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Everyone has probably heard about Hoba Meteorite, Ghaub cave or Ombili San Foundation, not to mention Lake Otjikoto, the museums in Tsumeb and Grootfontein and the Living Museum of the Ju/'Hoansi. But who knows the Maria Bronn mission station? The winery Thonningii? The Khorab memorial?
All these and many more attractions are to be found in the triangle between the national parks Etosha, Khaudum and Waterberg Plateau – in a region that is widely ignored by most tourists. In order to change that, about 40 accommodation establishments, activity providers, museums, arts & crafts markets and municipalities in the region founded the tourism route Omuramba Meander. Waterberg Wilderness was already involved in the preparation phase.
The initiator was the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development that contracted non profit organisation Open Africa to develop the route. It should also ensure to increase the benefits from tourism for urban and rural communities. Open Africa compiled information and photos of attractions and tourism products in the region and published it on its established web portal. In addition Open Africa produced information boards for eight locations such as Ghaub (former mission station), Waterberg Plateau or Fisher's Pan in Etosha which are referring to one another. There are also signs of the Omuramba Meander route at town entrances and at selected spots along roads. A brochure in digital and printed format is due to appear in time for high season in July.
"Our Omuramba Meander initiative serves to raise awareness for the variety of experiences the region has to offer," says committee chairman André Neethling. "Our region is not only a great stop-over en route between Windhoek and Etosha or the Zambezi region, but also a destination on its own inviting you to explore – or, as we like to say: to meander."
Experiences at Waterberg Wilderness and in the surroundings
Waterberg Wilderness offers guided hikes to the plateau, Rhino drive & tracking, cultural tour with everyday life of the Herero in the countryside and in the small town Okakarara, nature trails with "botanical garden" and a "History Path" about the history of the Herero.
Stop-overs on the way to Etosha: Scenic route east of the Waterberg – Hoba meteorite – Grootfontein with Alte Fort museum – Ghaub (accommodation; historical ambience of the former mission station, Rhino drive & tracking, cave excursions and nature trails).
Alternative route west of the Waterberg: Otjiwarongo with crocodile farm and township tour – Khorab memorial near Otavi – vineyard Thonningii – Tiger gorge – Ghaub (accommodation etc.).
Stop-overs on the way to Zambezi region (Caprivi): Scenic route east of the Waterberg – Hoba meteorite – Grootfontein with Alte Fort museum (maybe route via Living Museum of the Ju/'Hoansi – Tsumkwe with Arts & Crafts – Khaudum park).
Great excitement at Waterberg Wilderness in early May due to the arrival of a very special guest, not for the lodge or the campsite, but for the nature reserve: a white rhinoceros cow. And if the recent blood tests do not deceive, she's not alone...
The rhino cow weathered the long journey from a private reserve in South Africa well. Shortly after her arrival, she undertook a long walk to explore her new surroundings. The rangers eagerly await the first encounter with the other rhinos.
Waterberg Wilderness paid approximately 700,000 Namibia Dollar (more than 45,000 Euro) for purchase, transport and veterinary care. The intention is to bring fresh blood into the existing rhino population. There is also the prospect of a soon addition to the family. According to recent blood tests, the approximately five-year-old cow is highly pregnant.
Guests of Waterberg Wilderness can experience the white rhinos up close on a Rhino Drive and a Rhino Tracking Tour (on foot). The "Rhino Patrol", who tracks down the animals once a day (as part of extensive protective measures), is in radio contact with the guides, so that a sighting of the rhinos is almost guaranteed.
Leopard? Cheetah? African Wild Dog? Aardwolf? Dog? The answers of our Facebook fans to the question which animal left the tracks to be seen on the photo were quite higgledy-piggledy. Only two of the 21 fans were completely right with their bet...
Exciting discovery along the farm path between Waterberg Andersson Camp and Waterberg Wilderness Lodge, which is quite far up in the valley of the private Waterberg Wilderness nature reserve: the trail of an animal, clearly visible in the wet sand.
Chris and Mathilde Stuart explain in their book "Tracks & Signs" how you can identify animals by their tracks: If it is a paw, check first whether it is with or without claws. Big cats can be excluded in our case, because they retract their claws while running, as some of our Facebook fans correctly mentioned. The next criteria are size and shape. On the basis of Stuart’s scheme it is clear: This was a fully grown hyena.
All that remains is the question: Which of the three species? The striped hyena does not occur in Southern Africa. The spotted hyena can be excluded because the Waterberg is surrounded by farms. Farmers see it as a threat to their livestock and kill it or chase it away. Therefore in our case it is most probably a brown hyena. Unlike the spotted hyena it is solitary and it is also considered much shyer. Based on the tracks that we find now and then, we assume that three to five brown hyenas live in our area. And no: Although their tracks might look frightening, they do not pose a threat to humans.
At the Waterberg, there are many more species of birds recorded than previously known and repeatedly stated in guidebooks. This was disclosed by experts in a talk at the Waterberg Valley Lodge about the birdlife of the area. Up to then the Waterberg was known already for over 200 different birds...
The weekend excursion of the Namibia Scientific Society to Waterberg Wilderness in mid-February brought a surprise even for the bird experts. "More than 300 species of birds have been sighted in this area and not more than 200, as previously thought," said the Chairperson of the Namibia Bird Club, Gudrun Middendorff, and her partner Neil Thomson in their presentation for the 25 participants of the excursion. "We were amazed when we saw the bird lists which were compiled through the Southern African Bird Atlas Project for the relevant quadrants."
The causes of the extraordinary diversity of birdlife are known, however: In addition to the abundance of water because of the springs, there are the many different habitats such as mountain plateau, cliff, slope, valley and plain, as well as the corresponding diversity of plants (about 500 species).
For the typical sound of the bird world of the Waterberg there are above all two birds responsible, that are hard to see, but everywhere to hear: The Grey-backed bleating Warbler and the Rockrunner, which is occurring only in Namibia. The species that make the birdman's heart beat faster include Bradfield’s Hornbill, Rüppell's Parrot and Senegal Coucal.
The bird life of the Waterberg also has two world records to offer: The ostrich as the world's largest bird and the Kori Bustard as the largest bird that can fly.
In our information brochure we have listed 43 typical bird species with English and German names, which can be seen here. Every visitor of our private nature reserve Waterberg Wilderness will receive a copy upon arrival at the reception and can use it for "ticking off".