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Mike Baley

Travelled to 10 countries / regions

Written 18 briefs
Visited Etosha National Park in April 2018 for 6 days

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Africa > Namibia > Etosha National Park > Trip Briefs
Updated on Aug 08, 2018 Trip Brief

How to visit Etosha National Park on an unguided self-driving safari tour

User submitted photo of Etosha National Park

  • To get there, I rented an SUV from the Windhoek Airport with Avis and drove up
  • Just my Canadian driver's license was sufficient no IDP needed. From my research if your driver's license is in English you won't have any issues, but if it's in another language you should get an IDP
  • I got a Toyota RAV4, which was not an all-wheel-drive but in Namibia (including Etosha) you don't need an AWD. In fact in Etosha you're not supposed to go off road even if you have an AWD
  • Cost of the car rental was around $110 US per day
  • The drive up there from Windhoak was very nice and uneventful. I was honestly really positively surprised by how easy it is to travel around in Namibia, very different from how I imagined Africa to be
  • Though note that Namibia drives on the left side. I've never driven on the left before but it wasn't that big of an issue. By day 6 I was very used to it.
  • I drove from Windhoek to the Okaokuejo campsite (which I booked ahead of time), which is one of the major lodging areas inside the park, where I stayed the first 2 nights. On the way there I passed by one of the 4 main gates to the park (Anderson Gate), where I paid the entrance fee (80NAD entry + 10NAD vehicle charge per day; ~7USD/day) and picked up a hard copy of the map
  • Overview of the lodging situation inside the park:
  • There are 6 "campsites" inside the park: 3 main ones that most people stay in (Okaukuejo, Halali, and Namutoni), plus 3 smaller more upscale ones that are farther out from the main safari driving route (Onkosh, Dolomite and Olifantsrus).
  • They're called "campsites" but they really are pretty much 3- to 4-star hotels. These are proper buildings with proper hotel rooms and don't worry you won't be pitching any tent or not have any cleaning facilities
  • These "campsites" are also pretty fully stacked when it comes to amenities. They all have pools, gas stations, restaurants and shops. They're basically mini-resorts where you really don't have to worry about anything you might need
  • They also have wifi as well though you have to pay for it. The speed was alright
  • In terms of cost, they range from $60US - $150US per night in the low season (Nov-June, also considered wet season) depending on which of the 6 campsite you're at. In the high season (July-Dec, dry season) the cost can be 50% - 100% higher.
  • Here's the official site listing all 6 campsites, along with their rates, what amenities they offer, and some pictures. To book, you actually cannot check their availabilities online, you have to click the "Enquire Now" button on the page and submit your information for them to check manually
  • You can also stay outside the park in privately run lodges but I decided to stay inside the park because if you're staying outside the park you can only get in to the park after sunrise and leave the park by sunset. Inside the park I did some driving at night and hung out by one of the floodlit waterholes near my campsite
  • Some photos of the "campsites"

User submitted photo of Etosha National ParkUser submitted photo of Etosha National Park

  • After the first 2 nights at Okaukuejo, I changed to Halali campsite for 2 nights, and finally Namutoni camp site for 1 night. This way I basically made my way across the entire park from the south west to north east (you can see from the map above)
  • How I spent time inside the park:
  • This was my first safari experience and it was really pretty simple. It was basically just driving around until I could spot the animals (giraffes, zebra, rhinos, elephants, lions) in their native habitat, and taking pictures

User submitted photo of Etosha National Park

  • I planned out my day around where the waterholes were because these places have higher chances of animal sighting. Though in the wet season when I went (November to April) the chances aren't that much better because there's water everywhere so animals don't congregate around the water holes as much as they do in the dry season

User submitted photo of Etosha National Park

  • Other tips:
  • There are a lot of official rules, but for me the rule of thumb was 3 don't: don't get off road, don't get out of the car, don't get too close to the animals
  • Always start the day with a full tank of gas and fully charged phone
  • Use Google Maps GPS. Just open up the app while you have wifi and scroll around a bit so the app downloads the area for offline use. GPS itself doesn't require any usage of mobile data
  • Bring lots of water and food with you in your car as you'll be driving in the barren land all day
  • You can roll down your car window but you're not supposed to reach out. Close your windows if animals are close
  • Food options inside the park isn't bad. At least in the 3 main campsites I stayed at, there were buffet that was pretty good and wasn't too expensive ($15US per person). The little store at these campsites sold packaged food and snacks for very reasonable prices by international standards

User submitted photo of Etosha National Park