Namibia is not only renowned for its amazing wildlife and wide variety of people but also its unique geology. In this blog post we will be looking at three very different Namibian caves that members of the public can visit and explore.
There are over a hundred known caves in Namibia and most them are found in the Otjozondjupa Region in the north eastern territories of the country. Many theories have tried to explain the role that the caves have played in the country’s history and as a result the caves of Namibia hold a certain mystique and feature prominently in local folklore.
The Otjozondjupa region.
(Image via Wikipedia)
Exploring these caves then is a way to delve deep into the history of the land and take a step back in time to a place that most travellers do not take the time to visit.
This cave is located just 85km away from Windhoek and is located right on the edge of the Kalahari dessert in the central region of Namibia. The red sand of the ancient dessert and the sweeping vistas that surround the site of the cave are enough to warrant a visit.
The cave was discovered in the 1930’s.
(Image via Tracks4Africa)
The Arnhem cave is the longest cave in Namibia and once inside the cave you can enjoy its mostly consistent temperature of about 25 degrees Celsius. The cave is also home to several species of bat including the giant leaf-nosed bat which is the largest insect eating bat in the world. These wondrous creatures are part of the caves delicate ecosystem and should not be needlessly disturbed by visitors.
Respect the bats.
(Image via Britannica)
Where to stay
The Arnhem Cave and Lodge
This establishment offers a variety of accommodation options ranging from camp sites to chalets. The lodge also offers a three hour guided cave tour which is an absolute must. It is an easy tour suitable for the whole family (but not infants!) and there is little crawling and climbing. Obviously sensible shoes and adventure appropriate clothes are recommended!
The caves are waiting to be explored.
(Image via WheretoStay)
If you are the only one in your travelling party who does not want to venture into a deep cave then fear not, the lodge also offers several other above ground activities including hikes, bird watching trips, safaris and there is a fully stocked restaurant, bar and refreshing swimming pool at the lodge.
The facilities at the lodge are top-notch.
(Image via Cardboard Box)
The Ghaub Cave
The Ghaub caves are found just South of the town of Tsumeb in the north of Namibia. The cave was first described in writing by the German missionary Dr Henry Fedder who was part of a mission station nearby in the early 1900’s. The mission station is now a guest farm where cave explorers can stay.
The old mission station in the 1920's.
(Image via Guestfarm Ghaub)
This cave is the third largest in Namibia and it is filled with geological oddities. From the usual stalactites and stalagmites to the more remarkable underground waterfalls and a formation of stalagmites known as ‘the Organ’.
The cave is filled with geological wonders.
(Image via I Dream of Africa)
The caves also hold high anthropological value as there are several San rock engravings to be seen. Please remember that when you find these priceless pieces of history do not under any circumstance touch them. Just like the underground ecosystem these precious artworks are incredibly fragile and will be lost forever if touched by every visitor.
A sign directing visitors to the ancient engraving.
(Image via Guestfarm Ghaub)
Where to stay
The main reason why you want to stay at this guest farm is that it offers guided tours of the famous cave system. The owners of the establishment have a unique knowledge of what lies underneath the ground and the two-hour tours are often small in size and intimate. The facilities are also highly rated and visitors can be sure of a comfortable and enjoyable stay there.
The guides are knowlegable and friendly.
(Image via Panoramio)
Again, there are other options for those travellers who do not wish to commune with the deep dark underground world. The owners of the Guestfarm Ghaub are more than willing to organise and supervise walking trails, mountain biking expiditions and guided nature drives for those travellers who would rather walk in the sunshine than explore the deeps of the earth; click here for more information.
Remember, there is always time to relax when you’re on an adventure.
(Image via Expert Africa)
Because the caves are in the centre of a triangle formed by the towns of Otavi, Tsumeb and Grootfontein there are several other places you can stay that put you in striking distance of the caves. Click here for a list of all the lodges close to the caves.
Dragon's Breath Cave
This is one cave not for the feint of heart. Discovered in 1986 the cave is truly a natural wonder. It is geologically significant because it is home to largest non-subglacial underground lake in the world and this underground lake has an impressive area of almost two hectres and has a depth that is still unknown but thought to be over 100 metres.
