Waterberg Plateau Park
T he 405.39-km2 Waterberg Plateau Park was proclaimed in 1972 as a reserve for endangered and protected species. The history of the park began on 15 June 1956 with the declaration of two portions of the plateau as natural monuments. This came to pass after representations were made to the then SWA Administration by the Kameradeschaft Ehemaliger Deutscher Soldaten, members of the Scientific Society, the Monuments Commission, and other interested parties. The two areas – the Omuverume Plateau and the Karakuwisa Mountain Range – were, however, divided by farms that had been allocated to farmers in the past.
The Omuverume Plateau is probably the only sandveld vegetation type that developed for many centuries without being disturbed, due to
the vertical cliffs and flora there having reached a unique stage of climax development.
Interestingly enough, the original motivation for the proclamation of the entire Waterberg Plateau as a park was to create a reserve for eland. It was reasoned that ‘there are about 800 eland in the Waterberg area that move from farm to farm and cause a nuisance. As soon as the farmers obtain ownership of the game on their land, the future of these eland will be in jeopardy because the farmers do not tolerate eland on their land’. How wrong this statement proved to be! It was only when farmers were granted ownership of their game, that game populations in the country began to flourish and increase.
The Waterberg Plateau Park of today is home to some 25 game and over 200 bird species. Rare species such as black and white rhino, roan and sable antelope, Cape buffalo and tsessebe occur in large numbers. Species such as black and white rhino are also firmly established on the plateau. The vegetation changes dramatically from acacia savannah at the foot of the plateau to lush, green sub-tropical dry woodland with tall trees and grassy plains at the top. Ten fern species have been recorded at the Waterberg, of which one is endemic to Namibia and Angola. There is also an impressive range of flowering plants, including the conspicuous flame lily, Gloriosa superba. Dinosaur tracks imbedded in sandstone can be seen on top of the plateau.
On the site of the historic Battle of Waterberg, at the foot of the plateau, a graveyard serves as a reminder of a turbulent period in history. Schutztruppe (German soldiers) who died in the battle fought between the Herero and German colonial forces in 1904 are buried here.
At the eastern extremity of the park is the Okatjikona Environmental Education Centre, a facility run by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism that provides the opportunity for visiting groups, mainly schoolchildren, to learn about the importance of environmental conservation.
The superb natural beauty of the Waterberg can be explored either by vehicle on a guided game-viewing tour, on foot by means of guided wilderness trails, on a four-day self-guided wilderness trail, or along easy walking trails.
Accommodation in the Park
Accommodation at the Waterberg consists of luxury chalets and a well-equipped camping area in the Waterberg Camp at the foot of the plateau. The restaurant, kiosk and museum are housed in the restored Rasthaus, originally built in 1908 and used as a police post for several years.
A sociable weavers’ nest. Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk
Yellow-billed hornbill, Tockus leucomelas. Photo ©Paul van Schalkwyk