An Ultimate Guide to Waterberg Park Plateau National Park
Located in central Namibia, north of the capital Windhoek lies the spectacular Waterberg Plateau National park. Elevated high above the plains of Eastern Namibia and Kalahari, this great area serves as an ideal stopover for safari-goers on route to Caprivi, Etosha or Bushmanland.
From pre-historic dinosaur prints to intriguing rock engravings, Waterberg boasts a plethora of fascinating sights to explore, and there’s something for everyone, including families, couples and solo travellers to enjoy.
Although many travellers visit to absorb the region’s rich history, the area is most famed for its abundance of wildlife, with over 90 mammals, 200 bird species and scores of reptiles known to roam the plateau. The Waterberg area and surrounding mountains were declared a natural conversation in the 1970s and rare animals such as the square-lipped rhino and many endangered species of leopards, cheetahs and buffalo can today be spotted roaming this picturesque landscape.
If you’re planning a visit to Waterberg, or a trip to the national park is included in your private-guided safari package, read on below to find out everything you need to know about this great area:
Things to do in Waterberg
Unlike other national parks in Namibia, Waterberg is unique in that you must take one of the park’s organised drives with an expert guide or hike there yourself if you wish to explore the area.
If you book an organised drive, you won’t be disappointed as this provides the ultimate opportunity to spot some of the park’s incredible wildlife up close. Organised tours tend to take place in the morning or afternoon, typically around three hours in total.
Once you enter your vehicle, you’ll be whisked around the plateau in search of exotic and rare game, and your guide will usually take you to the permanent waterholes in the area because this is where the highest concentration of wildlife tends to congregate.
Hold your camera at the ready as you search for the elusive and rare roan antelope or the uncommon sable! If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even hop off during the morning tour and spend a few hours game-watching on foot before joining the afternoon tour on the way back.
Away from game-viewing, embrace some of the area’s rich culture by taking a trip to a traditional Herrero village. Cultural tours run daily, lasting upwards of four hours, and they provide the perfect opportunity to sample some scrumptious local food.
For history buffs, take a trip to the local war cemetery, one of Namibia’s most important spots of historical significance. The headstones and monuments in the cemetery commemorate the lives of all the German and Herero fighters killed in the influential 1904 Herrero uprising.
Hiking and Trails in Waterberg
Waterberg is renowned as one of the best places in Namibia for hiking, and it’s not hard to see why. The national park boasts nine short trails that can be found close to the main camp, with each one typically taking under an hour to complete. Whilst exploring these short trails, you’ll be able to witness some incredible pre-historic prints and engravings, whilst you’ll also be greeted with some stunning panoramic views of the landscapes below the plateau.
If you’re after a more challenging day of exploration, then longer hikes are available, and these run in the dry season (April-November). However, be advised that reservations for the longer hikes need to be made well in advance, and you will need to pack your own equipment, including food and cooking utensils, and sleeping bags. Water and long-drop toilets are provided, and stone shelters to perch down in.
Finally, visitors to Waterberg can also book a three-day accompanied hiking trail that currently runs four days a week.
The trail starts at the wildlife administration by the Onjoka Gate, and from there, you and your group will be driven to the plateau. The trail is 42km long and you can expect to hike 10km-15km daily. Each hike consists of a group of up to eight people, and this tour is the best way to learn more about this incredible area, thanks to the expertise of the local guide.
Accommodation in Waterberg
Visitors to Waterberg national park will be delighted to learn that there are a plethora of stunning lodges and accommodation options in the area that offer luxury, comfort, and extraordinary views of the local scenery.
For a taste of the high-life, check out Okonjima Bush Camp, which comprises 8 African-style private chalets each boasting a luxury suite, stunning open lounge, amazing thatched lapa, and a huge swimming pool.
If you’re looking for something even more private and opulent, then research the Bush Suite, part of the exclusive lodgings at the Okonjima Game Reserve.
The Bush Suite comprises of two private bedrooms that are fitted out with a range of luxury amenities and decor. Guests can make the most of a chef-designed kitchenette, incredible lounge, and a spectacular swimming pool, perfect for cooling off after a long day exploring Waterberg.
Finally, for a more budget-friendly option, there’s the Waterberg Valley Lodge, located right in the heart of the lush Waterberg Mountain range. The lodge offers eight affordable canvas bungalows, which are charmingly designed, and there’s even a restaurant on-site you can tuck into some tasty local dishes.