Namibia is a fascinating destination for its variety, known particularly for its stunning landscapes. However, it is arguably not a pure 'safari' destination - with the possible exception of the Etosha National park, Namibia's premier game viewing destination. A vast area (this size of the Netherlands, or New York State) of seemingly endless silvery-white sand/salt pan with a concentration of around forty waterholes at its southern edges.
It is these waterholes that draw game of all varieties toward them for their life-giving water. This is the particular draw of this area, waiting by watering holes on the edge of the pan, waiting for game to arrive, and witnessing the spectacle of the sheer variety of wildlife as it intermingles in search of precious water.
Etosha translates to the "Place of Mirages," "Land of Dry Water," or the "Great White Place," which are very apt descriptions as it shimmers in the heat as dust-devils emerge and mirages blur the sight of distant animals. While Etosha is not necessarily pretty, it certainly is striking and contains much wildlife – including predators; lion, elusive leopard, and jackal. Large populations of elephant, zebra, blue wildebeest, springbok, and gemsbok congregate precariously around the waterholes keeping one eye firmly on the lurking lion and other predators. Other animals include Black-faced impala (only found in Namibia and southern Angola), Damara dik-dik, and both black and white rhino. If you wait long enough at one of these waterholes, you can spot eight or more of these species simultaneously. Birdlife is also prolific, and indeed, one of the birding highlights are the millions of greater and lesser flamingos that breed at the park's salt pans.
A few small private game reserves are bordering the national park: Ongava in the south with luxurious Little Ongava Camp, Onguma in the east and Etosha Heights Private Game Reserve, a 60,000ha reserve sharing about 65kms of its border with the Etosha. Here, unlike in the main park in Etosha, guided walks and night drives are permitted. As only guests staying at the reserves' lodges are allowed entry, you'll have a more private safari experience.
Ongava Reserve overlooks a waterhole. Bordering Etosha National Park on the south side, near the Andersson Gate, it benefits from similar wildlife to the park itself, but with an entirely different biosphere of greenery and savannah. Although it lacks elephant, it also has the notable inclusion of both black and white rhino. Onguma has five lodges and prides itself on its service and guiding in this fascinating area.
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