A Photographers Guide to Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park in Namibia is a photographer’s dream. There are so many types of animals it is nearly impossible to choose where to begin your African Photo Safari Tour. Let me share my favourite spots for photography, as well as some tips and tricks on how to capture the best images while you’re there!
What is Etosha Know For?
Etosha is famous for its wildlife. It is well known that for the largest wildlife population in Africa. It is home to elephants, rhinos, lions, hyenas and many other animals.
When Etosha National Park was proclaimed as Namibia’s first conservation area way back in 1907, it wasn’t just the wildlife that captured explorers’ attention. The vast size of the pan and its barren terrain made for a unique backdrop to one of Africa’s most amazing natural wonders.
Etosha translated from Afrikaans means ‘place of dry water’, or “great white place”. Although Etosha National Park is famous for its waterholes, the rest of this open and arid environment often appears as dry and barren. Etosha National Park is a photographer’s heaven, but visitors should expect to leave their bikini at home.
What Animals Live in Etosha?
The Park is home to an endless variety of wild animals. It is not just large mammals lions, elephants, giraffes and rhino that are easy photo. The rare Namibian cheetah is present, attracting international photographers.
Smaller species of animals can also be photographed. There is a wide variety of birds and reptiles found at the many water holes. My favourites are the Secretary bird, African Paradise Flycatcher, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, and of course the Kori Bastard.
Etosha National Park is an excellent destination for photographers wanting to photograph animals without having to travel too far, as well as those who are not able or interested in travelling further than their own backyard.
How many Lions are there in Etosha National Park?
Most people think that lions have always been a thing in Africa, but the truth is they’re pretty rare. The last few generations of lion populations are dwindling and shrinking due to poaching and habitat loss.
The Africat Foundation believes that there are only 500-800 wild lions left in Namibia, distributed among Kunene Region (northwest), Etosha National Park (south central), north-east regions of Khaudum bordering Botswana amongst Nyae Nye Conservancy extending across Zambezi River into Zimbabwe)
Anytime of the years is an excellent time to photography the lions of Etosha. If you’re looking for the absolute best time, then you will want to be there for winter not the dry season. Photographers may find the lions sitting in the shade during the day, but at night they come out to hunt for prey.
As a wildlife photographer you should have a good telephoto lens. Tripod or mono-pod for stability, tele-converter can be an asset if using zoom lens, wide-angle lenses if you want to photograph the larger than life landscapes.
How many days do you need in Etosha National Park
The environment in Etosha is rich with wildlife. If you are a nature lover, then 2-4 days will be spent visiting the Namibia’s northern desert region.
How much time one needs to visit Etosha depends on what they plan to focus their trip around and how long they have available for travel. A minimum amount of two days would probably suffice if seeing African animals was your main goal; although ideally 3-4 or more should be given so that not only can you see most species but also enjoy other activities such as exploring waterways by boat, going off trail walking through different ecosystems and viewing rock art sites.
What months have the highest temperatures ranges.
For the best photography and game viewing, arrive from May to September during dry times of year. For bird watching, try November through March when it rains more often! The average temperature is 88°F (31°C) and the minimum average is 57°F (13.7 °C).
The normal rainfall for the park is 14 inches (358mm) per year with January to March being hot, humid and wet during these months. It is not uncommon for the pans to fill with water and it the time of year when animals give birth.
July to September are the driest months of the year. They’re perfect for people who like a little less humidity in their lives, but still want some warmth and sun.
May-Sept The weather is warm, with temperatures ranging from 18C-25C during the day. Below freezing temperature and ground frost are common at night.
October – April When it comes to the weather, Namibia can be a hot place. The average temperature ranges from 20-34 degrees Celsius on any given day and temperatures above 40 are common in the extreme north of the country during summer. Humidity can reach as high as 80% at its worst but generally hovers around 10%.
Accommodations Hotel or Camp?
There are many accommodation options, everything from a luxurious camp to comfortable accommodations at their affordable hotels.
Camps — Etosha’s campsites are in prime game viewing areas and offer a unique bush, wildlife and waterholes experience. The Okaukeujo camp has floodlit waterholes for night viewing of wildlife. The campsite amenities include: showers, flush toilets, water points on site for refilling of fresh drinking water and pools.
Dolomite Camp — Was the first camp built inside the park in 1932. The camp is perched on a high bluff overlooking the Etosha pan from only two kilometres away, ensuring uninterrupted animal viewing while you sit back and relax.
Okaukuejo Camp — A former military fort founded in 1901. It is the oldest camp in Etosha National Park and it offers a variety of accommodations: dormitories, cottages, suites, family rooms etc. Okaukuejo has an excellent restaurant which serves breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.
Etosha Aoba Lodge – AOBA in the bushman language of San mean, “when the sun goes down” The perfect place for a peaceful and serene holiday, built along the dry Omuramba Ovambo riverbed close to a thatch-roofed communal area. All bungalows feature an outdoor seating space with stunning views of nature’s finest. The airy bathrooms have showers and tea/coffee making facilities so you can enjoy your favourite drink in comfort after relaxing on your private terrace overlooking this natural wonderland!
Olifantsrus Camp – Olifantsrus is the newest addition, and it stands out from the rest. As a camping only area of the park on the western side it is less popular. There are many opportunities for wildlife viewing here: black rhinos, zebras, and impalas can be seen in abundance and elephants have grown accustomed to this quieter area. An unrivalled double-story hide overlooking one of the man-made waterholes giving you photo opportunity like no other at seeing these giants close up!
Onkoshi Camp –This exclusive camp is perched on wooden structures well off the public self-drive roads. Onkoshi Camp is on the border of Namibia’s characteristic salt pan, with views from the lodge that stretch for miles into infinity and sunsets better than anywhere else in South Africa. The low impact facilities run mainly by solar power make it perfect place to visit if you want a quintessential Etosha experience while avoiding all of those crowds.
How long to drive from Windhoek to Etosha?
Heading north from Hosea Internation Airport to Windhock it is all highway driving to Etosha. After passing a few small towns we arrive at the Anderson gate AKA southern gate, total distance is 420km approximately 4 hours from Windhoek, and another 50 or so km through the park before arriving at your accommodations.
If you are an avid photographer or a nature lover, Etosha National Park is the perfect destination. The park has something to offer everyone in any season. Whether your goal is to see or photograph wildlife, or just relax in one of the many natural locations.