Etosha Waterholes
Etosha has more than 30 easily-accessible waterholes where game gather in the dry winters. But at which one do you park up and wait for the action? Some holes are surrounded by mopane shrubs that the elephants love to eat and which provide shade for animals in the heat of the day. Other pools are favoured as they are open and safe from prowling lions. Some even have a bar from where you can buy a refreshing cold drink. We asked some of Etosha’s top guides to share their tips, and we’ve used these  to annotate the map over the page. Happy safari!


Okaukuejo is perhaps Etosha’s best waterhole and it is right at the restcamp. You can sit on park benches with a cool beer and watch the wildlife come and go. Floodlit at night, Okaukuejo is your best bet for spotting black rhino.


Okondeka lies right on the edge of the pan some way north of Okaukuejo, but it is worth the trip. Martin Nghitongo says it can attract concentrations of all Etosha’s game. Lion are often spotted here, and photographs with the pan in the background are stunning. The afternoon is best for pictures.


Nebrownii is a small hole worth checking out on the way into Okaukuejo Camp as it is just 200m off the main road. 


Kalkheuwel is a photogenic hole with pretty mopane trees that attract elephants. A favourite with award winning wildlife photographers Steve and Ann Toon


Chudop often attracts large concentrations of game. Eland particularly like it in the morning and late afternoon. It is an artisian spring, fed by a fountain of underground water. Chris McIntyre of Expert Africa says, “I’ve spent many hours here. Don’t miss it.”


Tsumcor has a floating reed island. Imelda Bezaidenhout of Mushara says, “Tsumcor offers pure excitement any time of the day. It is visited by all kinds of game, and the location allows photographers to take photos from any angle.” 


Andoni is up on a plain in the far north east of the park. Martin Nghitongo from Namibia Wildlife Resorts,  has been a guide in Etosha for ten years. He says it is very open and popular with lions in the morning and in the late afternoon. It is also a breeding area for blue crane.


And the best of the rest...

1 Aus A good all-rounder. A natural spring that is surrounded by mopane trees. A solar water pump is used occasionally here. Waterholes are filled in rotation so it is worth asking at camp information about which holes have been most recently topped up.
2 Goas A favourite with Wilderness Safari guide Martin Benadie. Described as ‘wildlife central’ by wildlife photographers Steve and Ann Toon.
3 Gemsbokvlakte Another good all-rounder. Best in the afternoon.
4 Halali Quiet when there is plenty of water elsewhere, but in the dry season it is possible to see leopard and black rhino after dark.
5 Koinachas A reed island in the centre of the pool attracts birds.
6 Kapupuhedi The backdrop of the pan makes great pictures if you are lucky enough to find game there.
7 Klein and Groot Okevi A good all-rounder at the beginning and end of the day. Abram Tsumib of Onguma Lodge says that Groot Okevi is sometimes used by hunting lions, while Klein Okevi is a favourite with elephants.
8 Okerfontein Cheetah, which are difficult to spot in Etosha, are known to drink here occasionally.
9 Olifantsbad literally translated as ‘elephants’ bath’. Also popular with black-faced impala.
10 Ombika Close to Andersson’s Gate. Noted for lions in the early morning. Sadly, not great for photos.
11 Rietfontein A large pool that attracts gemsbok, zebra, kudu, and hartebeest.
12  Salvadora Large herds of zebra and the occasional cheetah.


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