Waterberg Plateau Park
The Waterberg Plateau Park is located 60 km east of Otjiwarongo and 300 km north east of Windhoek.
The plateau itself is 48 km at its longest point and 16 km at its widest and rises 200 metres above the surrounding African savannah, the Waterberg Plateau is a flamboyant brick-red sandstone formation with lush green vegetation, it is 1,878 metres above sea level.
The top of the plateau offers an ideal habitat to many rare and endangered species such as sable and roan antelope, tsessebe and white rhino. Leopards are also found, as are buffalo and over 200 bird species. Dinosaur tracks imbedded in sandstone can be seen on top of the plateau.
The vegetation changes dramatically from acacia savannah at the foot of the plateau to lush, green sub-tropical dry woodland with tall trees and grassy plains at the top. One of the Waterberg's many interesting facets is its diversity of flowering plants, trees and shrubs. Enormous common cluster leaf figs form dense canopies in the vicinity of the springs, where ferns create a verdant undergrowth. Magnificent karee, lead wood and buffalo-thorn trees can also be seen here. The broad-leaf woodlands of the sandy plateau are typical of the sandveld of eastern and north-eastern parts of Namibia. There are also striking silver cluster-leaf with its silver grey foliage, wild syringa and Kalahari apple leaf. Among the rocky outcrops there are the weeping wattle, its striking yellow flowers appearing from September to December, the lavender bush and the laurel fig, which clings tenaciously to the rocks against which it grows. Adding to the beauty of the rock faces are splashes of brightly coloured lichens, of which there are over 140 species in the Waterberg.
Waterberg Plateau and 41,000 hectares of surrounding land was declared a Nature Reserve in 1972 as a sanctuary for Namibia's declining eland population and as a breeding centre for rare and endangered species. Among the game roaming on the plateau are black and white rhino, buffalo, giraffe, roan, and sable. Other common antelopes include kudu, impala, gemsbok, eland, klipspringer and steenbok. Predators are represented in the park by leopard, cheetah, brown hyena, caracal and black-backed jackal.
While it is usually the larger animals that receive the most attention, the environs of the Bernabe de la Bat Rest Camp are home to several delightful small mammal species. The diminutive Damara Dik-Dik can sometimes be seen in and around the rest camp, while lesser bush babies might reveal themselves at dusk. Along the Forest Walk packs of banded mongoose are often encountered.
The oldest rock stratum is 850 million years old and dinosaurs left their tracks here 200 million years ago. The first human inhabitants were San people, who left rock engravings believed to be several thousand years old, and a small band of San were still living their traditional lifestyle on the mountain until the late 1960's.
Waterberg was the site of one of the major turning points in the story of Namibia and its people. It was here, on the foothills, that the Herero people lost their last and greatest battle against the German Colonial forces at the beginning of the century. A graveyard serves as a reminder of this turbulent period in history. Schutztruppe (German soldiers) who died in the battle fought between the Herero and German colonial forces in 1904 are buried here.
At the eastern extremity of the park is the Okatjikona Environment Education Centre, a facility that provides the opportunity for visiting groups, mainly schoolchildren, to learn about the importance of environmental conservation. The Centre was established and is managed by the MET.
The natural beauty of Waterberg can be explored either by vehicle on a guided game-viewing tour, or on foot by means of guided wilderness trails or a 4-day self-guided wilderness trail and easy walking trails.
Waterberg Hiking Trails:
(Important: Bookings must be made in advance.)
The Waterberg guided wilderness trail starts from the camp on every second, third and fourth weekend of each month, from April to November.
Hikers depart on a Thursday and arrive back on early Sunday afternoon.
A group consists of 6 to 8 persons. Hikers have to provide own food and sleeping bags.
The unguided 50 kilometre long hiking trail can be undertaken at own risk.
Open from April to November, departs every Wednesday from the resort office at 9 o'clock in the morning. The trail's duration is 4 days and it ends on Saturdays.
Hikers have to have all necessary equipment and food.
Bernabe De La Bat Rest Camp:
Nestling amongst indigenous vegetation at the foot of the plateau, the rest camp was named after the first director of Namibia's Department of Nature Conservation.
The camp was designed to blend with the surroundings, and during construction as little as possible of the natural vegetation was disturbed. In addition, the reddish brown sandstone bricks of the buildings and their copper-coloured roofs echo the colour and texture of the cliffs overlooking the rest camp.
Accommodation ranges from four and three bed bungalows to deluxe rooms sleeping two people. Bungalows are equipped with a hotplate, refrigerator and kettle, but no crockery, cutlery or cooking utensils.
There are also shaded camp sites with communal ablutions and field kitchens.
Other amenities include a swimming pool with a superb view of the cliffs, a restaurant, shop which stocks frozen meat, tinned goods and curios, and a filling station where only petrol is sold. The restaurant, kiosk and museum are housed in the restored Rasthaus, originally built in 1908 and used as a police post for several years.