Namibia Part Two: Etosha National Park


Etosha National Park is the largest national park in Africa at 22,912 square kilometers. Etosha means “the great white place,” named for the large salt pan.


Springboks look similar to the Thompson Gazelle but are slightly bigger and have black tear marks on their face. Their name is derived from their springy motion while running.


Multiple female ostriches will lay eggs in the same nest, with up to 15 babies at a time raised by one alpha female and one male.


An oryx can raise their body temperature to 40-42 degrees Celsius due to the capillaries around their noses that keep the brain cool despite higher body temperatures. This is how they survive in deserts such as the Arabian Peninsula as well.


Zebras are called the “disco donkeys” due to their strut. A group of zebras is called a dazzle. The zebras in Etosha National Park have an intermediate stripe that is more grey.


The endemic impala species in Etosha National Park are slightly different than anywhere else with a black stripe on their face.


We saw many black rhinos while in Etosha. Black rhinos have smaller mouths than white rhinos and are typically more aggressive due to their diet of a hallucinogenic plant. Unfortunately, Etosha National Park has lost many rhinos due to poaching like other parks we visited. In 2019, they lost 27 black rhinos and have already lost two rhinos this year.


We did a night drive while in Etosha National Park. Our driver and guide used an infrared light to sweep the area, looking for light reflecting off eyes. We saw many nocturnal animals such as hyenas, the African wild cat, jackals, bat eared foxes, and a genet. Hyenas can smell blood up to 30 kilometers away and can bite through bone.


Watching the sunset and later the moon rise was a true highlight of the night drive. The Milky Way was incredible and was quite visible before the moon rise.


Cheetahs can run up to 120 km/hr for up to 600 yards making them the fastest animal in the world. They are notable for narrow waists, black spots, and black tear marks on their faces.


The second night in Etosha National Park, we stayed on the west side of the park at a waterhole. We watched for a few hours as one male lion and two female lions drank from the water hole. Two rhinos also came for a drink.


On our drive out of the park, we saw two prides of lions battling it out over territory. One pride of seven younger lions including a young male were run off by a pride of three older lions.


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