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Namibia Travel Journal
Waterberg Plateau to Epupa - 4th leg of our Namibia Adventure

Sylvia Ferguson, Sedgefield, South Africa

More journal entries by Sylvia:
Caprivi – 1st leg of our Namibia Adventure | Ngepi to Etosha - 2nd leg of our Namibia Adventure | Etosha to Waterberg Plateau – 3rd leg of our Namibia Adventure | A delightful Day on Knysna Lagoon (South Africa's Garden Route)

Editorial Note: Namibia's rich history provides a mixing bowl of cultures, customs and German architecture. The nomadic Himba people live as they have for centuries, dressed in goat skins and jewelry fashioned from leather, metal and shells. Etosha National Park's vast salt pans, savanna and woodland provide host to wildlife's Big Five and the adventure of safari.


Waterberg to Epupa Self Drive Camping Adventure

Waterberg to Epupa

4th leg of our Namibia Adventure

Sylvia Ferguson, Sedgefield, South Africa


The journey from Waterberg to Epupa takes one through Kaokaland to the Northern limits of Namibia where the mighty Kunene River forms the boundary with Angola. It is the territory of the semi-nomadic Himba people that still live an independent traditional lifestyle. At Epupa the river narrows as tons of water tumbles relentlessly into deep rock hewn canyons creating scenes of impressive grandeur.



Waterberg Plateau to Hobatere

We leave Waterberg for one of our longest travelling days on this Namibian trip. We have an overnight stop at Hobatere close to the western edge of Etosha. 9/10’s of our travelling today will be on tarred roads and they are part of the reason we will cover 400kms as we should be able to do it well before nightfall.

We get going early but stop for over an hour at Otjiworongo. It’s a large town where we can draw money, refill a gas cylinder at Afrox and have a needed grocery shopping spree at Spar – one of the nicest we’ve been to (South Africa included!). Back at the car we are mobbed by street vendors trying to sell us stone key-rings.  We already have some but they are insistent. We make a donation so we can be left in peace to pack our purchases into our vehicle.

We make good time from Otjiworongo to Hobatere and are the first people to arrive at the hillside campsite for the night. We get to choose where we want to pitch our tent.  A good number of people arrive later including a group in a tour bus.

                                                        Hobatere - West of Etosha National Park

It’s been a hot day and we are inundated with midges (irritating little flies) buzzing around our faces while we pitch our tent. They only leave us when the sun goes down. Before sunset we walk higher up the hill to a hide from where we survey the surrounding landscape and can view the waterhole on the plain below us.

The area consists of Mopane Savannah looking parched and dusty. Rolling granite hills and kopjes are interspersed with open valleys, plains and dry watercourses. We see only birds visiting the waterhole but we spot giraffe and zebra in the bush and klipspringer on the rocks close by. The campsite staff tell us there are lions, elephant, brown hyena and even wild dog in this concession area.  We had seen a set of kudu horns at the waterhole and realise they might be evidence of an old lion kill.

It’s a pleasantly warm night and a full moon shines brightly by 7:30pm.  Wayne has a chat to a black tour guide with the tour bus “Esprit de’Afrique”. He turns out to be a Zimbabwean, Moses Ndhlovu from Filabuzi (who can also speak French!) and Wayne has a chance to speak some Ndebele again!


Opuwa to Epupa

Next day we get to Opuwa much earlier than we anticipated so although we had planned to camp the night at the Country Lodge there we decide we have enough time to continue on to Epupa. Quite honestly Opuwa looked like a real dump (the town that is, not the Lodge), run-down and neglected. Numerous beggars wander around aimlessly pestering tourists passing through and photogenic Himbas in traditional dress ask for money in exchange for having their photographs taken.

We stop at the OK Food Store to buy some loaves of bread, bottles of cooking oil and packets of sugar as a gift for the Community campsite where we’ll be staying at Epupa. They have no shops close by so goods are more useful to them than money. Opuwa the nearest decent town where groceries are already more expensive than Otjiwirongo is 182kms from Epupa. Here we also run out of tar. From now on we travel on dirt roads. All the same they aren’t bad although it’s a long hot drive through a barren landscape that has been destroyed by the overgrazing of cattle and goats belonging to the itinerant Himbas.

Opuwa-Epupa Road

Road between Opuwa and Epupa


Epupa Community Campsite, Kunene River

In contrast the Epupa Community campsite is an oasis on the Kunene River right next to the gorge where the water thunders so loudly you cannot hear any sounds emanating from your fellow campers on either side of you. When you see people talking, it looks like they’re miming!  It is stinking hot even though the vast campsite alongside the river is shaded by tall Makalani Palms.

Epupa Community Website

Epupa Community Campsite

The palms are visited by the raucous Rupell’s parrots (which we could hear but couldn’t always easily see!) and are also home to (a special for us birders) the Rufous-tailed PalmThrush that we are overjoyed to see! As tempting as it looks one cannot swim in the river because crocodiles pose a serious threat and one probably stands the risk of getting the water-borne disease, bilharzia too.

Best Camp Views


Epupa Falls

Kunene River Sunset

Kunene River Sunset

The sunset is breathtaking. The night cools the air down slightly. The river roars on. The morning dawns fresh and cool until about 10:30 and then the heat starts to build. We start fairly early to do a long walk beside the river and along the canyons. The river is wide above the gorge and diverges into many streams that find their individual ways via smaller canyons and waterfalls to join up with the main river again. It’s a very impressive sight.

Epupa Falls, Namibia

Epupa Falls, Northern Namibia

Divergent Streams

Although it seems far off the beaten track, and one is in a truly remote place far from the conveniences of civilization, the falls are well worth a visit. The campsite facilities are good but basic. There’s no electricity and the hot water we find to be mostly lukewarm but that’s good enough here. Regardless, I consider Epupa Falls one of the highlights of our trip.

Epupa Falls

Epupa Falls

Back to Waterberg to Epupa Camping Adventure | Top of Page

Read about our other adventure travels in Namibia:
Caprivi – 1st leg of our Namibia Adventure
Ngepi to Etosha - 2nd leg of our Namibia Adventure
Etosha to Waterberg Plateau – 3rd leg of our Namibia Adventure

image of Sedgefield Website link to

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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