Etosha is predominantly about wildlife viewing, or “game drives”. If not in a tour group, you will inevitably spend some time cruising around the park on your own, taking in waterholes and lookout points. However, it is worth considering booking a drive with one of the camps on at least one occasion. For a start, the guides are knowledgeable about the animals, though it’s pot luck what you will see, beyond the ubiquitous springbok and zebra. They also have a better idea of what might be spotted in which areas, and NWR guides can go out into the park before sunrise, ensuring an early stakeout at a waterhole – peak viewing time – and a greater likelihood of catching a lion on the prowl. What’s more, the safari vehicles, with their raised seating, provide better vantage points from which to spot and watch wildlife. Night game drives are a wholly different, almost ghostly experience, where the eyes of the animals give them away in the vehicle’s search lamps.
All game drives organized by NWR within the national park last three hours, leaving at 5.30am, 3pm and 8pm. Daytime drives cost N$450–500; night drives cost N$550 and are only available at Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni. As with the accommodation, you will need to book a drive in advance, especially at Okaukuejo and Namutoni in high season, as spaces are limited.
The private reserves outside the national park also offer game drives in Etosha, and sometimes in their own reserves as well. They usually charge around N$550, including park entry fees and cold drinks. Whole-day trips are also organized by some lodges.