The Kunene River
Rivers of Namibia
In the north of the country, the mighty Kunene River forms part of Namibia's border with Angola for about 325km (202miles). Winding through a primeval landscape, the Kunene is characterized by thundering waterfalls, raging white-water rapids and tranquil streams.
Green turtles are encountered year round at the Kunene River mouth, but there is no confirmed nesting in Namibia. It is the second largest marine turtle growing to 1.5m. The adult feeds on sea grass and algae.
Epupa Falls: The Epupa Falls (Herero for falling water) are about 190km upstream of the Kunene River mouth and is one of Kaokoland's most breathtaking sights. It is here that the river fans out into a number of channels before cascading into a deep gorge. This dynamic series of falls and cascades are ushered through a 500m wide series of paralleled channels, dropping a total of 60m over a distance of 1.5km. The greatest single drop measures at 37m and is commonly identified as the Epupa Falls. The best time to visit is in April and May, when the river is in peak flow.
There are some pools above the falls, very popular with visitors, that make natural jacuzzis and safe from crocs in the eddies and rapids. Hang onto the rocks though and keep away from the lip of the falls, once you're caught in the current there's no way from being prevented from being swept away.
There's excellent hiking trails along the river west of the falls and plenty of mountains to climb with marvellous views along the river and into Angola.
Ruacana Falls: Another notable attraction of Kaokoland, is the well-known Ruacana Falls, situated some 120km (74.5km) upstream from Epupa Falls. Ruacana takes its name from the Herero orua hakahana (the rapids) and they lie 15km west of the town of the same name. To visit the gorge, visitors must temporarily exit Namibia by signing an immigration register.
This feature is dry for most of the year, but after good rains the Kunene becomes an angry, thundering mass of water that tumbles into the grateful 120m (194ft) deep gorge. The Ruacana Falls are one of the country's most splendid natural wonders, but as a result of the construction of Angola's Calueque Dam, 20km away, the flow is controlled by an intake weir 1km above the falls. As a result, it is best to view them in the rainy season, (March or April) when water is released over the spill way.
A tented camp on the banks of the Kunene River close to Epupa Falls and Himba settlements
A rustic option but closest situated to Epupa Falls, this site previously only provided campsites, but recently added rooms on stilts overlooking the river and falls.
On the border between Kaokoland and Damaraland this fort was built at the same time as the fort of Namutoni in Etosha
On a hill above the Kunene river, the lodge has tremendous views of the surrounding area and looks towards the Epupa Falls
An excellent base from which to explore the Kaokoland area.
An excellent lodge in a remote location on the banks of the Kunene River, for those interesting in birding, relaxing or river rafting this lodge is an absolute must
In the village of Opuwo, this is a basic tented camp
One of the oldest lodges in the Kaokoland area, from here guest can visit Himba villages and other areas of interest in Kaokoland
Near the tiny settlement of Puros, this luxury lodge offers you the ability to search for the desert adapted elephants
On a hillside overlooking the Kunene River this small intimate camp offers accommodation for a maximum of 14 people.
A comfortable tented camp close to the Epupa falls
This is one of the newer lodges in Opuwo - it has beautiful views over Kaokoland -a real desert oasis
Up-market luxury safari camp on the Kunene River - only reachable by light aircraft