Etosha Pan, the Natural Phenomenon of the Namib - is a salty wasteland in north-central Namibia that forms part of the Namib Desert. The site formed through tectonic plate activity 10 million years ago. It is a dry wasteland for most of the year, and sometimes transforms into a shallow lake during the wet season. You can certainly explore this enchanting place with Namibia 4x4 hire.
The pan plays a vital role in sustaining the surrounding ecosystem, including the multiple animal and bird species in the nearby savannah. The harsh summer drought forces these animals to gather around the waterholes that encircle the pan. Due to the fact that this “saline desert” has no water outlet, the frequent evaporation has left a build-up of salt deposits on its surface. This is why the pan has a bluish-white appearance from an aerial view.
History as a Hunting Ground
Before the Etosha region was occupied by Europeans, it was reserved as grazing and hunting land by resident tribesmen and Bushmen. After Swedish explorer Charles John Anderson and his companion Francis Galton discovered Namibia in 1851, many more travellers made their way across the territory in search of a new promised land. Soon Etosha and its surrounds became a hunter’s paradise, until the Governor of the country announced in 1907 that the depletion of the wildlife was a serious problem.
At this point, a reserve with no physical boundaries was established to protect the plants and animals from any threats. This way, the game could roam freely and the ecosystem could function as nature intended.
Animal and Plant Life
The high salinity of the Etosha Pan makes it difficult for plant life to survive – only a few salt-resistant grasses and shrubs grow on its edges. Even though the salty content of the water means that it is unfit for human or animal consumption, the area is densely populated with various life forms.
It is home to as many as 114 mammal and 340 bird species, which both occupy the savannah plains in the area. Five of Africa’s greatest wild animals including the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino – known as the Big Five – and flocks of flamingos are among the myriad of Etosha’s exciting attractions. The underground springs that form waterholes on the outskirts of the pan provide sustenance to these animals, which would not survive otherwise. During the hot migration season, when temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, these waterholes are a lifesaver for the parched wildlife.
Estosha National Park
This national park is one of the largest on the continent and continues to be a safe haven for Namibia’s wildlife. Today the park is enclosed with an electrified fence that keeps the animals inside the designated area, and poachers outside. The variety of game and the charm of wild Africa make Etosha the perfect getaway for a wildlife safari.
Depending on where you go, different companies offer organized tours of varying lengths. Typically, travellers fly to the capital Windhoek and then either catch a connecting flight to the airstrip outside Etosha National Park, or they are directly transferred to their hotels by bus. An array of outdoor activities is offered to tourists, which can be arranged through your hotel. These range from game drives to chartered flights over the pan. Legend has it that this is where you will find Africa’s tallest elephants that tower up to 4m high – a definite must-see for any wildlife fanatic!