Drive Time: From Sunrise to Sunset!

Self Driving in the Park

Our two days in the park were magical. We had a loose itinerary of going from watering hole to watering hole. However, it’s nearly impossible to go far without a roadside stop for an animal siting. These are long days so come equipped:

What to Bring

Camera with zoom lens (I use a Canon D90)

Binoculars (I use a Vortex Diamondback)


Snacks and Water

Car charger for electronics 

Downloaded music

We also bought a small map of the park for 80 NAD and it was fun to check off animals spotted and for watering hole locations (though google maps will get you there for the most part)

Magical Moments and the Perks of Self Drive

A few special highlights were a herd of elephants immediately adjacent to the roadside all together shading under a tree flapping the giant ears to fan themselves.  One watering hole we visited in the morning had 2 male lions snoozing under a tree which my husband spotted from afar with the binoculars. Finally, our last night before sunset on our way out of the park, we were delighted to come to a watering hole with literally 50-75 elephants at the watering hole jostling for position to cool off with a few very adorable baby elephants. 

In general, animals are virtually everywhere. Definitely eat your lunch or snacks at a watering hole and be treated to hundreds of animals passing through. 

We passed by many guided safari drives. Unlike in a private reserve, you must stay on the road in Etosha. Thus, we didn’t see the enjoyment in a guided drive. We much preferred exploring at our leisure and staying as long as we liked at our favorite watering holes. Most importantly though, it is SO DUSTY in Etosha. Every tourist on a guided drive looked hot and was covered in dust. Traveling in our air conditioned rental, windows closed when other cars passed to minimize dust, with snacks and music is the way to go in our opinion. The only counterpoint would be that of course the guides communicate with each others if there was a great siting…but isn’t it more special to fly solo and find that sleeping lion yourself?  

Animals Abound

Etosha King Nehale

For our final two nights in Etosha, we stayed at one of the luxury lodges, Etosha King Nehale. This is a brand new lodge that opened in 2022. It has a number of individual chalets each with their own private plunge pool. Breakfast is included here, which is a very generous buffet, and dinner is also a very extravagant buffet for a cost of 450 NAD for two people. There is a boma with a fireplace. The room really is the highlight though with a royal theme consisting of a giant bed and couch, enormous bathroom, vanity area and even included glasses of sherry. Finally, it sits just 2 kilometers from the King Nehale gate making arrival at sunrise easy (and this gate is pretty quiet). 

Favorite Watering Holes

There are more than 40 watering holes in Etosha and we only traversed from the Anderson Gate in the south to the Nehale Gate in the east and explored everything in between multiple times. So…these are only a smattering of the many watering holes you can discover.

Okaukuejo – see our previous article, but it’s worth staying one night at Okaukuejo Resort so you can experience this watering hole at night. Black rhinos are known to frequent this watering hole at night

Riefontein – this watering hole is especially lush in its greenery and the watering hole is deep making it a perfect place for elephants to take a dip which we luckily got to experience

Tsumcor – the parking area  is particularly close to the watering hole so these animals are up close for great photos!

Homob – this is a large watering hole in a depression so the parking area looks slightly down on the hole for a great view and animals often track across the parking area to get there for up close viewing. We watched a lone male elephant travel right in front of our car

Nebrownii – this watering hole is quite close to Okaukuejo so you can get here right after sunrise or before sunset. It is known for huge groups of animals visiting. We saw an endless line of zebras come for a drink just after sunrise. 


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