Etosha Wildlife Safari, Namibia

Elephants hogging Halali restcamp waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Elephants hogging the Halali restcamp waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia in August.

Why vacation in Etosha National Park?

Etosha in southern Africa is a massive, spectacular game reserve, with hordes of beasts in various locations, though there are no sighting guarantees, especially as far as predators (i. e. big cats) are concerned.

The huge, dry salt pan is Etosha’s main claim to scenic fame, but actually the animals don’t use it much as there’s generally no water or food there, only useful minerals. Most of the wildlife action takes place in the arid scrub land and struggling trees bordering the pan, with vast herds of zebra, wildebeest and antelope trudging from water hole to feed to waterhole, interrupted only by the occasional sighting of a 4 wheel beast.

Wildebeeste and Etosha salt pan, Namibia safari

Wildebeeste grazing close to Etosha’s massive salt pan that provides useful minerals for the animals.

Kids of differing species go eyeball to eyeball on Etosha safari, Namibia

Two young animals holding a juvenile staring contest.

Self Drive

Tourists mostly do self-drive safaris along the hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads visiting different waterholes in the hope of getting pictures of something interesting there or en route. Much depends on luck, but research also helps, web research as well as checking restcamp reception areas where reports on animal sightings are recorded.

Elephant strolling a park road with cars, Etosha safari, Namibia

Generally the animals cross the road but this tusker was feeling bloody minded and strolled along it instead.

Rest Camps

Each of Etosha’s three wildlife safari rest-camps has its own waterhole, night floodlights and seating area.
In Bugbog’s humble opinion Namutoni is the least successful of the three, with slightly inferior accommodation and a less-populated waterhole. We stayed there one night, with two nights at Halali.
Halali has a hole that requires a ten minute walk and has no shade but seems to attract more than its fair share of elephants and giraffes and so is a great site for photographing bigger wildlife.

Okaukuejo restcamp, Etosha safari, Namibia

Okaukuejo restcamp

Okaukuejo

Okaukuejo’s was clearly the winning rest camp when we were on our Etosha wildlife safari, with constant wildlife activity at the waterhole very close to smart, new visitor huts. If you’re booking then low, odd numbers are the very best huts . e. g. 3, 5, 7 and so on.
This waterhole seemed to attract the smaller wildlife but that meant that it was a target for the big cats so this was one of the few places to get lion photos.
We didn’t manage to stay there, having booked late. Actually, not having booked at all. We drove in from our camp, took one look at Okaukuejo and thought, OMG, this is the place to stay!

Still, wherever you are with self drive you can visit the other two restcamps any time and actually the best bit of Etosha is the random driving from waterhole to waterhole to see what you stumble across.

Okaukuejo residents watching several mongoose, Etosha safari, Namibia

Visitors staying in Halali restcamp watch a mongoose family nosing around and squeaking around their bungalow. Some cute warthogs were grazing nearby too.

Best Season

The very best time to see wildlife in Etosha is winter (June-October), when temperatures are hot in the day and a little chilly at night. This is the dry season so grass is shorter giving better visibility, animals tend to wander less since water is harder to find and importantly, there’s no stagnant water for mosquitoes to breed in so the little whiners disappear and malaria is not such a problem.
At other times the heat may be close to unbearable and critters less easy to find.

BTW, tour operators are permitted to run Etosha Wildlife Safari on the far west side of Etosha where regular tourists are forbidden. We don’t know if this is a good thing or not. We certainly had an fantastic time just randomly driving ourselves around in a boggle-eyed daze.

Okaukuejo restcamp waterhole, Etosha safari, Namibia

Okaukuejo restcamp waterhole, not much going on at the moment but apparently a pride of lions showed up later and took one of the dik-diks in full view of the spectators.