Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park
Etosha national park with giraffes and zebras drinking from a busy waterhole

Etosha National Park Overview

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s most popular park for wildlife watching and is characterized by the vast, saline Etosha Pan. During the Dry season the waterholes around the pan become crowded with large concentrations of animals. Four of the Big Five are present, with only buffalo absent. Etosha’s floodlit waterholes provide a rare opportunity for nighttime wildlife-viewing.

​Wildlife & Animals – Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park
A busy Waterhole in Etosha National Park with elephants, Gemsbok Oryx and Impala against a vivid blue sky, Namibia Southern Africa

Wildlife viewing in Etosha National Park is exceptionally good during the Dry season. The variety and sheer number of animals is outstanding. Four of the Big Five are present in good numbers, only buffalo is absent. A constant stream of herbivores is commonly seen at waterholes. They include elephant, blue wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and several desert-adapted antelopes such as springbok and gemsbok.

Wildlife Highlights

Etosha National Park
A busy Waterhole in Etosha National Park with elephants, Gemsbok Oryx and Impala against a vivid blue sky, Namibia Southern Africa

Etosha National Park has two near-endemic antelopes; the elegant black-faced impala, which can be found in breeding and bachelor herds, and the tiny damara dik-dik, usually spotted in pairs. Dusk and dawn is the best time for spotting lion, leopard and cheetah. Some of the less common predators are honey badger and bat-eared fox. Black rhino is a rare treat in the park, best spotted at night at one of the floodlit waterholes.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing in Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is a very seasonal park and, although it can be visited throughout the year, all the action happens during the dry months from May to October. At this time water supplies are restricted to a few waterholes and the grass is short, making wildlife-watching very easy. Animals disperse during the Wet season from November to April.

​Birds – Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park

About one-third of the 340 bird species recorded in the park are migratory; including a good number of waders attracted to the Etosha National Park pan in the Wet season. The pan is an important breeding ground for lesser and greater flamingos. The desert habitat is excellent for seeing a wide variety of birds of prey – up to 35 species, including many hawks, vultures, eagles and falcons. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Etosha National Park Birding Specials–Treats for Avid Birders

(NE) near-endemic = also lives in neighboring countries

  • Abdim’s stork
  • African hobby
  • Bare-cheeked babbler (NE)
  • Black-chested prinia
  • Black-faced babbler
  • Blue crane
  • Caspian plover
  • Chestnut weaver
  • Dwarf bittern
  • Greater flamingo
  • Lesser flamingo
  • Lesser kestrel
  • Marsh sandpiper
  • Monotonous lark
  • Montagu’s harrier
  • Monteiro’s hornbill (NE)
  • Pallid harrier
  • Pink-billed lark
  • Red-footed falcon
  • Sanderling
  • Short-toed rock thrush
  • Stark’s lark
  • Violet wood-hoopoe (NE)
  • White-tailed shrike (NE)

Best Time for Bird Watching in Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is a very seasonal park. Drier months (May to October) are better for wildlife viewing; while the wetter climate during November to April makes for more successful bird-watching, mainly due to the arrival of summer migrants. Most birds of prey are resident and can be seen throughout the year.

​Best Time To Visit – Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park

The best time to visit Etosha National Park is during the dry winter months from July to October. Less water is available during this time and the animals tend to gather around the few sources that are available. The Wet season (November to April) is less productive for spotting wildlife because the animals tend to scatter.

May to October –Dry Season – Winter

  • Best time for wildlife viewing with large numbers of animals at waterholes
  • Weather is good, although October is very hot
  • July to September is high season and it gets very busy
  • The sky is filled with dust and it can be hazy

November to April –Wet Season – Summer

  • Rainfall comes as a relief, although it rarely rains for long
  • Landscape is attractive and skies are clear
  • Wildlife is in peak condition and plenty of babies can be seen
  • Prime birding during the migrant season
  • Animals are dispersed making viewing difficult
  • It tends to be very hot

​Weather & Climate – Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is hot and relatively dry. Like most semi-desert climates there is a large variation in temperature between night and day. Rain usually falls in the form of heavy thunderstorms. There is a Wet season, which coincides with the summer months of November to April. During the dry winter months, from May to October, rainfall is a rarity.

Dry Season–May to October – Winter

Rainfall is almost completely unheard of during the coolest months of the year. Conditions become drier as the winter season progresses. Water sources for wildlife become fewer and vegetation thins out.

  • May, June, July & August – It’s dry and sunny at this time of year. Afternoon temperatures are pleasant, with an average high of 27°C/80°F. Cold morning temperatures of 9°C/48°F mean you’ll need to come prepared with warm winter clothing. This is the coolest time of year.
  • September & October – Temperatures rise rapidly during the day to an average of around 33°C/91°F. Morning temperatures are normally warmer too, averaging 16°C/61°F. Rains usually begin in late October or early November.

Wet Season–November to April – Summer

The Wet season coincides with the summer months, yet rainfall is little and usually occurs in the afternoon. Days are typically hot. The bitter cold mornings of the winter months are gone and averages of 16°C/61°F at night are common.

