The Etosha National Park in northern Namibia is one of Africa’s great game reserves and offers unique game-viewing. Etosha, which means “the great white place”, or “place of dry water”, owes its unique landscape to the Etosha mineral pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 5000 square kilometres. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River but the lake dried up when the river changed course thousands of years ago. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay and fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. A series of perennial springs and waterholes along the southern edge of the pan attract game into the area. The dry season (May – November) is particularly rewarding for game viewing as the rain water has dried up and the game is forced to rely on the life supporting waterholes. Long lines of zebra, wildebeest, kudu, Oryx and springbok plod along ancient paths from distant grazing areas to the waterholes. Herds of elephant drinking huge amounts of water and then wallow in the water so that all the other the thirsty animals have to wait patiently till they have finished. Predators such as lion and leopard wait at the waterholes knowing the antelope have to drink. The pan itself contains water only after very good rains and sometimes for only a few days each year, but is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos.
The Etosha National Park covers an area of over 22,270 square kilometres. There are 114 different mammal species to found in the park, including the Big Five and several rare and endangered species such as the Black Rhino, Black-faced Impala, Tssesebe and Gemsbok. Herds of up to fifty elephants are not unusual. Among the smaller species you will find jackal, bat-eared fox, warthog, honey badger and ground squirrel. Etosha is also an ideal destination for serious birders, as there are 340 bird species. There are also 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, believe it or not, one species of fish.
The park is malaria-free and easily accessible. There are many luxury lodges on private game reserves surrounding the park which offer guided game drives through Etosha.