What activities can I do in Epupa?

What exactly can I do in Epupa?

The are is, firstly, famous for the Epupa Waterfalls. This makes it a superb location for photographers and hikers. To the latter, the area is a world of discovery. Since the Himba still mostly travel by foot, there are more paths and trails to hike than can be put down on maps. It is also very safe as long as one stays away from the river.

As the Epupa area forms part of the greater Kaokoland, it is also well known for its Himba. So visiting the Himba is a natural choice for most guests.

Along with the hiking and photography, the area also boasts prolific bird life. A birder’s paradise to be honest with a few species endemic to the area to put the proverbial cherry on the cake.

Do you offer game drives?

As the area is very much used by the Himba for their cattle and goats, we sadly have very little game left in the area. So game drives are not really an option around here.

What about rafting?

Since Epupa Falls Lodge is literally on top of the falls, this is not something we offer. Another reason is that, due to the high risks involving rafting in a river littered with crocodiles, and virtually no proper medical facilities in an area of about 500km, we’d rather just enjoy the river from the safety of our deck.

 

 

 

Electricity? Wi-Fi?

Does Epupa Falls Lodge have electricity?

No. Epupa as a town is not on the electricity grid in Namibia and to be honest, we prefer it that way. As soon as the area joins the electricity grid, the Himba will be westernized within a matter of years. It is not that we don’t want the people to develop, it is that so much of the Himba culture will be lost with the transition. A debate worth publishing I’m sure.

However, Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsites have solar power. Continuously adding panels to accommodate the growing needs of our guests, we can assure you that you will be able to recharge your phone and camera while staying with us.

What about Wi-Fi?

Many people seem to forget that they are traveling in a third world country when it comes to Wi-Fi. We do have Wi-Fi, but it is not something that we advertise. The service providers in Namibia is incredibly unreliable and so we have had several complaints on Trip Advisor that we advertise our Wi-Fi but we don’t have. Ladies and Gents – you are in Namibia to experience the country. Not to stay connected with your friends back home – you can do that when you are back in your country. Secondly, you are in a third world country where everything, and I mean everything, comes down to the service provider. We poor souls on the ground can do nothing when the Wi-Fi is down; for three days in a row.

So yes, when you happen to find Wi-Fi, thank your lucky stars that something is working!

 

 

Self-Drive or Public Transport?

I often get asked the question; can you arrange for public transport? The answer is a resounding ‘No’. But why?

It is a known fact that Namibia has the unsafest roads in the world – per capita that is. Most of these accidents involve Namibia’s biggest source of public transport – Taxis. These are not the Yellow Taxis of New York or the stately cabs of London. These are 16 and 32 seater buses traveling up and down between the north of Namibia and Windhoek and between Windhoek and the coast. These Taxi Buses are often carrying more people than the law allows and are sadly more often than not, not road worthy.

So why are they still allowed on the road? Well, that is a debate for a whole different Blog, but mostly because if you take the Taxis off the road, thousands of people will be stranded. Buses and Trains take too long, though infinitely safer, and planes are too expensive.

Would I take a Taxi? No. Not only do you entrust your life to a driver that may or may not have driver’s license, chances are you will have to share your seat with 2 other people also trying to get to the next stop.

But doesn’t a self-driver use the same roads and are therefor also then unsafe?

Yes and no. By driving your own vehicle, you get to decide what time of the day you want to travel. Early mornings are usually the quietest. Also, self-drivers touring the country will mostly drive the back roads of Namibia – the more scenic gravel roads. These roads do not carry high volumes of traffic and you will be much safer on them. When you do have to drive the B1, alertness is key. And try, if at all possible, to be off the main roads during rush hour (7 – 8am and 16 – 18pm and Sundays). Driving after dark is also not save. Not because of people, but because of the prolific wild life in Namibia.

Considering all of the above, Namibia is a fantastic country to self-drive as long as one remains on the back roads and only use the B1 when absolutely necessary.

Safe drive!

Do I need a 4×4?

We do not have a 4×4? Will we be able to reach you?

This is a simple question with a complex answer.

The straightforward answer is that you do not need a 4×4 to travel the main roads in Namibia. These include the maintained C and D-roads. If you plan to travel deep into Kaokoland (Purros, Marienfluss), then you obviously need not only a 4×4 but also 4×4 skills and experience as these roads are not for beginners. But if you plan on driving to the tourist destinations like Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Etosha National Park and hopefully Epupa, then technically no. These are all gravel roads that are mostly well-mantained and do not require 4×4.

However, we still recommend a high-clearance vehicle or an SUV. Why? Well firstly, I am a woman and to any other woman out there – it is NOT comfortable to drive in a small car for 300km on a badly corrugated gravel road. Besides comfort, there is also the very technical truth that few people will tell you. A car with smaller tyres will get flats much more often than not. And… after one flat, you might need to buy new tyres… and these small towns charge exorbitant fees for tyres.

So basically the question boils down to this – do you want to save money by renting a small vehicle and pray for 14 days that your wife doesn’t ask for a divorce by the end of the trip (or that you have to change 4 tyres in 3 days and buying a whole new set for the rental company) or do you rather pay the extra bit for a SUV or 4×4 (if you really want to show off), and travel comfortably with no or little hassle and a wife that smiles every time you give her THE look?

The answer is simple lads…

Accommodation en-route to Epupa

Are there any accommodation available en-route to Epupa from Opuwo?

