Etosha National Park

As you make your way to the stunningly sparse beauty of Namibia, a short flight will take you to the mysterious and magical Soussavlei Dunes for a night. From there you travel to and stay overnight at the Etosha National Park.

The Etosha National Park is one of the largest in South Africa at a staggering 22,270 km. The park has a massively diverse terrain. The vegetation changes from thorn-bush and woodland savannah to dwarf shrub savannah and grasslands to saline desert. Around 80% of the tress that make up Etosha are Mopane trees and the wildlife that inhabit the park depend on around 30 springs and watering-holes. The park is well-known for its large pan of the same name; a large, shallow depression that is 5000 km.

For most of the year, in the dry months, the Etosha Pan is full of illusion and mirage. The salt-encrusted surface of the saline desert shimmers in the intense heat, often making it look like the wildlife is floating; suspended in a hazy pool. This is what separates game-viewing at Etosha National Park from similar parks and makes it a unique, memorable experience.

The Etosha National Park provides a vast array of game; 114 mammal species call it home. Lion, giraffe, mountain and plains zebra, blue wildebeest, cheetah, leopard and hyena roam the park, uninhibited. The elephant population is large, thanks to a lack of poaching, and are characterised by their short tusks. This is indicative of a deficiency in the soil that stunts tusk growth. Along with large game, visitors have the chance to see endangered and rare species such as the black-faced impala and the black rhino. In the 1970s, black rhinos were transported to the safety of Etosha.

340 bird species live in Etosha, with one-third being migratory like the European bee-eater. Etosha is renowned for being the site of breeding grounds for greater and lesser flamingos within Southern Africa. During the rainy season, millions of flamingos flock to the Etosha Pan to breed. The park has several species of vulture that inhabit it. One is likely to see the Lappetfaced and Whitebacked vultures, however, there is a chance that a visitor may catch a glimpse of Cape, Egyptian, Palmnut or Hooded Vultures. The Pearlspotted and Whitefaced Owls may also be caught on camera.

 

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.