Wednesday, 30 April 2014

When is the right time to visit Etosha National Park?

 Visit Etosha National Park in January

The weather in January tends to represent the start of the wet season. Generally speaking conditions should really start to deteriorate, with increasingly prolonged periods of grey and stormy weather. With the arrival of the rains, temperatures start to fall from their peaks.

In terms of game viewing the arrival of the rains signals a mass exodus away from the dry season waterholes in search of better grazing, making for generally more difficult game viewing. The biggest issue is elephant, which tend to migrate away into the surrounding woodlands and out of range ... it is not unusual to see no elephants at all during this time. Since the rain tends to arrive from the northeast, the game tends to head in this direction and there can be good numbers in view on the plains around Namutoni. Additionally some of species select this time to give birth, most notable amongst which are the young antelopes. The main pan may also start to fill with water, which can attract a good number of waterfowl. Dramatic skies should be a regular feature for photographers.

The visitor numbers in January are usually very high up until the mass departure of the holiday crowds around the 5th of the month. Before this break point crowding around the main restcamps, along the main roads and the more accessible waterholes is a major issue. Trips need to be planned carefully to take this into account and we strongly recommend staying on the private concessions outside the reserve if at all possible. After this date traffic falls to very low issue and the reason to stay in the private reserves outside the park is now more to do with the quality of accommodation and service.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Etosha Pan

The Etosha Pan

The Etosha Pan is a vast, bare, open expanse of shimmering green and white that covers around 4,800km², almost a quarter of the beautiful Etosha National Park. At 130 km’s long and up to 50km’s wide in places, it is comfortably the largest salt pan in Africa and is the park’s most distinctive and dramatic feature, visible even from space. The pan was originally a lake but over time the earth’s climate forced the rivers that once fed the lake to change course and flow into the Atlantic Ocean. If one were to try find where the lake once lay today, only the dry baked alkaline clay marks would give you a clue.
In the language of the Ovambo tribe, Etosha means ‘great white place’, a name passed on to the first Europeans to come across this “immense hollow”, Sir Francis Galton and Charles Andersson in 1851, with the help of travelling Ovambo traders. The area was originally inhabited by the Heli/ om- people who were well known hunter gatherers and co- existed in harmony with huge herds of wildlife in the area. It was only in 1851 when the huge pan first became known to Europeans. Explorers Charles Andersson and Francis Galton reached a cattle post called Omutjamatunda which is today called Namutoni. The two explorers provided the first written account of the pan.

Salt springs on the pan have now built up little hillocks of clay and salt which are used by some of the park’s wildlife as salt licks. In the wet season, parts of the pan form rain water pools and in particularly wet years the entire pan becomes a lake once more, standing at about 10cm deep and drawing thousands of migrating flamingos.
Etosha Pan is designated as a World Wildlife Fund Ecoregion and was also used as a backdrop during the filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey.