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Best time in Etosha?

Lynnwood, Washington
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Best time in Etosha?

Hello,

I'm planning a trip to Etosha next year. I can go at any time between January and July. I can also go at the end of November, but, from what I've heard, this is probably not a good time.

So I'm trying to decide when to go. I'd like to go in the summer. From my experience in Kruger NP I can anticipate the following advantages and disadvantages of going in the summer.

Disadvantages:

1. It's a wet season, more water, so the animals are more dispersed.

2. The tall grass makes animals more difficult to see.

3. Can get very hot.

Advantages:

1. It's a green season, so everything is lush and blooming.

2. Animals are with the youngs.

3. Fewer people.

But Etosha is not Kruger, so it could be different.

I would really appreciate any recommendations about when to go - in winter, summer or autumn. I know that winter is the best time to see the animals, but is summer and fall also a good time? If so - what month would be best?

Thank you.

Nashville, Tennessee
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1. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Etosha game viewing is quite different and is water hole dependent. The game viewing is great any time of year, BUT, the game viewing in June/July will be exceptional, unbelievable, far better than anything in Kruger. The numbers you will see walking in to a watering hole will be staggering. We pulled up to a single watering hole the first week in July and saw 2500 animals in the area, all waiting for the lions to clear out. It was not uncommon to see a large herd of elephants being pushed away by another large herd of elephants and then the rhino come in and state their claim. Then, multiple rhino wandering in and fighting or sniffing one another. This may all be in a 1 hour period. The whole set up is a select few watering holes in the middle of dry, desolate land. The animals must visit the watering hole every day (or more than once a day) so the game viewing is amazing. You may only have 2-3 watering holes in 10,000 or more acres. EVeryone visits, lions, leopards, ellies, rhino, and thousands of other animals.

You still see lots of animals while driving- all types in fact. But is is virtually guaranteed during the dry season.

I have been during both the rainy and dry season. I would vote dry season in Namibia every time. Busy time there is not anything like other busy times. The camps within the park are limited in size and there simply is not that many people. Much less than Kruger or Serengeti (I am told).

Go during July- in my opinion.

Now, remember also that rainy season is a relative term. You are talking about a county that measures rainfall in millimeters, not inches. The rains are short and light compared to anything we get here in the states.

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Namibia
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Lynnwood, Washington
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2. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Thank you very much, Stephen. I think I'll go in July then.

Manchester, United...
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3. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Totally with Stephen on this. Finding things with big teeth earlier in the year can be very difficult. Carnivores always thrive when life is tough for the herbivores. In and after the wet season the game is widely dispersed. When its dry the lions wait round the waterholes and the animals pour in even though there is a big risk. The downside is the number of tourists is high and the trip buses from outside of the park come in blocking views at waterholes. So its advisable to stay in the park and get out at the crack of dawn and to go out for the last couple of hours before sunset.

Mind we were there in November and it was amazing......The rains hadn't arrived.

Isle of Man, United...
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4. Re: Best time in Etosha?

I agree with both. I have been in September, crazy busy, and over Christmas, good away from the actual holidays, I have not been in July/Agust but it should be peak viewing.

As others. Stay inside the park and beat those noisy trucks to a prime spot and wait. I have found that around 14.00 can be good time of day to lie up at a waterhole, Rietfontontain, goas or Oliphantbad. Ellies I particular are needing water to bathe by then and will Q up to do so.

And as John says, for predators go out as the gate opens and tour the area.

Lynnwood, Washington
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5. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Thank you everyone.

I wonder how Etosha looks like at the end of May. It's a beginning of the dry season, but should have fewer people.

It's also easy for me to go at the end of November, but I understand that excellent game viewing largely depends on the luck (weather) at this time of the year. My friends were in Etosha in March and had fantastic time, but they were lucky as the summer was dry.

I think I'll still try to go in June-July. I've been in Kruger in July, during the busiest time of the year (winter + school holidays), and it wasn't bad at all. I was leaving early in the morning, as soon as the gates open, driving on the dirt roads and saw only one or two cars in an hour. And it is my understanding that Kruger is busier than Etosha. However, since in Etosha it's mostly waterhole based game viewing, the picture can be different.

Thanks again.

Edited: 20 January 2014, 20:41
Hermanus, South...
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6. Re: Best time in Etosha?

November is also a good time to go so long as you can take a bit of heat, as it is extremely hot that time of year.

The benefit over May is that you are at the end of dry season as opposed to the end of wet season.

This May things will still be pretty green I am thinking.

You are likely to get some afternoon showers, but November is not full blown rainy season...that only starts much later, more Jan/Feb time.

Generally I find game viewing better in November then May if we have high summer rainfall.

Lynnwood, Washington
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7. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Thank you. I'll think everything over.

I'm not very good at heat, but I've heard that bungalows in the camps have air conditioners, so at least at night I can sleep OK.

Isle of Man, United...
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8. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Peter,

another point. your Capercaillie could mean you are a birder.

If so the Palearctic Migrants may be down in Etosha in November/January. Gone north by May.

Lynnwood, Washington
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9. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Yes, you're right. My friends just came back from South Africa - there many Barn Swallows and White Storks there, as well as some other European birds. Probably the same is in Namibia.

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Isle of Man, United...
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10. Re: Best time in Etosha?

Lots of Waders too at the ponds and seashores. Also bear in mind that resident breeding birds may well be in full colour and not just LBJs. It all helps.

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