Published: July 29th 2010July 26th 2010
Waterberg to Popa Falls
Waterberg Plateau National Park is a stunning sandstone rock plateau standing 200m above the surrounding very flat landscape. You see it looming ahead of you for miles on the drive there. It was a great place to go after Etosha's "Don't get out of your car" warnings everywhere and be able to do some hiking. The big animals area all on the top of the plateau leaving hikers free to amble around the lower slopes. The rocks are a beautiful colour in the afternoon sun, just like the warm red sandstone back home in Worcestershire.
The only mammals we saw at Waterberg were mongoose (or is it mongeese?) and baboons, but the birdlife was excellent, lots of lovely colourful small birds.
On leaving the park we had a very special few hours at the nearby Cheetah Conservation Fund. We were umming and ahhing whether to go or not and ready to be disappointed but it was quiet, well set up and with very warm and inviting personnel. From Gabriel who gave us a tour and the small museum we now know a lot about cheetahs. I hadn't realised it was the most endangered of the cats and that leopards were much more common. It was really special to get up close to some of them and hear them purring contentedly. The founder, an American vet, was also around and invited us to watch a procedure one of the chetahs was having in the clinic. It was quite something to be that close while a big cat was having a check up and a radio collar fitted ready for being released. While she was still sedated I was able to listen to her heart beat through a stethascope and stroke her.
From there we had two farily long drives and arrived at Popa Falls on the edge of the Caprivi Strip in the very north of Namibia, sandwiched between Angola and Botswana. We were shocked at the change up here, very poor with a much more dense population, villages with traditional mud and thatch ronduvels and clearly subsistence living, no big ranches up here. We had a lovely campsite for a couple of nights right on the banks of the Okavango River. Lots of herons, kingfishers and cormorants as well as a baby croc and lots of hippos.