The Etosha National Park’s water holes each have their own character. There are natural water holes and those which are fed artificially from boreholes. Examples of the latter are Olifantsbad and Ozonjuitji m’Bari.
It is important to remember that the water levels of the holes and the number of game to see there vary from season to season, depending on the rainfall and the migration of the animals. Certain artificial drinking places may be dry periodically due to a rotation system of providing water to the game. Some water holes are normally dry in the winter when rain does not fall. Dry water holes are indicated on the map.
The list of water holes which follows serves merely as a guide for better game viewing opportunities. It is advisable to consult camp officials regarding game concentrations before undertaking trips.
The descriptions of the holes are based on the dry season that is in winter, May to August which is the best season for visiting the park. In the rainy season when there is sufficient water available in the veld, the animals congregate less at the water holes.
- Adamax: This water hole, as well as four others north of Okaukuejo (Grunewald, Leeubron, Natco and Wolfsnes), is dry most of the time.
- Andoni: Lies on a plain and is the furthest into the park. Many bird species are seen here. It also lies close to the new entrance gate to Etosha, namely Nehale Lya Mpingana Gate.
- Aroe: This is on the edge of Fischer’s Pan. Elephant, springbok, blue wildebeest, kudu, zebra and giraffe can be seen here.
- Aus: Well worth a visit. It is fed by a water level fountain and situated in Mopani veld. This hole lures elephant, zebra, springbok, red hartebeest, black-faced impala, kudu, gemsbok and sometimes also rhino.
- Batia: Excellent for general game viewing. Large herds of springbok, blue wildebeest and elephant can be seen. However, it is quite often dry.
- Charitsaub: This is one of the three watering places halfway between Okaukuejo and Halali (the others are Salvadora and Sueda). For most of the time it is dry.
- Chudob: Fed by an artesian fountain, it is a floating reed island, a phenomenon associated with this sort of fountain. It is one of the few places where eland congregate. Apart from eland, black-faced impala and warthog also come to drink. Giraffe also gathers here, probably one of the best places at which to photograph them.
- Gaseb: Usually dry, but a fairly good place to see a rhino.
- Gemsbokvlakte: Excellent for viewing the game in the dry season. The best part of the day for photography is in the afternoon. This water hole attracts a large variety of animals including lion and elephants.
- Goas: Has been described as a paradise. It attracts vast numbers of animals, particularly in the dry season. Black-faced impala, blue wildebeest, lion, elephant and hundreds of zebra come here to drink. Birds of prey are also often seen.
- Great Okevi: Like Klein Okevi, situated due south, it is fed by a water level fountain. Kudu, zebra and elephant can often be seen, as well as predators, such as cheetah and leopard.
- Homob: Situated close to the edge of the pan, it attracts many animals, including lion and elephant.
- Kalkheuwel: This is considered the best water hole by many photographers. It lies in attractive Mopani veld and it is possible to get very close to animals. In the dry season, large numbers of animals come to the hole to drink. When lions are present other animals have to wait their turn. Gemsbok, giraffe and elephants are often spotted. Leopards are present in the area. It is also a good place for bird watching and photography of birds of prey. These include the bateleur eagle and the black (yellow-billed) kite.
- Kapupuhedi: The white pan affords a good background for the photographer. The hole is sometimes dry.
- Koinachas: Fed by an artesian fountain and is visited reasonably often by game.
- Klein Namutoni: This water hole is fed by an artesian spring. A fair number of game visit this one, like the black-faced impala, zebra, elephant, leopard and large numbers of giraffe. Hyena is often seen in the late afternoon. Nearby is Bloubok-draai where the tiny Damara dik-dik antelope can be seen.
- Klein Okevi: At this interesting water level spring, at which black-faced impala, kudu, gemsbok, zebra, elephant and even cheetah can often be spotted, a large variety of birds can be seen.
- King Nehale: This water hole lies adjacent to Namutoni rest camp and is illuminated at night.
- Leeubron: Formerly this water hole attracted lion and large zebra herds. It is now mostly dry.
- Moringa: This water hole lies adjacent to Halali Rest Camp and attracts a variety of game, including elephants. It is illuminated at night.
- Newbrownii: Named after the water acacia Acacia Newbrownii thickets surrounding it, it attracts high numbers of animals, particularly elephants. The water comes from a borehole that was sunk to relieve pressure on Okaukuejo’s vegetation.
- Ngobib: A water level spring. It lies in a hollow and is therefore not too visible. It does however, attract kudu, zebra and elephant. Leopard may be found in the area around the hole and cheetah along the circular road.
- Nuamses: Can be described as a smaller edition of Homob. It is close to the pan.
- Okaukuejo: Offers the tourist a unique experience in winter. It is next to Okaukuejo Rest Camp and the animals can be viewed without the limitations imposed by a vehicle. The drinking place is illuminated at night. Elephant, zebra, kudu and springbok are seen a lot. Lions often visit the water hole. At night black rhino pay visits quite regularly.
- Okondeka: A contact fountain which lies on the edge of the pan, is visited by animals from the plains, as well as giraffe. Lion is quite often seen.
- Okerfontein: The strongest contact spring, and situated on the edge of the pan. It is not particularly popular but cheetah and lion can sometimes be spotted.
- Olifantsbad: Attractive Mopani veld situated between Gemsbokvlakte and Aus. Lion, large elephant herds, zebra and a variety of antelope such as springbok, black-faced impala, red hartebeest, kudu and gemsbok visit this water hole. The black rhino is sometimes seen.
- Ombika: One of the better drinking places, visited by quite a variety of animals including lions.
- Ozonjuitji m’Bari: Rather far from Okaukuejo, therefore tourists need to allow enough time to return to the rest camp before sunset. Fortunately one passes through Fairy-tale Forest on the way, which is worth a visit. Quite a number of animals come here to drink. It is the only place where roan antelope can be seen.
- Rietfontein: This is one of the best-known drinking places in the park. It has a large water surface area, at which springbok, lion, elephant and nearly all species of animal in the park, including leopard come to drink. It is essential for bird lovers as water birds and birds of prey abound here.
- Salvadora and Sueda: Both these drinking places are on the edge of the pan and attract the same kind of animals as Charitsaub.
- Springbokfontein: This is another of the watering places formed by a contact spring on the edge of the pan. A variety of game come here and sometimes even white rhino.
- Tsumcor: Tsumcor favours “elephant photographers”. A wide variety of other animals also visit this water hole.
- Two Palms: A beautiful part of the park. It is on the edge of Fischer’s Pan and next to two makalani palms which give the place its name. Sunsets from here are particularly pleasing for photographers.