Southern Africa, Namibia

Etosha National Park

Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra

Etosha National Park is the kind of place where the universal clock seems to be running slow, and the theoretic relatively of time is nature’s practice. Spacepeople look down from orbit at Etosha’s massive 100 million-year old, 1,800 square-mile salt pan in wonder; to its first inhabitants, the Oshindonga people, it was simply The Great White Place.

Located in Namibia’s far north, Etosha is perhaps the country’s greatest wildlife sanctuary. The Great White Place occupies a quarter or so of the park’s area, the rest being a prototypically African mix of open grasslands and savannah woodlands. All the Big Five make their home here, in abundance. Despite its gargantuan austerity, the salt pan is a focus of game viewing in the park. Its many waterholes are magnets for the park’s animals—large, small, and avian (up to a million flamingos breed in the former lakebed). Traversing the salt pan in safari vehicles, we spot a waterhole and slowly approach to see the quiet drama of prey and predators and various animal bystanders as they congregate in temporary peace around the life-sustaining water, a classic safari experience.

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