Etosha National Park is ranked as one of the largest and finest game reserves in Africa. The 20 000 sq km park is an enormous region of game-rich savannah and salt pan. Also known as the "Great White Place", Etosha is characterised by the Etosha Pan, the largest sal tpan in Africa.
Surrounding the pans is a variety of grass and woodlands amongst which live a wonderful variety of animals and birds, insects and reptiles. There are a number of springs and waterholes in the park that provide excellent game viewing and photographic opportunities.
In years of good rainfall, several tributaries of the Kunene River drain into the ever-dry Etosha Pan, causing partial flooding and attracting thousands of flamingos and other wading birds. The water, however, can be as much as two times saltier than sea water and is therefore generally not suitable for animal consumption.
The best time to visit the Etosha National Park are the months between July and October. As winter takes its toll, water sources becomes less and less, and the animals congregate around the last remaining waterholes.
The large elephants that roam Etosha are renowned for their white appearance, which comes from the white-washed Etosha earth. Some people say these elephants are among the largest in Africa.
The Etosha Pan is what gives the park its name (meaning Great White Place). This salt pan is the largest in Africa at 5 000 sq km in size.
The Ongava Game Reserve, which borders the Etosha National Park, is renowned for excellent lion vieiwng, and the Onguma Camps on the eastern side of Etosha also offer excellent value for money. Andersson's Camp is a superb option for guests on a budget and also wishing to self drive in Etosha.
Situated on the eastern border of Etosha National Park, with 34 000 hectares of wilderness to explore and 5 unique lodges to choose from. Out of five unique lodges on this reserve, Etosha Aoba is Onguma's traditional bush lodge with warm hospitality and superb wine cellar.
Onguma Treetop Camp is a small safari camp ideal for guests looking for a little adventure. The camp offers a unique experience being raised off the ground with outdoor showers, incredible views and beautiful star-lit evenings.
Ongava Tented Camp accommodates in luxurious individual canvas tents built on wooden decks raised off the ground with open air showers and private verandas. This camp offers a traditional wildlife experience with an emphasis on white rhino tracking and special experiences like night drives in the Ongava Game Reserve.
Ongava Lodge is situated along the southern boundary of Etosha in the Ongava Game Reserve. It offers 14 luxurious, spacious ensuite chalets made of rock and thatch, while the main area offers views over of the waterhole.
Eagle Tented Lodge and Spa is a luxury lodge, built from natural rock and thatch offering 8 standard and 8 luxury canvas tents all with spacious ensuite facilities in a private reserve bordering Etosha.
Namibia can be considered self-drive country, and with the vastly unoccupied landscape, there is some distance between major towns. Even these major towns are diminutive compared to other developed countries.
Guests wanting to drive themselves to Etosha from Windhoek (where they will most like fly into the country) can expect an approximate 6 hour journey and will easily accomplish this drive in one day.
Sun Safaris will arrange flights into Windhoek, from where guests wanting to visit Etosha will connect with a short flight to an airstrip in or near Etosha National Park. This will cancel out self-driving and guests will be guided and taken care of by lodge staff throughout their stay. A representative from the lodge will meet guests at the airstrip and take them on the scenic drive to their accommodation.
Etosha National Park is Namibia's prime wildlife destination with good game viewing year-round. Guests can visit a number of springs and pans in search of lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, the endemic black-faced impala and black rhino, as well as plains game such as wildebeest, zebra and springbok.
During the rainy season from December to January, many elephants migrate north to Angola and west to Kaokoland and only return again beginning in March. Large populations of zebra, wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok migrate into Etosha westward from the Namutoni area around October-November.
The bird life is prolific in Etosha National Park, with over 325 species recorded, particularly on the Etosha Pan during the rainy summer season from mid-January to March; however, a large range of birdlife may be seen in the park year-round. Kites, pelicans, Greater and Lesser flamingos, and marabou storks migrate seasonally.
The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer (December to January), when it attracts pelicans and flamingos in particular. Perennial springs attract a variety of animals and birds throughout the year, including the endangered black rhino and the endemic Black-faced impala.
In the winter dry season (June to October), winds blowing across the salt pan pick up saline dust and carry it across the country and out over the southern Atlantic. This salt enrichment provides minerals to the soil downwind of the pan on which some wildlife depends, though the salinity also creates challenges to farming.
The best time to visit the park is for a safari is May to September - the cooler months in Namibia.