Etosha National Park is one of Africa's most famous parks and remains Namibia's most popular wildlife destination. It does get very busy at times. Etosha offers good game viewing, however in all honesty much better game viewing is available elsewhere in Africa (e.g. Botswana, Tanzania or Zambia). Etosha is therefore best suited to people who want to add on a couple of days' safari to a Namibia itinerary without venturing any further afield, and who are happy to see some wildlife but don't need their socks blown off.
Etosha consists primarily of a huge salt pan and a number of watering holes that provide a focus for the looping game drive routes off the main park road. Etosha was originally designed for, and is therefore particularly well-suited to, self-drive tours.
Etosha National Park: where to stay
The main road through the park is broken up by three large hotel complexes (restcamps) that were all designed to cater for the large self-drive market. These three camps, Namutoni, Okaukuejo and Halali take up the centre of the park and in high season provide accommodation in campsites and hotels for literally thousands of tourists. Staying here you see more tourists and vehicles than wildlife!
If you head outside of the park, however, there are a number of private reserves that offer game viewing in their own exclusive areas plus the opportunity to drive inside the park if guests so choose.
The first such reserve to mention is Wilderness Safaris' Ongava Reserve, located just south of the main gate at Ombika. Ongava Tented Camp is a lovely small, classic tented camp with only nine rooms and a watering hole directly in front of the main guest area. A little further up the hill, Ongava Lodge offers accommodation in twelve stone cottages, which may have been luxurious in their time but we feel are now looking a little dated. Right on top of the hill commanding spectacular views sits the three-roomed Little Ongava, by far the most luxurious accommodation in the area.
To the east of Etosha are Mushara and the Onguma Game Reserve. Mushara has four properties: Mushara Lodge, Villa Mushara, Mushara Bushcamp and Mushara Outpost. The Lodge, Bushcamp and Outpost are designed for self-drive travellers whereas the Villa is a fly-in lodge. Onguma’s lodges are all high quality and compete with Wilderness Safaris' Ongava Lodges for top-end clientele.