Explorers descending on to the surface of the subterranean lake.
(Image via Underwater Video)
You can find the cave in roughly the same area as the Ghaub caves but that is where the similiarities between the two systems end. While the other two caves we have mentioned in this post are easily accessible to the public, Dragon’s Breath Cave is only for professional caving enthusiasts with all the right gear. To get an idea of how tough it is to explore the cave read these two first-hand accounts of professional cavers.
An adventure caver exploring the mighty cave.
(Image via Africa Geographic)
The enourmous underground lake.
(Image via All Over the Map)
The rewards are proportional to the effort it takes to get into this cave system. And if you do make it down to the vast lake you may catch a glimpse of the Golden Cave catfish. Dragon’s Breath Cave is the only place on earth where these mysterious creatures are found and where only discovered and classified in 2013.
These animals have been living undisturbed for thousands of years.
(Image via Daily News)
Where to stay
If you wish to visit Dragon’s Breath Cave then you will have to stay in Tsumeb. There are many options in this regard and you can look here, here and here for the place that best suits your needs.
The African wild dog or Lycaon pictus is truly one of nature’s wonders. Its intelligence, social pack structure and beauty make it one of the most interesting animals to track and view on safari. Namibian conservation groups are currently trying to bring these canines back from the brink of extinction and now you can help.
Getting to know the African wild dog
Once these animals could be found in over 39 countries across the African continent with a population of more than 500 000. Now, however, estimates put the population of the African wild dog between 3000 and 5000 spread across just 14 to 25 countries in Africa.
Two young dogs.
(Image via AfriCat)
There are many reasons for this dramatic decline in numbers: Human encroachment, poaching, and competition from larger predators have all played their part in decimating the population of these animals.
As a result of these factors the African wild dog is the fifth most endangered mammal in Africa. It is also the second most endangered predator on the continent and with numbers dangerously low it has been declared endangered and conservation efforts have slowly been increased.
A cool drink of water on a typically hot day.
(Image via Lamb and Serpent)
The African wild dogs are some of nature’s most well adapted predators and when a pack goes on a hunt they have over an 80% chance of making a kill. This figure is all the more impressive when you consider that lions, often thought to be excellent hunters, have a success ratio of about 30% on each hunt they begin.
The dogs play, live and hunt together.
(Image via AfriCat)
A large part of their hunting successes and social hierarchies stem from their ability to effectively communicate with one another using strange chirp-like calls that help co-ordinate their activities.
Members of a pack will vocalize to help coordinate their movements.
It is rare to see the dogs on a hunt but there have been a few documentaries that have managed to capture this amazing feat of pack hunting. Click here to watch the BBC’s Planet Earth team capture an amazing wild dog hunt in the Okavango.
Namibia’s Wild Dogs
Namibia has had a consistently critically low population of wild dogs and current estimates put their numbers anywhere between 300 and 600. As such the conservation of these rare animals is fast becoming a priority for conservation groups in Namibia.
Two organisations stand out in Namibia in their efforts to protect these endangered animals. They are N/a’an ku sê and the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima private game reserve. Each organisation has different but complimentary programs aimed at getting people to better understand African wild dogs and thus ensure their survival.
This trio is trying to beat the Namibia heat under the shade of a small tree.
N/a’an ku sê
N/a’an ku sê is a privately run foundation that operates just outside Windhoek and its aim is to help with any and all conservation efforts in Namibia. One of their points of pride is their wild dog program. The foundations maintains a massive enclosure on their premises that houses several wild dogs that were rescued as pups after their mother died.
These dogs now live their lives within their special reserve as they are unfortunately unfit to be put back in the wild. The dogs are observed within their enclosure so that the team at N/a’an ku sê can learn more about the social structures and behavioural patterns of these enigmatic animals. The upside to their being in captivity is that guests can get an up close and personal encounter (behind a fence of course!) with the dogs.
Wild dogs surveying their enclosure at N/a’an ku sê.
The captive population of wild dogs can also be used as an invaluable genetic reserve that may one day help to repopulate the wild with these animals. The foundation also hopes that by better understanding the way in which the African wild dog behaves they will be able to educate farmers and locals all over the country on how best to live in sympathy with the dogs.
