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Sandscapes Namibia

4 Day Etosha Park Self Drive

Our four day Etosha Park self-drive safari offers you the opportunity to visit Namibia’s most renowned game reserve at your own pace. Etosha National Park is ideally suited for a Namibian self drive holiday; the roads are in reasonable condition and well-marked, and game viewing is plentiful throughout the year.   more

Game viewing in Etosha is generally best during the early morning and late afternoon. Around mid-day, it is customary for wildlife to find a shady tree and take a siesta. We like to do the same. Drop into one of the rest camps, grab a bite to eat (and a Windhoek Lager) and have a few hours rest before heading out on a pre-sundown game drive.

As night falls a whole new set of animals emerges from the veld. Etosha does not allow self-driving after dark but does offer guided night-drives. These have minimal spaces and require pre-booking. Our preference is to find a comfy place at a spotlit waterhole. Okaukuejo & Halali have particularly good ones. Open a bottle of wine and sit quietly as a myriad of animals come to drink.

As with all our itineraries, this one is entirely customisable. Our travel consultants love telling people what to do.  Yes, they can be a bit bossy! But only because they want you to love Namibia as much as they do!  They will work tirelessly to find the best configuration of vehicle, accommodation and length of stay to suit your entire parties needs. Contact us and let us help arrange your self-drive in Etosha, or around the whole of Namibia.

Fast Facts

Days: 4

Price: From US$25 per person  

    • Camping: US$25 per person
    • Mid Range: US$125 per person
    • Upmarket: US$250 per person

Places: Etosha National Park

Experiences: Extraordinary game viewing at your own pace

Daily Itinerary

Start your Etosha self-drive by leaving Windhoek, heading north on the B1. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and birds; it is common to see warthog, ostriches & baboons on the roadside while several antelope species and colourful birds can also be spotted. You should make good time as the road is tarred all the way to Okaukuejo.

Enter Etosha through the Andersson Gate (named after Swedish explorer Charles Andersson). After completing some paperwork, the game viewing begins in earnest. Zebra and springbok usually greet you within metres of the gate. You might want to take a short detour to visit Ombika waterhole where lions are occasional visitors. Then head to Okaukuejo and check-in to your accommodation for the night.

If there is time head out for an afternoon game drive. Remember the Okaukukejo gate closes at sunset so plan accordingly as sleeping in your car outside the gates is no fun! Alternatively, walk to the Okaukuejo waterhole and let the animals come to you. After dinner, we highly recommend grabbing a bottle of port (or whatever tickles your fancy) and settling in to enjoy the procession of animals at the spot-lit waterhole. Elephants and rhino are frequent visitors throughout the night.

Tip: People frequently forget to turn north after leaving Okahandja & we often miss the turn in Otjiwarongo!

Highlights: Spotlit waterhole at Okaukuejo

Distance: 435km

Estimated Drive Time: 4h20

Explore Etosha Park at your leisure. The best game viewing is generally at the waterholes, but occasionally you will come across incredible sightings next to (or in the middle of) the road. One never knows what is waiting to surprise you just around the next corner.

Part of the joy of self-driving in Etosha is that you get to choose how to spend your days. There are two basic approaches to game viewing in Etosha. The first involves driving between as many waterholes as you can in the hope that your arrival will coincide with a fantastic sighting. The second more leisurely approach is driving to a waterhole and patiently waiting to see what arrives.   The strategy you choose probably says a lot about your personality.  But one thing is inevitable when you speak to fellow travellers they will have adopted the other method and seen something way more spectacular than you did!

We suggest spending a morning exploring the waterholes to the west of the Pan (especially Okondeka) as these can be good for cats in the early hours. The afternoon could be spent driving towards Halali, visiting the lookout point on the Etosha Pan, and exploring the Gemsbokvlakte Loop. The alternative option is to continue driving west to Ozonjuitji m’Bari that attracts large herds of plains animals such as springbok, wildebeest, zebra and gemsbok.

The following day head past Halali towards Namutoni. Rietfontein is situated close to Halali and is often frequented by a variety of animals. Kalkheuwel waterhole, south-west of Namutoni, is known to have productive sightings throughout the day. Other waterholes you may want to include are Goas, Chudob and Groot Okevi.

How you actually spend your days depends on the time of year (animals migrate around the park during wet season), information gleaned from fellow travellers and guides, and of course how long you spend watching and photographing the critters you see along the way.

Lunch (and bathroom stops) are best enjoyed at one of the rest camps – Okaukuejo, Halali or Namutoni. We suggest bringing your own lunch as there is only so much Etosha restaurant food one wants to endure. Remember all the camps also have a swimming pool so take your costume along for the day.

