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Discover Western Etosha

Refundable, Rebookable, Authentic Etosha Safari

Refundable, Rebookable, Authentic Safari

Western Etosha

The western side of the Etosha National Park has its own character and appeal, plus the all-important wildlife encounters (although game is considered to be sparser). The only accommodations here, a NWR luxury eco-camp called Dolomite and a fenced, camping-only site called Olifantsrus – opened in 2010 and 2014 respectively. This section of the park was also off-limits to self-drivers until 2014, and it’s only recently that all can enter and leave through Galton Gate and enjoy the scenery and 15-plus waterholes in the area. This means there is simply less traffic, and more peace.

enter image description here Dolomite Camp

The West offers different vistas and biomes to the east and central areas—the most obvious being that the landscape is not as flat at a pan(cake), and the soil not all chalky white but reddish. There are hills, like the ridges around Dolomite camp that gave it its name, and these are more wooded, with fewer mopane and more other species such as moringa and star chestnut. Plains game plus elephant frequent the woodlands and savanna surrounds. There are also patches of sandy acacia shrub. When driving, mopane takes over from the grasslands after Ozonjuiti m’Bari waterhole, (it’s the most common tree in Etosha, making up 80% of all trees!). The region is less of a hot spot for predators, but lion are certainly seen: as always, sightings come down to luck (or a good guide). One resident pride is known as the Rateldraf pride; the name refers to the determined, fearless gait of the honey badger – known to fight back when persecuted by lion. Otherwise, more unusual species that frequent this side of the park include Hartmann’s mountain zebra, black-faced impala and brown hyena. It’s also of special interest to botanists, with many unusual species magically sprouting after rains.

Photographers and authors Mario and Jenny Fazekas recommend the area during summer too, as “this hilly western part of Etosha is used by wildlife as a retreat during the wet season”. Certain waterholes on this side have been closed for various management reasons, including fighting poaching (some holes were very close to the boundary fence), so ask at the camps for the latest news.

The unfenced NWR eco-camp Dolomite is on a wooded ridge of hills and has lovely views, an infinity pool and restaurant, and 20 chalets (three deluxe options have a plunge pool, robe and slippers and a deck). The furthest chalets, by the way, are accessed via a steep incline, less fit guests will be puffing. A golf buggy is supposed to solve this issue, but isn’t always around when needed. The nearest waterhole is Dolomietpunt, just below the ridge (where cheetah have been seen drinking in the very early mornings, as in from 4am). Klippan, to the north, is known for both black and white rhino; Rateldraf is probably where the Rateldraf lion pride got their name and yes, they like it here. Giraffe enjoy it too, and photographing them drinking with legs akimbo, a series of straight lines and triangles, is a total treat. Nomab is scenic and can draw birds of prey, including vultures. The Fazekas also recommend the stretch between Okawo, a natural spring, and Duiukerdrink for a variety of game and birds of prey.

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The campsite, Olifantsrus, may suit hardy travellers and the 10 sites accommodate a maximum of eight people each. It is safely fenced! Otherwise, as with many reserves, recommending who will enjoy this section over others can be tricky. It is less child-friendly, and distances can be daunting, but it is an easy self-drive destination for solos, families and couples and there is not as much pressure to be fully equipped for vehicle break-downs as is the case in other wilderness areas in Africa. Guided tours that often visit other key attractions, as well as Etosha, are an excellent option for those who prefer to hand over all worries once stepping off the plane. Guides can help locate animals in all seasons. The eco-camp accommodations will suit couples and solo travellers but those seeking more space and exemplary service may wish to stay outside the park.