A young male wild dog takes a breather.
(Image via AfriCat)
On the Carnivore Tour offered at the lodge you will not only learn about and see N/a’an ku sê’s pack of African wild dogs but you will also get a chance to observe (and sometimes interact with) lion, leopard, baboons, caracal and cheetahs. The tour is one-of-a-kind and is a must for conservation enthusiasts. All proceeds from these tours go straight back into helping animal conservation projects around Namibia.
You can also help support the projects at N/a’an ku sê by visiting their page here, or you can take part in one of their many and world-renowned volunteer programs by clicking here.
AfriCat has been in operation since 1993 and in that time the organisation has been rescuing, rehabilitating and re-releasing predators onto the Okonjima nature reserve in central and northern Namibia. Here they lead natural lives until they day they move on from this world.
The program has successfully rehabilitated many African wild dogs.
See Raine, Rex, and Ricky.
(Image via AfriCat)
The foundation is only able to keep up their good work because of the money they bring in from tourists doing safaris and other activities in the park as well as through their highly effective adoption and donation programs.
Join the pack today.
(Image via AfriCat)
AfriCat release a yearly report on the status of African wild dog conservation and you can read it here and see the good work that is being done across Namibia by the foundation and other conservation groups.
A unique challenge in the conservation of wild dogs is that a pack needs vast tracts of land in which to roam in order to survive and thrive. Most national parks in Africa, however, are too small for this and as a result many of the packs roam onto unprotected land and farmlands.
The resulting human/animal conflicts that result from the roaming packs of wild dogs have been largely responsible for the rapid decline in their numbers over the last few decades. The wild dog also suffers from a bad (and ungrounded) reputation of being a ferocious killer and as such is often hunted without mercy by overzealous farmers trying to protect their livestock.
Here’s looking at you!
(Image via William Burrard-Lucas via WWF)
Through organisations like AfriCat and N/a’an ku sê we can all help in reversing the decline in their numbers and ensure that future generations will be able to witness these remarkable beasts in their natural environments.
Whether you donate your time or your money both are completely appreciated and welcome.
A lone male looks to the horizon.
Namibia Kwaito sensation EES has made it through to the final round of a German talent competition and stands to win 1,000,000 EURO which will be donated to a charity of his choice. Being particularly passionate about his home country EES has declared that he will donate his winnings to the Save the Rhino Trust and other conservation projects and charities doing good work in Namibia.
Ees on stage and in action.
Earlier in the week EES had some time to answer a few of our questions and the singer also explained how people all around the world can help him win the competition and thus provide funding for some worthwhile conservation efforts.
What exactly is MillionahrWahl and who can enter?
Millionärswahl is the first of its kind – to connect the Internet with television – something that will very soon happen more and more. It’s a talent show where people from all over Germany registered themselves with their talent or charity idea – to then be chosen by the Internet into the TV show – which now has its final on the internet again. The winner of the show will walk away with 1 Million Euros for whatever cause he has registered himself with.
And how did you decide to enter?
I got a call from an old friend who saw the trailer of the show on TV and he said I would fit perfectly into the show and that I should enter. At first I didn’t really understand the concept because something like this has never been done, but then I decided to just take part in the online registration of the show.
When people in Germany ask you about Namibia, what do you tell them?
(Laughs)… I always tell them it’s the most beautiful country in the world – and then see what their face expression is… (Laughs)… well I tell them its my home and that they should come visit because it is a very safe place in Africa with beautiful landscapes and really friendly people. I cannot even count how many people I have convinced to come to Namibia – so many. Even through my music and my music videos – I have inspired so many people to visit the land of the brave.
If you win a million euros, what will you do with the money? / Why did you choose the charities that you chose?
Well I chose only charities that I am already involved with – because I think its easy for someone to get into the final of the show and then say: “Yeah I will do this and I will do that.”
The three main charities I have chosen are the ones I have already been active with even before the TV show – but I could support and do so much more if I would win this “Millionärswahl” competition.
My main support will go to the Rhino Foundations in Africa like (Save the Rhino Trust and Rhino for Erongo) – since I feel the time to really react to the brutal killings of the rhino is now – as the number of poached rhino is at its highest ever in history with over a 1000 rhino poached in 2013.
