Etosha is one of the largest and best game viewing parks in the whole of Africa.
The reason is in the Ovambo name Etosha, which means ‘huge white area’ or ‘place of dry water’, depending upon whom you ask.
For most of the year a vast shallow pan, which was once a lake the size of Holland, shimmers a glaring bright white from crystallised salt across its entire surface.
Surrounding the pans is a variety of grass and woodlands amongst which live a wonderful variety of animals and birds, insects and reptiles.
Etosha has dozens of waterholes, some are natural while others are artificially fed from boreholes. During the dry season, staking out a position at a waterhole viewpoint is a rewarding way to watch game without moving from one spot. A veritable ‘Noah’s Arc’ of species queue up to take a drink, with elephants hogging the lion’s share!
Herds of fifty elephants are not unusual and often walk right down the middle of the road giving people in cars an incredibly close and thrilling encounter. Lions and hyenasmust be searched for, but silver-backed jackals trot around almost oblivious to you.
Etosha also contains endangered black rhino and unusual species like the black-faced impala – a larger and darker subspecies found only in south-western Angola and north-western Namibia.
Etosha birdlife is absolutely wonderful with every kind of feathered friend. One to look for is the ground hornbill who looks like a downhearted widow with a red scarf around her face. Other less terrestrial hornbills are the cheeky yellow-billed hornbills whose squawk and loping flight becomes a familiar sight.
Lilac breasted rollers are colourful enough at they sit on their favourite perch, but when they take off in pursuit of an insect, their underwings give a blinding flash of electric blue.
Eagles and vultures cruise high in the warm air currents or perch on branches with beady eyes alert.
The best game-viewing time is during the coolest dry months of May to September, but bird watching is at its peak in the rainy season from November to March.
The average daily temperature is 88°F (31°C) and average minimum is 57°F (13.7°C).
Rainy Season: Rainfall is approximately 14 inches (358mm) per year with January to March the hottest and wettest months. During this time the pans usually fill with water and animals give birth.
Dry Season: July to September are the driest months.
The ‘in between’ months, which are neither wet nor dry but somewhere in the middle, are very pleasant.