Highlights

A hide with height The Olifantsrus campsite has a relatively new hide, a double-story delight that photographers grumble faces into the sun, but certainly gives good views of animals coming to the water to drink. The lower section offers a bird’s-eye view of the game, and the upper story adds height. One Tripadvisor reviewer writes about being eye-to-eye with an elephant bull, which then sprayed the windows with water! Mario Fazekas describes a piece of interesting Olifantsrus history: “Olifantsrus camp is built around the remains of the old elephant abattoir and guests can see where the elephants were slaughtered, hung, skinned and dried. There is a small museum documenting these dark days of culling.” Happily, elephants now go unmolested here. The Etosha elephants are large, but have stubby tusks on the whole, possibly due to a lack of minerals or gradual hereditary change (big tuskers had it tough in Namibia back in the day). Note that day visitors to Olifantsrus are charged a fee to visit the hide or picnic site.

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On the wing South African-based birding guru Ian Sinclair describes Etosha as “the star on the crown of the whole of Namibia”. Summer is when avian action is in full swing. The central area around Halali is a great spot to seek out the noisy Bare-cheeked Babbler and Violet Wood-hoopoe, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters as well as lovely little predators like Red-necked Falcon. But the West has its specials too: the dolomite hills are home to various near-endemics and specials. A guide from Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and Custom Safaris suggests searching for Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Monteiro’s Hornbill, White-tailed Shrike, Rüppell’s Parrot, Rockrunner, Violet Wood-hoopoe, Bare-cheeked Babbler, Chestnut Weaver, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Pallid Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Red-necked Falcon and Carp’s Tit. Less avid birders will be pleased to hear owls, eagles and vultures can all be seen.

Practical Advice
  • This section of Etosha is closer to the stark splendour of the Skeleton Coast and the wilderness of Damaraland. It can also offer an alternative route to Swakopmund on tarmac roads, although long sections on dirt are possibilities for those with 4x4s.
  • Remember the distances: Dolomite camp is a hefty 180 kilometres from Okaukuejo. To try and cross the entire park from east to west in a day at the speed limit and allowing for sightings would be gruelling and is not recommended.
  • Keep an eye on your fuel gauge… there is no fuel within 85km; you’ll need to leave the park and fill up at Kamanjab.
  • At Dolomite Camp, supress any superstitions and book number 13; it has views of the camp’s waterhole, plus a private pool (only three chalets have this perk). There is no self-catering, so the restaurant will have to be frequented.
  • Leisure tourists from Europe and North America visiting Namibia for 90 days or less do not require a visa.

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Etosha National Park Safaris

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When is the best time to travel to Etosha National Park?

Peak Low Mixed
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Etosha in January

Mokuti Etosha Lodge Average temperatures hit a sticky 34°C. It’s rainy season: incredibly for a place one thinks of as arid, this can mean mud in patches! A 4x4 will be useful and comfortable, but it is a lot more costly, and the majority of Etosha’s roads remain accessible in an ordinary city car. Park authorities also tend to temporarily close roads that will be a problem. The weather is simply unpredictable: there can be clear sunny skies, but Etosha can also be overcast for…

Etosha in January

mokuti etosha lodge Mokuti Etosha Lodge

Average temperatures hit a sticky 34°C. It’s rainy season: incredibly for a place one thinks of as arid, this can mean mud in patches! A 4x4 will be useful and comfortable, but it is a lot more costly, and the majority of Etosha’s roads remain accessible in an ordinary city car. Park authorities also tend to temporarily close roads that will be a problem. The weather is simply unpredictable: there can be clear sunny skies, but Etosha can also be overcast for days at a time, with the chance of some quite heavy rain. As such, potentially not the best time for photography, although there may be dramatic skies and sunsets thanks to thunderstorms. The beginning of January is still peak local holiday travel time, so the park will be packed. Things quieten down drastically later; by month-end some private lodges can even feel a bit echoey! All the more attention for those lucky few. If the rains have been good, there will be water in the pan itself, and Fisher’s Pan near Namutoni could have turned pink with flamingos, which breed here in good years. Those charismatic big guys, the elephant and rhino, will have gone walkabout toward the east, i.e. moved from the waterholes to thicker bush. As the park roads tend to link waterholes, this can make sightings less accessible.’