This is a question I get asked very often. And the answer will have to be no. Most of our clients do not overnight in Opuwo, but drive straight through from wherever they are coming and stay 2/3 nights at Epupa Falls Lodge.

However, from Opuwo one can take the C41 & C35 to Ruacana and overnight at Kunene River Lodge – another hidden gem in Namibia. From here, the D3700 will take you in less than 4 hours to us. This road has been rebuilt and can now be easily driven in a SUV or high clearance vehicle.

A Himba Tour

Reflecting on an earlier piece, Photographing the Himba, Photo Etiquette – I think it is fitting to discuss what a Himba tour entails.

Firstly, when you are staying at Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite, you can either pre-book your tour or book it in camp. If you book it in camp, please make sure that you have enough cash.

Secondly, Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite offers two types of Himba tours.

The Traditional Himba Tour

This is the tour that most tourists will go on. You book your tour as per above methods and you will go out with a local Himba guide to a village we frequent.

Although this all sounds very “normal” this tour is also unique. You see, the guides we “use” and highly recommend, are local Himba from the very village you will be visiting. These guides, though English speaking, do not own a vehicle and certainly don’t have a driver’s license. This means that they will go with you in your vehicle to the village. Now don’t stress – these are westernised Himba and very well trained.

This means that you won’t share your Himba Tour with other guests. You will go out alone with your guide on a private tour. You can also decide when you would like to go and for how long. As you are not bound to wait for other guests, this tour offers the most flexibility.

The Himba Alzheimer’s Project

During this tour, you will go out with Lodge owner, Koos Verwey, to visit the Himba Village of Chief Kapika and the Alzheimer’s Village next door.

During this tour you will not only learn about the Himba while visiting Chief Kapika, you will also learn about Chief Kapika’s sister, Ndjinaa and the Himba Alzheimer’s Project. (Read more about Ndjinaa here.) This is quite a fascinating story and a must if anthropology and/or religion fascinates you.

However, this tour must be pre-booked to ensure that Koos is in camp during your stay.

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Exceptions

Professional Photographers, anthropologists etc. who wishes to spend more time with the Himba, always need to specify their specific fields of study or interests when booking a tour. These tours are hand-made accordingly and are charged differently.

For more information, please feel free to contact me at bookings@epupafallslodge.com

 

Epupa Falls Lodge | Distance to Falls

A lot of people ask me how far are we from the chalets. Well… let me illustrate.

These are the chalets:

We have five of these twin chalets, right on the river bank. Below is the view from one of the five chalets (they share pretty much the same view) and where you see that arrow – that is where the falls are.

So how far are we from the falls – less than 100metres would be a good estimate.

Convinced that you need to stay with us? Book now: bookings@epupafallslodge.com

 

 

 

Is Epupa Child Friendly?

When our little boy was about 11 months old we decided to be brave and take him along on our yearly trip to Epupa. Now first, any parent that travels with children be it babies, toddler or teens… you have my utmost respect. If you have a child that is a born reader – please share your secrets with me!

The road from Otjiwarongo to Epupa is about eight to ten hours – and we drive it in one go with the necessary pit stops in between. To keep a child happy for that amount of time, tied down in a car seat… well, it takes a lot of courage, prayer and conviction that this trip is going to be worth it.

As Epupa lies on the northern boundary of Namibia, it can be incredibly hot. We traveled in September, hoping for cooler weather, but instead we suffered a bit. Our little boy the most as heat is not something an eleven month old boy understands. We would have been better off leaving most of our clothes at home and bring along tons of water toys – as this is where our boy spent most of his time. We filled his bath every morning and he ended up spending most of his day there.

One our first afternoon at Epupa Falls Lodge, we walked to the waterfall view point. We were blessed with a rising river which meant that the water pushed into a small pool where our boy could safely play to his heart’s content. After the long day on the road, this was just what we needed. Perfect. Unfortunately the sluices closed again (The river is controlled by the dam at Ruacana and yet another dam in Angola) and we could not play in the river again. But we improvised and were rewarded for our efforts!

As our boy was still too small to hike with us, we had to split up and make turns to enjoy the scenery around the lodge. This mostly worked very well and when we felt like some family time, we drove the short distance up to the sundown hill overlooking Epupa where our little boy could safely play on the rocks while mom and dad enjoyed a much-needed cold beer.

The restaurant area is on stilts, and though there is a barrier surrounding the deck, a toddler can easily fall through. Children need to be kept under close supervision at all times. But the area between the chalets is perfectly save for children to play. In fact, there are few areas as save as just here. With most of the area covered in the shade of palm trees, the sun isn’t as fell here. The ground is also covered in sand from the river that allows for toddlers to play safely (and softly) and the area allows for ball games under supervision of an adult.

Would I go up to Epupa with our toddler again? Yes and yes. In fact, we are going up in July again, this time during the Namibian winter, hoping for cooler weather. This time around he can walk and run and we’ll probably face a whole different set of challenges but more on that after the trip. Would I recommend Epupa to other parents with children? Yes. Epupa Falls Lodge offers a great opportunity for kids to run around and play freely.

 

 

 

Kaokoland Tour | The End

Every now and then Koos, the owner of Epupa Falls Lodge, is talked into doing a safari. Whether it is a hiking safari or a driving safari, someone turns his pinky far enough to convince him this is the year!

In 2011 a group of friends (multiple-return-friends) convinced him to take them into Kaokoland. After many mails and phone calls, a tour was planned and they arrived by plane at Epupa.

And today we say good bye to a wonderful tour and even better memories. Have a good weekend chaps!