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Situated in Namibia’s relatively moist far north, Etosha National Park is the country’s premier safari destination, centered upon the vast eponymous seasonal pan that started life many thousands of years ago as a shallow perennial lake, but now goes years on end without filling up properly. Four of the so-called “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant and black rhinoceros – are present, and likely to be encountered over a few days’ stay, along with another 110 mammal species, including the very localized black-faced impala. This is, however, one of the few major African parks where buffalo, hippo and crocodile are absent, due to the aridity of ...

Situated in Namibia’s relatively moist far north, Etosha National Park is the country’s premier safari destination, centered upon the vast eponymous seasonal pan that started life many thousands of years ago as a shallow perennial lake, but now goes years on end without filling up properly. Four of the so-called “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant and black rhinoceros – are present, and likely to be encountered over a few days’ stay, along with another 110 mammal species, including the very localized black-faced impala. This is, however, one of the few major African parks where buffalo, hippo and crocodile are absent, due to the aridity of the terrain and lack of perennial waterways. Etosha is highly regarded by many of the region’s top wildlife photographers. The reason for this is that the main pan is now fringed by a couple of dozen waterholes that attract huge volumes of thirsty game throughout the day, so you can sit and wait for the animals to come into frame rather than chasing around after them. Etosha is also notable for being particularly well suited to budget self-drive safaris (there are excellent public campsites and roads are good), though a number of private concessions in and around the park cater to the more exclusive end of the market. Among the 340 bird species recorded, the lovely crimson-breasted shrike is fairly common, while dedicated birders can ponder over the identity of a full 12 species of lark.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Etosha National Park is a national park in the Kunene Region of northwestern Namibia, founded in 1907, when Namibia was a German colony.
  • Language: English, Afrikaans, German and Indigenous languages
  • Currency: Namibian Dollar
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Game viewing and wildlife photography are best in the dry southern winter months of May to October, usually peaking towards the end of the season. Dedicated birders are better visiting in the southern summer (November-March).