One of the most famous national parks in the world, Etosha covers a huge area of northern Namibia. There are some very simple rules about how to behave there: You stay in the car, only leave it in assigned areas and you only drive around between sunrise and sunset. After sunset, you stay in the camp and the gates are closed.
Having said that, you can travel freely in the park area, there are hundreds of kilometers of gravel roads, roadsigns to guide you to waterholes, camps and scenic routes.
There are three major camps, located in the south-eastern part of the national park. You will find rooms, camp grounds and restaurants there. Usually you will be asked for a reservation at the gates of the park, since the camps are limited in their capacity. You can still enter the park for a day trip and ask in the camps reception for a place to stay over night. Usually there will be a place at least at the camp site.
The camps have usually a waterhole with lights and a nice place to sit and watch. There are signs telling you to be silent, which works only sometimes, still, you can spot some animals during the night. Even if not, it is exciting to sit there, stare into the darkness and wait for something to happen.
We left the camp as early as possible, using the morning hours to spot animals. It is of course hard to predict, where to spot a certain animal. During our first visit, we saw one rhino. During the second visit, we had a “rhino-day”, meeting these impressive giants on every corner. We must have been really close to elephants but never saw them. You just cant get out of the car and look behind the next bush. In general, it is easier to find most kind of animals during the dry season, simply because they have to gather around the water holes.
During the rainy season, there is fresh green, water is available everywhere and wildlife spreads out all over the park. Around 10.00 am. the sun is high up and the temperature rises, all life seeks the shadow and this is the best time to get breakfast, rest and maybe sleep. During the afternoon and evening, we drove around again.
There is a reason, why you should not leave the car. Never! These lions had their morning drink and after that, they went straight towards the road and went to sleep right under it, in a tunnel, built for floods but mostly providing shadow for tired cats. One minute after this picture, they disappeared from the scene and imagine, someone stopping and leaving the car, to take a picture of some pretty flowers on the roadside.
Etosha at night
You can join a guided tour at night, where a driver and guide drives you around. We where lucky because we met another car. It was a filmteam and their driver told us, that they spotted lions not far away and that they
where on the move. A little later we managed to spot their red eyes glowing in the night and the shadow of a couple, hiding in the grass. Our driver told us that they where probably mating and that meant, they would be around for a couple of days. We immediately decided to come back to that spot at first light. Even if you don’t spot animals, just the amazing view at the stars and the sound of herdes moving in the dark is worth the tour.