This has to be one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. It’s a source of inspiration on so many levels. Etosha National Park in northern Namibia covers an area of 22912 km2. Etosha means ‘Great White Place’ referring to the salt pan that covers around 4731 km2 of the park – at its widest point the pan is approx 110km by 60km. It’s mostly dry but with the appearance of being a vast sea – from the pan’s edge it looks endless. It has a whitish clay soil with a high pH and salt content – amazingly there are some grass species growing there.
Around the southern edge of the pan the soil is lime. The plant community in this area is called Sweet-Grass Veld on Lime and is vitally important since it supports the highest concentration of grazers in the park. This is where all the animals are! The numbers and variety of wildlife including birds, combined with this unique landscape, is breathtaking. It is a stark and harsh place but strikingly beautiful at the same time.
Further away from the pan the soil supports scrub and trees – Mopane, Terminalia, Acacia Shrub Veld and Tomboti Woodland communities making forested scenes, providing food and shelter for animals. The vegetation everywhere is cloaked in a layer of fine talc-like dust. So were we and the car at the end of each day!
I’ve captioned the pics to give some explanation. For anyone visiting Etosha, you must stay at the Aoba Lodge (it’s on the Namatomi Gate side of the park). In Damaraland, south-west of Etosha, I highly recommend Huab Lodge. It’s run by a Dutch horticulturist (amongst other things), a long-time Namibian resident and expert on the area’s flora and fauna. Both places were outstanding compared to others we stayed at.
Click on any photo to see a larger image slideshow. You can also click the photos in the slideshow (top right corner) to see a full-size version.