upon the small mammals and antelopes, the lion hunts the bigger prey, such as wildebeest and zebras. Etosha also has its share of herbivores, including eland, gemsbok, giraffe, impala, kudu, springbok, wildebeest and zebra. There’s also a subspecies of the impala, the endangered black-faced impala, which thrives in Etosha. Animals are often seen around the waterholes in the dry season when other water sources dry up. The park has a high concentration of waterholes in the southern regions.

  • Birds

The variety of species in Etosha alone makes it a place well worth visiting: there are around 340 bird species here. There are six species of eagles alone; bateleur eagle, booted eagle, circaetus eagle, martial eagle, tawny eagle and Verreaux’s eagle. The white-backed vulture and lappet-faced vulture, both endangered, can be seen taking flight or picking at an animal carcass. Other predatory birds include African harrier-hawk, black-winged kite, yellow-billed kite, amur falcon, giant eagle-owl, African scops owl and a few others belonging to the same families.

Camps In Etosha National Park

  • Halali Camp – Sightings of elephant, leopard and rhino.
  • Namutoni Camp – Sightings of animals at the Nehale waterhole from the Namutoni fort.
  • Okaukuejo Camp – Okaukuejo waterhole is floodlit during the night offering the right setting for viewing black rhinos.
  • Olifantsrus Camp – One of the newest camps in Etosha with sightings of black rhino and black-faced impala.
  • Dolomite Camp – Sighting of elephants, rhino, impala, springbok, red hartebeest, lion and leopard.
  • Onkoshi Camp – Flamingo sightings during January and February, when the pan is filled with water.

When To Visit Etosha National Park

June to October is the best time to visit Etosha National Park as this is the dry season when water resources lessen throughout the park and animals have to gather around the watering holes. This is the ideal spot to sit and watch for wildlife during your visit to Etosha. While there is a possibility of animal sightings during the wet season in Etosha National Park (November to April), due to the rainfall the bush is thicker and animals are scattered all over the landscape, which makes it more difficult to spot them. However, for bird lovers this is the peak time to visit as the lush vegetation in the rainy season brings migratory birds to the pan.

 

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