In her latest travelogue, ecotourist Cindy De Michele Hock of the Netherlands stops off at Waterberg Plateau Park on her way from Windoek, the capital of the Southwest Africa country of Nambia, to Etosha National Park.
She encounters a table topped mountain, a rare and nearly extinct bird species, a cattle breeding tribe, and what game hunters refer to as “Africa's Big Five”.
Waterberg Plateau Park offers the perfect stop between Windhoek and the Etosha National Park.
A flat-topped table mountain, whose face is splashed with brightly coloured lichen, it rises high above the plains of the Kalahari sandveld of Eastern Namibia.
The unspoiled and largely inaccessible plateau conceals a natural haven for wildlife, including well over 200 bird species like the black eagle and the only colony of breeding Cape vultures in Namibia – a rare and nearly extinct bird species.
This isolated patch of woodland with its lush vegetation and steep cliffs fed by natural springs contrasts sharply with the thorn-bush savanna of the surrounding plains. This green oasis of wild fig trees, fire lilies, and coral trees was once the home of hunter-gatherers roaming the land in search of sustenance and water.
The mysterious and ancient red sandstone mass – which marks the inevitable passage of time with fascinating sites – is the last significant elevation before the captivating landscape turns into the wide plains of the Kalahari in the east. \
Traditionally the Waterberg region is the main settling area of the Herero people, a pastoral cattle-breeding tribe. Experience the unique Herero culture and proud heritage by visiting a local village near the Waterberg.
In 1904, the Herero people fought their greatest and bloodiest final battle against German colonial forces at the Waterberg Plateau – the venue for Namibia’s first great struggle for freedom from colonialism. After the devastating and almost annihilating onslaught only few managed to escape to Botswana through the dry and sandy desert of the Kalahari.
Today a military cemetery at the plateau – which is open to visitors – forms the only remembrance of these tragic events.
The first human inhabitants of the Waterberg were the San Bushmen, a people of hunter-gatherers. The vast spaces of the plateau are filled with stories of their mysterious and cabalistic lives – hunting scenes engraved in the rocks, some even more than 25,000 years old.
The Waterberg Plateau is also the site where the fossilised remains of the oldest known dinosaur from the Jurassic Period were found: a 6-metre long Massospondylus.
Dinosaur tracks of two different species, a Ceratosaurus and a Syntarsus, can be followed on foot at Farm Otjihaenamaperero near Mount Etjo.
The Big Five
Namibia is one of the African countries that can offer tourists the illustrious ‘Big Five’. Originally named the ‘Big Five’ by big game hunters because they were considered to be the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot: lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.
As Namibia does not have the big herds of buffalos that are found in neighbouring Botswana the best viewing area in Namibia, apart from the Caprivi Strip up north, is the Waterberg Plateau Park. And this is also where Namibia’s largest concentration of leopards can be found.
But there are also enchanting smaller creatures to spot, like the lesser bush-babies and the Damara dik-dik. And rare antelopes like the roan and sable antelopes.
Waterberg Plateau Park
Unfortunately it is not possible to access the park in a private vehicle because of the soft sand of the terrain but safari game drives, guided wilderness trails and energetic hikes are available as well as short self-guided bush walks.
Please note that game drives are not available to children under 6 and bring warm clothing, especially during the afternoon drives.
Enjoy a classic African sunset while your mind slowly wanders off appreciative of the profound peace and beauty of this awe-inspiring and mind-blowing scenery.
Bernabe de la Bat Rest Camp – +264 61 285 7200 – Premier Bush Chalet NAD 750 pp (US 93 / GBP 59).
How to Get There
The Waterberg Plateau Park is situated 174 miles north of Windhoek and can be reached via the B1. About 17 miles before reaching Otjiwarongo turn onto the C22 and then onto the B2512.
Air Namibia links Windhoek, the nation's capital, with Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa, Frankfurt, Germany, and several other African destinations. Click on the following link for more information: Air Namibia.
Cindy De Michele Hock
Born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Cindy De Michele Hock studied law and history in the Netherlands before moving to Rome, Italy, to permanently live with her then boyfriend. She is a freelance lawyer and legal translator.
A few years later, Cindy and her boyfriend moved to Scotland, where they got married. They did volunteer work for one year in Namibia. They are now concluding a six month stay in Sri Lanka. Then it's back to Scotland.
“We'll continue traveling, especially in Namibia and Africa!!!” says Cindy, who describes herself as “an enthusiastic wildlife photographer and writer”.
“I love wildlife, the great outdoors, new cultures, and languages.”