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Etosha – It’s All About the Waterholes
African game reserves and national parks are unique and each has a specific draw card that attracts visitors. The water holes in Namibia’s Etosha National Park are what bring us back year after year. Each waterhole has its own unique character and in the dry season (from July to October) these waterholes are a magnet for game, which makes Etosha a paradise for wildlife photographers.
Visitors to Etosha want to see and photograph as many animals as possible – but they usually only have a few days, if that. Here we list all our favorite waterholes stretching from Okaukuejo Camp in the west to Namutoni Camp in the east with tips that should save you valuable time and improve your game viewing and wildlife photography.
Okakuejo holiday camping area:
Okaukuejo – This must be the most popular watering hole in Etosha. There is always a procession of animals from morning to night which can be seen from the camp. Our recommendation would be for you to sit at the waterhole from just before sunrise until about 09h00 as the light is perfect for photography with the sun over your shoulder providing the front light. We have seen a hyena and a lion drinking and then when the pigeons started to fly there were inspired black leopards that chased them and we managed to get the best pictures. If you sit by the water for the rest of the day you won’t be disappointed because of the elephants, herds of water buffalo, wildebeest, gemsbok and zebra that come to drink.
Whether you stay at the pier or go for a drive please make sure you get back before sunset as the setting sun makes for great silhouettes and reflections in the water and, after the flood lights come on, black rhinos have also been seen fighting. as a lion kills after sunset!
Gemsbokvlakte – We suggest you visit this waterhole in the afternoons – we have seen herds of springbok, gemsbok, elephant and zebra here.
Olifantsbad – This is a morning watering hole and it attracts elephants, zebra, black-eyed impala, giraffe, red hartebeest and an African wild cat has been seen drinking here.
Nebrunii – This water hole is close to Okaukuejo yet still has impressive numbers of game catches here. We have seen large herds of elephant, zebra, springbok, gemsbok, ostrich, and antelope. The water hole is small so the elephants tend to mess with each other making for some nice action photos. The light is good in the morning and afternoons for photography.
Tens of thousands – The light is better in the afternoons. For landscapers this has to be one of the best water holes in the park. The water is at the edge of the pan and the animals come from miles around so you can get photos of the many animals spread out for miles. We have seen snails, zebras, springbok, gemsbok, ostriches, and wildebeest gathered on the plains surrounding the cave. There is also a pride of lions that hide in the fields to attack the animals.
Halal holiday camp area:
Moringa – this waterhole is viewed from the Halali camp and is a flood. In the mornings there are usually some small herds of animals caught here but the night is when the work starts, with herds of elephants, black rhinos, lions and leopards living in their form!
Goas – is our favorite watering hole in this area. We have seen large herds of elephants and black-eyed impala and black rhinoceros, lions and leopards. The light is good in the mornings and afternoons.
Salvador – has the best background of open plains and pan. Zebras love to drink here and we have seen herds of about 2000 zebras drinking at this water hole. Mornings provide the best lighting.
Rietfontein -This waterhole has a large open plain around it so you can see the animals up close from afar. Lighting for photography is best in the afternoons.
Homob – we have seen small herds of kudu and wildebeest here but also leopards. Morning light is best.
Namutoni holiday camp area:
Namutoni – We noticed this water hole from the camp and it is a flood. It didn’t give us a good view except at sunset when hundreds of paper birds that were almost there began to fly, flying in and out of the poles with their wings. Watch out for the giraffe as you might get lucky and get a silhouette against the setting sun. There is also a platform at the wall where you can see queleas and other animals.
Klein Namutoni – Afternoons provide the best light but mornings can provide nice silhouettes. We have seen giraffes, hyenas, lions, leopards and elephants drinking here.
Chudop – this waterfall is very scenic with a floating island of forests. Mornings and afternoons provide good light for photography.
Kalkheuwel – this waterfall faces south so the light for photography is best during the day. The waterfall attracts many animals and is located near the conservation area so you don’t need a long lens to get good photos!
Thank you – We have seen mainly zebras here but two palm trees make a good background for photos in the mornings or silhouettes in the late afternoons.
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