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Tagged as: Etosha National Park

The AfriCat Foundation – Namibia

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The AfriCat Foundation is based at Okonjima Private Nature Reserve in central Namibia, about half-way between Windhoek and Etosha National Park. This worthy institution is dedicated to the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores such as lions, leopards and cheetahs in their natural habitat, and recognises that education and research are a major part of this process.

Large cats are seen as a threat to the safety of livestock and, as agriculture continues its steady march across this developing nation, so these animals are brought into conflict with farmers and their weapons, poison, fences and traps.

Community Initiatives
The AfriCat Foundation sets out to reduce human/wildlife conflict by assisting farmers to protect their livestock in non-destructive ways. Effective anti-predator kraals are funded and constructed by AfriCat on behalf of farmers in the vicinity of Etosha National Park; while the presence of herdsmen during the day to protect domestic animals has caused a significant reduction in livestock losses. Thus, farmers are becoming more tolerant of the predators that share their environment.

AfriCat Educational Initiatives
The AfriCat Foundation operates three educational initiatives to generate an understanding and appreciation of predators to the local community:

The Perivoli Okonjima Country SchoolThis private rural school provides local children with a solid junior primary education, with a strog emphasis on environmental awareness.

The AfriCat Environmental Education Centre is used as a venue for 3-day/2-night education programmes which give groups of youths the opportunity to take part in conservation and sustainable wildlife management, first-hand.

The Adult Education Programme: AfriCat teaches tried-and-tested techniques for farming among wild animals to farmers and young aspirant agriculturalists.

Rehabilitation and Research
Orphaned, hand-reared carnivores that could not otherwise be released back into the wild, can perfect their hunting skills in the relative freedom of Okonjima’s 50 000 acre nature reserve, learning to become self-sufficient. All these animals are fitted with radio collars so that they may be monitored for research and safety purposes. These findings are used in collaboration with local farmers to prepare a better future for the large cats of Namibia.

A trip to the rehabilitation centre at AfriCat makes a great day trip from Windhoek, or an interesting stop on the way to Etosha National Park. You can also support this worthy project by adopting one of their carnivores or making a donation.

Where To Stay When Visiting Etosha National Park

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As far as accommodation is concerned, there are a number of options available to you when visiting Etosha. You can choose from accommodation inside the park or close by, budget or luxury accommodation, tented or lodge accommodation, full board, bed and breakfast or self-catering. You are certain to find something that suits your expectations among the wide variety available.

Should you choose to stay inside the park, you have a choice between the three main camps – Halali, Okaukuejo and Namutoni; as well as two smaller and newer camps called Onkoshi and Dolomite. Dolomite is situated in the restricted Western area of the park.

Onkoshi and Dolomite are much more luxurious than the traditional camps, with five star dining and facilities. Halali, Okaukuejo and Namutoni offer various configurations of self-catering accommodation as well as camping facilities. Guests to these camps need to be totally self-sufficient as the accommodation provides limited facilities with regard to catering.

Although staying inside Etosha can be more expensive than some of the external options, you do have the added benefit of 24 hour game viewing at the floodlit waterholes and the option to take self-drive safaris at any time during the gate opening times. Guided safaris are also available at all of these camps.

Privately owned establishments abound along both the eastern and western borders of Etosha. Although these differ vastly with regard to price, you can be assured of high standards of hospitality at all of them. The less costly options provide more rustic accommodation, including camp sites, and fewer facilities. If you plan to spend most of your time in the park, this may be of little concern to you.

Most of the luxurious lodges are found on the eastern side of Etosha where you will be pampered with international standards of luxury and excellent cuisine. Extra facilities such as swimming pools, guided game drives, restaurants and bars are usually featured.

If you still can’t make up your mind, you can try both, with half your stay inside Etosha and half close by.

Things To Do In Etosha National Park

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Of all the things to do in Etosha, game viewing is the main reason that millions of visitors flock there every year. Etosha is a paradise for those wanting to experience almost all of Africa’s animals first hand and is a photographer’s dream come true. There are 114 mammal species and hundreds of reptiles and birds which are resident in the park. Some of these are extremely endangered, such as the black rhino, and Etosha is one of the best places in the world to spot this unique creature.

