The Etosha National Park’s waterholes each have their own character. There are natural waterholes and those which are fed artificially from boreholes. Examples of the latter are Olifantsbad and Ozonjuitji m’Bari.
It is important to remember that the water levels of the holes and the amount of game to be seen there vary from season to season, dependant on the rainfall and migration of the animals. Certain artificial drinking places may be dry periodically due to a rotation system of providing water to game.
The list of waterholes which follows serves merely as a guide for better game viewing opportunities. It is advisable to consult camp officials regarding game concentration before undertaking trips.
The descriptions of the waterholes are based on the dry season, this is, winter, which is the best season for visiting Etosha. In the rainy season when there is sufficient water available in the veld, the animals congregate less at the waterholes.
- Adamax – This waterhole, as well as three others north of Okaukuejo (Grünewald, Leeubron and Natco), is often dry.
- Andoni – Lies on a plain, and is the furthest north in the game park. Many bird species are to be seen at this waterhole.
- Aroe – This is on the edge of the Fisher’s Pan. Elephant, springbok, blue wildebeest, kudu, zebra and giraffe can be seen here.
- Aus – Well worth a visit. It is fed by a waterlevel fountain and situated in mopane veld.
- Chudob – it has a floating reed island, a phenomenon associated with the an artesian fountain.
- Gaseb – usually dry, but a good place to see rhino.
- Gemsbokvlakte – excellent for viewing game in the dry season. The best part of the day for photography is in the afternoon.
- Great Okevi – Like Klein Okevi, situated due south , it is fed by a water level fountain.
- Grünewald – This is on the way to the Enchanted Forest. It is mostly dry.
- Helio – it is rather small, but elephant and other game can be seen from close-up.
- Homob – Tourists with binoculars might find it worth while to visit.
- Kalkheuwel – This is considered the best waterhole by photographers. It lies in attractive mopane veld. This is also a very good place for bird-watching.
- Koinachas – Fed by an artesian fountain and is reasonably often frequented by game.
- Kapupuhedi – the white pan affords a good background for the photographer. The waterhole is sometimes dry.
- Klein Namutoni – This waterhole is fed by an artesian spring and a fair amount of game is to be seen.
- Bloubokdraai – Here the tiny Damara Dik Dik can be seen.
- Klein Okevi – Here a great variety of animals can be seen as well as bird species.
- Leeubron – Formerly this waterhole attracted lions and large zebra herds. Unfortunately this is often dry.
- Namutoni – An artesian spring right next to the Namutoni Rest Camp. Here are many smaller bird species to be seen due to the dense reed bush.
- Natco – It is mostly dry
- Ngobib – A water level spring, and quite hollow. Leopard and cheetah can be seen in this area.
- Noniams – this drinking place is eclipsed by Goas, which is close by.
- Okaukuejo – Offers the tourist a unique experience in winter. The waterhole is situated next to the Okaukuejo Rest Camp, and animals can be viewd without the limitations of a vehicle. It is illuminated at night.
- Okondeka – A contact fountain, which lies on the edge of the pan, is visited by animald from the plains, as well as giraffe. The waterhole lends itself to good afternoon photography, and is well known for lions.
- Okerfontein – is not particularly popular, although cheetah and lions can sometimes be spotted.
- Olifantsbad – Attractive mopane veld situated between gemsbok Flats and Aus. Lion, elephants, zebra and a variety of gazelle and antelope can be seen.
- Ombika – One of the better drinking places, but a little to far for photography.
- Ondongab – could be considered nearby Kapupujedi’s twin waterhole. It is however often dry.
- Ozonjuitju m’Bari – Rather distant from Okaukuejo and tourists need to allow enough time to return to the rest camp before dark.
- Rietfontein – It has a large water surface and attracts most of the animals found in the park.
- Salvadora & Sueda – Both these drinking places are in the edge of the pan, and attract the same sort of animals as Charitsaub.
- Springbokfontein – Is on the edge of the pan but not very popular.
- Tsumcor – It favours elephant photographers.
- Two Palms – A beautiful part of the park. Two Palms is on the edge of Fischer’s pan and next to two Makalani palss. Sunset from Two Palms are particularly pleasing to the photographer. Care must be taken to return to Namutoni before the gate closes.
- Wolfnes – Does not seem to function as well as neighboring Okondeka.
The are three types of springs in the park:
- Artesian springs – these are fountains which flow upwards under pressure to the surface. They are characterized by emerging on top of limestone outcrops.
Examples: Namutoni, Klein Namutoni, Koinachas and Goas
- Water level springs – These are created in places where the ground water level cuts through the ground surface. They are usually found in lime valleys so deep that the lime stretches to below the water level.
Examples: Okaukuejo, Ombika, Aus, Homob and Nuamses
- Contact springs – These fountains are created on the contact face of two formations of varying permeability. They are found on the edge of the pan just below the calcrate. These springs as a rule do not supply much water.
Examples: Okerfontein (the strongest), Okondeka, Ondongab
Sights worth seeing
- Fairy-tale forest – This unique forest is about 32 km west of Okaukujeo and covers an area of approximately 1km². The fairy-tale tree is to be found in Namibia only, and occurs from the Naukluft in the south to the Kaokoland in the north. What makes the Fairy-tale Forest so unique is that the trunks f the trees are particularly knobby and the only place they grow in such numbers. The Bushmen described them as upside-down trees, and were through out of paradise and landed like this.
- Commemorative plaque – At the entrance to Fort Namutoni is a plaque commemorating seven soldiers who successfully defended the first fort at Namutoni.
- Thirstland Trekkers – At Rietfontein waterhole is a graeve of Mrs. JEM Alberts, who was buried there in 1876 , aged 35. The grave is a silent reminder of the shattered dreams of the small group of Thirstland trekkers who set out northwards from Transvaal to find a new home.
- Halali stone memorial – At the entrance to the office at the Halali Rest camp is a memorial to 6 officials who died at Halali in a plane crash on 1 June 1982. The crash occurred during a game census when the 6 seater came down in the officials’ residential area.
- Helicopter crash – Diagonally opposite the office at Namutoni is a memorial to four officials if the Department of Water Affairs who died on February 1985 when a helicopter came to grief in the Andoni pan.