WATERBERG PLATEAU, NAMIBIA
In depth guide to the seasons, animals, birds and wildlife habitats of the Waterberg Plateau in Namibia

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Rock Formations Waterberg Plateau. Pic: David Anderson.
Emerging suddenly out of a uniform scrubland is a 600ft (200m) gigantic orange rock with sheer sides and a flat top. It is what remains of the sandstone casing which once covered large portions of Namibia, and which has formed numerous other peculiar peaks in this region. Glowing gold in late afternoon sun, the Waterberg Plateau looks too tempting to drive past.

It is sometimes referred to as the 'Lost Eden' because once up there, the animals of this lush tableland have no way down. It is as though time has stood still. It seems almost possible that a dinosaur could emerge from this unusual place, after all they once roamed the area and left a prehistoric legacy of several three-toed footprints not far from Waterberg.

This vast scrubland does not seem worth fighting over but nevertheless, it was the scene of a terrible massacre of the Herero people by German colonists in 1904. Almost the entire Herero community was decimated and a graveyard within the Waterberg Plateau Park is a poignant reminder of the dead. At this time, Herero women under the influence of German missionaries were considered inappropriately dressed, and were trussed up in Victorian clothes from neck to ankle, including petticoats and a wide bonnet, in temperatures reaching 104°F (40°C). The Herero women subsequently adopted this garb as their traditional costume and wear it with great aloofness and pride in the nearby town of Otjiwarongo.

In the shadow of the Waterberg plateau is a restful public resort with camp sites, chalets and cottages with impressive views over the surrounding savannah. Inside the resort you can go walking by yourself on marked paths leading around the plateau and up to the very edge, where you should not proceed without a guide. The plateau itself can be explored on a Nature Conservation guided game-viewing vehicle, and although the animals are secretive, you get the sense that you are being watched - probably by a leopard.

ANIMALS & BIRDS

Leopard, buffalo, giraffe, blue wildebeest and the exquisitely coloured and horned roan and sable antelope are amongst the animals living atop this magnificent brick-red sandstone edifice. White and black rhino are well protected up here, as is a rare breeding colony of Cape vultures.

More than 200 bird species have been recorded in the park with seven of them endemic to Namibia, including Ruppell's parrots chattering in the trees around the camping area. There are also plenty of raptors with various eagles, buzzards and falcons.

Leopard. Pic: David Anderson

SEASONS
Rainy Season: about 85% of the region's average annual rainfall of 20inches (500mm) falls between November and March. These are the summer months with temperatures reaching 104°F (40°C)
Dry Season: April to October is generally dry with very pleasant daytime temperatures but cold enough at night to send the barometer below freezing.

WATERBERG SPECIALITIES
· Walking around and up to the plateau's edge
· Standing beneath trees full of chattering Ruppell's parrots
· Game driving atop the plateau
· Swimming in the divine pool of the resort on the slopes of the plateau
· Watching the colours of the plateau turn golden in afternoon sun
· Imbibing the clean clear air

FACTS
You can only access the plateau with a Nature Conservation guide either on foot or by vehicle.
Accommodation at the resort must be booked in advance and there are private lodges nearby.
This is a low-risk malarial area.

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