_Etosha National Park
Meaning "Place of Dry Water," Etosha is the best wildlife destination in Namibia, and at certain times of year can rival any game reserve in Africa.
Formed around the enormous and beautiful Etosha Salt Pan, the national park is home to an incredible number of species, including black rhino, the endemic black faced impala, thousands upon thousands and springbok, zebra, wildebeest and the majestic gemsbok (oryx).
During the dry season, these animals are drawn in their masses to the very few remaining water holes, and it is not uncommon to see a few hundred of several different species all in one location at one time.
Being roughly a 5 hour drive from Windhoek, Etosha National Park is also accessible by air, and is definitely a highlight of a Namibian safari itinerary.
The Dry Season
Etosha National Park is very much a dry season park, with the animals somehow managing to largely disappear into the thicker bush after, and during, the rains.
From June through to October, there are very few reserves in Africa which will delight you with similar scenes of numerous species gathering together in huge numbers around one water hole.
The Salt Pan
Etosha Pan is the main physical feature around which the national park is set. Close to 5 000 square kilometres of shimmering white flatness creates some beautiful mirages and an amazing tranquility as it reflects the hot African sun.
A number of tracks run along the shores of the pan, with 1 or 2 of them taking you directly onto the white clay.
After the rains Etosha Pan is often covered by a thin layer of water, and is an important breeding ground for flamingoes which migrate into this area at that time.
Each of the 3 main restcamps in Etosha have floodlit waterholes which attract any number of visitors during the night.
The Okakeujo water hole is by far the most popular, and many hours into the night can be spent sitting and watching what passes by to drink. Lions, leopards, black rhino, giraffe, elephants, jackals, hyenas, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok and springbok are all regular visitors, and at times it feels unnecessary to even leave the restcamp for a morning drive after the rewarding sightings viewed through the night!
Etosha National Park is one of the few remaining sanctuaries for the endangered Black Rhino, and you will have some excellent chances of sightings.
Unlike its cousin, the White Rhino, the Black Rhino has a hook-shaped mouth (as opposed to a square mouth), and is known to be far more aggressive. Sadly, the numbers of rhinos have been decimated over the years, and there are very few reserves in which you will have such a good chance of seeing the Black Rhino as you do in Etosha.