Our home country of Namibia offers so much to visitors (and locals!) that it is almost impossible to stay for only a few days. But, if you do only have a short time to spend in the country, one of the best places to go to is undoubtedly the world-renowned Etosha National Park.
Our fantastic 5-day Taste of Etosha safari gives you the perfect opportunity to experience the wonderful landscapes, animals, quiet solitude, birds, and fabulous photographic opportunities that Etosha offers. Maybe we are biased, but the 22,270 km2 (8,600 sq mi) park truly is one of the best on the continent, surprising even us around every corner on every trip with incredible sightings, rare and endangered wildlife and mind-blowing sunsets. For us, it was no surprise when Etosha was a finalist in the World Travel Awards’ African Leading National Park category in 2019. It truly is magnificent!
Welcome to Namibia! Your Nature Travel Namibia guide will pick you up this morning at your hotel in the city, or at the Hosea Kutako International Airport outside of the city if you flew in. After loading your luggage into one of our comfortable airconditioned vehicles, we will start making our way to our destination; the world-famous Etosha!
We will only be driving through Windhoek today, but if you have an extra day or two it is a very interesting small city to visit, with many top attractions close by. It sits at 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) above sea level (12th highest capital in the world) in the Khomas Hochland plateau area between the Auas and Eros mountain ranges. It is home to about 400,000 people at a low density of only 63 people per square kilometer and has over 300 sunny days per year.
We will drive northwards for about 5 hours, passing through the towns of Okahandja (known as Namibia’s Garden Town where two major rivers converge), Otjiwarongo (a fast-growing town with a large German-speaking population) and Outjo, best known as the gateway town to Etosha, but also home to the Rare and Endangered Species Trust (REST), where one of our sister companies runs a wildlife veterinarian rehabilitation clinic. On our drive today we will also pass close by to some of Namibia’s famous smaller parks and private game reserves, including Erindi, the Waterberg Plateau Park, and Okonjima.
We will enjoy lunch somewhere along the route, and you might get to sample some of Namibia’s unique and tasty Afro-German cuisine! It is also worth keeping an eye out for wildlife during our drive, as Namibia is fairly unique in that most animals roam freely in the vast open spaces of the countryside. We might get to see some interesting fauna and flora, including Common Ostrich, Gemsbok, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Sociable Weavers or even a Greater Kudu.
We will arrive at our lodge on the southwestern side of Etosha late in the afternoon and settle into our accommodation. If there is the time it might be fun to walk around the lodge grounds looking for interesting smaller fauna and local flora. Our accommodation for tonight is in an area perfectly situated to explore Etosha and all that it offers.
We will enjoy dinner and have a good night’s rest; tomorrow we hit Etosha!
We will get up fairly early this morning, but it will be worth it! We will begin exploring the southwestern region of the vast Etosha National Park, driving slowly and keeping our eyes open for movement and listening for tell-tale sounds in the bush.
Undoubtedly one of the great parks of Africa, Etosha covers more than 22,300 km2 (8,620 sq mi) and is synonymous with big games and wide-open spaces. The name Etosha actually means “great white place” referring to the massive (130km long and 50km wide) dry pan in the middle of the park, believed to have been formed over 100 million years ago. The San Bushmen people tell of a raid on a village where all of the men and children were slaughtered, sparing only the women. One of the women was so distraught about the death of her family that she cried and cried until her tears formed a massive lake. When the lake dried up there was nothing left apart from a huge white pan, the Etosha pan.
Among many other highlights, Etosha is also a photographer’s dream, with the contrasts in light, color, and textures particularly dramatic. Many a guest’s “lifer shots” of African animal and bird species were taken in this park. The sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular, so better get those cameras and phones ready!
We will do a morning game drive, stopping somewhere for coffee and rusks, a classic thing to do on a southern African safari! We will return to our lodge in the heat of the day (it gets hot even in winter!) to have lunch and maybe a short siesta. We will again go out in the afternoon for a game drive, looking for some of the amazing fauna and flora that make us wax lyrical about this park!
We will enjoy dinner and maybe even sit around the campfire reminiscing about Namibia and its wide-open spaces with a drink in hand. Remember to look up before settling into your bed tonight – the African night sky, undisturbed by city lights out here in the bush, is truly amazing.
We will enjoy another morning and afternoon game drive in Etosha today, but we will also slowly make our way to the eastern side of the park, where we will overnight tonight.