Tip: Each rest camp has a sightings book. Have a look for notable sightings as they may still be in the area.

Tip: The speed limit within the park is 60km/h. People often under-estimate the time it takes to return back to camp. Be aware that the park rangers do not look kindly upon anyone arriving once the gates are closed (sunset).

Highlights: Lions hunting their breakfast (maybe!)

Distance: 0-400km

Estimated Drive Time: As much as you want

By now you should hopefully have seen all there is to see in Etosha (if not you will have to visit again soon!).  Pack up your possessions, do a final game drive, and begin the long journey back to Windhoek.

European bee-eater

Tip: Make sure you arrive back in Windhoek before nightfall. Driving after dark is dangerous due to animals on the road and can negate your rental insurance.

Highlights: A decent meal awaits

Distance: 435km

Estimated Drive Time: 4h20

Where you will stay


In Etosha you will be staying at the Okaukuejo campsite. While this campsite is pretty basic and can be overcrowded during high season and has communal bathroom facilities, the advantage here is the ability to visit the famous Okaukuejo waterhole at night.

Every campsite has a braai (barbeque) area, and meals can also be eaten in the Okaukuejo restaurant. There is a small shop but it is not well stocked so we advise campers to to come fully prepared to self cater.

Okaukuejo Camp

Meals: None (Self Catering)

Alternatives: There are better campsites outside Etosha. We can recommend one of these if you want a more comfortable experience


Unless you are a super keen camper we suggest staying in a good quality guest house or B&B in Windhoek. We will make suggestions based on your budget and requirements

Christuskirche in Windhoek

Meals: Breakfast

Alternatives: It is possible to camp in Windhoek


In order to make the most use of the Okaukuejo waterhole, we suggest staying at the NWR Okaukuejo resort.  The location is unbeatable and allows you to maximise your game viewing, but the standard of accommodation leaves a lot to be desired.

The best mid-range choice of accommodation is the bush chalets. These consist of one bedroom, an en-suite bathroom, lounge area and a braai area (only some bungalows have a braai area – and there is no way to guarantee you will have one). The unit is also equipped with a fridge, tea/coffee station, air-conditioning and mosquito nets (although some or all of this equipment may be missing or non-functional).

Okaukuejo Camp

Meals: Breakfast (other meals can be purchased in the restaurant). Cooked breakfast is available but not always offered!

Alternatives: There are much better lodges outside Etosha. We can recommend one of these if you want a more comfortable experience


In Windhoek you will stay in a comfortable guest house or bed & breakfast

Christuskirche in Windhoek

Meals: Breakfast


In order to make the most use of the Okaukuejo waterhole, we suggest a Premier Waterhole Chalet at Okaukuejo.  The location is unbeatable and allows you to maximise your game viewing, but the standard of accommodation leaves a lot to be desired. And although we are listing this as a luxury option it is NOT luxury, but the best choice of accommodation inside Okaukuejo. There are some spectacular upmarket lodges around Etosha and if you are looking for an upmarket stay our consultants will happily assist you in finding the perfect lodge.

The Premier Waterhole Chalet is a double story chalet with a balcony overlooking the waterhole (you can game watch from your balcony). There are 2 bedrooms, downstairs has 2 single beds and upstairs a queen size double. Air-conditioning, mosquito nets, a lounge area, fridge and tea/coffee station are standard.

Premier Waterhole Chalet at Okaukuejo - allows game viewing from your balcony

Meals: None (Meals can be purchased in the Restaurant)

Alternatives: There are much better lodges outside Etosha. We can recommend one of these if you want a luxury  experience


There are several upmarket hotels and boutique guest houses in Windhoek. Your consultant will assist you in selecting one that you will love.

Christuskirche in Windhoek

Meals: Breakfast

Additional Activities

You are not allowed out of the rest camp after sunset, so this negates any self-driving in Etosha after dark. An alternative to spending every evening sitting at the Okaukuejo waterhole is a guided night game drive in Etosha Park. Typically game viewing on these drives is not spectacular and it can be a bit cold and dusty but you may be rewarded with viewing some nocturnal species that you may not encounter otherwise. Leopard, porcupines and aardvark are all more active after dark.

Night Game drive

NWR offer both morning and afternoon game drives from Okaukuejo. In our opinion, you are better off self-driving in Etosha, but if you want to mix up the experience we can assist in pre-booking one of these game drives (or you can book at the Okaukuejo office).