Epupa Falls Lodge

The Road Less Travelled | Directions To Epupa
travel to epupa travel directions

29 April 2023

The road less Travelled

Kaokoland isn’t exactly on everyone’s bucket list, and if it is, it is mostly the far west area that comes to mind. Epupa Falls is often under rated or just complete missed. 

But it doesn’t need to be. In the next few weeks we’ll not only look into how to reach Epupa, we’ll also give the Epupa valley an in-depth look and explore a few reasons why you should consider dropping in for a cold beer. 

But first, let’s look at the roads that will take you to Epupa.

Directions to EPupa falls lodge

Epupa Falls Lodge signpost

There are a few roads to choose from when driving to Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite and your decision will depend greatly on where you are staying before heading to the Epupa Valley. Let’s dive in.

Western Etosha - Opuwo - Epupa

Let’s imagine you are overnighting somewhere close to the Galton Gate (Hobatere Lodge/Dolomite Camp etc). 

Leaving the park, you’ll head north on the C35 towards Ruacana; a tar road. This road will take you through the red line (Gate Werda Vet Line), a veterinary line. See the note below regarding this gate. From here you continue either straight to Ruacana or towards Opuwo. Both options are tar.

For now, let’s head towards Opuwo. A few kilometres before the turn-off to Opuwo, there is a lovely fuel station on your left. Fill up here to avoid the queues in Opuwo. Just after the fuelling station, there is a split. You can choose to either continue on the C35 to Ruacana or you can take the C41 to Opuwo. Let’s head to Opuwo.

If you came from a place further down south, you may need to overnight around here. We highly recommend staying at Kaoko Mopane Camp just outside of Opuwo. 

In Opuwo you can buy fresh fruit and veggies and restock the bar. For this, we recommend popping into the local SPAR or OK Foods for groceries and alcohol. At the SPAR you can even find a good steak for that barbeque you plan at Epupa Falls Lodge & Campsite.

From Opuwo the road turns into a gravel road and you will now head further north to Epupa on the C43. The C43 will take you all the way to Epupa. When you get close to a settlement, drive slowly. There are bound to be animals and children close to the road. At Okongwati, ask for Laty or Alfon’s Restaurant. Here you will find the freshest Portuguese rolls and an icy cold Coke. Make your way down to the river crossing (a dry river bed for 264 days of the year), find an Ana tree and enjoy your lunch. Then continue towards Epupa on the C43. 

As you get closer to Epupa, the road changes from the long straights that Namibia is famous for, to lots of turns around bends and through quite a few unsuspected dips. The last 45km is to be enjoyed as the appearance of stunning baobabs will indicate that you are getting closer with an increased human and animal presence almost forcing you to drive slowly. The airstrip will appear on your left about 5km from Epupa. From here you have to drive a lot slower as you descend into the valley. As you come around the last bend, rows and rows of Makalani Palms border the Kunene River which you may see shimmering through the many leaves on your left. Head down the road into the valley. On your right, there is a police station and on your left, there are several accommodation options lined along the river. 

Epupa Falls Lodge and Campsite is the second property on your left, clearly marked by our huge sign and famous chalets on stilts.

You have arrived.

(Drive time Opuwo – Epupa: 2h30min if you drive like a local, 4hours if the journey is part of the destination to you).

Epupa to Ruacana

Eastern Etosha - Ruacana - Epupa

So you stayed in the vicinity of the King Nehale Gate and want to travel to Epupa. Your best route from here would be via Ruacana. Google will tell you that this is all tar and that you can drive it easily in a day. (Don’t ever only believe Google. Do your research!)

Please remember that if you stay inside the park, you can only head out after sunrise. The second very important factor to take into account is that you will drive through Namibia’s most populated area as you head through Ongwediva and Oshakati on the B1. From Oshakati you will continue on the C43 to Outapi where there is a lovely campsite at Baobab Tree Camp. You can stop anywhere along this route for fuel and fresh veggies and groceries. There are several shopping malls clearly indicated on the main road. But take into account, you’ll hardly be able to drive more than 60km/hour for most of the way.

From Outapi the road becomes less populated until you finally reach Ruacana. We recommend that you fill up here and then head out on the D3700 towards Omunjandi which we highly recommend for self-drivers. This place is a jewel along the Kunene and still very untouched and beautiful. Further along the Kunene towards Epupa, there is another, more well-known camp called Camp Cornie. Depending on the time you have, both these camps are great overnight options if you want to see and experience more of the area.

The D3700 is a gravel road and will take you all the way to Epupa. An incredibly scenic route, the road runs along the river for most of the way taking you up and down the valley as you head west. Again, please drive slowly if you are near a settlement. Stop at Swartboois Drift to enjoy the scenic views and take photos of the Zebraberge as you get closer to Epupa. You’ll enter the Epupa Valley from the east. 

You can either stay on the main road and drive around the Epupa village and enter it from the same side as the Opuwo travellers or you can meander through the village until you see the makalani palms in front of you and look for our signpost. 

(Drive time Ruacana – Epupa: 2 hours if you are in a hurry, 4 hours if you want to experience the journey).

Gate Werde Vet Control

goats at epupa

If you have been researching Namibia for your travels, you have no doubt come across the “red line” dispute.  Leaving that to the politicians, we’ll just quickly brief you on your crossing into Kaokoland.

The “red line” is nothing more than a veterinary cordon fence for stock diseases like foot and mouth disease. The “red line” is an imagined line to distinguish an area between commercial farmers and non-commercial farmers. As commercial farmers go to great lengths to protect their animals against diseases, all meat products coming from the northern side of the red line must be vacuum packed or you must have a permit, to prevent the confiscation of your meat. You can take meat into the area from the south, but not the other way around. So if you buy meat in say Opuwo, you must finish it before returning to the south side of the fence. The same goes for wood which they often confiscate during the presence of foot and mouth disease in the area. 

Flying into Epupa

epupa airstrip

When all else fails and you’ve got to see the falls, why don’t you just fly in? 

There are several companies that offer day fly-in day trips to Epupa. Though we don’t think that half a day in the valley is enough, we do know that the views from the air are absolutely stunning. 

If your whole Namibian journey is by plane, make sure your pilot knows that the airstrip on Google or some of the older online maps is the one 5km out of town, and not the one one right at the falls. You may have some serious difficulty landing at the latter (now a soccer field).

The Epupa airstrip is located about 5km out of town on the plateau and is very weather dependent. Please make sure that your pilot has checked the conditions of the strip before taking off. Since the strip is between mountains, only planes that need short strips can land here – an important factoid when you plan on travelling in luxury to Epupa.

Transfers must be organised well in advance as well as security if you plan on overnighting in the area. 

17-01-45 S (-17.02935)
13-12-36 E (13.2102)
2500 feet MSL (762 m MSL)


epupa to ruacana road conditions

In our next post, we’ll look into the seasons of Koakoland and how it can affect our roads and your travel time.


Experience a day in the life of a Himba or absorb the beauty of Epupa Falls from one one of hiking trails... what ever you do, don't miss out.

Contact Us


[email protected]

+264 81 250 8225 (WhatsApp Only)

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