The striking, flat-topped Waterberg Plateau rises up about 200m above the surrounding Omaheke plains in the northern region of central Namibia. The inaccessible reaches of this unique sandstone feature provide sanctuary for a wide diversity of plants, birds and animals, including rare and endangered species.
Declared a national park in 1972, Waterberg Plateau Park encompasses some 41000 hectares of wilderness in the Kalahari.
The Waterberg Plateau is thought to be about 200 million years old, featuring remnants of dinosaur tracks dating back to the time. The orange-red rocky outcrops of the plateau also host ancient San rock art engraved thousands of years ago. A small clan of San Bushmen lived in this rugged habitat into the late 1960s, using their traditional methods of survival.
A historically significant place in Namibia, this was the site of the Battle of Waterberg, fought between German colonials and the native Herero people in 1904. The German troops defeated the Herero, wiping out nearly two thirds of the population in this period! A small cemetery with the graves of German soldiers still lies at the foot of the Plateau.
In 1908 a police post was built at Waterberg, and today the historic Rasthaus building houses a restaurant, bar and kiosk. In the early 1970s various endangered species were translocated here, with the area declared a nature reserve since 1972 in order to protect these animals. In 1989 black rhinos were moved to Waterberg Plateau Park from Damaraland (Kunene Region) and a breeding program initiated. The breeding program was an important success for black rhino conservation in Namibia and worldwide.
The towering table mountain of Waterberg measures some 50 km in length and up to 16 km in width, forming a distinctive massif of sheer cliffs and interesting sandstone rock formations.
Waterberg Plateau National Park is noted for its populations of endangered animals, playing an important role in Namibian wildlife conservation. White and black rhino are protected here, as well as roan and sable antelopes. The park is home to about 25 species of game, including tsessebe, giraffe and Cape buffalo. Namibia's sole breeding colony of Cape Vultures is found here and the park is home to Verreaux Eagles.
Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the park, including 33 kinds of raptor, Rüppell's parrot, Hartlaub's francolin and Bradfield's swift.
In addition to the dramatic rocky ridges, the plateau is quite lushly vegetated with grassland plains and thick woods. The foothills are covered with acacia, other evergreen trees and low bushes, with some areas featuring subtropical type vegetation.
Waterberg translates as 'water mountain' from Afrikaans, thus named for its plentiful water. There are natural springs at the base of the plateau and the mountain itself catches moisture-laden clouds. The south-eastern slopes of the massif feature more springs and thus the vegetation is almost subtropical here. Even the sandstone ridge helps to capture moisture and feed the springs from rainwater.
Waterberg Plateau thus has water year-round, with watering holes that attract animals and birds. Visiting the national park, you can take a dip in one of the mountain pools and enjoy clean mountain water from the springs.
Use the Google map to explore Waterberg Plateau National Park. Feel free to Print the Street Map when you're ready.