Etosha Overview

Etosha National Park, located in northern Namibia, is one of Africa’s most significant and unique game reserves. Spanning an area of approximately 22,270 square kilometers (about 8,600 square miles), the park is distinguished by the Etosha Pan, a vast, shallow depression that covers around 23% of the park’s surface. This salt pan, visible even from space, is mostly dry but fills with water briefly in the summer, attracting pelicans and flamingos among other waterbirds. During most of the year, it’s a vast, white expanse that creates a surreal landscape, contrasting with the surrounding savannah.

Established in 1907 when Namibia was a German colony, Etosha is one of the oldest national parks in the world. Its name, “Etosha,” translates to “Great White Place” in the local Ovambo language, a reference to the striking Etosha Pan. The park’s terrain, beyond the pan, encompasses grasslands, woodlands, and savannah, providing habitats for a diverse array of wildlife.

Etosha is renowned for its exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities, especially around the numerous waterholes that dot the landscape. These waterholes become focal points for animal activity, particularly in the dry season, offering visitors the chance to observe a variety of animals in their natural environment. The park is home to 114 mammal species, including four of the Big Five—elephants, lions, leopards, and rhinos (both black and white species)—as well as giraffes, zebras, and numerous species of antelopes.

Birdlife in Etosha is also prolific, with more than 340 bird species recorded, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. The park’s diverse ecosystems support a range of endemic and migratory species, contributing to its status as a key biodiversity area.

Etosha National Park offers a range of accommodations, from luxury lodges to camping sites, catering to all preferences. Its well-maintained roads and established infrastructure allow for both self-drive and guided safari experiences, making it accessible to all levels of adventurers looking to explore the African wilderness. With its stark beauty, abundant wildlife, and unique landscapes, Etosha stands as a monument to Namibia’s natural heritage, attracting visitors from around the globe,

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Etosha National Park Highlights


Etosha National Park is renowned for its diverse array of predators, essential for maintaining ecological balance within the park’s savanna ecosystem. These apex predators play a vital role in regulating herbivore populations and ensuring overall ecosystem health.

Lion: Majestic and powerful, lions are iconic symbols of African savannas. Forming social prides, they hunt cooperatively, preying on large herbivores like wildebeests and zebras.

Leopard: Stealthy and elusive, leopards are solitary hunters known for their agility and strength. They rely on stealth and ambush tactics to catch prey, often hauling kills into trees for safekeeping.

Spotted Hyena: Highly adaptable and social, spotted hyenas are skilled hunters and scavengers. Their powerful jaws and keen senses enable them to track and take down a variety of prey, including wounded animals.

African Wild Dog: Endangered and highly social, African wild dogs are efficient hunters, relying on teamwork and stamina to pursue and bring down prey, such as antelopes and warthogs.

Cheetah: The fastest land mammal, cheetahs are specialized hunters, using incredible speed and agility to chase down fleet-footed prey like springboks and impalas across the savanna plains.


Etosha National Park teems with an abundance of fascinating wildlife beyond its iconic predators. Here are some of the park’s most beloved species:

Elephant: Towering and majestic, elephants are the largest land mammals. They roam the park in herds, grazing on vegetation and frequently visiting waterholes.

Giraffe: With their long necks and graceful gait, giraffes are iconic inhabitants of the savanna. They feed on acacia leaves and are often spotted near waterholes.

Springbok: Agile and fleet-footed, springboks are common antelopes in Etosha. They form herds and can be seen pronking, or leaping, to display dominance or evade predators.

Zebra: Striped and social, zebras roam the plains in large herds. Their distinctive black-and-white coats provide camouflage against predators, and they often graze alongside other herbivores.

Blue Wildebeest: Also known as gnus, blue wildebeests undertake impressive annual migrations in search of greener pastures. They form massive herds, moving in sync across the landscape.

Oryx: Also called gemsboks, oryx are striking antelopes with long, straight horns. They are well-adapted to arid environments and can survive for long periods without water.