Your guide will decide, with your input as to your fauna and flora sighting preferences, what the best routes will be to follow. All our guides know Etosha intimately and will make sure you see all that this great African wildlife park has to offer.
Etosha is home to a staggering amount of wildlife, both common and rare, including several threatened and endangered species. The mammal list is at over 110 species, including four of Africa’s Big Five (Rhino, African Elephant, Lion, and Leopard), fleet-footed Cheetah, Spotted Hyaena, Giraffe, two species of zebra, Common Eland, Greater Kudu, Hartebeest (Red, or caama subspecies), Common Wildebeest, Springbok and the beautiful Gemsbok, Namibia’s national animal. Smaller species include Common Warthog, aptly named Bat-eared Fox, South African Ground Squirrel, Caracal, Black-backed Jackal, the tough-as-nails Honey Badger, and many more.
One of the best reasons (from a wildlife point of view) to visit Etosha is its healthy population of the iconic Black Rhinoceros. This amazing beast is endangered and the waterholes are probably among the best places in the world to see this precious animal. Another rare and endangered species is the Black-faced Impala, which can be seen all around. The animals are very relaxed and will provide you with some excellent photographic opportunities.
One of the many unique features of Etosha is the fact that there are natural waterholes scattered around the park. The tourist roads skirt these waterholes and provide some stunning interaction with all sorts of wildlife. It is an unforgettable experience to sit and watch different species of mammals and birds come to drink at one of the waterholes. Some spectacular footage has been shot at these waterholes, with predator-prey interactions especially common.
We will either enjoy a packed lunch on the way east today or stop at one of Etosha’s tourist rest camps and enjoy a sit-down lunch.
Tonight we will again enjoy an Etosha dinner together, chat about the day’s sightings and enjoy another spectacular African night sky.
Today we will explore the eastern side of Etosha, again going on a morning and afternoon game drive.
Named a game reserve in 1907 by the governor of then-German South West Africa, Etosha was elevated to the status of a national park in 1967 by an act of parliament of the Republic of South Africa which administered southwest Africa during that time. Since then it has become one of the main reasons visitors from all over the globe come to Namibia, and annual numbers are over 200,000. Although Etosha is best known today as a spectacular refuge for an abundance of animals, it is also a part of the world that is providing critical evidence for the existence and evolution of ancestral animals. The rocks in the hills near Halali camp have revealed fossil life as old as 650 million years!
We will not only search for the big mammals that Etosha is famous for but also lookout for some of our feathered friends. Etosha has a bird list of more than 350 species, including regional specials like Kori Bustard, Blue Crane, Violet Woodhoopoe, Ruppell’s Parrot, Pygmy, and Red-necked Falcon, Bare-cheeked and Southern Pied Babbler, and Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser.
Other notable birds that we will look for include Etosha’s 35 species of raptors (including Bateleur, Tawny Eagle, and Lappet-faced Vulture), the colorful Lilac-breasted Roller, Monteiro’s and Bradfield’s Hornbill, Carp’s Tit, loud Rosy-faced Lovebirds, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Shaft-tailed Whydah and many more. One of the most spectacular sights occurs in years of good rains when the Etosha pan fills with water; this attracts thousands of flamingos – seeing this sea of bright pink in the middle of the desert is truly unforgettable!
We will also search for other fauna like reptiles, with Etosha containing more species of reptiles than mammals! Some of the more common ones we are likely to encounter include Fitzsimons’ Thick-toed Gecko, Namaqua Chameleon, and many lizards. Snakes are also fairly common, with regular sightings of Black Mamba, Boomslang, and Anchieta’s Cobra.
Our guides pride themselves on knowing everything about all of Etosha’s fauna and flora, so if you have a particular interest please don’t hesitate to ask your guide about anything you want; they love the challenge!
We will return to our lodge after our afternoon game drive to freshen up and have a final dinner together. After dinner, we will head off to bed and fall asleep to the night sounds of the African bush.
After an early morning game drive or a relaxing final breakfast together we will depart for Windhoek. It is a 5 to 6-hour drive southwards to the capital.
In Windhoek, we will take you to the Hosea Kutako International Airport for your homeward flight or for your connecting flight if you decide to combine this safari with an extension to the Caprivi, Victoria Falls, Botswana, Zambia or South Africa. We will gladly assist with accommodation in Windhoek should you need to stay over.
This visit to Etosha National Park will exceed all expectations