While Etosha National Park is packed with interesting ways to fill your days when you are not game-viewing, the main drawcard of any nature reserve is the animals, how and where to spot them.
Firstly the prime game-viewing time anywhere in Africa is during the dry season, rain disperses game species far and wide as sources of water increase, reducing the concentration of species in any one spot.
In the absence of rain, animals are forced to congregate near sources of water, such as the waterholes of Etosha National Park, making it easier to predict where you might find them.
All of the major waterholes in the park have pull-off areas, where you can switch off your engine and enjoy the sounds of the surrounding bush while you wait. Be patient, waiting quietly at a waterhole is often more fruitful than driving around for hours on the roads. That said, animals may avoid a waterhole with too many vehicles gathered around, so use your discretion before settling in.
Plains game species usually quench their thirst between 9am and 3pm, so try to be in the vicinity of water during these times. Predators are often spotted lurking around nearby around peak drinking times too, so while you are waiting, observe the landscape and watch for signs of anxiety amongst the prey species, which can herald the appearance of a hunter. The best time to see nocturnal creatures is in the early morning and evening as they usually drink before retiring for the day or going about their nightly routine.
Antelope are particularly sensitive to signs of danger and if you observe them staring nervously at a particular spot, grab your binoculars to see what may be concealed there. Giraffe, with their height advantage are often the first to spot hungry lions approaching. Keep your eyes open for circling vultures which are a dead give-away that a predator is feasting below.
Besides the floodlit waterholes at each of these camps, water sources may be found in close proximity to the main rest camps as follows:
- Within 20km: Goas, Halali Plains Seep
- Over 20km away: Rietfontein, Charitsaub, Salvadora, Sueda, Helio, Moringa, Noniams, Nuamses
- Leopard, rhino, lion, elephant, blue cranes and hundreds of zebra are common sightings in this area.
- Within 20km: Andoni, Aroe, Chudop, Fischer’s Pan, Groot Okevi, Kalkheuwel, Klein Namutoni, Klein Okevi, Koinachas, Namutoni, King Nehale, Tsumcor, Twee Palms
- Over 20km away: Stinkwater, Ngobib, Batia, Okerfontein
- These waterholes are good for spotting lion, elephant, springbok, eland, sable antelope, honey badger and flamingos.
- Within 20km: Ombika, Gemsbokvlakte, Nebrownii
- Over 20km away: Grünewald, Ozonjuitji M’Bari, Okondeka, Aus, Olifantsbad, Kapupuhedi, Homob, Ondongab
- The waterholes around this camp are known for sightings of ion, elephant, African wildcat, hyenas, porcupines, giraffe, red hartebeest, gemsbok and rhino.
Upon returning to camp, have a look at the game sightings records for the day. Each of the rest camps has a book where guests may write down which animals they have seen where. While the location of species changes constantly, these books can be a good indication of what is in the area for the day.
Chat to park personnel and your fellow guests, who will be delighted to share their knowledge with you and teach you to enjoy the small stuff too. Less famous types of game species can provide just as much enjoyment as sought after sightings of rare animals and predators.
A sure fire way to satisfy your safari need is to consult with an expert who will advise you on when and where to book, while visiting Namibia’s wildlife havens.