Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park – Namibia

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Ranking as one of the world’s great wildlife-viewing venues, a visit to the Etosha National Park is one of the highlights of any trip to Namibia.

Declared a game reserve by the German colonial administration back in 1907, Etosha covers an area of more than 22,000 square kilometers.

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Its unique nature is encapsulated by the vast Etosha pan – an immense, flat, saline desert that, for a few days each year, is converted by the rains into a shallow lagoon teeming with flamingos and pelicans. This is in stark contrast to the surrounding bush and grasslands, which provide habitat for Etosha’s diverse wildlife.

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Although often can you think the landscape of Etosha is quite barren, it is home to 114 mammal species as well as 340 bird species, 16 reptile/amphibian species, and one fish species (so don’t come here trying to spot fish I guess 🙂 ).

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Based on an animal count done by aircraft in 2005, there are about :

  • 250 lions
  • 300 rhinos
  • 3,000 giraffes
  • 12,000 zebras
  • 4,000 wildebeests
  • 5,500 Oryx antelopes
  • 2,500 elephants

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These may sound like large numbers, but the expanse of Etosha means that it can be quite difficult to seek them out depending on the time of year you visit. Once the rainy season starts (November to April) the animals disperse into the landscape hidden away from the gravel road network within Etosha.

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So the best time to visit Etosha is during the dry season, which typically runs from May to October. The lack of water supply means that the animals never stray too far from any source of water, and Etosha has numerous waterholes where you can literally just park and wait for the animals to come to you.

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I visited in December after a wonderful two nights of bush camping at Okonjima Nature Reserve. The rains had just started but luckily not enough to deter the animals from visiting the waterholes. There’s are numerous complexes within the park offering protected camping as well as your more upmarket accommodation, I stayed at Namutoni and Okaukuejo.

Okaukuejo was quite an amazing place, as here the waterhole offered some superb game viewing at dusk and dawn. It was a bit of a surreal experience, sitting on benches encircling half the waterhole, beer in hand, and just waiting for the animals to arrive in the fading light.

The landscape is flat so you can see movement from far far away without actually being able to identify what is heading your way. This experience becomes even more magnified when it gets dark, the waterhole is floodlit so suddenly out of the nothingness an elephant may appear 50m away from you !  It’s also simply stunning at sunset.

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The Okaukuejo waterhole was the highlight of my Etosha visit until we were on our way out of the park. Myself and the group I was with where a little disappointed that we hadn’t seen more elephants, of all the large mammals, elephants had been the most elusive. They had obviously planned a big send off for us, for just 20 minutes later we were surrounded by them on the main road out of Etosha.

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There must have been 6-8 family groups, including young calves that I imagine had been born that year. It was a wonderful experience, they paid little attention to us, came right up close and just wondered around the vehicles for a good 40 minutes.

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This was one of those times when you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing and experiencing, and you never want it to end. Obviously I was taking lots of photos, but there came a point where I decided to stop looking at this through a viewfinder, and instead just relax and soak up the whole experience.

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I thought I needed long telephoto lenses for the Safari experience, but here I wish I’d got a wide-angle, I was quite expecting that !

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I couldn’t have wished for a better way to conclude my Etosha experience, it was the perfect memory to depart with and obviously a memory that will never leave me. I’ve included below a couple of black and white shots which I think I prefer to the colour ones, I’d be interested to know what you think…

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We continued out of Etosha National Park and made our way to Kamanjab to visit a Himba tribe community.


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KevinStandage1@googlemail.com

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11 replies »

  1. We stayed at Etosha a couple of years ago for four days. The elephants were definitely one of the highlights. We parked next to the watering hole at midday and sat quietly as a whole herd passed by, just inches from our vehicle. It was amazing. Your photos are stunning! Just wondering, the herd you captured all seem like young elephants. I saw some of the longest tusks and biggest elephants at Etosha. Did you see bigger elephants at all? Another highlight for me, as for you I’m sure, was visiting the boma near the watering hole at night. We saw lions come down to drink, rhino, and various other animals. I loved listening to the various ‘night’ noises of the wildlife. Thank you for this great post. My heart is filled with longing for the African bush now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your reply and comments ! As the rainy season had just started the waterhole were not quite as frequently visited during the daytime, in fact our guide was quite nervous as what we would get to see ! The waterholes in the evenings by the camp sites was probably best for us in that respect. I didn’t see any elephants sporting huge tusks either – but they definitely seemed like family groups that were encircling the vehicle on our way out. Now you’re making me want to go back 🙂

      And yes, the sounds at night were awesome ! Time to pack my bag… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I started following u couple of weeks ago. I loved ur work. M a beginner…i have Nikon d 5100. i have lot things in my mind to ask. Which format i should use. I am totally blank about post processing.. how to do u professional look upon a pic etc…..is there some thing where i can message n learn from u

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  3. Hi Aman. Thanks for your kind words, but I am no professional ! I’d love to be, but it’s a tough and competitive business to get a foothold in.

    Your best resource is here…the internet ! There are thousands of YouTube clips that can guide you through the basics of using a DSLR and then move on to post processing. That’s pretty much how I learnt everything, and of course by then going out and practicing constantly. Find a presenter whose style you like, and follow them through the basics.

    There are many free post processing tools out there, but I use Lightroom which is something you’d need to purchase. You can start out by using a free tool, but the chances are after a year or so you’ll be wanting something more feature rich which lightroom will provide. It’s also a useful tool for managing your photos in general (keywords etc), although I haven’t been so good at that side of things.

    Don’t worry about gear for now, although it’s tempting to do that. Start by learning things like “the exposure triangle”, how to shoot moving objects successfully, what to do in low light situations – focus on how to get your images SHARP, as that is essential of course, everything else is secondary. Things like that will give you a great understanding of what’s needed out in the field, and for that YouTube is your very best friend 🙂

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