Self-drive in Etosha National Park
Etosha was one of the bucket list items for our itinerary in southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe). The day before we arrived in Etosha National Park, we slept in a lode in the Caprivi Strip. The owner of the lodge told us that it was a pretty long drive to Etosha, but because it was a Sunday, we could hit the gas as police wouldn't be working today. While driving slightly above the speed limit, we suddenly passed a tree (well actually, we passed a lot of them). But this one was different: 'was there a cop behind that tree? With a laser gun?' Even in Namibia you are not safe... The rest of the day we carefully watched our speed. Just before nightfall, we arrived in Etosha.
First, we had to fill in the registers at the Namutoni Gate. Then we had to drive to Namutoni to pay all the entrance fees. Because it was low-season, we didn't book any accommodation in advance. Luckily, there was still accommodation available. We also checked availability of accommodation in Okaukuejo, for the day after. In both resorts, we were given one of the old bungalows, while they have beautiful new ones. But you instantly know why they built the new accommodation.
After settling in, we prepared a meal: a barbecue. As soon as we turned our eyes off the meat, a jackal tried to steal it from the braai (barbecue). Luckily we could scare it away with some water. After dinner, we went to bed quite early so that we could have an early start, the next day. Before sunrise, we got out of bed, had a light breakfast and drove off. You never know if and when you will see some wildlife. As we were traveling at the start of the dry-season, it was expected that the big game would still be wandering around in the grassy areas of Etosha. But unfortunately, we couldn't spot any animals there. Ok, we did see some antelopes and giraffes, but no big game. However, later that day, we were able to spot large herds of elephants near the Halali Camp. And in the afternoon also some lions and rhinos near Okaukuejo. It is absolutely breathtaking to see these animals in their natural habitat instead of a small cage in a zoo.
After a full-day in Ethosha, we were desperately in need for some proper food. We therefore went out to dine in the restaurant at the Okaukuejo Camp. Well... probably it would had been a better choice if we had prepared our own meal. Ok, the restaurant has been renovated now, so perhaps things have been improved. But when we went there for dinner it was not great at all.
In the three full days we spent in Etosha, we have seen nearly all areas of the park where you can go to in your own car. However, this means that we had to drive quite a lot. Eight hours in a car every day can be tiresome, but it was worth it. First of all, it is great to see all the different areas of Etosha: from the salt pan in the middle, to the forest in the south. Secondly, seeing all the animals in their natural habitat is awesome.
We made this trip in a Toyota Corolla. And that was a perfect car. Some say, you really need a 4x4 in Etosha, but that is definitely not true. Yes, there are occasion that a 4x4 is more suitable (high grass), but considering the costs, we prefer a 2x4. Thereby, we were able to rent our car from the international airport in Windhoek, whereby a 4x4 must be picked-up in the center of Windhoek. Thereby, if you do want to go on a safari with a 4x4, you can also go on an organized safari. There are daily safari's from all three resorts in the park. Still, this is much cheaper than renting an expensive 4x4 for your entire holiday. Yet, there is no need to worry about you not seeing any wildlife. We have been to Etosha three times now, and every single time we saw so many wildlife that it started to get boring at some point.