WATERBERG PLATEAU PARK
Translated, “Waterberg” means “water mountain”. It stands like a huge sandstone fort in the region of “Otjozondjupa”, the Herero term for a mountain that has a lot of springs. The Waterberg demarcates the border between central Namibia and the Kalahari Desert and has, due to the constant availability of fresh water, for many hundreds of years been an immensely important location for the cattle-herding Herero nation. Even today the commercial farmland surrounding the Waterberg is of the most lucrative due to the abundunt water and the resulting obtainability of grazing areas. In dry times, when the surrounding Acacia savannah becomes dry and barren, the Waterberg protrudes like a green oasis and is an all-year haven for myriads of living organisms. The Waterberg Plateau Park belongs to Namibia’s many conservation areas and covers some 405 km² of land that has been declared a Nature Reserve in 1972. The plateau is largely inaccessible, so in the early 1970s several of Namibia's endangered species were translocated here to protect them from predators and poachers. The programme was very successful and Waterberg now boasts a very healthy community of rare animals such as Black Rhino, Tsessebe, Roan and Sable antelope and is furthermore the only Namibian location outside the Caprivi area that accommodates the African Buffalo. The cliffs of the Waterberg support Namibia’s only population of the endangered Cape Vulture, but also give a home to many of the other 200 different bird species found here. Besides being a haven for birders and botanists, the Waterberg area surrounding the Bernabe de la Bat restcamp offers a wide variety of different walking trails. The most worthwhile trail to take in the early morning or late afternoon is the one leading onto the plateau itself. From here the guests enjoys a splendid view over the endless Acacia and Mopane plains and get a better feel as to how extensive the waterberg actually is. All walking trails, which are very easy to manage, start and end from the bungalow area half-way up the Waterberg mountain. The area is the massive remnant of a pre-historic desert that covered most of northern Namibia, and when visiting other locations such as Twyfelfontein in Damaraland or Mount Etjo in central Namibia, the vastness of this desert becomes more evident, as all these sandstone formations originate from the same desert. Geologically, the oldest rock stratum on the Waterberg is over 850 million years old and dinosaurs tracks were left there some 200 million years ago. The first human inhabitants were the San people, who left rock engravings believed to be several thousand years old. A small tribe of the San were still living their traditional lifestyle on the plateau until the late 1960s – once it was decided to use the plateau exclusively for research and conservation purposes these Bushman moved into the Tsumkwe area. The Waterberg and the surrounding area was the site of one of the major turning points in Namibia’s History. It was here in the foothills that the Herero people lost their last and greatest battle against German Colonial forces at the beginning of the 20th century. The Herero were forced to retreat from the Waterberg and headed eastward to British Bechuanaland (now Botswana). Thousands were killed by the pursuing Germans and many lost their lives in the Kalahari Desert due to lack of food and water. Estimates are that nearly two thirds of the Herero population lost their lives during this period. The graves of German soldiers who lost their lives at Waterberg can still be viewed near the Bernabe De La Bat rest camp at the base of the park, where you also find a plaque which reminds of the thousands of Herero lives wasted.