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Etosha National Park

It 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. The main entrance to the park is called the "Andersson Gate" at Okaukuejo in the south, where the park administration is also situated. The "Von Lindequist Gate" lies in the east near Namutoni. A new gate, the "Nehale lya Mpingana Gate" (King Nehale Gate) was opened at the begining of 2003 in the north-east. The game viewing in Etosha National Park is excellent, the best time being from May to September which are cooler months in Namibia. Visitors to Etosha Game Reserve can expect to see many buck species, elephant, dainty springbok, giraffe, rhino and lions. More fortunate visitors will see leopard and cheetah. Etosha birdlife is absolutely wonderful with every kind of feathered friend. One to look for is the ground hornbill who looks like a downhearted widow with a red scarf around her face. Other less terrestrial hornbills are the cheeky yellow-billed hornbills whose squawk and loping flight becomes a familiar sight. Lilac breasted rollers are colourful enough at they sit on their favourite perch, but when they take off in pursuit of an insect, their underwings give a blinding flash of electric blue. Eagles and vultures cruise high in the warm air currents or perch on branches with beady eyes alert.

There is a network of roads linking the three campsites and subsidiary roads lead to various waterholes. The dominant vegetation in Etosha is Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) or Omusati in a local language, and it is so widespread in the north-west of Namibia that a region in Owambo is named after it. The western areas of the park support mainly mopane scrub, whereas there are extensive woodlands of tall trees in the southern parts of the Halali area


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