Etosha, meaning “Great White Place of Dry Water” takes in some 22912 sq kms including the white and green Etosha Pan.
There are some 114 mammal species, 340 bird species and some 16 reptile and amphibian species.
male kudu crossing the road
Only two thirds of the Eastern part are open to the general public, the rest being reserved exclusively for tour operators. It is on the Eastern side that there are three rest camps, each with a nearby watering hole for wild-life viewing. All roads are passable in 2WD. Cheaper lodges are scattered at the entrances into the park at Von Lindequist (Namutoni), Andersson (Okaukuejo) or King Nehale. The park is open from sunrise to sunset, as indeed are the park accommodation sites. Don’t be late for apparently entry can be refused.
Entry to the park is N$80 per person plus another N$10 per vehicle. You can rush through the park in a day, but it is best appreciated over at least 3 days.
Whilst this sounds quite reasonable, accommodation prices are somewhat more pricey. It costs N$250 for a campsite plus an additional N$100 per person. A room in a “Chalet” costs some N$800 whilst a double room including breakfast is N$2500. The sites appear clean and there is a bbq pit, light and electricity socket at each camping station. The toilets, showers and bathroom areas are kept clean. No wonder we only see whites on safari – the only black faces being camp workers. There is an overpriced restaurant, provisions shop, gift shop and a petrol station at each accommodation site. We have brought many of our own supplies into the park, but we don’t possess a cooler.
I do however splurge on the buffet breakfast, but endeavour to get value for my N$90 extravagance.
Aubrey Safari Breakfast
3 egg cheese, onion and garlic omelette
5 beef sausages
3 slices of marmalade bread
3 glasses of juice
4 cups of black coffee
There are several accommodation options outside the park, but these are not necessarily cheaper than what is on offer inside Etosha.
Indeed John, Josef and i are very much the poor person safari-ites. Most of the other visitors are either with tour groups or in flash 4WD Toyotas or Land Rovers. Tents are top quality whilst John boasts a kids two person plastic crappie one. Many are in full safari suits and with binoculars and camera draped around their necks. The Terrible threesome are in a rented Hyundai Atos Prime GLS, scruffy t-shirts and waterproof pants or jeans. At least John and i have the cameras and John even possesses binoculars. We self-label as Gringo Tours and spend 3 days in the park.
clearly not a member of Gringo Tours
1 crappy tent and a dodgy car
Gringos - Josef and John
Josef takes the tent, John is happy to sleep outside and i spend my first night on the back seat of the car with my 2 metre legs folded around my head. Finding this somewhat disabling, i “borrow” padding off a lounger by the swimming pool and sleep in the shower unit on the second night – marginally less painful and somewhat warmer.
Unless specified on very rare signposts, visitors must stay in their vehicles at all times and not to drive off- road. Wardens regularly check these rules are obeyed. This is particularly vexing for John who is suffering from chronic squirts. However there is a load of stuff that can be seen from the car and visits to some 30 water-holes rarely disappoint.
at the waterholes in early morning
As well as a good chance of spotting the Big Five there is so much fauna to be spotted. The variety on offer for nature lovers is truly awesome, and it’s difficult to go a few minutes and not see anything at all. One gets somewhat blasé at yet another springbok or zebra – well both Josef and John do. Coming from Watford, i am simply awestruck and could happily watch for hours.
impala in flight
The highlight for me is undoubtedly the evening in camp watching rhino at the waterhole. A family descend on both evenings and traipse loudly from bush to water emitting violent grunts.
A lot of safari seems to involve luck. One minute you can see several mammal species by a watering hole, and then five minutes later they have all vanished. Patience is a must! We see no lions in the park which is most unusual, but amazingly we see a lone cheetah on the hunt. Swings and roundabouts.
By hiring our own vehicle on-line, bringing our own food and doing the safari independently we save a heap full of bucks and have an immense time on “Gringo Tours”.
lilac breasted roller
zebra in evening light
More pics can be found by clicking here.