The other to Charity organizations are various orphanages in Namibia and also different educational exchange programs with Europe and Africa. Because I feel the best way to increase the living standard and so many problems in Africa is through education.
What’s your favorite place in Namibia?
That question is basically impossible to answer – as Namibia offers so many beautiful places. Every time I go somewhere new – I find a new “favorite” spot in Namibia – but I could say it is definitely somewhere in the line of the bush or desert. Because when you put your barefoot into the dune sand – you can just feel the energy penetrating your body.
Ees with some young fans.
How you can help
If EES is going to win then he needs all the votes he can get! Below is guide on how you can get involved with helping this passionate Namibian raise money for these vitally important conservation efforts.
**NOTE: There is only one hour of voting - on January 25th between 21:15 and 22:15 Namibian time.**
Voting times in other parts of the world:
There are two ways to vote:
1. Log on here during the allotted time! Use Facebook Connect to vote - You can watch the live show here.
A visual reference for when you cast your vote for EES.
2. Call the number on the screen (viewable at here to vote for EES (remember to add the country code for Germany “0049” – in front of the number). The call is only 0,50 cents and you can vote as many times as you like!
To stay up to date with all things EES follow him on:
Facebook - Twitter - YouTube
Scott Sporleder is an American photographer from Laguna Beach, California. He sums up his philosophy on photography like this: "If I can get a person to daydream, zone out or relax for just 5 seconds everytime they view one of my images, than I've accomplished my goal." We recently caught up with him and learnt how he managed to capture some amazing images while adventuring through Namibia.
Tell us about your most unforgettable moment while shooting in Namibia.
It's hard to narrow down to just one unforgettable moment that I had during my time in Namibia, but I would say that a memory that I keep coming back to was spending a day in a Himba village.
We met a woman in Opuwo who offered to take us on a small tour through her village on the outskirts of town, which we gladly took her up on. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but when we arrived at the village it was extremely laid back and we spent the better half the day simply hanging out with the women and children of the village and talking about everyday life. It's the smell of ochre that was being applied to my arm that keeps filling my mind when I think about that wonderful day.
Every destination has its challenges and rewards; how does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?
What I found difficult about shooting in Namibia was the endless amounts of opportunities and trying to do too much. It's such vast country and every corner that we traveled too still felt untouched, so I was constantly wanting to head down another random road just to see what was over that next bend.
I could have spent months driving and shooting through the remote areas and still have felt like I didn't have enough time in Namibia.
Which 3 photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of and why?
That's impossible, for me there are special attributes about all of the photos. I find something unique about the wildlife, about the nature, about the cultures… There is no way that I could narrow it down to only three images. I had a difficult enough time selecting the nine images that I did!
When going on a Namibian photographic expedition, what is your equipment of choice? And what do you never leave home without?
It can definitely get dusty out there, that is for sure. So you will need something, whether it's a cloth or small hand pump, to constantly knock the dust away from your lens. Also, I would not forget to bring a polarizer, the huge blue sky is so vivid that you want to make sure that you are pulling out as much of that colour as you can.
A photographer friend is desperate to capture the best of Namibia. What top 3 tips would you give them?
#1 Visit Sossusvlei. Without a doubt, that's number one, such a magical place.
#2 Spend some time in Etosha. You can't beat it for the wildlife.
#3 Experience Damaraland. It is just a bizarre setting. A place that really feels like you are on another planet.
About Scott Sporleder
Scott Sporleder is a photographer and filmmaker & Creative Director at Matador Network.
Since graduating from San Diego State University, Scott has dedicated 3 months a year to travel and photographing the world's unique cultures. While not on the road, you can visit Scott every summer at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. You can also view his travel photography at ScottSporleder.com or Sporlederart.com.
Follow Scott on Tumblr, Facebook, Vimeo and on Matador Network.
More Photographer Tips
This part of a series of blog post interviews with professional photographers on how to Capture Namibia. Every week we'll be posting tips, tricks and amazing photographs from these impressive photographers.
Follow us to get the latest in the Capture Namibia series:
In the north east of Namibia, perched at the top of the Okavango and overlooking the uniquely beautiful Popa Falls you can find NWR’s Popa Falls Camp. The camp is the perfect place to use as a base for exploring Namibia’s Okavango Delta and Caprivi Strip.
