This section of Etosha takes you away from the crowds and into the wonderful ‘Wild West’.
While the extraordinary Etosha Pan is considered the National Park’s star attraction, Western Etosha has its own, more subtle appeal – its biggest draw being that it’s the park’s least developed area. Often overlooked in favour of the mighty pan, it’s a seldom-frequented section that takes you away from the crowds and into Etosha’s wonderful ‘Wild West’.
Western Etosha stands in stark contrast to the Eastern and central part of the park. Here, the flat landscape gives way to rocky hills that are more wooded and the soil is not all chalky but rather more charcoal and reddish in hue.
The western part features only two accommodation options within the park. A fenced camping-only site, Olifantsrus, launched in 2010 – with just 10 camping sites you are assured of a front-row seat at the floodlit waterhole. It was followed by Dolomite Camp in 2014, which resulted in the western section of the park becoming accessible to self-drivers, through Galton Gate. This unfenced NWR (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) eco camp sits on a wooded ridge of hills and features 20 chalets, an infinity pool, and a restaurant. Its elevated location has the added advantage of offering the most mesmerising sunrise and sunset views.
Just outside the western border through Galton Gate is the Hobatere Concession. This reserve has a rich diversity of wildlife and, if you stay at Hobatere lodge, the added benefit of night-time game drives and guided nature walks.
While there are plenty of animals to be discovered, lower density means that sightings are less predictable and likely less frequent – which is why, in this part of the park, it’s worth taking advantage of the expertise of a professional guide.
Game and elephants frequent the woodlands and surrounding savanna; you’ll spot less predators here, but lions are around, including the Rateldraf pride (which takes its name from a local waterhole), and there have been early-morning sightings of cheetahs at the Dolomietpunt waterhole near Dolomite Camp. If you’re lucky, you’ll also encounter other unusual species, such as Hartmann’s mountain zebra, black-faced impala, and brown hyena.
And while the central area around Halali is renowned for some of Namibia’s best birding, avid twitchers shouldn’t underestimate the West – the dolomite hills are home to several near-endemics and rare species, such Hartlaub’s Spurfowl, Rockrunner, Ruppell’s Parrot, Monteiro’s Hornbill and Violet Wood-hoopoe.
There are about 15 waterholes on this side of the park, but some might be closed due to various reasons, including anti-poaching measures – check with us for the latest updates. Among our favourites are the aforementioned Dolomietpunt (1) - watch out for cheeky baboons; Rateldraf (2) where you can also see giraffes drinking, legs askew to reach the water; Klippan (3) - which is known for both Black and White Rhino; Okawao (4), a natural spring; Nomab (5) for birds of prey; Renostervlei (6) - where lions, cheetahs, and Black Rhino have all been spotted; and Olifantsrus (7) – which has a relatively new hide that makes for brilliant up-close encounters.
Dolomite Camp to/from:
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