If you’re looking for an atypical international destination far outside the reaches of Europe and the Americas, look to Africa for your next trip. Africa is a complicated and dynamic continent known for everything from domestic conflicts to breathtaking scenery and magnetic culture. Namibia is no different. The outer banks of southern Africa’s dry lands is home to hundreds of scarcely seen reptiles, birds, and mammals, including the endangered black rhinoceros. Visiting Etosha National Park in northwestern Namibia awards you the opportunity to explore preserved African saline deserts, savannas, and grasslands.
It’s likely you’ll see African bush elephants, Angolan giraffe, meerkats, warthogs, and hundreds of other native species too. Park officials boast affordable and safe lodging, making your visit to this 12-million-year-old Great White Place as rewarding as possible. Wildlife is best seen during Namibia’s winter (August and September), when the land is cool and dry, and, as with any international travel, there may be specific requirements to meet before confirming travel plans. Sandboarding, rock climbing, biking, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities Etosha proffers. Once you’re settled in and ready to explore, pack light and check out these things to see and do within the park.
This floodlit watering hole near the Okaukuejo rest camp is one of the best places to spot rhinos, elephants, and — gasp — lions. Dusk and dawn provide the best views, and Etosha park officials permit guided tours of surrounding areas. You’ll be separated by a stone wall and game fence at camp for the protection of both you and the animals. During the rainy season, the massive mopane moths hatch and attract a number of predators for remarkable views.
Chase Dust Devils
These willowy whirlwinds are easily identifiable and give Etosha its martain feel. While most of Namibia’s Dust Devils are harmless spectacles, it’s always wise to keep a safe distance. They’re best seen in the most desolate regions of the park, where resources are scarce and desert aesthetic is at its peak.
Treat yourself to an impressive game of bingo during your travels by making an effort to spot all Big Five animals (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard) in the wild. This may require long hikes and safari tours if you’re not lucky, but the result is a lifetime of memories and money saved on zoo tickets.
This 75-mile-long salt desert includes a dry, arid lakebed at its center. The result of 10 million years of plate tectonic activity, the pan is now a wildlife hotbed. During the dry season, it’s comprised of cracked hexagons signaling dehydration and desiccated soil. During the rainy season, it’s one of the best places to see great white pelicans and breeding flamingos.
Moringa ovalifolia, otherwise known as fairytale trees, are knobby, Dr. Seuss-esque flora typically found on mountain slopes and hills. Etosha is the only place the trees are found so plentiful on Africa’s plains. Natives once described the trees as upside down, conjuring fantasies of magical, otherworldly vistas. While the landscape bears a dystopian, eerie vibe, the only Jovian-like creatures you’ll encounter are hungry elephants.