One of Namibia’s most famous and most popular tourist attractions, Etosha National Park (in photos: the magic of Etosha) is set to undergo a major facelift in the coming months, which is hoped to boost tourism not only to the park but also to the country.
The Millenium Challenge Account (MCA), which is currently funding the development of three massive self-drive travel routes through Northern Namibia will be investing a hefty sum of N$340-million to the refurbishment of the park’s infrastructure.
As one of Namibia’s most important tourist destinations, with almost all travellers to the country including the park in their travel plans, the park’s upgrade should provide long-term benefits to a national economy which relies heavily on tourism.
Much of the money will be spent on building new staff houses and upgrading existing ones but tourist facilities will also be improved, such as the addition of camping, picnic and game-viewing facilities at the Olifantsrus waterhole.
The Southern Andersson Gate has also been upgraded and the MCA has announced it will fund the creation of new Galton Gate in the west of the park, due to be opened in mid-2014. This gate and the rest of Etosha National Park will form part of one of the new self-drive routes being developed by non-profit organisation Open Africa, covering the north-western part of the country and focusing on the traditional culture of the Himba and Damara people. The route includes well-known tourist attractions such as Spitzkoppe, Brandberg, Twyfelfontein and Epupa Falls and will be linked to the renowned Etosha National Park through the new Galton Gate.
Gitta Paetzold, CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia said that the new additions of the new Onkoshi Camp and the Dolomite Camp on either side of the pan have called for the opening of the Galton Gate in the west. She said, “The role and dimensions of Etosha make it unique in terms of free-roaming animals, conservation efforts and access to untouched areas by travellers.”
Approximately 42% of Namibia’s land area is under conservation management and according to Keith Sproule, Tourism Business Advisor with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Namibia, it is Africa’s greatest wildlife story ever told. Over 240,000 rural Namibians participate in the conservancy programme, underwritten in large parts by the largest number of Joint Venture Agreements with rural communities in any African destination. Communities have not only become custodians of their wildlife resources but for the first time they are deriving real benefits from it.
Completion of the project is set for mid-2014 and the three new self-drive travel routes will roll out in early 2014.
To support responsible travel, check out Open Africa’s self-drive travel routes in Namibia.
Planning a trip to Etosha? Find accommodation here.