useful info for your safari
A safari is the classic African experience and in Namibia there is one of the most impressive African parks where to enjoy a safari: the Etosha National Park.
In the Etosha National Park you won't find all the big 5 because of the lack of buffalos and hippos that live in the north eastern area of Namibia, but a safari in the Etosha National Park is, however, an incredible esperienze due not only to presence of many big cats and big mammals but also to the beautiful scenery created by the Etosha Pan, a salty depression 5000 squared kilometers wide that during the dry season becomes a sort white salty mirror.
Etosha National Park
With its 22.000 squared kilometers the Etosha National Park is a sort of region in Namibia, inhabited only by wild animals, and it represents one of the best places in Africa where you can do a safari.
The Etosha National Park can be easily divide in three main areas:
Etosha - West
Galton Gate is the entrance of this area of the park and the main lodge is the Dolomite Camp, the best one in the whole Etosha National Park. There is also a camping area: the Olifantsrus Camp next to the waterhole of the same name. In our opinion this is the best area of the Etosha National Park, because it offers beautiful landscapes and it is less crowded than the others, making you feel to magic and the adventure of a safari..
Etosha - Centre
Anderson Gate is the main entrance of this area of the park and the main lodge is Okaukuejo, whose main feature is the beautiful waterhole located inside the lodge. Halali is the other lodge of the area, a bit inferior than Okaukuejo even if it is provided with its own waterhole too. The central part of th Etosha National Park is the most touristic one ( Okaukuejo looks like an holiday village with small shops and so many bungalows ) and it is also the one that less impressed us from a panoramic point of view, despite the presence of the Etosha Pan in the background. However, in this area we had the best experience of our safari, spending hours spying a couple of lions.
Etosha - North East
Van Lindequist Gate and King Nehale Gate are the entrances of this area of the park and the main lodge is Namutoni. There is also an eco-friendly campo next to the Etosha Pan: the Onkoshi Camp. This area of the Etosha National Park is more similar to the Western one, less crowded and a bit lusher than the central one.
how long for ? where to sleep ?
If you want to enjoy your safari in the Etosha National Park with no rush then you should stay at least 3 full days in the park ( we spent 4 days in the Etosha ), one for each area we described before. Keep in mind that in the Etosha National Park you can move autonomously with your car from sunrise to sunset and the speed limit is 60km/h, so it is impossibile to visit the whole Etosha National Park staying in just one lodge. Here you can find the distances among the main Etosha lodges:
- Okaukuejo - Dolomite Camp: 172 km
- Okaukuejo - Namutoni: 134 km
- Dolomite Camp - Namutoni: 306 km
The other crucial question usually is: is it better to stay inside or outside the Etosha National Park ? Our answer is: stay inside the Etosha, because you'll be allowed to enjoy your safari to the very last second, on the contrary who sleeps outside the park must be at the gates at sunset and can't enter in the park before dawn. Obviously there also the cons of staying inside the Etosha National Park: lodges are more expensive and less comfortable, and you should book way in advance to find a room, since Namibia is getting more and more known from a touristic point of view.
we opted for the following solution:
- 2 nights at Dolomite Camp ( Etosha West, Inside the park )
- 1 night at Okaukuejo ( Erosha Centre, Inside the park )
- 1 night at Mokuti Lodge ( Etosha East, outside the park )
other info: entrance fees, road, security
Find below the Etosha National Park entrance fees:
- Adults: 80 NAD / € 5 per day
- Under 16 yo: free
- Vehicles up to 10 seats: 10 NAD / less than € 1 per day
Here you can find the website to monitor every potential change in the fees. http://www.etoshanationalpark.org/times-fees
In the Etosha National Park you can move with you own car form dawn till sunset, while after sunset you can only use authorized vehicles. In the Etosha there are only gravel roads and sometimes road conditions are not as good as the 60km/h speed limit could suggest. However, in general, it's easy to drive in the Etosha National Park. A 2x4 is highly recommended but we saw many sedan cars.
A safari in the Etosha National Park is a wonderful and extremely safe experience if you follow two simple rules: drive carefully and remain in your vehicle. It happens quite often that groups of zebras or antelopes cross the suddenly the road, and it also happens that a wonderful could hide in the yellow grass next to the road even if you can't see it. So while you're enjoying your safari, please be aware.
Download the map of Etosha National Park that you fina at the beginning of this post ( or on Etosha NP website ) in order to have a clear idea of the waterholes provided with toilets and petrol stations.
During the Dry Season, from May till September, the Etosha National Park is a malaria-free park. However, even in the Wet Season, it is difficult to find mosquitos thus the prophylaxis is not mandatory. During the Dry Season it is also easier to spot animals because they tend to gather around the waterholes due to the lack of water.
sightings ... tips
What we learnt during our safari in the Etosha National Park is : there are no rules to spot animals! There are no best waterholes or best moments during the day, you have to be patient and explore the park.
For this reason we are not going to give the list of things to do... just because we found many animals at a waterhole it doesn't mean that it is the best one throughout the year.
Reading guestbooks with indication from other guests can be useful, but it won't guarantee anything, as moving early in the morning. As we told you, no rules in the Etosha Nartional Park: One day we had left the lodge at dawn when hadn't seen anything for hours, another day, almost at the same time, we bumped into two beautiful lionesses.
A good piece of advice can be: if there are animals at a certain waterhole and you haven't spotted anything in proximity, it's useless to wait there for a hour, thus try to change you waterhole ... the Etosha National Park is so huge! On the contrary if you find animals at a waterhole then turn off the car and enjoy the scene! Time will fly!
Our experience with lodges organizes by lodges wasn't good: we booked a nocturnal safari and it tuned out to be a delusion: no sightings for 3 hours. Thus we are prone to thing that also the daily ones won't offer anything more than the experience you can enjoy going around by yourself.
If you bump into a a group of stationary cars, then stop! Something interesting is going on and usually lions or big cats are involved!
One things for sure: you'll see wildlife, there are so many wild animas and they are so beautiful in their natural environment. Don't panic if initially you have some troubles in spotting them, after the next turn or at the next waterhole you could find wonders like the ones in the photos below...