Affordable safaris in Etosha

International currency goes far in Namibia, and safaris here – even fully inclusive options outside the park with expert guides – can be considerably more reasonable than elsewhere in the region. The Namibia Wildlife Resorts options inside Etosha are affordable but not particularly cheap for what one gets: one pays for the privilege of being in the park. The best of the NWR options – for views, fewer people and the chance to be the first to etch tyre tracks over any big cat spoor on the roads – are Dolomite and Onkoshi, both rated for their spectacular locations. (Onkoshi is also good in green season as elephants tend to move east during this time, but some find it isolated and it doesn’t have a waterhole). The service and food at these camps receives fewer rave reviews, but is generally adequate and friendly. These eco-camps are not dramatically more expensive than the traditional “classic” NWR camps, yet are considerably more intimate and less busy. Guided drives will add up, however. Then again, the classic camps have their own charm for those immune to more people – plus conveniences such as fuel stations and shops and (in a few family chalets) full self-catering facilities. Just remember that all NWR camps are extremely popular in high season.

enter image description here Etosha Safari Campsite

Self-driving can certainly help keep costs down – one can then book into accommodations outside the park that match the budget. If one is the type of guest who enjoys two activities a day as opposed to lounging around a lodge deck, opt for fully inclusive rates at the more upmarket lodges to prevent costs escalating due to activity and meal costs. As meals, drives, guides and most drinks are included, these options allow one to pack the credit card away until you leave. These lovely lodges also tend to drop their rates somewhat in low season (January to April/May). Savings are not, however, as pronounced as in some safari destinations, but may help to make a few night’s stay possible. Expect about 10% to 25% off.

Guided tours catering to various budgets are also an option – but not really deluxe camping safaris as wild camping is not permitted in Etosha. More upmarket tours won’t stick a tent village up in, say Namutoni’s campsite, but will book one in at lodges and tented camps outside the park according to budget. Tours are wonderful for peace of mind plus expert animal spotting (surprisingly difficult for first timers!). Groups, which are made up of a number of couples and solos and sometimes families who will leave on set departure dates, can become firm friends and are likely to eat and adventure together, with the guide joining the group for meals. Just opt for a smaller group wherever possible, with the best guide one can afford to maximise the experience. Many small group tours like this take in a number of key highlights in the region, such as Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast, as well as Etosha. If one’s goal is to spend more time in Etosha itself, there are more focused tours out there. Alternatively, there are tailor-made tours for families, private groups or couples – but these can be considerably more pricey.

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Less pricey accommodations are also available outside the park, but are often further from park gates or on smaller reserves with no representatives of the Big Five. To make up for this, one is likely to find extremely comfortable rooms and extras like spa treatments – and good value for money. Where some tend to fall down is food – both the quality and price. If you know you have a sensitive palate, perhaps check menus and other guest reviews before booking or ask for expert advice from a Discover Africa consultant.

Travel tips

  • Go on a night drive if you are staying in Etosha. Rates are N$750 a person but the chance to see secretive night creatures like civets and aardwolf is not to be missed. Wrap up warm if it’s during winter!
  • The NWR eco-camps’ most reasonable bush chalets cost from N$1,820 to N$2,540 per person sharing. They accommodate two. Deluxe chalets are also available.

Our Recommended Itinerary

Etosha National Park Road Trip Adventure (8 days)

day 1

Welcome to Namibia

day 2

Eastern Etosha

day 3

Game viewing

day 4

Namibian vistas

day 5

Southern Etosha

day 6

Namibian wildlife

day 7

Last safari day

day 8

End of Namibian safari

View Full Itinerary

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Etosha in December

The rains should have arrived, and the game will be moving east to browse in the Namutoni area and further north, beyond the road network. The central waterholes quieten down and will no longer be visited much by elephant; rhino, too, may take some seeking out. Baby animals are born and shiver into action, able to walk in no time, but vulnerable for the first few days after birth.…

Etosha in June

Good sunny weather this month, with highs of 27°C and lows a surprisingly chilly 6°C. The dry season starts in earnest. Most of the park is considered to have good game viewing potential and visitor numbers are moderate. It’s the beginning of high season, and by the end of the month, pretty busy. The waterholes will be delivering the goods: lovely tableaux of species can gather at…

Etosha in January

Mokuti Etosha Lodge Average temperatures hit a sticky 34°C. It’s rainy season: incredibly for a place one thinks of as arid, this can mean mud in patches! A 4x4 will be useful and comfortable, but it is a lot more costly, and the majority of Etosha’s roads remain accessible in an ordinary city car. Park authorities also tend to temporarily close roads that will be a problem. The…

Honeymoon in Etosha

There’s a reason so many couples choose a safari for those extra special occasions. So much about the experience sighs with romance: deep, dark night skies washed in starlight, the impossibly relaxing smell of sun-warmed savanna, rain on dry earth, or vegetation crushed by passing herds. Most importantly, it’s an escape to a place where the rhythms of life swirl around one. Ancient…

Etosha in September

Still prime dry season game viewing time. Days are hot. Average highs are around 35°C, although a warm jacket may still be welcome on early morning game drives and when the sun goes down, believe it or not. It’s still peak season for Etosha for the first part of the month, and there will be traffic and some congestion at prime waterholes, which will be seeing all the big game action.…

Family safari in Etosha

There are families who have visited Etosha for generations, sometimes in family groups that range from pint-sized grandkids to grandads. Instilling a love for the park experience – exciting drives, mammal lists, tents, and searching biscuit-coloured grassland for biscuit-coloured lions – is a delight and a privilege, no matter the budget. A safari is an enormously exciting experience…

Private concessions in Etosha

It is possible to combine the best of two worlds: Spend hours at some of Etosha’s most desirable waterholes, ticking off a Noah’s Ark-sized list of species – and then escape to the quieter surrounds of a lodge or camp on a private reserve for the night. Etosha is completely fenced, unlike, for example, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, where fences between the public park…

Etosha in May

The land is drying out and long, warm sunny days will start turning the bush a million shades of brown. Average high temperatures are a delicious 29° Centigrade, with lows of 11°C. As things dry out, waterholes become the place to be once again, making it possible to pull up near one and see all sorts of action. By the end of this month, elephants are likely to be heading back to the…

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