Etosha National Park is one of Africa’s finest safari destinations and certainly one of the best places to spot the big five. During the dry season, waterholes teem with wildlife and the park is incredibly accessible for self-drive making it also one of the most affordable safari options in Africa. For those with the necessary budget, the adjoining Onguma or Ongava Reserves offer a more exclusive safari experience without the self-drive traffic.
Etosha is characterised by vast and dusty chalk-white plains. Designed with self-drive visitors in mind, the tarmac roads are well sign-posted, and what the park may lack in authentic safari feel, it makes up for with ease of access, affordability, a good variety of accommodation, and incredibly rich wildlife centred largely on the parks’ prolific waterholes. Rare black rhino thrive, along with elephant, giraffe, eland, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, and more. There’s an abundance of big cats, and an array of impressive birdlife to enjoy from ostriches and secretary birds, to vultures, hawks, and the beautiful and endangered blue cranes.
Although year-round visits are possible, it’s advisable to plan wisely. Etosha’s peak game-viewing season is during the dry June to August winter months when nights can be cold, but the days are pleasantly warm. It is busy at this time of year, but with little or no rainfall, the vegetation recedes, and the wildlife is easy to spot. Many travellers choose to avoid the scorching August and September temperatures, and while the October to February rains transform the landscape to a lush paradise, the heat, humidity and afternoon thunderstorms can be challenging, and the animals more widely dispersed.