Kudu: Graceful and elusive, kudus are one of the largest antelope species. Their spiral horns and distinctive markings make them sought-after sightings for wildlife enthusiasts.

Hartebeest: With their peculiar-shaped heads and long, slender legs, hartebeests are recognizable antelopes in Etosha. They graze on grasses and are often seen near waterholes.

Black-faced Impala: Endemic to Namibia, black-faced impalas are a subspecies of the common impala. They inhabit the woodland areas of Etosha and are known for their striking facial markings.

Rhino: With their armored appearance and formidable horns, rhinos are iconic symbols of African wildlife conservation. Etosha is home to both black and white rhinoceros populations.


Etosha National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting a rich diversity of avian species. From majestic raptors to colorful songbirds, the park offers endless opportunities for bird enthusiasts. Here are some of the bird species you might encounter in Etosha:

African Fish Eagle: With its distinctive white head and powerful talons, the African fish eagle is a common sight near water bodies, where it hunts for fish.

Kori Bustard: The largest flying bird native to Africa, the kori bustard is known for its impressive size and distinctive courtship displays during the breeding season.

Secretary Bird: This striking bird of prey is known for its distinctive appearance, with long legs and a crest of feathers resembling quill pens tucked behind its ears.

Lilac-breasted Roller: With its vibrant plumage of blues, greens, and purples, the lilac-breasted roller is one of Africa’s most colorful birds, often seen perched on branches or telegraph poles.

Crimson-breasted Shrike: This striking bird is named for its bright crimson breast and black mask. It is often found in savanna habitats, where it preys on insects and small reptiles.

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill: With its distinctive downward-curved yellow bill and black-and-white plumage, the southern yellow-billed hornbill is a common sight in Etosha.

Pale Chanting Goshawk: This medium-sized raptor is known for its plaintive call, often heard echoing across the savanna as it hunts for small mammals and birds.

Red-billed Francolin: A ground-dwelling bird with striking red legs and bill, the red-billed francolin is often found foraging for seeds and insects in grassy areas.

Marico Flycatcher: This small, insect-eating bird is known for its distinctive call and agile aerial maneuvers as it catches insects on the wing.

White-backed Vulture: One of Africa’s largest vulture species, the white-backed vulture plays a vital role in cleaning up carcasses and maintaining ecosystem balance.

Ostrich: The world’s largest bird, the ostrich is an iconic sight in Etosha with its long neck and legs, often seen foraging in open grasslands.

Flamingo: The graceful flamingoes are frequently found in the salt pans and low-level waters of the park.

Engaging Etosha

Enjoy exhilarating game drives through Etosha’s diverse landscapes, encountering iconic African wildlife such as elephants, lions, giraffes, and more.

Skilled guides navigate you through the park’s network of roads, ensuring optimal wildlife viewing opportunities at waterholes and other hotspots.

Positioned strategically throughout the park, waterholes serve as natural gathering points for animals, offering prime locations to observe their behaviors up close.

Spend tranquil moments witnessing the dynamic interactions between various species as they converge to drink, bathe, and socialize.

Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of the bush on guided walking safaris led by experienced guides. Traverse Etosha’s terrain on foot, gaining intimate insights into its flora, fauna, and ecological processes while keeping an eye out for tracks, signs, and smaller creatures often missed during game drives.

Venture into the realm of nocturnal wildlife on guided night drives, where the park reveals a different side after dark.

Equipped with spotlights, explore the wilderness as it comes alive with the activity of elusive predators such as leopards and hyenas, as well as other nocturnal inhabitants.  The adventure is both mysterious and thrilling.

Etosha National Park Trails

No Traditional Trails

Etosha National Park in Namibia is renowned for its vast salt pan and abundant wildlife, but it doesn’t have designated hiking trails due to safety concerns regarding wildlife encounters.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the park via guided game drives or walking safaris led by experienced guides.

These excursions provide opportunities to observe Etosha’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife, including elephants, lions, giraffes, and various antelope species, while ensuring the safety of both visitors and animals.

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  • And Beyond, The Essence of the Walking Safari, AndBeyond, retrieved March 2024.