etosha national park safari

Etosha in February

The peak of the rainy season. Vegetation will be as lush as it gets in Etosha for the next month or two – which makes game viewing more challenging. If the rains have been good, there will be water in the pan itself (and migrant waterbirds); Fisher’s Pan near Namutoni could have turned pink with flamingos. All the details mentioned for January still apply in terms of the desirability of a 4x4, thunderstorms and potentially, patches of dodgy weather. Elephant and rhino will be more…

Etosha in February

enter image description here

The peak of the rainy season. Vegetation will be as lush as it gets in Etosha for the next month or two – which makes game viewing more challenging. If the rains have been good, there will be water in the pan itself (and migrant waterbirds); Fisher’s Pan near Namutoni could have turned pink with flamingos. All the details mentioned for January still apply in terms of the desirability of a 4x4, thunderstorms and potentially, patches of dodgy weather. Elephant and rhino will be more elusive, feeding in thicker bush while they have the chance to be further from the waterholes. Heavy showers can cause dry riverbeds to suddenly flow, although it’s usually over in a matter of hours rather than days. The park has lower visitor numbers, which some find a great boon, but experts actually tend to tell first-time visitors in search of big-game drama that this isn’t the best time for Etosha. That said, this is a fenced park (although bigger than the US state of New Jersey), and the animals move around within it: they are there; one just needs more time to get lucky. The Namutoni area (and the east in general) can be more productive.

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Etosha in March

There still a chance of rain and the bush is thick and green and grasses tall… all very lovely, but it does make spotting animals that little bit more difficult! Not many people around, but as per February, not as much big game either, or not lolling around the waterholes waiting to be photographed. Our travel experts say this is a time for more seasoned travellers, rather than those with just one chance to tick Etosha off their bucket list. The game, however, is there, but as…

Etosha in March

enter image description here

There still a chance of rain and the bush is thick and green and grasses tall… all very lovely, but it does make spotting animals that little bit more difficult! Not many people around, but as per February, not as much big game either, or not lolling around the waterholes waiting to be photographed. Our travel experts say this is a time for more seasoned travellers, rather than those with just one chance to tick Etosha off their bucket list. The game, however, is there, but as always, it’s a bit of a lottery as Tripadvisor notice boards can relate. People have reported superb sightings in March.

Etosha in April

Still nice and quiet in beautiful Etosha, although there will be a spike in tourists around Easter, when rest camps will fill up. The seasons are changing, evenings and early mornings may be cooling down by the end of the month. A less predictable ‘shoulder season’ month, but often very good for Etosha. The herds should have started to move back towards the central areas by the end of the month, but this is still not prime game-viewing-at-waterholes season; driving around will be needed.

Etosha in April

Still nice and quiet in beautiful Etosha, although there will be a spike in tourists around Easter, when rest camps will fill up. The seasons are changing, evenings and early mornings may be cooling down by the end of the month. A less predictable ‘shoulder season’ month, but often very good for Etosha. The herds should have started to move back towards the central areas by the end of the month, but this is still not prime game-viewing-at-waterholes season; driving around will be needed.

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Etosha in May

The land is drying out and long, warm sunny days will start turning the bush a million shades of brown. Average high temperatures are a delicious 29° Centigrade, with lows of 11°C. As things dry out, waterholes become the place to be once again, making it possible to pull up near one and see all sorts of action. By the end of this month, elephants are likely to be heading back to the central /southern areas of the park. It is still not prime holiday time for locals or international,…

Etosha in May

enter image description here

The land is drying out and long, warm sunny days will start turning the bush a million shades of brown. Average high temperatures are a delicious 29° Centigrade, with lows of 11°C. As things dry out, waterholes become the place to be once again, making it possible to pull up near one and see all sorts of action. By the end of this month, elephants are likely to be heading back to the central /southern areas of the park. It is still not prime holiday time for locals or international, so tourist numbers are low to moderate. A wonderful time to visit the south and east areas.

Etosha in June

Good sunny weather this month, with highs of 27°C and lows a surprisingly chilly 6°C. The dry season starts in earnest. Most of the park is considered to have good game viewing potential and visitor numbers are moderate. It’s the beginning of high season, and by the end of the month, pretty busy. The waterholes will be delivering the goods: lovely tableaux of species can gather at one hole. The elephant will be back at the waterholes, barging in as and when they please.

