Epupa Falls Lodge

The Epupa Falls on the Kunene River
lower epupa falls, Kunene River, Kaokoland

2 December 2022

The Epupa Falls

Epupa Falls presents a spectacular sight of jaw-dropping beauty on the Kunene River, forming the border between Namibia and Angola. In the local language of the Ovahimba people that live here, Epupa means “falling water” while also known as the Monte Negro falls in Angola.

A column of spray can be seen and felt at the peak of its grandeur when the Kunene overflows its banks. Floods occur following heavy rains within the catchment area, and serious flooding occurs when these coincide with heavy rainfall in the Angolan highlands. In March 2011, a high of 1750 m³ /s was measured at Ruacana (but the record was broken again in 2021), but peak flows are usually in the range of 350 to 450 m³ per second. Floods, when they occur in the wet period of the year, from December to June, with rainfall peaking in the months of February and March.

The main Epupa Falls drop of 37m deep

The Kunene River

The Kunene River markedly changes its course as meanders from Ruacana to Epupa. Here at the falls, the flow is contained within a deep and narrow valley – the result of a tectonic fault – characterised by steep sides, a straight channel, and a narrow floodplain. Here, just before the falls, the river is about 500 m wide before it drops a series of waterfalls spread over 1.5km, with the greatest single drop being 37 m, before reaching a more thorough-shaped watercourse.

kunene river in nothern namibia

What makes the Epupa Falls special?

Travelling many dusty kilometres from Opuwo through a dry and barren landscape, the scenery that awaits at Epupa is completely unexpected. Makalani palms stretched out on the banks of the Kunene creating an almost unreal desert forest, baobabs that guard the gorges watching the Kunene River as it tumbles down steep cliffs create an unmatched beauty and form the crown of Namibian waterfalls.

Our special vantage point or deck at Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsites, where guests and visitors alike can have the finest view of the top of Epupa Falls also offers a bar and restaurant. This allows for plenty of interesting conversations as weary travellers discuss their days and finds while enjoying the beauty that enfolds in front of them as the sun sets on the falls. The lodge also offers interesting activities around Epupa Falls such as Himba cultural experiences, guided walks and sundowner tours.

Baobab trees at the top of Epupa Falls, Kunene River

The difference between the Ruacana and epupa falls

The Kunene River has its origin in the highlands of Angola and feeds a few dams before it reaches the Calueque dam at Ruacana. Where Ruacana is a controlled waterfall, the Epupa waterfalls are not. Even when the Kunene River is at its lowest during the dry months from August to January, the falls always have water. Though not as spectacular as the Kunene River overflowing its banks, the Epupa Falls is still beautiful, year-round.

The Ruacana Scheme consists of three components:
  • A storage dam of 2 600 million cubic metres up at Gove in Angola, was designed and built to accommodate the waters of the Kunene during the rainy season. During the dryer months the release of the water would be controlled for electricity to be generated at the hydro plant.
  • A second dam was built to further regulate the water at Calueque approximately 65km upstream from Ruacana. Here a pumping station was also installed to spread water via pipelines into Owamboland via open canals during the dry seasons for animal consumption.
  • The third component was the building of a diversion weir which would allow the damming of water and diverting it to Namibia across the border from Angola.


In 2003, all the measurement devices at Ruacana were upgraded to programmable controllers, system controllers and software that would allow for data acquisition.

View of Epupa Falls Lodge from the Kunene River

Accommodation at Epupa Falls

As with most attractions, accommodation establishments will always pop up as the need arise. Epupa Falls Lodge started out as Epupa Campsite in the early 1990’s. Epupa Camp was erected to accommodate the growing number of engineers in the area investigating the possibility of dam here at Epupa Falls. Soon afterwards Omarunga Camps arrived with Kapika Waterfall lodge only arriving on the scene in the early 2000’s. 

All the above camps and lodges are owned by a bigger group of people and run by a manager. It is only Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite that is owned and run by the same man, Koos Verwey.

Contact us

Enquire and book your spot under ancient Makalani Palms and join the baobabs in keeping guard over the Kunene River.