If you want to experience National Park Etosha to the fullest, you’ll probably want to spend the night there as well. The Etosha camps have both lodges and camping spots inside the national park. Staying there is the best way to enjoy the most beautiful sunsets and drive around the park as long as possible and at the most favorable times. And why not make your self-drive safari even more adventurous by camping in Etosha as well? We will tell you everything you need to know about camping in Etosha National Park.
Why spend the night inside Etosha National Park
Spending the night in Etosha is only possible in the camps, where you can book campsites and different types of lodges. An alternative is a lodge or campsite outside the park, but these have some downsides. It is often still quite a drive to the park gates and we heard that it is not even (much) cheaper. Also, the camps in Etosha are designed for you to experience the wildlife to the fullest. The camp gates close at sunset and open immediately at sunrise, so you can drive around the park as long as possible and at the most favorable times. There are also water holes next to the camps that are very popular with the animals in the park, including elephants and rhinos. this way you can spot animals from the camps very easily. We therefore recommend you to spend your nights in Etosha itself!
Don’t forget to book ahead
And we are clearly not the only ones thinking about that. Etosha is very popular. An overnight stay in high season – which is during the Namibian winter – is only possible if you book well in advance. We visited Etosha during low season – in the hot January month – and were therefore lucky that there were still plenty of places in the camp, when we found out that we had a booking for the wrong days. At the campsites where we stayed, less than a third of the places were filled.
An overnight stay in Etosha can be booked with the registrations office of the Namibian Wildlife Resorts (NWR), a state-owned organization that is the only one allowed to run campsites and lodges in the national parks of Namibia. You can make a booking by telephone, via the site (www.nwr.com.na) or by e-mail (email@example.com).
The facilities of the Etosha camps
The camps in Etosha are quite similar. They have a small gas station – the prices were pretty much the same as with gas stations outside the park – good restaurants, a refreshing pool and a shop. The stores are not well equipped, so eat in the restaurants or make sure you bring enough food before entering Etosha. Check in advance what the rules are for importing and exporting meat, eggs and animal products in Etosha. At the time we were there, it was not allowed to leave the park with those type of animal products, so we had to throw away a box of eggs to be destroyed when leaving the park. This way Etosha tries to prevent diseases of animals outside the park to get to the ones inside Etosha, and vice versa.
The Etosha camps Namutoni, Hallali and Okaukuejo and their waterholes
The campsites also have similar facilities. The toilet blocks are clean and the spacious camping spots are equipped with a braai spot, electricity pole with a lamp, a picnic area and a (drinking) water point on the camping spot or closeby. We camped in the parks Namutoni, Halali and Okaukuejo.
Namutoni is the camp in the east of the park, where you also have to pay for your park permit when you enter the park from the eastern Von Lindequist Gate. The camp is characterized by the German castle, but we actually remember it for its grass on the camping spots. It was very welcome after all those other dusty campsites! The waterhole at Namutoni was empty during our stay and is not known as a particularly good place to spot animals.
Halali is only 75 kilometers from Namutoni. The camp is located in the middle of the park, so at a short distance from many water holes and from a stop where you are allowed to get our of your car to walk up the Etosha salt pan. We have seen a hyena at the Halali waterhole around sunset. Don’t forget to bring enough musquito repellent, as there were so many of mosquitoes at the waterhole that evening!
Main camp Okaukuejo was the first camp built in Etosha and it is still the camp where the research centers are found. The camp is located 56 kilometers from Halali and 115 kilometers from Namutoni. From this camp, it is only a short drive to the southern Anderson Gate. The camp was one of our favourites in Namibia. Not because it was more beautiful or better than Namutoni or Halali, but because of its waterhole. We had already heard that the waterhole at Okaukuejo is very popular with wildlife, but we did not expect the spectacle of two rhinos and a large herd of elephants with little ones. The next morning, we saw giraffes drinking wide-legged surrounded by zebras, and at the beginning of the afternoon we returned to spot a lot of oryx, zebras and springboks. This was absolutely the best place in the entire park to spot game!