Epupa Falls Campsite was conceived on the 13th May 1990. On the 29th August 1991 we started to develop the campsite. On those first visits, not a single hut or any sign of development was visible in the Epupa valley.
Off course things are never as easy as they first seem and a meeting with Chief Kapika through the then chief warden, Chris Eyre had to be arranged. Amos, a local lad, was employed to help clean the prospective campsite.
First we only had long drops (bush toilets) but the need for water soon became apparent and the first water tanks were put up. Showers and flushing toilets followed with fire places (barbeque areas) for the hungry campers. Everything was very basic and even more rustic. We only had Mopani poles and reed to use. The more we built, the more people arrived and soon the first fence needed to be erected to provide some form of privacy to the campers.
And so Epupa turned into a town. Next to Epupa Campsite, Omarunga Lodge started to develop. A little shop soon followed and today more than 500 people live in the Epupa valley. A police station was erected and a clinic was built – Epupa town was pinned on the map. Yet another lodge was built further upstream.
As word reached the outside world, our campsite had to grow and one very hot December we built donkeys for hot water showers. The need for local guides grew bigger and by the turn of the century Koos Verwey, the owner of Epupa Falls Campsite, helped to organise two training courses and the current craft center close to the falls was built with money from the NNF. Shortly after this, a few hiking trails were set with the trained guides.
Time moved on and Epupa campsite needed a face lift. Early 2010, Koos and Amos started the revamp process. The campsite was halved as they started to build Epupa Falls Lodge. Using mostly local materials 5 chalets were built on stilts and our small deck was turned into a fully functional bar and kitchen. Keeping everything as natural as possible, Epupa Falls Lodge and Campsite came into being.
But 25 years didn’t come without its challenges. Over the years we had to battle two big fires and a mighty flood in 2011. The flood brought many challenges like simply talking over the thunder of the water. The ground vibrated under our feet as Koos tried to save what could be rescued.
But for Koos the biggest development is his relationship with the original inhabitants. The language in itself proved an obstacle, even with the help of translators, ideas always seemed to clash. The result of endless hours under trees and in immense heat is commitment and loyalty from the Himba leaders.
Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite; where you are constantly reminded of the pulse of water and where better to feel this living vein than on the deck of the man who saw the potential of these falls 25 years ago?