Travel Virtually To View Namibian Wildlife

11 Mar 2022

Brigitte Weidlich

In the past two years travels have become quite restricted worldwide due to Covid-19 – and persons with itchy feet find that quite difficult. But there are digital alternatives to at least partly satisfy that travel bug for Namibia fans: webcams to watch wild animals at water holes in Namibia. This is possible in the Etosha National Park and in southern Namibia.

The state-owned company Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) launched its web cam in the world famous Etosha National Park in early March.

NWR manages all accommodation facilities in the government parks and decided to boost the tourism sector with a web camera at the Okaukuejo water hole transmitting live footage.

“We all had to adjust to virtual realities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected tourism and restricted travel, but one can use this technology also for virtual tourism,” said NWR managing director Dr. Matthias Ngwangwama. “In order to contribute to the quick recovery of Namibia’s tourism sector, NWR had a live stream camera installed at Namibia’s most famous water hole at Okaukuejo.”

Etosha, Okakuejo waterhole, Namibia
The waterhole at Okaukeujo in Etosha National Park. Photo: TripAdvisor

The web cam is attached to a pole a few metres away from the water hole and runs 24 hours a day. A solar battery keeps it running. It sends video footage so that viewers can watch the often high “traffic” volumes of wild animals drinking and bathing there.

A high-quality stereo microphone catches the chirping of various bird species, the ha-ha call of jackals, the snorting of rhinos and the unforgettable sound of elephants sucking up water in their trunks.

With some luck, a majestic male lion might be seen during a moonlit night at the Okaukuejo hole, sending a reverberating roar into the air afterwards.

“This new attraction allows us to bring nature into peoples’ living rooms and offices and makes places like Etosha accessible to millions of people worldwide who are unable to travel,” said Ngwangwama. Once travels pick up, the web cam might inspire persons to undertake their first ever trip abroad to Namibia - and Etosha of course.

The Okaukuejo web cam can be accessed online via the YouTube channel of NWR and a link on its website. 

Web cam pioneers since 2016

Other opportunities for web cam viewing are in the Namib and Kalahari Deserts. The company Gondwana Collection was the first tourism operator to introduce a web cam in 2016 some eight km away from its Namib Desert Lodge.

Wild anibmals at waterhole in the Namib Desert, Namibia
Wildlife in the Namib Desert. A live video stream allows observers from all over the world to share in the spectacle. Photo: Gondwana Collection

A round water hole was constructed already in 2006 in a vast open plain of the Namib, the oldest desert in the world. With the advancement of new technologies, a webcam was installed six years ago.

The waterhole is situated within the privately owned Gondwana Namib Park, bordering on the Namib Naukluft Park.

It runs under the name Namib Desert Live Stream and is immensely popular. Since it moved to the YouTube platform NamibiaCam last year, its subscribers increased to 182,000 – from as far as Japan.

The camera was installed in 2016 and is mounted on a pole three metres from the waterhole facing south-southeast.

It is powered by solar-panels and the data is sent via a wireless signal over a distance of 35km of dunes to the nearest service provider. Initially a live stream was sent to a website. The migration to YouTube took place in June 2021. A high-tech stereo microphone was installed in August 2021 to enhance the viewing experience. The camera was replaced with a brand new one in December 2021.

A pipe feeds the waterhole from the reservoir and the flow is regulated by means of a float valve. When the waterhole’s levels decline it gets refilled via the valve as animal numbers reduce.

A large stone was placed in the middle to allow birds a place of rest and to reduce evaporation.

Animals can also drink at the reservoir 150m behind the camera but prefer the waterhole.

The web cam also constantly shows the temperature which soar to over 40 degrees Celsius in summer.

In this private park, all man-made barriers have been removed, creating a space over 56,540 square kilometers for ecotourism as it was the only sustainable form of land use to restore the wildlife and vegetation, while nurturing the land.

Zebra, Namib Desert, Namibia
Zebras visit the waterhole in the Gondwana Namib Park at dawn. Photo: Gondwana Collection Namibia

Wildlife moves freely between this park and the adjacent Namib Naukluft Park and other privately owned guest farms.

Interestingly, that is why occasionally two feral or free-roaming horses can be watched at the waterhole at times. They are from one of the surrounding farms and have entered the park as there are no boundary fences.

The Gondwana team responsible for monitoring the webcam also post the best scenes and most interesting animals coming to drink as individual videos on the YouTube channel NamibiaCam.

They also attend to the llively and often endearing chats about observations at the water hole of the large community.

Among the top 10 international webcams

The Gondwana webcam in the Namib Desert has made it into the list of “The Top 10 Webcams”, which are chosen by a panel of EarthCam producers. They select the best out of hundreds of popular webcam submissions. The criteria used for judging includes image quality, uniqueness of the content, and overall technical achievement in webcam technology. These are the cameras that have amused, amazed, or astounded them.

The ‘Top 10 list’ frequently changes and to remain on the prestigious list like Gondwana is quite a distinction!

The company’s second webcam was just recently installed in the Gondwana Kalahari Park, near the Kalahari Anib Lodge. The Kalahari camera can pan, tilt and zoom.

So, if you have already visited Namibia and your next trip is still quite far away, you can at least sneak away virtually by watching our wildlife at three different web cams from all corners of the world via your Smartphone, tablet, laptop or desk top computer.

If you want to visit Namibia, the Gondwana Travel Centre will gladly assist with travel advice. 

Giraffe at sunset, Namib Desert, Namibia


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