Etosha National Park ranks as one of the world’s great wildlife-viewing venues. Its unique nature is encapsulated by the vast Etosha pan – an immense, flat, saline desert that, for a few days each year, is converted by the rains into a shallow lagoon teeming with flamingos and pelicans. In contrast, the surrounding bush and grasslands provide habitat for Etosha’s diverse wildlife. And what wildlife there is – if you’ve had a taste of African wildlife watching previously, you are likely to be mesmerised by it here.
Unlike many other parks in Africa, where you can spend days looking for animals across the plains, one of Etosha’s charms is its ability to bring the animals to you. Just park your car next to one of the many waterholes, wait with bated breath and watch while a host of animals – lions, elephants, springboks, gemsbok etc – come by not two by two but in the hundreds.
Although it may look barren, the landscape (covering an area of more than 20,000 sq km) fringing the pan is home to 114 mammal species as well as 340 bird species, 16 reptile and amphibian species, one fish species and countless insects.
Etosha has over 340 bird species and it is common to see ostrich and secretary birds on the open plains. There are over 35 species of raptor, including the yellowbilled kite, steppe eagle and pygmy falcon. From blackfaced babblers to the crimsonbreasted shrike, birders will not be disappointed.
It is possible to explore Etosha either from inside or outside the park. Inside the park there are three very basic rest camps whilst outside there are a number of private reserves and lodges.
At the edge of the Etosha Pan is the Namutoni rest camp, one of the entrances to the park. In stark contrast to the naked, shimmering beauty of the park, Fort Namutoni looms. The fort was used as a German police post and used later to house English prisoners during World War I. The structure was restored in 1957, where it still stands today; pristine and perfect. Guests to the park use it as a lodge, rest camp and view point that overlooks the magnificent Etosha National Park.