Etosha Pan

Where the wild things are

We were in Etosha, Namibia for a day and a night yet the king himself remained elusive. I’m referring to him with the flowing shaggy mane, not the one from Memphis who conspiracy-theory believers think is still alive.

At breakfast very early the next morning, the sun hardly out, we suddenly heard a roar. I froze. Could it be…? That was definitely a lion, I heard someone say. I jumped up quickly, still chewing a piece of toast in my mouth, grabbed my camera and ran as fast as I could to where the sound came, which was the nearest watering hole. A hush prevailed over the area as travelers like me came to see if they could sight him. And there he was, finally, walking with all the swag and confidence a king should have, all high and mighty and majestic.

Worth the wait.

Etosha was named after the Etosha Pan, which in the Bantu dialect Oshindonga means ‘the great white place’. Etosha National Park covers 22,270 square kilometres, with the pan within it taking about 23 percent of the area. The park is a mix of desert, large, wide open grasslands and savannahs, its large open spaces making it easy to see wildlife. Even without the animals, the arid landscape at any time of day is breathtaking. But the holes are where the action is, where you can see how animals outsmart each other for water – brawn against wit, size against speed (much the same way humans act!)

Nighttime at Etosha, camped under the stars, I listen to the sounds of the wild. A hyena laughs, and I think there’s a jackal outside my tent. Then that roar again. Certainly not a hound dog.

At waterholes: zebras, elephants, and springboks are everywhere. Here, a couple seems to be fascinated by something else.
Giraffe: Umm, let’s wait till this mighty beast gets his fill.
Elephant crossing. He may not be the king of the jungle, but he has the right of way.
Giraffe having some watercooler chat.
A giraffe towers above these trees.
Rhino 101: The white rhino has  a ‘wider’ mouth which is why they’re called ‘white’ (go figure).  The one pictured above is a white rhino.
One great way to photograph a flat saltpan is to wait for people do a jump shot.

I didn’t take a luxury safari trip on a Land Rover, rather I chose to travel Namibia and Botswana on an overland truck. It’s a unique way to travel if you’re not one who hates to rough it up – we camp almost every night, share cooking and cleaning duties, and pool money for fuel and food.

If you want more info about overlanding, contact us.

Retrato and Travel Hub NZ love adventure as much as you do are keen to help you plan your trips (no matter how crazy or far-fetched they are). The journey doesn’t begin when you get there – it starts when you have a chat with us. For more info, contact me or email:

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26 thoughts on “Etosha Pan

  1. Oooh I love elephants so much – haha he does indeed have right of way crossing the road! Great pictures, Namibia looks like a beautiful country and I’d love to visit someday!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing trip! Looks absolutely awesome. My husband grew up in Malawi and wants to go back at some point to do a decent safari. Thanks for the tips x

    Liked by 1 person

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