For many years Namibia's main tourist draw card has been the internationally known Etosha National Park. Until the 1960s, Etosha was the largest game reserve in the world, but following the implementation of the recommendations of the Odendaal Commission, its surface area was reduced by a vast 77%. Nevertheless, at its present size of 22 270 km\ it is still one of the largest parks in Africa. Etosha has three rest camps - Okaukuejo, favoured for its floodlit waterhole where "specials" such as elephant, giraffe, black rhino and lion can be viewed at night; Namutoni, characterised by the historic fort around which it is centred; and Halali, situated halfway between Okaukuejo and Namutoni.
Etosha owes its unique landscape to the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 5 000 km2. A series of waterholes along the southern edge of the pan guarantee rewarding and often spectacular game viewing. In good rain years the pan fills with water draining south- wards from Angola via a delta-like system of shallow rivers and oshanas, drying out in the winter to become an austere expanse of white cracked mud, shimmering with mirages and upward spiralling dust devils.
Etosha can now also be entered from the north-central Owambo regions. The Nehale Iya Mpingana Gate, located on the Andoni plains just north of the Andoni waterhole, was opened during 2001. The new gate reflects the architectural elements of the Namutoni Fort, as well as the local culture of the north. Traffic in and out of the gate is managed on the same basis as at the Andersson and Yon Lindequist gates, although the entry and exit times are different. During the rainy season this is a good option for viewing Fischer's Pan, a birders' delight on several counts, especially for greater and lesser flamingos and even pelicans.