After Caprivi, we were heading toward Kaokoland, Namibia’s most north-western region. At the same time, it is also country’s least populated area, with only one person per any 2 square kilometers. Main inhabitants are Himba people.
We didn’t have firm plans, nor any reservations, for this part of the trip , so we could go by our instinct and daily inspirations. From Divundu, we didn’t want to push too far in one day. We decided to take a bit more leisure pace and rather spent some more time shopping in Rundu, last larger town for next few days and to find our shelter for the night at Tanga Safari lodge, some 30 km west from Rundu. They offer campsites on lush green grass and their position, few kilometers off from the main road, right on the Kvando river (and on the Angolan border at the same time) , ensure very quiet setting.
Next day, we continued west along the northern border with Angola, formed by Kavango river, which flows from west to east, until we reached a town (actually more like a village) of Ruacana, where we reached another river that forms a natural border with Angola – Kunene river. This one flows from east to west until it finally reaches Atlantic ocean at the northern fringes of Namib desert.
At Ruacana we said goodby to smooth tarred roads for next few days. From there on, we will follow gravel road D3700, which runs along Kunene river all the way to Epupa falls. Not so long ago, this road was a serious 4×4 adventure, but few years ago they improved it considerably, so that now it doesn’t impose any serious problems. But thankfully, the scenery around the road was not affected by roadworks – it remains wild and beautiful. We also met our first Himba people here.
We decided to spend two nights at beautiful Kunene River Lodge. As it’s name implies, it is positioned right on the river, in a beautiful stretch of it’s flow. We enjoyed the tranquility of this oasis for next two days. While in camp. we were entertained by residential water monitor lizard and many birds. We also found some refreshment in a small pool.
One evening, we set on sundowner boat cruise on the river from the lodge. It was beautiful experience and Pete, our skipper and the owner and manager of the lodge (together with his wife Hillary), was wealth of information about the region. We had our gin & tonic sunset drink on the Angolan side of the river, so we can proudly say we also set our foot in Angola! 😉
At lodge, they also arrange a visit to local Himba family. Actually, one of the young members of this family works at the lodge and he guided us to his village. They showed us their homes, some of their daily routine and explained explained about their everyday life. It was authentic and pristine, not staged, as it is often the case with this kind of visits.
From Kunene River Lodge, it is some three hours drive to Epupa Falls, our next destination. The road was relatively good, after it’s recent improvements, but there are still some steep exits from dry river beds, which can be quite tricky during rainy season. The road sticks close to the river, whose lush vegetation forms a stark contrast to an arid and barren surrounding country.
When we arrived to Epupa Falls, there was some kind of local traditional market going on. It was very colorful, with many Himba people from nearby villages, in their traditional clothing, buying and selling various items.
We settled at Epupa Lodge campsite, the closest to the falls. It was quite full, with some big overland trucks, but they were well behaved, so it was not noisy at all. Lodge also have a nice pool, large enough to refresh in it with some decent swimming strokes.
Epupa Falls, with their unspoiled environment, are one of major tourist attractions in Namibia. But as they are well away from major tourist routes and due to relatively uncomfortable and long access, they are still not too crowded, even in high season. Here, Kunene river falls in a series of waterfalls into a gorge below. Some baobab trees look quite attractive, growing right out of the cliffs amid waterfalls. To get the nicest view on the falls in fading evening light, you have to climb on top of the nearby hill. It really offers breathtaking sight.
From Epupa Falls, we finally left the Angolan border, which we were following almost for a week, and turned south toward the town of Opuwo, the regional capital of Kaokoland. There we spent some time to retrieve money from ATM, refuel and buy some groceries for the rest of our trip.