The camp, which had fallen into disrepair, was recently re-opened by the Namibia Wildlife Resorts and is now welcoming tourists once more.
The falls, and the camp are nestled between Zambia and Botswana.
(Image courtesy of Namibia Bookings)
What are the Popa Falls?
Rather than a classic waterfall the Popa Falls are a serious of unique and beautiful cascading rapids that run over a series of quartzite ledges. In the wet season the series of rapids is a must-see if you are in the north east of the country.
A section of the rapids that make up the Popa Falls.
(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)
Because the Okavango is perennial, the region close to the falls is awash with diverse flora and fauna. Many different species of fish, birds, antelope and other large mammals have made their homes on the shady and lush banks of the mighty river.
It’s not always all about the fauna-
there is some astonishing flora along the banks of the Okavango.
(Image courtesy of Roxanne Reid)
Exploring Mahango Game Park
More than just a place to stay, the Popa Falls Camp is perfectly positioned to break your trip as you head north from the central or southern regions of the country. Close to NWR's camp you will find the Mahango Game Park. The park, much like the rest of the Caprivi Strip is home to a variety of fauna from large mammals to exotic birds.
The park is famous for its collection of wetland birds; including egrets, cranes, herons, pelicans, storks and various birds of prey like Pel’s Fishing Owl and Montagu’s Harrier. The park has even been designated as an “Important Bird Area” by BirdLife International.
So if you are keen on birding and find yourself on a day trip through the park remember to bring a pair of binoculars and bird book to make a note of all the different species you spot.
The park has a large population of African Skimmers.
(Image courtesy of Loretta Aminus)
Mahango is also one of the few reserves in Namibia, and by extension the world, that is home to a pack of African wild dogs. These notoriously shy and incredibly endangered animals are always a treat to see and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of them should not be passed up on.
Three wild dogs seeking some respite from the baking noon sun.
Other large mammals in the park include bushbuck, reedbuck, tsessebe, sitatunga, and the rare and beautiful roan and sable antelope. There are also, according to reports, migratory elephants that pass through the park, but sightings of these majestic beasts are rare.
Herds of various antelope can be seen all over the park.
(Image courtesy of Roxanne Reid)
**Note that the park is only open for day trips and there are no overnight facilities so it is best to stay at a lodge or a camp nearby if you wish to explore it.**
Other things to do at Popa Falls Camp
The Okavango is a popular destination for fisherman as the river is stocked with abundant Tigerfish, Threespot and Greenheaded tilapia. Staying at the Popa Falls Camp will give you an excellent place to base yourself if you wish to launch a fishing expedition on the upper sections of the Okavango in Namibia.
The camp is also a good place to just take a few days off and let off some steam by the riverside. Sometimes travelling around can be hard work and a day or two of solid relaxation can go a long way to making your trip around Namibia even more enjoyable.
Have a refreshing drink at the Popa Falls Camp's jetty bar.
The Popa Falls Camp also offers safari cruises on the recently launched “Queen Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah” houseboat. On one of these excursions you may well spot some of the local fauna including hippos, crocodiles and the endemic antelope as you wind your way up and down the river.
Another striking sunset over the Okavango
(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)
Staying at the Popa Falls Camp
The camp has over 40 beds for sleepy travellers and these are divided across 10 river chalets and three family chalets. The camp itself has all the facilities you need including a restaurant and bar.
Pictured above: A traveller's best friend.
If you don't particularly like having a roof over your head then there is also space for you to camp, and there is also a designated area for overland tour operators where they can leave their overland vehicles as well.
**Note: SADC citizens get a 25% discount when staying at any NWR camp, while Namibian NamLeisure cardholders will receive a 50% discount. Internationals also get a 10% discount so be sure to enquire ahead before you get to the camp.**
For more booking information contact NWR here.
For a list of a few other places to stay in the region check out this link.
In June last year we announced that the lucky winner of our Landscape Escape competition was one Kevin Read from Canada. Kevin won a once in a lifetime trip around Namibia and decided to document what he and his wife Ruth discovered on their journey through the land of the brave.
