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Etosha safari


... is a really unusual experience compared with safari in most of Africa, one which is usually done by self-drive and with the animals easy to find and in plain view at the various waterholes throughout the dry season.

Upsides ...

Etosha National Park is a very significant and well known wildlife reserve located in the northcentral region of Namibia.

It is a huge expanse of sweeping grassland and stark white evaporation pans, where large numbers of animals are sustained by a network of natural springs and waterholes. It is the only place in the country where you are likely to see the volume and range of wildlife that would normally be associated with a conventional safari.

The photography around these waterholes during the Jun/Nov dry season can be truly extraordinary, rarely can you expect to capture such a range and diversity of large mammals in a single image.

Additionally, around the fringes of the reserve there are some relatively high quality private safari areas.

Read more about the upsides for travel in Etosha ...

Downsides ...

But safari in Etosha is less than pure, this is not a wilderness experience by any stretch of the imagination. The park suffers terribly from very high vehicle traffic, a massively over-developed road network and extremely poor park management.

There is definitely a risk of disappointment. However, if you arrive with lowered expectations, consider this to be one of the lesser stops and plan your visit with care, then you may well end up being pleasantly surprised.

Read more about the downsides for travel in Etosha ...

Areas ...

We divide Etosha into a total of four sub-areas. Most guests include one, two or even three of these areas into their trip ...

Etosha South ... is our most popular area and covers the small network of private reserves and roadside lodges outside the Andersson Gate into the national park.

Etosha East ... is another popular area, this time covering the small network of private reserves outside the Lindequist Gate to the east.

Etosha West ... is a relatively remote and little-visited sector of the national park, where the wildlife viewing can be more challenging, but the sense of wilderness is much greater.

Etosha Central ... is the core area for wildlife, centred on a network of very impressive waterholes. But it is also contains three enormous restcamps and suffers greatly from traffic and tonality issues.

When to visit ...

The best time to safari in Etosha is generally considered to be during the Jun/Nov dry season, when the wildlife tends to gather around the main waterholes across the reserve.

During the early part of the green season, Nov/Dec, the rains tend to arrive from the north-east, so there can be a considerable movement of wildlife in this direction, with Namutoni often becoming the most productive area.

For the remainder of the green season, Jan/May, the wildlife can disperse widely and the foliage become much more dense, potentially making safari much more difficult. It is not unusual to see not a single elephant at this time.

Read more about the when to visit Etosha ...

How we like to include this area in trips ...

The vast majority of our guests are looking for high quality safari experiences, which means that we have to work extra hard in this busy Etosha area.

Usually the best way to inject quality into your visit is to base yourself in one or more of the better lodges in the private reserves outside the southerly Andersson Gate or the easterly Lindequist Gate and raid into the main park as needed.

These visits tend to either take the form of 2 to 3 nights in the Andersson Gate area, or 4 nights split between the two areas, driving through the main reserve in between.

Guests wanting an even more comprehensive safari experience may also choose to stay in the remote Etosha West area for a further 2 to 3 nights.

If you are less concerned about traffic issues and simply want to throw yourself into the busy areas where the most intense wildlife viewing is to be found, which is most commonly the case for very keen photographers, then the Etosha Central may be worth considering.

At the other extreme, it may also be worth noting that many of our more experienced guests skip Etosha completely, preferring to concentrate on the extraordinary desert areas for which the country is best known.

Those visitors who do include a more carefully planned Etosha visit tend to most commonly combine it with time in the remote Namibia Northwest region, as well as more popular locations such as Twyfelfontein and Sossusvlei.

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