Once part of a large inland lake fed by rivers from the north and east, Etosha pan dried up 120 million years ago as continental drift changed the tilt of the land and redirected the course of the tributaries.
Good summer rains still fill the salt pan with pools of water and pink clouds fill the air as tens of thousands of migrating flamingos come to breed. The grasslands and trees around the edges of the pan turn from pale gold to green and the whole park is transformed.
But it is in the dry winter months that the true spectacle of Etosha is born. As the pools and puddles dry up, the pan becomes an austere expanse of white cracked mud, shimmering with mirages and upward-spiralling dust devils. Everything is covered in a fine white film, giving the land its characteristic ghostly appearance.
Now Etosha’s abundant array of game starts returning in great numbers to the numerous waterholes and springs that lie along the southern edge of the pan. These are the jewels of Etosha National Park, providing unequalled game-viewing opportunities.