Windhoek to Etosha (Okaukuejo)

On the road to Okaukuejo

We drove from Windhoek on the B1 to Okaukuejo at the western end of Etosha park. (Zooming in you can see the size and shape of the Etosha Pan.) The following is an excerpt from the park permit:

Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important Game Reserves. Etosha Game park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covering an area of 22 270 square km, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, surprisingly, one species of fish. The Etosha Park is one of the first places on any itinerary designed for a holiday in Namibia.

Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park. The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.

A San legend about the formation of the Etosha Pan tells of how a village was raided and everyone but the women slaughtered. One woman was so upset about the death of her family she cried until her tears formed a massive lake. When the lake dried up nothing was left apart from a huge white pan.

When it was originally proclaimed at the turn of the century the Etosha Park consisted of an area of 100,000 square kilometres. This was the largest reserve on earth but in the 1960’s political pressure resulted in the Park being reduced to its current size.

The San people is in decline and number about 13,000; the language itself is dying out. UNESCO has undertaken a project to help preserve the San language.

We were able to see giraffes, kudu, zebra, rhinoceros, jackals, eagles. We heard the very load roar of a lion but did not see one. We saw an elephant train in the distance but none up close. We were advised not to get out of the car and to stay on the road. Thus, whatever photos I could grab depended on what we could find along the road. The photo with what looks like a lake in the distance is a mirage. As you can probably tell from the brightness of the light it was very hot, about 35 C. Nevertheless, we were thrilled to be here at all.

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