At the heart of Etosha is the vast Etosha Pan, a huge salt flat, which after rain becomes a shallow lagoon. It is teeming with birdlife, most memorably, huge flocks of flamingo and pelican, and, unfased by human presence, you can stand among them without the need to retreat to a hide.
Etosha really is a bird lovers dream. You can put your binoculars away for the kori bustard: the world’s largest flying bird weighs in at 15 kg, it’s impossible to miss. It’s also a great place to spot ostrich and to cross various hornbill, stork, hoopoe, shrike and waxbill off your life list.
Gracing the Pan with an unmistakable and nostalgic presence are the horned silhouettes of south-western black rhino. There is a certain wisdom about them, typically reserved for description of elephants, which can be felt when you encounter them up close for the first time.
Long after the sun makes its escape, another delight can be observed on the Pan. A brilliant celestial display emerges as light fades to darkness; a particularly haunting sight is the reflection of the galaxy on the inky post-rain pools of water. This is an astronomer’s dream.