Etosha National Park Travel Tips: When to go, how to get there and what to pack – Part 1
If you are in Namibia, you absolutely have to include Etosha National Park in your itinerary. Etosha is undoubtedly Namibia’s top and most visited destination. Whether you are on a self drive holiday or organised safari tour spending a few days in Etosha is highly recommended. Etosha National Park, meaning “Great White Place” is one of the largest and most important game reserves in Southern Africa and covers an area of 22 270 square kilometers.
Home to 114 mammal species, well over 300 bird species, reptiles and amphibians, Etosha is a wildlife enthusiasts dream. Visitors are likely to see many different buck species, giraffe, rhino, elephant and even lions. If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a leopard or cheetah.
There are also fuel stations within Etosha National Park so don’t worry about running out of fuel while you are driving around Etosha just be sure to fill up whenever you get the chance. All three of Etosha’s main camps have fuel stations (Okaukeujo, Halali and Namutoni). There are also restaurants and shops selling food stuff and other goods at these 3 camps.
When to visit Etosha National Park
This really depends on what you would like to see. Rainy season is from November till April– the hottest and wettest months of the year. The pans fill with water and the animals give birth during this time. Bird watching reaches its peak at this time of the year. The vegetation in the park transforms from dusty & dry to green and lush. Therefore animals and wildlife don’t necessarily visit the main watering holes and may be more difficult to find and see. A travel tip for visiting Etosha at this time of the year is to ask other travelers in the park what game they have seen and where they have seen it. One can also ask the game wardens and staff of Etosha where to go and see game.
The dry season (May till October) is considered the best time to visit Etosha. You will find the animals congregating around the main waterholes to quench their thirst. The grass is also low at this time of the year and allows for much better game viewing. At times there is so much game waiting at the waterholes for their turn to drink water – it is remarkable to see so much game at one time and the interactions between them all waiting for that much needed time to drink water. The main waterholes are located at Namutoni, Okaukeujo and Halali.
Between May and July (winter months), temperatures range from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius during the day with cold temperatures experienced at night.
Photo Credit: Arno Dietz – Etosha Waterhole (3)
How to get to Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is approximately 5 hours from Windhoek if you are driving. It is best to drive slowly to be safe, although the road can be easily navigated in one day. Etosha’s main gates are Von Lindequist (west of Tsumeb), King Nehale Gate (southeast of Ondangwa), Andersson Gate (north of Outjo). Visitors to Etosha can also access the western side of Etosha via the Galton Gate (north of Kamanjab). It therefore depends from where you are traveling from to get to Etosha and which gate you will be making use of to enter Etosha.
Many guests stay at lodges outside the park due to the quality of accommodation….although accommodation & camping is available inside of the park via Namibia Wildlife Resorts which is operated by the government. Many of the lodges just outside of Etosha offer private game drives, either in their own reserves or in Etosha. So if you don’t feel like driving yourself around Etosha you have the option of going on a guided game drive in Etosha where you can sit back and relax and just enjoy and focus on game viewing. Visitors should note that the park is only open from sunrise to sunset and travelers staying outside of the park must ensure they have exited by sunset.
What to pack for Etosha National Park
Visitors should always pack both warmer and cooler clothing for any visit to Namibia to ensure you are prepared for all types of weather. The semi-desert climate mean hot days and cool nights so summer clothing for daytime and a sweater or jacket and long pants for the evenings will work well.
Here are ten things you really should bring on your trip:
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Sunglasses, sun protection and a hat
- A good map of Etosha and the various waterholes.
- A good pair of walking shoes
- Swimming costume (there are swimming pools at the various Namibia Wildlife Camps).
- Binoculars and/or camera, and any additional cables, memory cards you may need
- Mobile phone, charger and adaptor
- List of emergency contact number
- All travel documents including medical/travel insurance
- Take snacks and plenty of water with you while you drive around Etosha.
We do hope you enjoy your trip and you get loads of great memories to share with us on your return! Etosha is sure to create many great memories!
Feature Photo Credit: Linda Baker