© Nova Fisher 2015

Etosha National Park

Etosha is Namibia’s premier national park, almost the same size as Switzerland. It is one of Africa’s largest protected areas and considered to be one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in southern Africa. The word Etosha means ‘big, white place,’ and the park is dominated by a huge, white saltpan; the pan being the shimmering bed of a dried up, shallow, inland lake – around 120Km across by 72km north to south.

Etosha Wildlife

Permanent waterholes are plentiful along the southern side of the pan, where water that collects in the rainy season flows onto the pan’s dense clay floor. The wildlife is superb, particularly in the dry winter months as large herds of plains game gather around the waterholes, along with their predators. We saw elephants, rhino, lions, giraffes,  Burchell’s zebra, a leopard, wildebeest black-faced impala, gemsbok (oryx), Damara dik-dik, eland, greater kudu, hartebeest and springbok. Etosha’s bird life is excellent too with more than 300 species recorded. Birds of prey are particularly numerous, and include red-necked falcons, Gabar goshawks, and several species of eagle and vulture. Local ‘specials’ include short-toed rock thrush, Hartlaub’s francolin, freckled nightjar and Meyer’s parrot. Without the man-made water holes the wildlife could not survive.

Ongava Private Reserve

We arrived in heat, real heat! It measured 42°C in the shade of the camp and was 48°C in the park. Wildlife activities included day and night game drives in Ongava Game Reserve, daytime games drives in Etosh stopping at the Okaukuejo waterhole and Etosha pans and walking safaris. We particularly enjoyed the visits to the Ongava and the Anderssons hides that gave us an amazing experience of being just a few metres from the wildlife. Anderssons hide is below ground so we were at eye level with the animals visiting the waterhole - most memorable! Following the reduction in size of Etosha (from 10 million to 2.7 million hectares), a group of international partners purchased 30,000 hectares of land on the southern side of Etosha National Park with the aim of creating Namibia's finest private game reserve, and to protect Etosha's southern boundary by creating a buffer zone. This was named Ongava, after the Herero word for rhinoceros; white rhino were subsequently introduced with great success, and were joined by black rhino from neighbouring Etosha. Although the reserve is now famous for its rhino, it is home to thousands of animals including leopard, lion, elephant, giraffe, oryx (gemsbok), springbok, red hartebeest, eland, wildebeest, zebra and the rare black-faced impala.