While Etosha is obviously best known for its incredible array of wildlife and the beautiful moon-like expanse of the Etosha Pan, for any history aficionados the parks heritage is perhaps just as fascinating.
The base was originally built to help prevent the terrible rindepest cattle disease that had decimated much of the country’s livestock from spreading into the German-occupied part of Namibia (then known as German South-West Africa). It was subsequently used to keep a lookout for smuggling between German territory and Ovamboland. At this stage Namutoni, once the location of a natural fountain, consisted of little more than a few semi-permanent reed huts. The fortified building was propagated in 1902.
In 1904, unrest among Namibia’s Herero population led to rebellion against the German colonial regime, supported by the Ovambo, 500 of whom subsequently launched an attack on Fort Namutoni . After a long fight leaving around 200 Ovambo dead, the German occupants vacated the site, and only many months later in 1904 did anyone return to the half ruined site.
When the unrest in the country ceased in 1912, the fort was deemed no longer necessary and was closed. Though it was briefly occupied by South African troops in 1915, it soon began to crumble and decay, gradually being reclaimed by the environment around it.
In 1947 it was declared a historical monument and restoration begun with a view to using the site as a tourist camp. The fort reopened its gates in 1957, and has today become one of the much-visited park’s favourite spots, both for staying over and for a quick drop-in at the large pool on the way round the park, surrounded by the fort’s majestic high white walls. This remarkable monument, for all its ups and downs, continues to stand proud amidst the wild landscape.