Luxury safari in Etosha

Even high-end guests sometimes choose self-drive safaris in Namibia, all the better to watch the flat landscapes unfurl to the growl of a motor. This is a country made for road trips. For those to whom time is the most precious thing, however, flying will be preferable. Small charter flights are available, and the top lodges will have (or share) airstrips. There is of course the added bonus of seeing the enormity of Namibia from the air; even the capital Windhoek is a mere blip of humanity quickly swallowed by red, white and khaki expanses of nothingness. With luck, you’ll see the 4,730km2 Etosha Pan from the air, shivering white upon the plains like a luminescent jellyfish.

enter image description here

Although justifiably billed as a top safari experience, Etosha might not tick all the boxes for first time safari goers. Its differences are its charms: the eerie stark pans in winter, the arid landscape with animals that have adapted to its cycles of rain and drought, and the ability to see to the horizon much of the time. It is a unique biome and deserves its accolades, but it is a busy place with ample tourists of all kinds; enormous, but fenced in; wild, but studded with the manmade waterholes that allow life to exist. Visitors who accept these contradictions will appreciate it most. Even if staying outside the park, do take trips into Etosha itself for the amazing landscapes; worth the bother of a bit of extra company. Those who want to explore the vistas through a lens may wish to look into a specialised, guided photographic safari, and expert birding safaris are highly recommended for avid twitchers. Photographers will prefer the ghostly hues of winter; birders will endure high temperatures in summer to see wetland birds and migrants.

Unless drawn to the in-park amenities, finer accommodations will be found outside the park. The best are very good, although the most famous names in the Botswana and East Africa safari world are not represented. While any grumps tend to be about food or service, most guests appear to come away more than content with game sightings and lodgings. It’s advised to pick a large reserve with representatives of the Big Five to keep you company: one or two of these reserves have excellent conservation reputations and will offer exciting activities such as rhino tracking and guided walks, plus sunset and night drives. Sightings may not be as bountiful as in Etosha itself (which all lodges offer game drives to), but there will be the bonus of exclusivity: no unwanted, loud companions arriving just as the lions you’ve seen are slinking onto their bellies for a hunt. Guides are generally very good, and will do their best to find the more antisocial but desirable beasts.

enter image description here

Specialised, tailor-made private guided tours to the area, with guests booked in at appropriate lodgings for as much time as suits them, are the other alternative. Other mobile, guided small group tours are advertised, and some are deluxe, but be aware that there is no wild camping allowed in Etosha National Park itself, so nightjar cries through (quality) canvas are harder to come by. Your best bet for a romantic, tent-and-lantern experience is likely to be a fine, permanent tented camp in an adjoining large private reserve.

Travel tips

  • Try and book at a reserve with as many Big Five species as possible for that extra thrill.
  • Rates seldom approach the highs seen at Botswana’s top lodges, so the most luxurious lodges available should seem reasonable. Booking ahead where possible is recommended to avoid disappointment.
  • Both fly-in and mobile safaris often have baggage limitations of 20kg, to be packed in soft suitcases that can be squashed into tiny planes.

Our Recommended Itinerary

Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)

day 1

Stunning Sossusvlei
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)

day 2

Sand, sand and more sand

day 3

Eco-friendly Damaraland stay
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)

day 4

Unique desert wildlife

day 5

Hanging with the Himba
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)
  • Namibia’s Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Kunene Luxury Safari (7 days)

day 6

Quad-bike through the desert

day 7

See you next time

View Full Itinerary

Popular Etosha National Park Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Unforgettable Namibia Safari Adventure (11 days)

Unforgettable Namibia Safari Adventure (11 days)

Namibia is an ideal destination for travellers seeking an unforgettable African experience in a uniquely beautiful untamed wilderness...

 | Nambian Desert to Coast Self-Drive Road Trip (9 days)

Nambian Desert to Coast Self-Drive Road Trip (9 days)

From the famous Sossusvlei, quaint Swakopmund, historical Damaraland and on towards Etosa National Park, this road trip through Namibia is an authentic and different take on a safari......

 | Best of Namibia, Botswana & Victoria Falls

Best of Namibia, Botswana & Victoria Falls

Travel from enigmatic red sands and surreal pans to rugged coastline and open plains, before exploring pristine waterways and scenic rivers - Kwando, Chobe and lastly, the mighty Zambezi River...

 | Etosha National Park Road Trip Adventure (8 days)

Etosha National Park Road Trip Adventure (8 days)

Drive yourself through the majestic landscapes of Namibia en-route to Etosha and spend your days searching for, and finding the wildlife that Etosha is known for...

You might also like

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…

Central and Eastern Etosha

Welcome to the best-known part of Etosha: The expanse of land fringing the eastern and southern rim of the enormous depression that is the ancient salt pan itself. Nothing grows in the salty, lime-rich pan except algae, but it and other smaller pans such as Okahakana are surrounded by grassland, mopane shrublands, and some woodland, and the area sustains a remarkable variety of life. Of…

Solo travel in Etosha

Namibia is a marvellous country for solo travellers, safe, accustomed to tourist needs and with excellent transport and communications infrastructure. This takes care of a lot of the anxiety about travelling to Etosha for many. One can easily take to the open road alone in a hire vehicle, and proceed to explore the park – but not all wish to. Besides the fact that striking out into a…

Etosha in August

Peak season in terms of weather, international tourist numbers and waterhole action. August seldom sees a drop of rain, and average temperatures are rising: highs are 31° and lows 11°. It will be busy enough in the park for those allergic to crowds to consider staying in a lodge on a private reserve outside the park borders, or look to the less-visited Western side of the park. Acacia…

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 February

The peak of the rainy season. Vegetation will be as lush as it gets in Etosha for the next month or two – which makes game viewing more challenging. If the rains have been good, there will be water in the pan itself (and migrant waterbirds); Fisher’s Pan near Namutoni could have turned pink with flamingos. All the details mentioned for January still apply in terms of the…

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2