The Epupa falls are located within Kaokoland which is found in the Kunene region near the Namib Desert. They might not be as breathtaking as the Victoria Falls but they also exhibit flawless beauty especially due to the fact that they are found in a semi-Desert area covered with mostly sand dunes. The word Epupa is a Herero word which can loosely be translated as falling water and many locals can be seen trekking around the water falls mostly as a way of tracking down the small animals that live around the water falls.
The River Kunene is one of the tourist attractions that are found around the Epupa falls and it highly determines the water levels of the water falls. During the dry season, the water is extremely on the low at the River and the water falls themselves and that is why most tourists visit the falls during the wet season because then the water levels are high and the beauty it exhibits becomes more during this season. Getting to the Epupa Falls is quite easy especially during the dry season as the roads are a bit passable but if you are visiting during the wet season, then you will need a 4×4 car due to the increased mud and flooding that is experienced during the wet season.
The Epupa Falls are what you can call a place which has various activities that are fit for everyone who visits them without a limitation to age and some of the tourist activities that can be carried out when you visit the Epupa Falls include:
Hiking around the Epupa falls
There are several bushes that surround the Epupa Falls and these are known to sometimes be poisonous and that is why before you head out for the hike, you are advised to put on long sleeved shirts, pants and good hiking boots. The hikes around the Epupa Falls are always guided and the tour guides will take you around the falls and the surrounding areas and all these hikes are good for all those that love photography and exercise. One of the mostly used hike trails is the crocodile trail which runs for about three kilometers and this will take you around the falls where you will get to do some birding, get to see some of the rare Desert plants and also see some of the few animals that have gotten used to the harsh weather conditions in the area.
Enjoy rafting around the Epupa falls
Water rafting around the Epupa falls is one of the activities that you should not miss out on while on a trip to these beautiful water falls. The rafting is done with the help of an experienced personnel and it is mostly done in the months of May to October when the water levels are a bit on the high and this is done on the River Kunene which is located right next to the water falls. While rafting, you will be able to see the numerous bird species that habitate around the falls both the local and migratory bird species, you will also be able to view some of the water animals and those that come for a drink especially during the dry season like crocodiles, hippos, zebras and it is also good for all those that love photography as you get a close feel of the water falls.
Nature walks to the Himba village
The guided walks to the Himba village which is located just a few minutes away from the Epupa falls are carried out every day and it is one way that you can get to experience the unique culture of the Himba people. With a guided tour guide leading you on the nature walk, you will be able to learn more about the undiluted culture of the Himba people and their customs that might sound weird to foreigners and the role of the tour guide is to safely walk you to the Himba villages and also help with the translations. The Himba people are welcoming for as long as you do not want to change their beliefs and cultures and some of the unique cultural practices that have kept them intact as a group include:
- They have a no bathing policy because it is considered a taboo and the way they keep to their hygiene is by smoking themselves in a blanket with herbs. Although the real reason as to why it was made a taboo is that there is limited water around them and therefore they improvised other means of keeping clean.
- They are polygamous people and very generous in a way that for all the visitors that go to their village, free sex is offered to them and this is with the consent of the husbands of the ladies in the area.
- You will enjoy some rituals for initiating both the young boys and girls into adulthood if you find that it is the season, buy some souvenirs especially the locally made beads by the women and also get to know the real reason as to why they smear themselves with the red ochre and the reason for the different hairstyles that they have on their heads.
The guided walks around the Epupa falls normally take about three hours before they are complete and therefore one should always be ready for them by carrying essential things like lots of water and snacks, good hiking shoes and appropriate clothing which will ease your nature walk around the falls.
A boat cruise around the Epupa falls
Boat cruises around the Epupa falls can be done at any time of the day but the best time is either in the morning where you get to see numerous bird species that habitate around the falls and in the evening where you get to enjoy the sunset with your loved ones. The boat ride takes a few minutes or hours depending on the tour guide and the time that you want to spend on water but there is a part along the River that boats do not normally go to and this is because of the large infestation of crocodiles in the area and that is why swimming is also prohibited in these areas although while on a boat you can still cruise a little too close to get a closer look at the crocodiles. If you are not so afraid of the crocodiles, you can also try feeding them to but at an arm’s distance to avoid any accidents.
Enjoy a birding spree at the Epupa falls
The Epupa Falls is one of the best birding destinations in Namibia as it has both the local bird species and those that fly into the country during the rainy season. The Falls have a recorded number of bird species that amounts to about 238 and these can be seen as you ride a boat along the Kunene River. Some of the most common bird species that you will see while on your visit to the Epupa falls include the masked weaver, sun birds, bulbuls, the kingfisher, the rufous palm thrush, rosy faced lovebird, sunbirds, the Monteiro’s hornbill, the African fish eagle and the African fish eagle. The best time for you to see most of these birds is in the morning before the sun comes out.