Etosha in June

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Good sunny weather this month, with highs of 27°C and lows a surprisingly chilly 6°C. The dry season starts in earnest. Most of the park is considered to have good game viewing potential and visitor numbers are moderate. It’s the beginning of high season, and by the end of the month, pretty busy. The waterholes will be delivering the goods: lovely tableaux of species can gather at one hole. The elephant will be back at the waterholes, barging in as and when they please.

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Etosha in July

Full sunshine is the default weather forecast, with average highs of 27°C and lows of 6°C (it can and does occasionally hit 0°C). We’re now in peak season, and waterholes will be well attended by both big game and tourists! This means the central part of the park is optimum turf, and game viewing wherever there is a water source is extremely rewarding. Booking in advance is essential.

Etosha in July

enter image description here

Full sunshine is the default weather forecast, with average highs of 27°C and lows of 6°C (it can and does occasionally hit 0°C). We’re now in peak season, and waterholes will be well attended by both big game and tourists! This means the central part of the park is optimum turf, and game viewing wherever there is a water source is extremely rewarding. Booking in advance is essential.

Etosha in August

Peak season in terms of weather, international tourist numbers and waterhole action. August seldom sees a drop of rain, and average temperatures are rising: highs are 31° and lows 11°. It will be busy enough in the park for those allergic to crowds to consider staying in a lodge on a private reserve outside the park borders, or look to the less-visited Western side of the park. Acacia nebrownii trees flower by the hundred in August and September, each tree bearing “hundreds of…

Etosha in August

enter image description here

Peak season in terms of weather, international tourist numbers and waterhole action. August seldom sees a drop of rain, and average temperatures are rising: highs are 31° and lows 11°. It will be busy enough in the park for those allergic to crowds to consider staying in a lodge on a private reserve outside the park borders, or look to the less-visited Western side of the park. Acacia nebrownii trees flower by the hundred in August and September, each tree bearing “hundreds of thousands of yellow flowers that give off a lovely scent,” says wildlife photographer Mario Fazekas.

Etosha in September

Still prime dry season game viewing time. Days are hot. Average highs are around 35°C, although a warm jacket may still be welcome on early morning game drives and when the sun goes down, believe it or not. It’s still peak season for Etosha for the first part of the month, and there will be traffic and some congestion at prime waterholes, which will be seeing all the big game action. The central section of the park will be buzzing. Not the African experience you imagined? Consider…

Etosha in September

enter image description here

Still prime dry season game viewing time. Days are hot. Average highs are around 35°C, although a warm jacket may still be welcome on early morning game drives and when the sun goes down, believe it or not. It’s still peak season for Etosha for the first part of the month, and there will be traffic and some congestion at prime waterholes, which will be seeing all the big game action. The central section of the park will be buzzing. Not the African experience you imagined? Consider a lodge in a neighbouring private reserve and dip into the park itself as required.

Etosha in October

One of the hottest months of the year, with high temperatures averaging 37°C. You’ll be able to tell it’s really warm when you see the tiny dik-dik breathing rapidly: it has an enlarged internal nasal area with lots of blood vessels and ‘nasal panting’ helps cool it down (elephants flap their enormous ears to do the same thing). Happily, humans have iced drinks! Visitor numbers tend to be high to moderate this month (it quietens down). As with August and September, herds are…

Etosha in October

enter image description here

One of the hottest months of the year, with high temperatures averaging 37°C. You’ll be able to tell it’s really warm when you see the tiny dik-dik breathing rapidly: it has an enlarged internal nasal area with lots of blood vessels and ‘nasal panting’ helps cool it down (elephants flap their enormous ears to do the same thing). Happily, humans have iced drinks! Visitor numbers tend to be high to moderate this month (it quietens down). As with August and September, herds are plentiful in the central areas. If pressed for time, this is the place to go and one need not visit the eastern or western sides. There should be some showers this month, but it’s not guaranteed.

