ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK

Etosha National Park is one of the major highlights for any visitor to Namibia, being one of the best game parks to be found anywhere. Etosha is Namibia’s second largest Park (after the Namib Naukluft Park). With a rich wildlife heritage of 114 mammal, 340 bird and 110 reptile species it is also the oldest and best known of Namibia’s 22 Protected Areas. The Park, measuring 22,270 km2 is a mixture of bushland, with Mopane shrub in the North-west and trees more in the centre. This all surrounds the large saline pan, which is in fact a salt desert, roughly 130 km long and as wide as 50 km in places, after which the park is called (Etosha meaning “Great White Place”) and constitutes 23% of the Park, being its most dominant geographical feature.

Okaukuejo

“The place of the women” is actually a Herero name lent to the waterhole at the southwestern corner of the pan. This description must have been particularly inappropriate to the handful of youthful German soldiers who were stationed at this remote spot at the end of the 1800’s. They had been sent here to control the outbreak of the Rinderpest epidemic of 1897 which wiped out vast amounts of cattle. Okaukuejo later evolved into a military post to supervise trade with the Ovambo and to control the smuggling of fire arms, ammunition and liquor. A fortified structure and round tower were built from limestone nearby and completed in 1901. After some years the tower was abandoned and fell into disrepair, until it was rebuilt by the South African Government into the structure we see today. Today Okaukuejo functions as the administrative hub of the park, and the home of the Etosha Ecological Institute. It is also the most popular accommodation establishment of Namibian Wildlife Resorts within the park, due to the waterhole visible from the resort. This waterhole, frequently visited by elephant, lion, rhino, oryx, zebra and a plethora of other animals, is arguably one of the better waterholes anywhere in the world.

Halali

Halali is strategically located halfway between Okaukuejo and Namutoni in the Etosha National Park and opened its gates in 1967. It lies in the shadow of a conspicuous landmark protruding from the monotonous flatness of the Etosha Plain: the twin dolerite hillocks known appropriately as Tweekoppies (Two hillocks). From the summit in bygone times, German patrols could maintain heliograph contact with the garrisons at Okaukuejo and Namutoni. “Halali”, the traditional German call sounded on the hunting bugle to signal that the hunt is over, is indeed a fitting symbolic name for a rest camp in a game sanctuary which itself signifies that an end has been put to wanton slaughter. This camp started life as a army barracks, the architecture of which is still evident when visiting. The floodlit waterhole is also excellent, with visits by elephant, various game, predators, and the best chance of leopard.

Namutoni

Namutoni is situated on the eastern side of the Etosha National Park, and derives its name from the old German fort around which it is built. The presence of the fort, a National Monument, gives Namutoni more character than the other rest camps in Etosha, and is the hub of activity with two restaurants, a petrol station, a relaxation lounge, a bar, crafts boutique, curio shop, jewelers and bookstore. The floodlit waterhole is not as good as the other two camps, due predominantly the competition form other waterholes close by.