Ruth and Kevin- winners!
Kevin and Ruth enjoyed their stay so much that they compiled a list of reasons why they think you should take the plunge and explore this vast and beautiful country as soon as possible.
10 Reasons You Should Visit Namibia
We spent the months of November and December 2013 exploring the country of Namibia. Over the course of almost eight weeks, we drove approximately 10,000 kms (6,200 miles) all over the country. We experienced the many different cultures and saw so many natural wonders.
But one of the things that we didn't see was North American tourists.
People from Canada and the U.S. who come to Africa seem to be attracted to Kenya, Botswana, or South Africa all of which have more highly developed tourism infrastructure. As a result, they tend to have more "luxury" travel options. Namibia is a little more wild, and still has a lot of areas that may be considered early development when it comes to tourism.
Here's why we think North Americans should visit Namibia...
1. They speak English in Namibia
We find that a lot of North Americans are unsure about visiting a country where they will have a difficult time being understood. You won't have a problem in Namibia. Despite the fact that there are approximately eight other popular languages (Afrikaans, German, and many local languages) English is the official language. All road signs are in English, and although you may meet some rural people who only speak their local language, there will always be someone close by who can translate.
All road, traffic, and tourism signs are in English.
We've never been much into birds. Namibia may have changed that a little bit! There are around 700 species of birds in Namibia! It seemed like every day that we were in Namibia we would see some kind of different bird. And of course many are so colorful, and with long bright feathers. Oh, and owls! We have never seen so many different owls.
An owl in Namibia.
3. You can go camping!
The easiest and most popular way to tour Namibia is with your own vehicle. The local public transportation system isn't the easiest, but if you have your own vehicle you can go anywhere. It's also common, and a great idea, to do a self drive camping tour of Namibia, and there are a LOT of campgrounds in Namibia, In fact, we were surprised at the number of beautiful campgrounds.
Our camping vehicle from Namibia Car Rental.
4. The desert is truly beautiful
I've never been much of a desert person. I typically like trees and greenery, but Namibia gave us a whole different perspective on the desert and the different landscapes that the desert presents to you. While there certainly are some long boring sections of desert scenery, there is also very stunning scenery that makes you wonder how it can possibly occur naturally.
The dunes at Sossusvlei.
5. Protection of the environment
If you are an ethical traveler, you may be interested to know that Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution. The Government of Namibia has reinforced this by giving its rural communities the right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. These conservancies are clearly defined tracts of land, registered with government, where local communities manage their natural resources through a democratically elected committee and approved management plans.
Many private lodges in Namibia also have their own environmental conservancies.
6. It is a safe and politically stable country
The country is very safe, and the people are friendly. There are only two million people in the whole country, and 40% of all reported crime occurs in the capital city of Windhoek. We never once felt unsafe.
Ruth, visiting with the locals.
7. The wildlife
We spent a total of seven days exploring Namibia's Etosha National Park. But even though Etosha is a world class wildlife park, we found that you don't really need to be in a National Park to experience wildlife. Yes, you'll see everything in Etosha...lions, elephants, rhinos. But you'll also see animals simply wandering near the side of the road outside of parks. The Caprivi region of Namibia gave us our best animal viewing outside of Etosha. Plan on at least four days to properly explore Etosha National Park.
Animals of Etosha National Park.
8. The different cultures
Namibia has people who you will not find anywhere else in the world. People who continue living with ancient traditions and lifestyles without the pressures and conveniences experienced in most of the world. One of the highlights of our trip was the couple of hours we spent with the Himba people in the northwestern region of the country.
Probably not known by many, but Namibia has a lot of premier hiking trails. November and December aren't really the best time of year to hike in Namibia because it's summer and it's often too hot to go hiking. The best time of year to visit for that type of outdoor activity is from April through October. Fish River Canyon offers the most well known hiking opportunity, a five day excursion along the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon.
Kevin, at Fish River Canyon.
9. Namibia is still relatively unknown
One of the main reasons we wanted to go there! We like going to places that are a little more off the beaten path when it comes to tourism, and we're glad that we came to a place that is really only just starting out in the tourism world when you compare it to most other countries.
The ghost town of Kolmanskop.
