Friday, November 1, 2013

Etosha National Park - Namibia

Etosha National Park is unique in Africa. The park’s main characteristic is a salt pan so large it can be seen from space. Yet there is abundant wildlife that congregates around the waterholes, giving you almost guaranteed game sightings. At the same time Etosha National Park is one of the most accessible game reserves in Namibia and Southern Africa. The park is malaria free, accessible in a regular sedan car and the rest camps provide a range of accommodation as well as restaurants, viewing decks, shops and petrol stations. Luxurious camps in Etosha’s remote areas have now added top end accommodation to the park’s offerings.

The various accommodation options in Etosha National Park are well equipped with restaurants, shops, curios, swimming pools and petrol stations. The three main camps (Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni) offer various types of accommodation from camping to chalets overlooking floodlit waterholes. Situated deeper in the park are the more exclusive camps (Dolomite and Onkoshi) that provide a safari experience for discerning travelers.

 It is hardly a secret that Etosha’s best game viewing is at the many waterholes scattered throughout the park. Especially during the dry winters most species rely on these permanent water sources. The larger waterholes see large treks of zebra and springbok mingle with Oryx and bathing elephants. Some of the camps even offer floodlit waterholes, where you can spot rhino, elephant and lion drinking from the same waterhole.

Etosha National Park is home to four of the Big 5. Elephants and lions are common in the park, while the elusive leopard hides in the densely vegetated areas. However, one of the best reasons to visit Etosha is its healthy population of black rhinoceros. This archaic beast is endangered and the waterholes are probably among the best places in the world to see this precious animal.

Other rare and endangered species include the black-faced impala, which can be seen around Dolomite Camp and the fleet footed cheetah. The plains are covered by large herds of springbok and zebra. The backdrop of the vast Etosha Pan makes game viewing in Etosha a unique experience.

The large mammals in Etosha National Park include lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, giraffe, wildebeest, cheetah, hyena, mountain and plains zebra, springbok, kudu, gemsbok and eland. Among the smaller species you will find jackal, bat-eared fox, warthog, honey badger and ground squirrel. The park is home to 114 species of mammals.
The Etosha Pan:
The Etosha Pan is a vast, bare, open expanse of shimmering green and white that covers around 4,800km², almost a quarter of the beautiful Etosha National Park. At 130 km long and up to 50km wide in places, it is comfortably the largest salt pan in Africa and is the park’s most distinctive and dramatic feature, visible even from space.
In the language of the Ovambo tribe, Etosha means ‘great white place’, a name passed on to the first Europeans to come across this “immense hollow”, Sir Francis Galton and Charles Andersson in 1851, with the help of travelling Ovambo traders.

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