ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
Some Etosha History
The explorers Sir Francis Galton and Charles Andersson were the first Europeans to visit the great pan known as Etosha back in 1851. Etosha means ‘great white place’ and the area around is teeming with game and healthy wildlife. During the rainy season from December to March the pan filled up with water more averaging a meter deep. This was the resting place of countless flamingoes and which make Etosha Pan one of the most beautiful and exciting wildlife areas in the whole of Africa.
About fifty years later the German government decided to build a fort at the eastern end of the pan and named it Fort Namutoni. In 1904 Fort Namutoni was attacked by the resident Ovambo tribe. At the time of the attack only seven German policemen were stationed and what’s more they were short of ammunition. After seven long hours of fighting they managed to slip away into the night and made their way southwards in search of support. Luckily they encountered a German column which was already coming to their relief. The combined party returned to Etosha and recaptured Fort Namutoni which had been unfortunately looted and badly damaged by the Ovambo warriors.
So bad was the damage, a new fort was built, but this time stronger and more secure. The walls were high and the interior much safer and it was painted a glistening white. Today the fort is still in a perfect state of preservation and since then, never been under attack.
The German government proclaimed Etosha Pan and its surroundings a game reserve in the beginning 1907 and in 1952 the construction of rest camps and roads began. The new development was concentrated along the southern edge of the pan where there were perennial water holes which attracted a large concentration of game during the dry winter months. During the rainy season animals are scattered over a vast grazing area surrounding the pan where the grass is good and wholesome. Temperatures soar up to and around 38 degrees and in the winter months drops to below 30 degrees.
The vegetation of the park varies but is made up of mostly mopane woodland, with grassy plains. There are tamboti trees, wild figs, marula, makalani palms and several species of acacia thorn trees. The ‘haunted forest’ lies on the west side of the pan. These are moringa trees which look as though they are ‘upside down’ trees which Bushmen say were thrown out of the garden of paradise and landed upside down into the ground. This is the largest forest of moringas in Namibia and the only part of the world where these trees grow.
Layout and Vegetation
Etosha National Park covers an area of 22 270 sq kilometers it is one of the largest game parks in Africa. The pans cover an area of some 5 140 sq kilometers and the size the actual pan is 4 590 sq kilometers. There are four camps in the Park namely, Okaukuejo, Halali, Namutoni and the most recently built, Onkoshi. The facilities for visitors are superb with various types of accommodation to choose from. There are camping facilities with clean and well situated ablution and washing up facilities. No visit to Namibia would be complete without a trip to the amazing Etosha National Park.
Animal and Bird Life
Below are some species of animals and birds that can be seen throughout the year. Please take note that there are some 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species and 16 amphibian species so the images below are what you are most likely to see during your visit. The roads are in good condition and well signposted so you can be sure of some great game drives at your own pace. Be sure not to exceed the speed limits as there are animals frequently crossing the roads and besides you will see nothing if you do speed - so don’t, Etosha belongs to the animals and birds and we must respect their habitat.
Some of these animals listed above are nocturnal like the honey badger and the spotted hyena. I can guaruantee you that if you stay at the Halali camping site you will see, and definatly hear, the badgers at night rummaging through the trash cans. The badger image above was taken at Halali campsite. This is an added bonus because badgers are very difficult to see during the day and they are incredible little creatures - very brave and ferocious. If you happen to see one at Halali I'd advise you strongly to stay out of it's way and not annoy it because they have been known to take on male leopards. If he steals your 500g piece of biltong my advice to you is let him have it, they go straight for the jugular.
Some bird species found in Etosha National Park
Some are rare so see what you can spot. Try spotting the blue cranes, the crimson-breasted shrike, the tawny eagle or a bare-cheeked babbler. Spot any one of those you're doing OK.
Etosha Region, Namibia
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