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Namibia Travel Journal
Etosha to Waterberg Plateau - 3rd leg of our Namibia Adventure

Sylvia Ferguson, Sedgefield, South Africa

More journals by Sylvia:
Caprivi – 1st leg of our Namibia Adventure | Ngepi to Etosha - 2nd leg of our Namibia Adventure | Waterberg to Epupa - 4th leg of our Namibia Adventure | A delightful Day on Knysna Lagoon (South Africa's Garden Route) |

Namibia is a land of contrast. The dunes of Sossusvlei are amongst the highest in the world, rising a thousand feet (300 metres) above the desert.  Etosha National Park, with vast salt pans, savanna and woodland, is one of Africa's finest game parks and is home to wildlife's Big Five.

Etosha National Park





The Waterberg Plateau is an impressive sandstone table-top mountain that rises 200 metres above the surrounding bushveld to provide a lush island sanctuary for more 25 species of game and at least 200 bird species. Situated 60 kilometers east of Otjiworongo one can either stay in the Government Waterberg Plateau Park or at the privately owned  Waterberg Wilderness.

Etosha to Waterberg Plateau

3rd leg of our Namibia Adventure

Sylvia Ferguson, Sedgefield, South Africa

Waterberg Plateau, Namibia

Panoramic view of the Waterberg Plateau, Namibia

From Etosha Safari Camp we turn south again as the private resort, Waterberg Wild in the Waterberg Plateau Park is our destination. It is a mere 319 kms to travel and we stop to buy provisions for 3 nights in the park at Otjiwarongo, the halfway point of our journey. We have been pleasantly surprised by the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables at the supermarkets in these small towns. We are glad to have our camp fridge that works on gas, electricity and off the car battery. It means that we can keep our veggies fresh, our butter from melting, our milk and drinks cold and  store meat for a couple of days too.

This detour southwards was a late addition to our Namibian itinerary. Friends had visited us at Christmas insisting that Waterberg was worth a visit.  As I only started making booking enquiries from the end of January we still had opportunity to add it in. From a distance the Plateau is clearly visible rising up from a flat bushveld landscape. Once we get close up, it is very impressive!

So much of Namibia has not been what I expected. I don’t actually know what I expected but somehow my feeling is - it's not what I expected!!! Yes, I know that sounds confusing! Part of it is the difference between wearing winter pyjamas and sleeping under winter sheets and duvets at night and wearing lightweight  summer clothing during the day.

I’ve read about extremes of temperature in the desert but actually experiencing them takes me by surprise. After leaving tropical Kaprivi the night temperatures have been freezing. We’ve been warm enough in our tent thankfully. Now at Waterberg from being icy just before dawn, an hour after sunrise its quite hot and by lunchtime, it's very hot!  I wouldn’t handle summer temperatures at all well when winter daytime temperatures get up to 30 degrees celsius. Wayne says it's because I have a faulty thermostat !

The bushveld is dry and the great granite outcrops that create the plateau remind me once again of the Matabos outside Bulawayo in Zimbabwe where I grew up. The heat seems to make everything lethargic and apart from the cicadas chirping endlessly, nothing is stirring. We haven’t bought a newspaper or heard a news broadcast in weeks and don’t have a clue what’s happening in the rest of the world. We’ve had minimum contact with friends and family. I haven’t sat at a computer to send one email and there’s no cell phone coverage in the few places we’ve tried to send sms’s. Somehow, it doesn’t matter.


There are only 6 campsites here and they are spaced far apart in a circle like spokes in a wheel where at the centre, is a single ablution block divided into 4 completely separate bathrooms almost one for each campsite. There are no doors or closing mechanisms on any of them so I really hope I don’t walk in and surprise some wild creature seeking a cool respite from the heat. Solar heating which is ideal here, ensures hot water can be obtained all day and at night a donkey boiler is lit. Each campsite has maximum privacy created by the dense bush and distance between one camp an another.  It’s like we’re the only people here and I don’t mind at all! I think in a previous life I must have been a hermit!

Lodge surrounds

Wayne’s headed off to a small pool to tan and swim and a hush reigns at camp except for a few bees buzzing around hopefully. I clean up everything once we’ve eaten and keep the tent closed because I don’t want baboons looking for leftovers. We’ve heard their shouts but so far they have kept their distance. I laze in a camping chair letting my mind empty and float in a sea of tepid silence. I’m not thinking of anything – it’s so restful, its better therapy than sleep!

On top of the Waterberg Plateau

We have done a guided walk up onto the Waterberg Plateau. 8 of us plod up  a steep winding rocky track led by Aebon, our guide until we reach the top of the plateau, 150 metres above the surrounding landscape at this point.  It was unquestionably worth it as the views were spectacular. We could even see the notoriously treacherous open canal coming from Katimo Malilo that supplies water to towns near by at the high cost of many wild animals that fall in and drown in it because they are prevented from escaping by its slippery sloping sides.

On Waterberg Plateau

On Top of Waterberg Plateau

We saw all the signs of wildlife on the plateau but no wildlife themselves. They hear us long before we see them and silently slip away. No matter, this Waterberg Wilderness is beautiful on its own. It is privately owned and adjacent to the Government owned Waterberg Plateau Park.  It has a piece of the plateau and a natural spring that emerges in  the valley and that supplies water to the Lodge, the bungalows and the campsites. There is even enough to bottle it. It is delicious tasting water filtered from ancient caverns deep beneath the sand so we empty our 20litre container and refill it with this cool spring water. Apart from the Kaprivi, surface water is a luxury but there is beneath the desert some very good underground water and here, it is pure enough to drink without any purification measures needed.

Foutain Trail

Fountain Trail

The following day we decide to do the self–guided Porcupine and Fountain trails that start from the Lodge some 2.2kms away. We drive there to have a look around and find the Lodge positioned right against the foot of the plateau in an impressive natural setting. The walk was most enjoyable as we followed a path that weaved along the side of the plateau rising and falling in a gradual horseshoe shape so that we ended up back where we started. The red stone cliffs carved into various fascinating rock formations and different trees including a number of giant sycamore figs lent themselves to some great photographs.

Porcupine Trail

Porcupine Trail

Walking back on a level track, I suddenly find myself looking at a broad black backside in front of me through the grass. For a heart stopping moment I think I’m just a few feet away from a buffalo or rhino and if it swings round, I’ve had it. I’m in trouble! Then I realise it’s just one of a grazing herd of cattle we’re walking amongst. Whew!  Driving back to camp we catch a glimpse of a group of female kudu and their young as they cross the road skittishly in front of us.

Kudu Sighting

There is no electricity at camp so our fridge runs super-quietly on gas and all the cooking is done on an open fire – a very nice braai with grid and skottel is supplied to each campsite. We have been given a bundle of firewood and it lasts us all of our three days here. At night the stars are lamps shining brilliantly above us and we drink up the beauty of the night sky as if it was a show put on just for us, luxuriating in the cocooned solitude of this Waterberg Wilderness experience.

Read more of Sylvia's Namibia journals:
Caprivi – 1st leg of our Namibia Adventure
Ngepi to Etosha - 2nd leg of our Namibia Adventure

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I live on South Africa's Garden Route and am always delighted to hear from visitors. You're welcome to visit my website if you would like to ask a question or learn more about the region.


Sylvia Ferguson
Sedgefield, South Africa 

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