Meaning the 'great white place of dry water', Etosha National Park is a vast and varied area of shimmering mirages, desert, savannah, and scrubby woodlands. Situated some 270 miles (435km) north of Windhoek, its unique landscape is characterised by an immense, flat white saltpan that covers about a quarter of the park.
The saltpan was once a vast lake fed by the Kunene River, but it changed course thousands of years ago, leaving a dry hollow of salt and cracked clay. Today it fills up for a short while after heavy rain. The temporary water supply attracts thousands of water birds during the rainy season, including flocks of pink flamingos, but the best time for viewing animals in Etosha is the cool dry season, between May and September.
Etosha has three campsites: Okaukuejo, Namutoni, and Halali. Although visitors can't leave the camp areas at night, there is a carefully lit watering hole at each campsite allowing for night game viewing from the safety of the campsite.
The salinity and rich mineral content of the pan attracts a huge diversity of animal and birdlife to the park, making it an excellent place for game viewing. The expanse of the white desert makes for an extraordinary backdrop.
Etosha has a network of roads linking its three rest camps. Visitors can expect to see many species of antelope, wildebeest, zebra, lion, giraffe, and Africa's tallest elephants. Several of the animal species are endangered, including the black rhino. There are also opportunities to see lion, leopard, and cheetah around the many waterholes scattered throughout the park.