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Namibia Travel - Accommodation - Tours - Safaris - Etosha National Park - Activities

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Etosha History

Description in German: German

The word “Etosha” means huge, white area. There are four camps in the Park: Okaukuejo, Halali,Namutoni and Onkoshi.

In 1907 Von Lindequist, Governor of German South West Africa (the entrance near Namutoni was named after him) declared an area of 99 526km as a game park. This area includes the present reserve as well as the pans. The park’s borders have since been changes a number of times, and became known as the Etosha National Park in 1958. In 1970 it was reduced to its present size.

Winters in the park are cool and dry. Thos is the best time for tourist, because the animals tent to congregate around the waterholes then. The rain season usually begins in November, whilst February is the wettest month if the year. Average rainfall: Namutoni 443mm, Halali 429mm and Okaukuejo 412mm. Summer temperatures can be as high as 40C. Winter temperatures are moderate, with a minimum of 6C in July (at night).


The name by which Okaukuejo was formerly known was Okooquea, a word to describe the handle of a pulley to be found at a well. Okaukuejo was a control post after the outbreak of rinderpest in 1897. In 1901 a military outpost was established here and later converted into a police post.

The First game ranger stationed here was B.J.G de la Bat, who later became Director of Nature Conservation and Tourism. He arrived in 1953 and lived in the camel stables. The present water tower was built in 1963.

It is the main administrative camp in the Etosha National Park, and was officially opened for tourists in October 1957. The Ecological Institute is also stationed here. Research and management of nature conservation in the park is directed from this institute.


It was opened to tourists in 1958 and is the second oldest camp in Etosha. The fort itself was declared a national monument in 1950.

Due north of the fort, close to the fence, likes Namutoni fountain, a bowl-shaped limestone fountain in a marshy environment consisting of tall reeds. Charles Anderson and Francis Galton camped in the area in 1851. In 1870 a group of Thirstland Trekkers also stopped here. Namutoni later became an outpost and then a border post. In 1902 and 1903 the first fort was erected, this was destroyed and a new larger fort was built in its place. It also served periodically as a police post.


Halali was opened in 1967 and halfway between Okaukuejo and Namutoni. The word ‘halali’ is derived from a bugle call made to announce the end of the hunt. The word has a German origin, and in earlier years the bugle was sounded when the gates of the camp were about to be shut. Zakkie Eloff was the first resident control ranger and artist.

The only hills in the game park – in the rate open to tourists – are at Halali. The German Schitztruppe operated a heliograph station on one of there hills to send messages to Okaukuejo and Namutoni. The Helio waterhole gets its name from this station.


This is the newest Camp in the Etosha National Park. Nestled on the rim of the pan on a secluded peninsula, Onkoshi Camp is a low impact, environmentally friendly establishment, which guarantees a truly personal and exclusive experience.  The location is entirely out of view of current tourist routes, and all other developments in the area, and thus offers a pristine, tranquil and unique experience.  Guests arrive in Namutoni from where they are transported to Onkoshi Camp in NWR vehicles. 

Onkoshi Camp offers superb vistas over the Etosha pan, with its shimmering mirages during the hot days; dramatic sunset and sunrise textures and colours; sense of isolation and space; clear night skies; and the sights, smells and sounds of untamed and unadulterated Africa.

Dolomite Camp:

Scheduled to open its doors in November 2010. The Dolomite Camp is situated in the previously closed area of the famous Etosha National Park. Here you will find a high diversity of plant and animal species - including the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra which does not occur in the eastern side of the park.
Rich in flora diversity representing transition in vegetation biomes towards the more arid zones.
Nestled in the dolomite outcrops of the pristine western Etosha National Park, Dolomite Camp will offer an intimate experience of one of the most scenic areas of the Park, and where previously endangered species like Black Rhino have been successfully bred.

The Pan

The Etosha Pan is 120km at its longest and 72km at is widest. Apart from the main pan there are a few smaller ones to the west and north-west. The pan is mostly dry, except when heavy downpours occur and floodwater from the north flows into it. Near Namutoni the pan dies in fact have water for the greater part of the year. The salinity of this water is sometimes twice that of sea water.

The pas is the bottom of a large, shallow inland lake which dried up. It seems that ling-term climatic changes where responsible for the pan as we know it today. Evaporation at a rate of approximately 3000mm per year causes the lake to disappear quickly. In the process, the sandy clay floor became brackish. Once the lake was completely dry, the brittle, brackish soil was more easily eroded by wind, to that the pan became gradually deeper.

During the rainy season water flows into the pan from the Ekuma and Omuramba Rivers in Owamboland. The pan seldom fills up completely. The most recent flood occurred in 1978. In places where this water has now evaporated, a saline crust has formed. The greenish shade if the soil in the northern parts of the pan can be attributed to clay minerals imported during the rainy season, and to algae which grow in the shallow water.

Permanent springs are plentiful in the southern parts if the pan; water which gathers during the rainy period in the porous lime formation flows on to the impermeable clay floor of the pan.

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