Day 31 – 35: Kunene to Kunene

Distance driven from home: 6 245 km

From the Kunene river across the Marienfluss southwards we drove along the eastern side of Mount Ondau (which is the sacred mountain of the Himba tribe).

The landscape on the eastern side is totally different from the western side – thick white sand for 20+ km with a red fringe towards the mountains.

And then we drove the Rooidrom pass from the north towards Marble Camp. Very rocky and steep and slippery due to loose stones and pebbles.

We camped at Marble community camp and proceeded the next morning to Opuwo via the Haurusib river and Kaoko Otavi.

This whole area of the Kaokoveld was absolutely stunning. We think it is the most beautiful area of the whole of Namibia. The Namibian landscapes are normally picture perfect, but this area is special.

A massive locust swarm surprised us and thereafter we drove into another two of these swarms. Impressive and beautiful in the early morning against the sun! There were millions of them.

At Kaoko Otavi we went searching for the water fountain and were immediately surrounded by a crowd of Himba children. Eric remembered some history lessons involving Dorsland trekkers letting their cattle drink at the natural springs of Kaoko Otavi. And we found it in the middle of town, with green divertions (‘leivore’) in all directions from it.

Opuwo is another typical African town – busy, crowded and the Himba ladies begging one endlessly to buy beaded bracelets. The Spar and OK Grocer are well stocked and this town is the pitstop for every need. They call it the ‘capital’ of Kaokoland.

From Opuwo to Epupa Falls the landscape again changed dramatically. Lush green mopani veld up to the Kunene river.

At Epupa Falls we camped at Omarunga Lodge right on the bank of the river under massive palm trees – well-earned luxury after the wildcamp and very basic community camps. And the river and the falls are amazingly beautiful!

There were lots of rented vehicles with European tourists at Epupa Falls. At Palmwag we met one couple coming from the Kaokoveld, and near Camp Syncro a camper passed us. That was it. No other tourists for days, until we reached Epupa.

From Epupa Falls we travelled along the Kunene towards Ruacana via Swartbooisdrift. The road was washed away with the 2020 Kunene floods but has been repaired and is a nice road winding along the river from Epupa Falls to Ruacana.

The heatwave was persistent – min 35’C, max 45’C and with added humidity at Epupa Falls. Lots of mosquitoes, seemingly immune against Tabard and Peaceful Sleep.

The Ruacana Falls are normally fairly dry, but we were fortunate to see some water flowing down there.

The Himbas are everywhere. From Sesfontein through the whole route there are clusters of Himba huts everywhere. They are a nomadic tribe, farming with goats and sheep, and we found the huts deserted in the more dry areas. From Kaoko Otavi to Ruacana, where it was much greener, they were everywhere, signalling us to stop. The children constantly ran towards the road as soon as they hear a vehicle, begging for sweets.

The ‘Lone Men’ of the Kaokoveld were also nice to see, and we saw three of them at unexpected intervals during these days. It is a gentlemen’s agreement not to disclose their locations, as everyone has to discover them.

Next: Etosha..


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