Saturday, 5 September 2009

Etosha National Park. Namibia.

Etosha National Park is billed as one of Southern Africa's finest and most important Game Reserves. Having stayed at many of South Africas National Parks, where we enjoy self catering and sitting out at night listening to the night sounds. I was really exited about visiting Etosha.
We enjoyed a Wimpy double thick milkshake in the town of Tsumeb, Southern Africa make the best milkshakes! We then went to the supermarket to stock up on the supplies we would be needing in the park. Charcoal, Meat and general provisions for BBQing.
The eastern entrance is called the "Von Lindequist Gate" and is near Namutoni. This was our stop for the first two nights. The Landmark at Namutoni is the whitewashed German fort. This was built by the Germans in 1899.

Inside the fort is a restaurant, you can also go up onto the ramparts and look down on the floodlit waterhole.

We went to our accommodation, and got a surprise, we were expecting basic Parks Board Accommodation. Usually this consists of a small hut, with a BBQ area and basic cooking utensils. But the 'huts' had been renovated. Firstly, you can no longer drive up to your accommodation, but you have to park in a communal area, then walk to your hut. This is the walkway. Inside the accommodation was far from basic, very modern and very nice, with A/C. The bathroom was also lovely. The huts were no longer self catering, all utensils had been removed, as had the outside BBQ areas, this is a photo of our outdoor area.

That evening we went over to the adjacent camping site to cook (BBQ) our dinner. We were not alone, three other family's who were staying in the huts were doing the same thing! The camping area was very nice. Each pitch had an electric light and the ablution blocks were a good standard. Jackals were a problem, one nearly got my steak of my plate! That evening the campers got very little sleep as a lions roared just by the perimeter fence, we did not hear a thing in out hut.
The next day we drove out onto the pan. Etosha, means "Great White Place", the park is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The pan is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds. This is the car on the pan.
This elephant was heading to the pan.
The next camp we went to was Okaukuejo Rest Camp. Some of the bungalows had been renovated at this camp, but traditional ones also remain. The campsite did not look as good as Namutoni, it was very dry and dusty.
The flood lit watering hole was the attraction at this camp, you did not need to go out into the park to look for animals, they came to you!
All day long there was a procession of Zebra to the waterhole, we also saw herds of elephant and both Black and White Rhino with youngsters. This watering hole is one of the best places I have ever visited.
When we left Etosha, using the Anderson Gate, we had a long drive back to Windhoek airport, to catch the night flight to Gatwick. The roads had just been tarred so it did not take as long as expected. This gave us time to stop in Okahandja at a Biltong outlet, it was next to a large Biltong factory. If you like Biltong, this was some of the best we have ever had.
As we boarded the Air Namibia plane, I reflected on a country I had know so little about. I had see a lot of it, but there is still lots to see and I definitely want to visit again.
Namibia is a fantastic destination, you can visit it with any budget. Campers are well catered for, even in the most remote destinations I saw camp sites. The luxury end of the marked is also well provided for. You do not need to go on an organised tour, if you have a guide book such as Lonely Planet or Bradt, USE them, both are full of good information.
Self driving is easy, the roads are in good condition and we did not use the 4x4 facility on our hire car. To conclude, if you do get the opportunity to visit this fascinating country, then go! I can not recommend it highly enough.