The roads in Etosha provide access to numerous waterholes for easier game spotting and guided game drives are offered. In addition, the main camps all feature floodlit waterholes on site, to allow guests the opportunity to enjoy viewing some of the nocturnal species which are not commonly seen.

It’s possible to see an amazing variety of game species without even leaving the camp. You could choose to spend a couple of days of your visit just relaxing around the pool surrounded by birdsong and the unspoilt African wilderness. You can experience the atmosphere of tranquillity around the camp, relax, catch up on your tan or get to grips with a good read while most guests are out exploring.

On the other end of the scale, departing early in the morning with a picnic basket and parking at the waterholes for hours is often rewarded with unusual sightings, especially of the smaller creatures. Photographers can capture amazing shots as the changes of light throughout the day drift across the landscape and bird lovers also benefit from sitting silently for hours, watching and listening for signs of bird life to tick off their list

History buffs will enjoy popping in at the monuments and grave sites in Etosha to find out the stories behind them and a visit to the unusual Fairy Tale Forest is a must.

However, regardless of your day time activities, one of the best things to do in Etosha is sitting around a camp fire swapping yarns at the end of the day, with the brilliant African sky overhead.

The Main Event – The Animals Of Etosha National Park

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Etosha is the game capital of Africa, perfect for nature lovers and photographers. Hundreds of species may be found here, including 114 mammals of which several species are endangered or rare.

Of these, the black rhino is the most well-known. Etosha has had overwhelming success in preserving this animal and, although figures are not disclosed, the park is home to a healthy population of Black Rhino. These elusive creatures are not often seen in the wild, but Etosha is one of the best places in the world to come across them and they are most often spotted at the floodlit waterholes.

The white rhino is also a nocturnal drinker, usually spotted after-hours at the waterholes. The conservation of the white rhino has been another Etosha success story, particularly since they were extinct in the park at the turn of the century. A few specimens were reintroduced from the Waterberg and one from Germany after 1995 and their numbers have increased satisfactorily since then.

Elephants too, are thriving in Etosha and huge breeding herds of about 50 animals are a common sighting. About 2 500 elephant are resident in Etosha. The rare black-faced impala is now abundant in Etosha, where it had ceased to exist during the 1970s. This pretty little antelope shares a habitat with the rare Hartmann’s zebra in the western area of the park.

In addition, visitors to Etosha can look forward to sightings of lion, springbok, eland, honey badger, African wildcat, hyenas, porcupines, giraffe, red hartebeest, sable antelope, gemsbok, leopard and hundreds of Burchell’s zebra. There are no hippos, crocodile, buffalo or monkeys in the Etosha National Park.

The dry season is the best time to spot animals in Etosha, as they congregate close to sources of water during this time and it is easier to predict their movements.

Etosha National Park Trip Planning

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Planning your Great Etosha Adventure

Once you have made the big decision to visit Etosha, plan your trip carefully in order to make the most of your limited time there.

Some of the things to consider are:

Self-drive or guided tour: If you opt for the guided option, your travel company will do most of the route planning for you, but if you choose to drive yourself you will need to plan carefully.

You need to take things such as road conditions, speed limits and distances into account when planning your route to Etosha. Do this before you book your accommodation as it will affect how far you can travel in one day. If you are staying inside the park, you can either select to enter the park at the gate closest to your accommodation in order to get unpacked and settled before starting to explore the park. You could also select a gate further away, so that you may enjoy most of your journey inside the park. It is recommended that you spend at least two nights in each camp to get the most out of your stay.

The gate closest to Okaukuejo is Andersson Gate, located off the B1 from Windhoek on C38 near Otjiwarongo. Von Lindequist gate is closest to Namutoni and is sign posted 73km after Tsumeb on the B1. Halali is located midway between the other two camps, so either of the main gates may be used to get there.

The roads are good in Etosha and there is no need for a 4×4 vehicle, although some of the roads may be closed during the rainy season. There are several picnic spots and ablutions scattered on the routes but these are at least an hour apart, so plan your travels with this in mind. The main rest camps are well equipped with basic supplies.

Make sure you pack the following items:

  • List of emergency numbers
  • Comfortable clothing, including a hat
  • A Jacket
  • Binoculars, camera and charger
  • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen

Etosha is a low-risk malaria area, but you should consult your doctor with regard to anti-malarial medication, regardless.

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