Drive Time: 5 hours | Distance 431 km
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is incredible. After we departed the Spitzkoppe area, we had a relatively easy journey to Etosha. The paved roads made a return, making the drive much easier. It is ~8600 square miles and named after the Etosha Pan which covers roughly a quarter of the park. It is home to hundreds of mammals and birds and importantly, home to the largest population of black rhinoceroses. We had some of our favorite days here. For us, the most unique thing about the park is the ability to self drive. There is a system of roads that traverse the park and as long as you stay on the roads and obey the speed limits, you are free to search for animals anywhere you wish. We traveled during their winter, September, when many grasslands are dead, and water is scarce, making it much easier to spot animals that congregate around the parks many waterholes. Most days we traveled from watering hole to watering hole, and we never succeeded in a direct drive due to roadside stops for animal crossings or sitings.
A few things to note about the park. Gate times are strict and open at sunrise and sunset. For two people, you’ll pay 350 NAD for the day (a bit less than 20 USD). You cannot leave your car while you are driving around. However, there are government camps and toilet areas throughout. The last town before entering the Anderson gate on the south is Outjo and we highly suggest stopping here for some provisions for your time in the park. In the park it is slightly more expensive, but the main problem is their variety is very poor. You can only dine at their government camps and they each have a very small convenient store with ice, drinks, and a few snacks. For lunch prior to the park, the Outjo bakery was very good.
Where to Stay
There are several gates to enter the park. There is the Galton gate in the west, the popular Anderson gate in the south and the von Lindequist gate and King Nehale gates in the east.
Accommodations around Etosha are very different. Outside of the park, there are a variety of luxury lodges and private reserves. In the park, all of the accommodations are government run camps which function at a basic level. We chose to experience both.
Our first night, we stayed at Okaukuejo Resort. Here, you can find tent sites or chalets. Accommodations here are incredibly basic. However, you’re paying for one thing and that’s being in the park to experience their famous floodlit waterhole at night. Breakfast is included, which is a basic buffet. There is dinner available for purchase, which consists of three options (meat, seafood, vegetarian), which are also quite simple. If you haven’t brought any food into the park though, this is really your only option.
The Okaukuejo Watering Hole
Upon our arrival, we did a 2 hour drive into the park and during that short time, there was already an abundance of animals. The very special thing though about this first day in the park was the waterhole at night. Around 10 PM at night, we were treated to six white rhinoceroses who made their way to the Okaukuejo waterhole. Bring your camera and binoculars and enjoy!
Read our next article for our full days in Etosha National Park!