The Etosha National Park covers an area of 22 270 square km in Namibia. It is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, perhaps surprisingly, one species of fish.
Etosha, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The pan is part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park.
The pan was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up. The pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. Here, the green swirls around the edges of the pan indicate the presence of water and algae.
This temporary water in the Etosha Pan attracts thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife and birds.