Home Waterberg Wilderness History


From wilderness to nature reserve

Many traces prove that San (Bushmen) and Dama(ra) lived in the valley of Waterberg Wilderness for centuries - mostly because of the spring at the upper end, which naturally attracted plenty of game.

  • Waterberg Wilderness History

    Charles John Andersson

  • Waterberg Wilderness History

    Herero woman in front of her clay hut at the Waterberg (Source: National Archives of Namibia)

  • Waterberg Wilderness History

    Artillery of the German Schutztruppe at the Waterberg (Source: National Archives of Namibia)

In 1851 Swedish explorer Charles John Andersson is the first European to set foot in the valley. In 1870 Herero settle at Waterberg Mountain. They call the valley Otjosongombe (“place of cattle”).

During the battle of Waterberg between the Herero and German colonial forces on 11 August 1904 Otjosongombe is the scene of war. The Herero pull back, manage to break through the German lines and attempt to flee through the Kalahari into the British protectorate of Bechuanaland (Botswana). Thousands perish because they are unable to find enough water - August is still part of the dry season.

In 1906 Missionary Olpp manages a transit camp at the entrance into the valley, where Herero returning from hideouts in the bush are taken in and looked after. The History Path leads guests of Waterberg Wilderness to historical sites and many information boards tell the history of the Herero.

After the war of 1904 numerous settlers from Germany arrive in the colony of German South West Africa, among them Friedrich von Flotow. The grandson of the well-known composer of the same name acquires farm Otjosongombe in 1911 and cultivates the land. But his toil barely feeds the family. The main earnings are made with citrus and vegetable gardening.

  • Waterberg Wilderness History

    Margarethe and Friedrich von Flotow

Friedrich’s eldest son Adolf takes over in 1952 and decides to concentrate on cattle farming. Adolf and his wife remain childless and after his death in 1971 the widow sells the farm. Over the following years Otjosongombe changes hands six times.

In August 1999 ownership of the farm returns to the family. A year later Waterberg Wilderness Lodge opens its doors. The former cattle farm is gradually transformed into a nature reserve and the hospitality business is carefully expanded.

Today, Waterberg Wilderness employs a staff of 50 for taking care of the accommodation facilities, activities and nature conservation.

  • Waterberg Wilderness History

    Teams of the main reception and the Waterberg Valley Lodge

This makes it the biggest employer in an area where more than half of the working age population is without a job. Employees of Waterberg Wilderness are from neighbouring communities, but also from other regions of Namibia. Waterberg Wilderness also invests in staff training and community development.