I am fortunate to have been able to visit all the big game parks in Africa, but Etosha is still my favourite. My first memory of being in the bush was from this great place and most of my childhood holidays and weekends were spend exploring this unbelievable park.
Etosha is of course synonymous with big game and wide open spaces. The name Etosha actually means “great white area” referring to the huge dry pan in the middle of the park. It is home to a staggering amount of wildlife, both common and rare. What makes the park unique is the floodlit waterholes at all the main camps. There is something magical about enjoying the spectacular sunset at either the Okaukuejo or Halali waterhole, watching as hundreds of double-banded sandgrouse come to drink, landing between an elephant herd or solitary black rhino.
Etosha also has a bird list of more than 350 species, and summer is definitely the best time to visit. The occasional rains then turn the dry pans into seasonal lakes, attracting migratory and wetland species in large numbers. The sight of thousands of bright pink flamingos in the Etosha pan is something one never forgets.
Etosha also has the odd record of having the smallest southern African bird, the Cape penduline tit; the world’s largest bird, the Common ostrich; and the world’s largest flying bird, the Kori bustard.
The park is furthermore home to more than forty species of raptors and owls, and bushveld Namibian specials include Bare-cheeked babbler, Violet wood-hoopoe, Carp’s tit, Monteiro’s hornbill, Rockrunner and Rüppell’s parrot.
It is also a hotspot for rarities, and it is the only place in the sub-region where the Egyptian vulture is seen with any regularity.
Naturally Etosha is a photographer’s dream, with the contrasts in light, colour and textures particularly dramatic. Many of my ‘lifer’ shots of southern African bird species were taken here.
A variety of accommodation options are available, and include ultra-luxurious lodges, luxury bungalows, camping and caravan sites. The park is malaria free and accessible in a regular sedan car.
Whether from a birding or wildlife point of view, Etosha truly is one of the great parks of Africa.
With training in guiding and veterinary science, Nick Buys’ work in the field and passion for birds resulted in him setting up Nature Travel Namibia, through which he guides specialist trips around the country as well as the rest of Africa.
- Amur falcon
- Blue cranes
- Chestnut-banded plover
- Green-winged pytilia
- Kori bustard
- Nick Buys