Etosha in November

One of the hottest months of the year, when average temperatures spike: it’s 35° to over 40°. November is the real start of the annual rainy season. Once showers have drenched the thirsty land, vegetation springs to life – giving herbivores the chance to move into new areas to feed and become less dependent on the waterholes. November is somewhat of a ‘shoulder’ season though and visitors will see animals, fear not. This is the month that sees most cloud cover (fully…

Etosha in November

enter image description here

One of the hottest months of the year, when average temperatures spike: it’s 35° to over 40°. November is the real start of the annual rainy season. Once showers have drenched the thirsty land, vegetation springs to life – giving herbivores the chance to move into new areas to feed and become less dependent on the waterholes. November is somewhat of a ‘shoulder’ season though and visitors will see animals, fear not. This is the month that sees most cloud cover (fully overcast days), yet that averages only five to six days. Much of the rainy season is partly cloudy, with rain in the afternoons as opposed to set-in rain.

Etosha in December

The rains should have arrived, and the game will be moving east to browse in the Namutoni area and further north, beyond the road network. The central waterholes quieten down and will no longer be visited much by elephant; rhino, too, may take some seeking out. Baby animals are born and shiver into action, able to walk in no time, but vulnerable for the first few days after birth. Visitor numbers soar in mid to late December as local holidays kick in. Book way in advance if you hope…

Etosha in December

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The rains should have arrived, and the game will be moving east to browse in the Namutoni area and further north, beyond the road network. The central waterholes quieten down and will no longer be visited much by elephant; rhino, too, may take some seeking out.

Baby animals are born and shiver into action, able to walk in no time, but vulnerable for the first few days after birth. Visitor numbers soar in mid to late December as local holidays kick in. Book way in advance if you hope to travel at this time, for all accommodations inside and outside the park. Large family parties will be setting up camp in the park with everything including a kitchen sink and buzzing about in search of predators; if the crowds will intrude on the experience, choose another time. Average temperatures have cooled a bit with rains, but still average 35°. Intra-African and Palearctic migrant bird species should be here, an enormous plus for birders.

Our Recommended

Tours in Etosha

These recommended tours for Etosha can be tailor-made to match your budget.

Our Destination Expert

Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard

Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

What is Alice’s favourite place in Africa?

Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington

Meet the Team

Megan Warrington

Megan is an Africa Concierge Expert at Discover Africa, she is responsible for compiling travel programs for people in search of their dream safari in Africa.

About Megan

What does Megan love about African travel?

There is always a new adventure around the next corner.

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Tanzania.

What is Megan’s favourite place in Africa?

Namibia

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard

Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

What is Alice’s favourite place in Africa?

Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen

Meet the Team

Matthys van Aswegen

Matthys is Discover Africa’s Senior Travel Consultant, with over 13 years experience in the travel industry and a keen eye for photography.

About Matthys

What does Matthys love about African travel?

Diversity and abundance of landscapes, cultures, wildlife, beaches, food and everything you can think of.

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius and Tanzania.

What is Matthys’s favourite place in Africa?

Cape Town

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell

Meet the Team

Adelle Bell

Adelle is Discover Africa’s Senior Travel Consultant and has been in the travel industry for the past 10 years. She is a FIT specialist and has extensive experience in planning and executing dream itineraries in luxury travel.

About Adelle

What does Adelle love about African travel?

You have not lived if you have not experienced an African Safari - the early morning safari drives with the African sun rising in the distance, the smell of morning freshness, coffee in the Bush. You have got to experience a morning in Africa!

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa (Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands and Phinda Game Reserve), Botswana and Mozambique.

What is Adelle’s favourite place in Africa?

Kruger National Park

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden

Meet the Team

Antoinette Van Heerden

Antionette is a Travel Consultant at Discover Africa, with 5 + years experience in the travel and tourism industry. She specializes in luxury safari packages.

About Antoinette

What does Antoinette love about African travel?

Adventure combined leisure travel makes for the best trip!

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

What is Antoinette’s favourite place in Africa?

South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

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