10. Namibia has the best beer in Africa!
Of course the most important reason to visit any country is the quality of it's beer! Namibian beer is brewed to the highest German standards and Namibians are passionate about their beer!
Namibian beers are very good.
If you want to read more about some of Kevin and Ruth's other globe trotting adventures then head on over to their blog by clicking here.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so that you can keep track of any news or competitions and you too could find yourself on the African adventure of a life time.
Whether you are looking for relaxing game viewing opportunities, or all the thrills and spills of white water rafting a trip down one of Namibia’s rivers is for you. In this post we will be covering a variety of rafting adventures that you can experience in the land of the brave.
Rafters preparing to set out on an adventure.
(Image courtesy of Kunene River Lodge)
There are two major rivers that are used for rafting in Namibia: The Kunene in north and the Orange River in the south. Each body of water offers something a little different to the willing explorer and no matter what kind of a water-born adventure you are looking for you're sure to find it in Namibia.
Namibia’s northernmost river
Today we look to Namibia’s northern border with Angola and will be giving you all the information you need to plan a river expedition down one of Namibia’s most under-explored rivers: The Kunene.
The river is situated in the north west corner of Namibia.
(Image courtesy of Reconstruction)
The Kunene begins in the Angolan highlands and ends in the north west of Namibia along the Skeleton Coast. Massive variance in flora and fauna along the river’s lateral trail mean that you will get to see a wide variety of animals and surroundings on your trip.
The unspoiled beauty of the Kunene.
(Image courtesy of Africa Geographic)
What the Kunene offers
This river is known to be one of the most exciting rivers to travel down on and if you are an adrenaline seeking adventure tourist then this could be the perfect place for you to strap on your helmet, grip your paddle and fly down some rapids.
Don’t forget to wear your helmet!
(Image courtesy of White Water Rafting)
If, however, you would rather take it easy and sit back in your craft and simply paddle past some remarkable landscapes and wildlife then you can do that too, as several lengths of the river are calm and completely flat. The Kunene’s banks are also teeming with animals and an eagle-eyed traveller will be able to spot many an animal, including crocodiles and hippos lounging on the banks of the river.
You won’t be using an engine so you may get up close to some of the wild animals.
(Image courtesy of Africa Geographic)
The banks of the river are often lined with trees so if there are any ornithologists with a hankering for some river adventure then they too can take in the beautiful and varied birdlife the river’s edge has to offer.
Slightly less heart-pumping than a crocodile, but equally beautiful,
the Rufous-tailed Palm Thrush is endemic to this part of Namibia and Angola.
(Image courtesy of Wilkinson’s World)
The river also has two sets of waterfalls: The Ruacana Falls and the Epupa Falls. The lengthier river trips will take you to the Epupa falls which are situated 190km upstream from the mouth of the Kunene, while the Ruacana Falls are further upstream. To get to Ruacana, where many of the river trips on the Kunene begin, you will have to temporarily leave Namibia and cross into Angola.
The Epupa Falls-
The river and the falls are in peak flow in April and May.
(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)
Operators on the Kunene
If you wish to go on a river trip down this unspoiled river than there are a few companies that you can use. Below is a bit more information on some of the different rafting adventure packages the operators have on offer.
African Rafting offers a 10 day trip down the Kunene and for the first three days of your trip, and before you get to the river, you will be treated to a short stay in Etosha National Park’s Okaukuejo rest camp. Here you will be given the opportunity to do a safari drive and after two days you will make be driven upstream to Raucana where your watery adventure begins in earnest.
Read more about this trip here.
Felix Unite are probably the biggest tour operator on the Kunene and they offer an adventure packed 11 day trip. This trip begins in Windhoek where you will meet up with your river guides either at an agreed upon place (if you have driven to Windhoek) or at the airport. As with African Rafting this trip includes a stay in Etosha, but with Felix Unite you will be staying at the Halali rest camp.
Read more about this trip here.
Kunene River Lodge
The Kunene River Lodge is situated on the banks of the river and offers several activities and styles of accommodation to adventurers looking to be based in the thick of the trees that line the banks of the Kunene. The Lodge offers half-day, two-day, and four-day rafting adventures and anyone, no matter what their experience level is, can find something in these trips to satisfy.
