The striking sight of Waterberg Plateau's brick red sandstone crowned with lush vegetation is like a jewel in the crown of Namibia. This unique place is a table mountain that drips water at its feet, and a game reserve at the top of the mountain.
This unique habitat has supported a wide and diverse range of flora and fauna for thousands of years. Rising to 420m, rising like a mighty fortress, this remarkable feature has provided nature with the perfect wildlife sanctuary.
The Waterberg Plateau park and 41,000 hectares of surrounding land was declared a Nature Reserve in 1972. This great table mountain enables some of Namibia's endangered wildlife to be transferred to the park, to be protected from natural predators and poaching.
The program to relocate animals here was a great success and many rare animals have been sent to other parks around Namibia.
The prominent mountain that rises from the plateau, with its perennial springs on the south-eastern slopes, gives the national park and the plateau its distinctive name, the Waterberg (Afrikaans: Water Mountain).
There are currently 25 species of mammal including; giraffe, impala, warthog, sable antelope, blue wildebeest as well as black and white rhinos.
You may be lucky to see the leopard stalking stealthily along the cliffs, or, on the plateau or savannah below, a cheetah or black-backed jackal.
This is also a birdwatchers paradise, where 230 indigenous species have been recorded, including Bradfield's hornbill, Rüppell's parrot, Hartlaub's francolin and the black eagle.
There is an interesting history associated with this region. The Battle of the Waterberg in 1904 took place in the foothills of the Waterberg Plateau where the Herero people heroically faced defeat against the German troops. Many of the Herero people escaped across the Omaheke Desert where many died through lack of food and water.
About 1000 men managed to cross the Kalahari into British Bechuanaland (now Botswana) where they were granted asylum. Today the site of the battle is within the Waterberg Plateau Park, and there is also a grave yard for the Germans.
How do you get the Waterberg Plateau Park
You can get to the park by conventional roads from Otjiwarongo, which is the nearest city about 68 km (42 miles) to the west of the park. Otjiwarongo is 240km (150 miles) from Windhoek.
What can you see and do
Here are three activities that will allow you to get an insight into the life and culture of the Waterberg Plateau:
Game Drive Tour: there is no self-drive available at the park. Visitors must use the park’s organised tours. Organised drives lasting about three hours take place in the morning and late afternoon, and are best booked with the park office as soon as you arrive. The tour visits some of the hides and waterholes looking for game.
Hiking the Plateau: hikers need to book in advance for one of the excellent wilderness trails. There are also good marked trails around the camp area, and even up onto a lookout point on the plateau.
If it is hiking that you are visiting the park for, you will be delighted at what is available. There are nine short trails in the vicinity of the park and the vista that awaits you at the end of the Mountain View Trail is worth the effort.
Hiking the Waterberg Wilderness trails during the dry season (April to November) is also the best way to experience the game park. You will have the spectacular sandstone kopjes on the southern edge of the plateau as a backdrop. These hikes only have small groups of 6 – 10 people, so you need to book months in advance.
Cultural Tours: you can also get to sample some of the local food and visit traditional Herero villages, with perhaps a community centre or school included, with one of the organised cultural and nature tours.
TheWaterberg Plateau Park offers a unique experience of beauty, tranquility and wilderness. You can use it as a stopover for two nights as part of a more comprehensive itinerary, and explore this unique African wilderness with its incomparable flora and fauna. Either way, you will feel that you didn’t stay long enough. A wonderful destination for meetings and conferences for those that prefer a beautiful natural setting.