Etosha National Park, located in Northern Namibia, is one of Africa’s most unique National Parks. It’s main characteristics – apart form boasting 4 out of the big 5 safari animals – is that at its center is the Etosha pan – a salt pan large enough to be seen from space! Believed to have been formed over 100 million years ago it is 130km long and 50km wide. (It’s actually bigger than the entire Kruger National Park in South Africa!)
When the Europeans discovered the area in around 1851, they were accompanied by the Ovambo Traders. Etosha can be loosely translated as “Great White Place” in the Ovambo language – due to the salt pan and dusty landscape in winter – and it is their traditional name for the land that stands to this day.
Etosha National Park, Namibia – A Quick Travel Guide
Quick Note: These photos are from my trip to Africa in 2016. I like to think my photography was OK back then (it did get me noticed by Google and invited to Christmas Island as one of their wildlife photographers in December 2017), but it has improved dramatically since then. Take a look at my photography page or recent Hong Kong Photo Guide for a taste of what 2 years on the road + my upgraded camera gear puts out!)
Etosha is home to thousands of animals across hundreds of species. With 4 of the Big 5 including Elephants, Leopards, Lions and both White and the endangered Black Rhino, you’ll be spoilt for choice for wild game (only missing out on seeing the great African Buffalo). With multiple waterholes located throughout the park you’re almost guaranteed sightings of at least a couple of the 5.. and if not there are plenty of giraffes, zebra, ostrich, hyena, and every type of antelope under the sun to go around!
Being able to watch these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is one of the most incredible travel experiences I have ever had, and one I would repeat in a heartbeat should the opportunity arise. From listening to safari guides explaining about the wildlife and their habits, to watching it unfold before you eyes, you’ll never want to step foot inside a zoo again. But for those who are not able to visit Africa, I hope this photo tour gives you a little glimpse into our wonderful natural world – and if this inspires you to hop on a plane and see for yourself, the quick tips below will help with your planning!
Etosha National Park in Photographs
The landscape is just incredible in the dry season with vast emptiness as far as the eye can see – until you drive into a dust storm! If you visit in Summer (the wet season) this is transformed into a lush green animal hiding haven. Think of visiting in the dry season as a Safari for beginners with much higher chances of seeing lots of wildlife at the waterholes, making for an amazing Safari experience.
We sat at this waterhole for over an hour watching the animals come and go. But this tower of giraffes grabbing a drink were one of my favorite sights.
It’s no mean feat to get water down that long neck. New research suggests that there is a ‘plunger pump’ at work. Want to know more about how this works? Click here!
The ostrich is the largest flightless bird in Africa and they can run up to 43 miles per hour – that’s 70km! In South Africa Ostrich’s are bred for their feathers and skin – but here in Etosha, they can roam wild and free.
This is a black rhino. One of the most endangered animals on the planet. Despite both white and black rhino’s being the same colour, you can tell them apart by the shape of their mouths. Black Rhinos have a small rounded mouth, whilst white rhinos have a quite prominent square jaw. (Apologies for the less than crisp image quality, my Lumix Fz70 was stretched to capacity trying to capture this moment from a few km away and on short notice before he walked behind the bush!)
Zebras are one of my favorite animals, but did you know that no two Zebra are exactly the same? The striped pattern is different on every zebra and acts as camouflage from predators. This is because those big cats (lions/leopards) cannot tell where one zebra ends and another starts when they run as a herd. How cool is nature?!
Oh, and speaking of lions… this lonely male was seen out on the prowl. Unlucky for him (and us!) he was no where near any potential food source when we spotted him! As morbid as it sounds, to see a ‘kill’ – the whole circle of life encapsulated in one event – is still at the top of my Africa wish-list.
Oh my. Those eyelashes! Simply Gorgeous!
The Oryx are one of the biggest species of antelope and can weigh up to 170kg!
You may be thinking, hey – Vicki said there were no buffalo in Etosha – and there are not, if you are counting them as the Big 5. These are in fact Water Buffalo, and they originated in Asia. I’m not entirely sue on how they ended up in Namibia.. but they did.
Blink and you’ll miss this spotted hyena – how well camouflaged is he?!
How many zebra can you see? I think we stopped counting at 100!!
Did you know that Ostrich’s mate for life?! The male has the striking black and white coloring which is said the attract the females, who are a light brown in color.
Don’t Springbok’s (part of the antelope family) have the prettiest faces?!
These gorgeous creatures are known as the lesser Kudu – also part of the antelope family – and are enjoying a little drink at the waterhole.
All the animals together on the pan – check out how tiny the springbok look beside the giraffe!
These two are Jackals. Closely related to the wolf family, they are carnivorous scavengers who are filled with disease.. Not as cute now, hey?! These are the critters can be found stripping the carcasses of dead animals that have been left by other predators. I have footage, but it’s a bit graphic. They are also small enough to get into the campsites at night and will steal your flip flops if you leave them outside your tent.. (true story)
If you only have one day/night in Etosha – make sure you stay in Okokaukuejo, located 10km from Anderson Gate inside the park. It boasts a large waterhole that is illuminated throughout the night and surrounded by benches (behind a wall and wire) so that you can sit and watch the animals come an go all night.
One of my absolute highlights of my time in Africa was this night when 30+ elephants rocked up to the waterhole and stayed for over an hour. This night I was on the cooking team and nobody got dinner until very very late!
… and when I thought it couldn’t get better – say hello Mr White Rhino!! Look how small he is compared to the baby elephant in the background! Just incredible!
And make sure you don’t miss sunset. The red hue as the sun goes down is beyond beautiful!
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my photo tour of Etosha National Park in Namibia – and I hope you get to see all of this and more if you ever get to Africa!
And if this post has got you curious as to what the rest of Namibia looks like – take a look at these beautiful Photographs of Namibia.
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READY TO EXPLORE MORE OF AFRICA? YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN THESE ARTICLES
- Namibia: 10 Reasons to visit Namibia in 15 stunning Photographs
- Zimbabwe: Which side of Victoria Falls is Best? Zimbabwe or Zambia
- South Africa: Plan an Epic Road Trip on South Africa’s Garden Route
- Africa: Have a Giggle at my expense with my Africa Outtakes!
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Vicki is the Lawyer turned Content Creator, Editor-in-Chief and all round Boss Lady at MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld.
She has lived and worked in 7 different countries and started the site to show everyone that it is possible to travel whilst holding down a full time job (because not everyone can – or wants to – quit and walk away from it all).
Her style of travel has always been to get the best out of a destination as a time poor traveler making the most of limited vacation days and all without breaking the bank; BUT she does know where to save and where to splurge to have the most incredible travel experiences – such as luxury hotels and over-water bungalows, safaris, spas and more(!) – where the situation calls for it.