Once again, I have the opportunity to tell you about Etosha National Park in Namibia. The best place to view a variety of game in Namibia, if not one of the best in Africa. I spent 4 nights on my most recent trip driving from one waterhole to the next and overnighting at different camps to make sure that I can provide you with the greatest and most up to date information.
Etosha is situated in central Northern Namibia about 500km’s from the capital Windhoek. The park covers an area of more than 20 000km² and gets its name from the massive white pan which dominates its landscape. Don’t worry you’ll get to experience its white dust when you visit there, it ends up everywhere J The word Etosha is derived from the local Ovambo language meaning “great white place”. It is home to more than a 100 animal species, more than 300 bird species and an abundance of plant and tree species.
One of the best experiences in Namibia is road tripping and driving to Etosha is another perfect example of this. The roads leading there are all tarred/asphalt with many scenic stops along the way. Fuel and well stocked shops are readily available along the way and all of them will accept your Visa/Mastercard. There should be no concerns along the way, stick to the speed limit and enjoy the scenery.
The road leading to Etosha from Windhoek is the newly built A1 to Okahandja, followed by the B1 to Otjiwarongo. From there you can continue north on the B1 to Otavi, then Tsumeb and enter the park at Von Lindquist Gate with Namutoni the first camp you’ll arrive at. OR from Otjiwarongo head NorthWest on the C38 to Outjo after which you’ll reach Andersson gate. Okaukuejo camp is another 17km drive from there. Gates open at sunrise and close at sunset.
There are several accommodation options available in and around the park. I usually stay inside the park which allows you to visit the waterholes before sunrise and after sunset. For this trip I spent a night each at Olifantsrus, Onkoshi, Halali and Okaujuejo.
Day 1 I drove to Olifantsrus about 130km west of Okaukuejo which is a camping only camp. There are no self-catering chalets or any other form of accommodation. This allows you to be much closer to nature, especially after 10pm when the generator which supplies electricity is switched off.
But its main attraction is the raised walkway that runs over the fence to its waterhole. There they have a double story hive which almost sits on top of the water. The ground floor has an aquarium feel with a glass window the only separation between yourself and the game. The water runs from the wall of the hide outwards like an infinity pool and you come face to face with animals drinking water. A truly unique African experience.
Each campsite has artificial shade with shared electricity points and taps for water. Portable braai (BBQ) stands are available. There is a shared kitchen, laundry and ablution facilities for ladies and men. Solar geysers supply hot water so best to shower in the evening. There is a very small and ill stocked bar, best to take your own supplies. Weak MTC signal is available in hotspots, but no wifi. The generator for electricity starts at 05:00 and is switched off at 22:00.
Day 2 I decided to drive all the way to Onkoshi the most North-Eastern of all the camps. It was quite a drive, but in Etosha the drive is always worth it. Onkoshi can best be described as tents on stilts and this gives it a unique look and feel. More uniquely it is the only camp in Etosha that is located on the edge of the pan. The pan stretches as far as the eye can see towards the West and you can imagine the sunsets you get from this, beautiful. The camp has a lovely swimming pool and a deck at the restaurant that overlooks the pan.
Onkoshi is not a budget option, it is not self-catering and in my opinion, you are overpaying for what you get. There is no fridge in your room, nor can you boil water for a cup of high noon tea. You are dependent on the restaurant for all your meals and unfortunately NWR is not known for its culinary expertise. At this camp you pay for the view and don’t expect anything more. The rooms have a double bed with the most amazing view and a big bathtub which shares this view. Hot water is from solar geysers and electricity supplied from a generator running from 05:00 to 22:00. The MTC reception is exceptionally good. Should you at least once in your life spend a night there? Of course 🙂
I left Onkoshi on Day 3 and returned East to spend a night at Halali. The drive included a stop at Namutoni, the camp with the big white fort. Unfortunately, the inside of the fort is in a dilapidated state and many areas are closed off to the public. The rest of the camp does not look any better, but I did see a beautiful big and clean swimming pool. Also it is one of only three camps (Okaukuejo and Halali are the other two) that has a petrol station. After a quick stop I was on the road again.
The drive from Namutoni to Halali is a mere 75km and I took my time to explore all the waterholes and other areas I usually don’t get time for. After the stretch between Halali and Okaukuejo this is the best area to view game in my opinion. Eventually, I ended up at Halali. My initial plan was to camp, but after realizing that I am woefully underprepared I abandoned the idea and managed to get a double room. In general, accommodation in the main camps range from camping, to double rooms, then bush chalets and at Okaukuejo premier chalets.
Double rooms are in attached blocks. Each room has a double bed, own bathroom with shower, air-conditioning, coffee station and a fridge. They are very convenient when all you want to do is get out of the car, eat at the restaurant, sleep and leave again in the morning. They do not have their own braai (BBQ) facilities.
Except for its strategic location between Namutoni and Okaukuejo there is no major attraction that would lure you to Halali. They do have a waterhole, but it does not compare to the one at Okaukuejo nor is the very large swimming pool unique. It’s merely a convenient stopover and should be treated as such.
On Day 4 I set out to drive my favorite part of the park, the roads between Halali and Okaukuejo. My favorite as you get to see everything the park has to offer in this area including most of my favorite waterholes. As I had the entire day to drive the 70km I drove all the side roads and stopped at every waterhole. I have not done this in a longtime. Usually Ill spend two days in the park and head back home. I was rewarded for my efforts with some of the best game viewing ever. Apologies if I don’t mention all the animals here, but Namibia like many other African countries are experiencing major issues with poachers. I don’t intend making their jobs easier by telling them where to find our big game.
After a long day of driving I ended up at Okaukuejo the best camp in the park, my opinion. I prefer to book a bush chalet as it includes a private braai area. No better way to end a long day in Africa than lighting a fire, braaing some T-bone steak and enjoying an ice-cold refreshment. But this is where it starts at Okaukuejo…
This camp has a trump card it plays every time you visit. Its floodlight waterhole. I have not seen a better one anywhere in Africa and I’ve been quite a few places. I’ve also never seen a disappointed face leaving there. Its simply magical made so by the multitude of animals you get to see visiting and the joyful nature they display when quenching their first after a long hot day in the veld. And it doesn’t stop when the sun sets, the show continues all through the night as long as you are able to persevere.
That is where it ended for me spending the evening at Okaukuejo’s astonishing waterhole. The next morning, I packed up and headed back to Windhoek. Okaukuejo is perfect if you intend to leave early for the capital. Remember there is fuel station 5km outside the gate if no fuel is available in the camp.
Worth it? most definitely yes. Will I be back in future? Of course, I will 🙂 Feel free to direct any questions should you have any regarding your next stay in Etosha.