Check out the rest of their website to find out exactly what they have to offer.
The lodge overlooks the mighty river.
(Image courtesy of Kunene River Lodge)
The adventure of a lifetime
A trip down the Kunene is unlike any other rafting trip in Namibia; the lush vegetation, teeming wildlife and relative ease of navigating down the river make this an absolute must for anyone who has the desire to get some wind and water in their face.
Have a look at a personal account by Jacques Marais to get an even better sense of what this extraordinary part of Namibia has to offer.
With friends or family a river trip is always a good time.
(Image courtesy of Africa Geographic)
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Namibia is full of hidden treasures and Ongula Village Homestead Lodge near Ondangwa is one such treasure. The lodge can be found nestled next to a traditional Owambo homestead and guests staying there are afforded a unique opportunity to experience life in traditional northern Namibia.
What is Ongula?
Ongula Village Homestead Lodge is community run lodge near the northern town of Ondangwa where travellers who are willing to go out of their way can experience a side of Namibia that most tourists do not ever manage to see.
Ongula in relation to some well-known locations across Namibia.
(Image courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
The whole point of the lodge is to invite tourists, local and international, to take a step back from the frantic urban world and take a peek in to how a rural community in Owamboland lives.
A video briefly explaining how the lodge operates.
(Video courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
The Lodge is built next to a traditional and functional homestead- this is no sterile museum or staged theatrical production- and at Ongula you will be shown exactly how the Owambo people of Namibia’s under-explored northern regions live on a day-to-day basis.
The homestead's entrance.
From the granary, to the kraals, to the central fire pit, visitors are not only shown how the local tribe/community goes about their daily chores but will also be afforded opportunities to take part in some of these daily routines.
A visitor helps grind Mahangu.
Mahangu is a delicious staple found in Namibia’s north.
The focus of the your trip to Ongula will be on getting you immersed in the local culture so that you can get a better understanding of how the community there lives and as such there are several activities that are on offer.
Activities at the Lodge
As mentioned you can take part in several of the day-to-day chores that need to be carried out around the homestead on a daily basis. This could include clay-pot making, basket weaving and even cattle herding.
This structure houses an underground traditional clay-baking facility-
you’ll have to visit to find out what it looks like inside!
While at the lodge you will be taken on a tour of the homestead and the basic functions and purposes of all the various rondawels (traditional huts), living spaces and quarters will be explained to you.
This well has serviced the homestead for generations and it is still in use.
In addition to the various package activities that you can enjoy on-site there are also several day trips that can be organised by the staff at the lodge. These trips will show you a bit more of the surrounds if you have a little extra time to explore the greater Ondangwa area.
Here is a list of some of the day trips on offer at the lodge:
** When you get to the lodge simply ask any of the hospitality staff if there are any activities you can get involved in. The list of things to do is dynamic and there are always new experiences to be had for those willing to get involved.**
The Lodge has electricity, WiFi, bar and restaurant, credit card facilities and four spacious twin bed rooms with private en-suite bathrooms.
Click here to have a look at the lodge’s rates. Book here.
The rooms are appointed with furniture made from recycled materials.
(Photo Courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
**For those of you who can’t get enough of the great outdoors, a camping site is currently under construction at the lodge. If you wish to camp on-site then simply contact the staff at the lodge and enquire as to availability and pricing.**
How to get there
Getting to the Ongula homestead is not a simple matter of driving on a national road and attention has to be paid to which route you will need to take. On the lodge’s website you can find detailed directions explaining how you can get to the lodge from Windhoek, Etosha National Park and Ruacana Falls.
If you have any questions about how to get there or which route is best for you do not hesitate to call the friendly staff at the lodge.
Getting to the lodge is not difficult, it just requires planning.
Voluntourism around Ondangwa
The north of Namibia is beautiful and rugged, but it is also quite underdeveloped. As a result there are many community based projects you can get involved with. From schools to shelters for at risk children and adults there are numerous causes that can benefit from your time.
A good way to get involved in some community-based projects in this region is to work through the Ongula Village Homestead Lodge. Check out some of the projects they directly run, and if none of those take your fancy you can always ask them about other outreach projects that are being run in the region.
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