Etosha is Namibia’s most famous game park and one of Africa’s best destinations for Big 5 viewing. The first thing to know about Etosha, is that it has serious amounts of game. Travel here in the dry season, and you will find the waterholes home to so many different species at one time, that it beggars belief. For this reason, there is nowhere else quite like it.
The second thing to know about Etosha, is that it was built as a reserve to explore independently. The road network is superb, tarmac in places, and is designed to open the park up to self-drive visitors. The very fact is the reason that many people believe Etosha cannot compete with the likes of Botswana’s Okavango, Zambia’s Luangwa Valley or Tanzania’s Serengeti. Their argument is simply that this National Park does not offer the authentic safari experience. There is certainly something strange about having a Toyota Corolla game-driving next to a fully equipped safari Land Rover!
However, what cannot be taken away from this park is that, even with all the self-drive visitors, it is actually surprisingly quiet. Also, it is absolutely overflowing with animals! For clients wishing to find that authenticity, there are a couple of private reserves surrounding the park that suit their preferences – Ongava Reserve or Onguma Reserve tend to satisfy requirements.
WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW
In summary, it would be very easy to say that Etosha is a poor park, one that does not offer an authentic safari experience. However, this is completely missing the point. Etosha does not attempt to compete with the Serengeti, Luangwa or Okavango – it was designed to be different. Self-driving is the aim of this park, and in all fairness, it is arguably the most productive and accessible safari area! With superb quality of lodges and great infrastructure within the country, this destination is a great option for affordable trips to Africa.
Daytime game drives are the only activity permitted within the park. However night safari as well as walking safari is possible in the private reserves bordering the park.
TIME OF YEAR TO TRAVEL
Etosha is a classic dry-season dryseason reserve, with the weather getting progressively hotter, the later in the year you travel. July through to October is peak season for game-viewing. However Namibia is a stunning destination for much of the year, and can be explored at any time of year. Nevertheless, the extreme heat that hits the country around mid November should not be taken lightly. This heat remains until the rains break, and the country remains ‘questionable’ for travellers until mid March.
Stay outside the park in the Onguma or Ongava reserves to guarantee a sense of authenticity, and you will still be able to drive into Etosha itself for game drives if you wish.