The final stage of our epic road trip through Namibia took us from the National Park, Etosha to Windhoek. We stayed 2 nights just outside of Etosha (all the NWR parks inside the park being booked out. From Etosha we headed south back to Windhoek on the C38 backtracking through Outjo to Otjiwarongo. We made a side trip to Okonjima to see the cheetahs (a first for me) before heading back along the C22 and D2512 to break the journey at the Waterberg plateau.
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park, along with Sossusvlei, is the biggest tourist attraction in Namibia and was also our biggest disappointment. Nature being nature, you cannot just call the animals on a cell phone, but maybe we had too high expectations after Kruger and Ongorogoro.
There are 3 main gates with most people entering at the Anderson gate in the south and leaving from the Von Lindequest gate in the east. You can either stay inside the park in the one of the NWR lodges or outside in a lodge near one of the entrances. The advantage of staying in the camp is that all national parks in Namibia open at sunrise and close at sunset, just when many of the animals are coming to the waterholes. The camps have viewing platforms by their waterholes, so you can view the animals close-up in safety. The disadvantage is the camps are big and have reputations for being dirty and having bad service.
As all the camps in the park were booked out anyway months in advance during the high season, we opted to stay in the Mopane Village Lodge, 11km from the entrance and do a loop of the waterholes around Okaukuejo. The roads were extremely bad, forcing us to speeds of 20kmph. Apart from the odd antelope, there was very little to see between the long stretches of road between the waterholes, which made for a frustrating experience in the heat. There are fenced off picnic areas, where you can have lunch and use the toilet, but there is only one of these near the Okaukuejo camp. Maybe we had bad luck, because we met a group of Germans who had been the previous day and seen lions and rhinos.
Okonjima Nature Reserve
The Okonjima Nature Reserve is home to the Africat Foundation, an non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving wild animals (principally cheetahs and leopards, but also other endangered species such as African hunting dogs). The tour is quite pricey at 30 € per person and takes you through their enclosure where they have approximately 7 cheetahs and the centre, where you can learn about conservation efforts and see the veterinary clinic. The reception affords spectacular views of the nature reserve and campsite, which has a pool and bar in the middle of nowhere.
We camped one night in the NWR camp. The road was paved until we got to the D road at the turnoff. It was slow-going on this D road, but the picturesque location made up for it. You can hike for about 45mins to the top of the plateau where you can apparently see buffaloes, but we unfortunately didn’t have time.
Finally, we headed back to Windhoek to return our trusty Duster (which we had named “Helmut”) and the camping gear. The next day we flew domestically with Airnamibia to Katima Mulilo and took a taxi to Kasane in Botswana, which was considerably cheaper than flying internationally to Botswana or Zimbabwe.
Read my top ten tips for travelling in Namibia here.