Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park covers a vast area in Northern Namibia. The explorers Charles John Anderson and Francis Galton were the first Europeans to record the existence of the Etosha pan in 1851. And it was made a game reserve in 1907 by the Governor of German South West Africa, Dr. Friedrich von Lindequist. Etosha National Park covers an area of 22,270 square kilometres (8,600 sq mi) and gets its name from the large Etosha pan which is almost entirely within the park. The Etosha salt pan covers 23% of the area of the total area of the Etosha National Park. The name Etosha comes from Oshindonga word meaning Great White Place referring to the Etosha pan.

German Reich ordered troops to occupy the Okaukuejo, Namutoni and Sesfontein in 1886 in order to kill migrating wildlife to stop spread of rinderpest to cattle. A fort was built by the German cavalry in 1889 at the site of the Namutoni spring. In 1904, 500 men under Nehale Mpingana attacked Fort Namutoni and completely destroyed it, driving out the colonial forces and taking over their horses and cattle. The fort was rebuilt and troops stationed once again when the area was declared a game reserve in 1907 and Lieutenant Adolf Fischer of Fort Namutoni then became its first "game warden".

The present day Etosha National Park has had many major and minor boundary changes since its inception in 1907. The original area was estimated to be about 80,000 square kilometres. In 1958 the park area was reduced to 55,000 square kilometres ). And the Odendaal Commission's decisions resulted in the present day park boundary in 1970 taking the size down to 22,270 sq km..

The salt pans are the major geological features in Etosha. The main depression is roughly 130 km long and as wide as 50 km in places. The hypersaline conditions of the pan limit the species that can permanently inhabit the pan itself. The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer, when it attracts pelicans and flamingos.

In the dry season, winds blowing across the salt pan pick up saline dust and carry it across the country and out over the southern Atlantic. This salt enrichment provides minerals to the soil downwind of the pan on which some wildlife depends, though the salinity also inhibits farming.

We stayed at Mushara Bush Camp, located some 8kms from Namutoni Etosha East gate. Perhaps too well geared towards children, if you are travelling without children. Our stay was blighted by out of control children running wild. Our arrival prompted one of the worst "welcomes" we have ever had on arrival at a hotel. The manager was doubtful that we had ever booked, but eventually found our booking, with very bad grace. He handed us to a lady who banged down a form for us to fill in and then wandered off. She eventually returned to lead us to our "tent". She ignored us completely on the long walk there.

The "camp" itself has been very well, read that extremely well, built. The public areas, and particularly the toilets, are fantastic - alone worth a visit. The tents are modern and spacious, but it is a long walk to get to your tent, and the paths are gravel, so luggage is a bit difficult. At dinner the first night we had their outdoor barbecue. Staff ignored us, and there appeared to be nobody in charge. My meat from the barbecue was so tough that it was not edible, and the vegetables were overcooked. Children running noisily round did not help. On the second night, there were fewer guests and the meal was in the dining area of the main lodge - this was better. In short a good base for Etosha, a very well designed safari lodge, but it needs more "hands on" management - we never saw any owners when we were there.

I have no idea if they offer game drives or not, as nobody bothered to tell us. However it is easy to get to Etosha, and if you arm yourself with a map of the National Park, it is easy to get yourself around. We did that and saw masses of game - literally hundreds of elephants, plus a lion and a black rhino at close quarters, as well as the smaller game.

You come to Etosha to see game, and see game you do. It is difficult to avoid seeing game. Unlike Kenya, the park is not overfull of tourist minibuses. Tourist traffic is very light. We wandered around for 2 days - the first day we drove through to get to the lodge, and the second day was out from the lodge

Click on any of the thumbnails below to get a larger photo

The salt pan stretched off into the distance. Fort Namutoni has been restored, but the restoration itself was degrading and we could not get up to the ramparts.
Zebra were one of Etosha's specialties, they were everywhere. Well disguised animals in the bush. It appeared to be the breeding season - no marks for seeing why.
Deer, bock, call them what you will, they too were ubiquitous.The recent rains had left pools in the roads, and here the animals often came in to drink.
Giraffes travel in small family groups, and are quite graceful animals but at the same time ungainly. It is difficult for them to bend down to drink from a water hole.
     
We had distant views of this fellow lumbering through the bush, and the next day found him fast asleep under a tree, but too indistinct to photograph well
The boys were glad to see a few elephants, though we saw considerably more elephants in other parks along the Caprivi
A rich variety of bird life. The Great Bustard and the Flamingo I can tell, but with the others the information in their names is transitory
 
Probably the best sighting of a lion that we have ever had. We followed her at a distance of about 200 metres, and eventually she turned and crossed the road beside us.
 
Various hangers on at the edges of the food chain. Wart Hogs seem to move in family groups with parents and 7 or 8 young. The Hyenas are solitary
Mushara Camp was well set up, but the staff dreadful and unsupervised. The lodge set out to attract children, who ran amok all over the place. On to the Okavango

 

On to Ndovu

Namibia Holiday