  • November & December – The rains usually start in November with the occasional thundershower. When the first rain falls, it comes as a relief after a long dry winter. These are the hottest months and afternoon temperatures are around 35°C/95°F.
  • January, February & March – Although it remains mostly sunny, these are the wettest months with frequent afternoon showers. Afternoons average 34°C/93°F.
  • April – April sees a dramatic decrease in rain. The temperature hovers around 32°C/90°F during the day as the Wet season comes to a close.

​Getting There – Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is located 435km/270mi north of Windhoek. It is easy to visit either independently (self-drive) or on a tour. The drive on paved roads takes about 6 hours*. The roads in the eastern section of the park are accessible by 2WD car.

Most people arrive in Namibia at Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), located 40km/25mi east of Windhoek, and start their trip from there by 4×4 vehicle. Fly-in trips are also common, consisting of chartered flights taking travelers from park to park.

Airlines & Ticket Prices

Please check Skyscanner to see which airlines can take you to Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) and what tickets would cost.

Domestic Flights

Charter flights to the lodges inside or outside the park are usually booked by your tour operator.

  • FlyNamibia Safari (Has daily flights between Etosha, Windhoek, Swakopmund and Sossusvlei)

Malaria & Safety – Etosha NP

Etosha National Park Safety

In our opinion Etosha National Park is a very safe travel destination. Crime of any sort within the park is almost unheard of.

The roads to Etosha, and inside the park, are generally in good condition and self-drive safaris are a popular option. There are long distances between settlements, so fill your petrol tank whenever you get the opportunity and always carry plenty of water with you.

To obtain the most up-to-date information about safety in Namibia, it is worth checking the travel advisories (see the ‘Safety & Security – Namibia’ link below).

Malaria & Vaccinations

Malaria does occur in Etosha National Park – the risk is low from May to September and increases in the wet months from October to April. During these months it is recommended to take antimalarials and also to take precautions such as covering up in the evening and applying mosquito repellent (those containing DEET are most effective). It is recommended to visit a travel clinic before coming to Namibia. Several vaccinations are recommended and usually administered before your departure and a yellow fever vaccine is required when traveling from a country with high risk of transmission.

Wildlife Viewing in Etosha National Park

 Etosha National Park

Wildlife viewing is very safe. Incidents are very rare and easily avoided; self-drive visitors should familiarize themselves with the rules of the park and those on a guided tour should listen to their guide’s instructions. There are many elephants in the park and it is important not to drive between a herd or approach them too closely.

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GENERAL INFORMATION ON A SOUTH AFRICA SAFARI

 
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: All visitors to South Africa must have a valid passport with at least 4 consecutive blanks pages.  Any applicable visa and/or relevant documentation are the responsibility of the traveller.  For further information on Visa requirements visitors are advised to contact their nearest South African Embassy or Consulate.
 
LANGUAGE:English
 
TIME: GMT +3
 
VOLTAGE: 220 Volts/AC50Hz. Sockets are UK style, 3 pin square plugs. Power is from the government in the city/major towns and generator with inverter back up in the Safari Lodges and Camps.
 
CURRENCY: Foreign currency must be changed at the Bank, Bureau de Change, and Hotel/Safari lodge/Camp/Resort.   Major Credit Cards, Master card, Visa, American Express, are usually accepted throughout the country.  Where credit cards are accepted, the payment will normally be recorded in US$ regardless of the card’s default currency.
 
CLOTHING: Dress is mainly informal and should be comfortable as well as practical. Something warm should be brought along for early morning and evenings. Safari clothes are available from hotels/lodges/camps.
 
BAGGAGE: Where possible, travel light. Baggage space on safari is limited to medium suitcase or soft bag per person plus reasonable amount of hand luggage. There is 15 Kilogram per person limit on all flights to the wildlife sanctuaries. Excess luggage must be stored in your arrival hotel.
 
WATER: You will find many different of opinion of what is safe and what is not. We recommend for peace of mind, to drink local Bottled Mineral water. It is important to drink plenty of water especially during the hotter months. We would recommend that guests drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water per day to limit the effects of dehydration.
 
HEALTH; East Africa is a safe and secure destination; however, it is a good idea to take a few precautions.  Kindly consult your GP or local doctor at least 6 weeks before you travel, with regards: Malaria prophylactics. East Africa is a known malaria area and preventive measures are essential. You are advised to take one of the recommended anti-malarial drugs.  Be sure to wear long sleeved shorts and trousers after sunset and spray the exposed parts of your body with a mosquito repellent spray Remember to protect yourself from direct sun rays with sunscreen cream or safari hat.
 
DIETARY REQUIREMENTS: For those guests with specific dietary requirement, please ensure we are notified prior to travel
 
GRATUITIES: As a guideline and dependent on how happy you are, we would suggest the following: The General Hotel/Lodge/Camp Staff – Approximately U$ 10.00 per person per day Driver Guides – Approximately US$ 15.00 to US$ 20.00 per person per day.
 
PHOTOGRAPHY: Please be careful when photographing public buildings, airports, bridges, the national flag and people in uniform.  Ensure that you have sought permission before photographing local people and their villages.  If in doubt, please check with your guide.  

 

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