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Epupa Camp

Epupa Camp

Epupa Camp introduces guests to a people and culture that once seemed destined to be consigned to the ash heap of civilization. The Himba people, more correctly called the Ovahimba, live in a way that is virtually unchanged from ancient times.

Perched on the banks of the Kunene River in Kaokoland (now officially Kunene region) under swaying Makalani palms and quite close to its name-sake waterfalls, Epupa Camp has nine luxury safari-style tents, each with two single beds and en-suite bathrooms with hot showers and flush toilet. Shaded balconies overlook the perennial Kunene River.

Breakfast at Epupa is served buffet-style and the lunches are light and healthy. But dinner is the highlight as it takes place around a 20-foot table with the camp manager and guides. As an alternative, romantic candle-lit dinners can be arranged on the river front.

Epupa Camp has campsites constructed of local materials. Their showers here have been rated the best in Namibia. Each campsite has a river view and private ablution facilities with hot showers, flush toilets, and two hand basins. There is also a barbecue area and a sink for dishes.

Perhaps the highlight of a stay at Epupa Camp is a visit to a nearby Himba settlement. The Himba are an ethnic group of 20,000 to 50,000 people. They are a semi-nomadic, pastoral people, closely related to the Herero. They speak Otjihimba, a dialect of the Herero language. Members of an extended family typically dwell in a homestead that surrounds an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and a central livestock enclosure. Both the fire and the livestock are closely related to their belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection and the livestock allowing “proper relations between human and ancestor.”

The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre which gives their skins a reddish tinge. Members live under a tribal structure based on "bilateral descent that helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth. Under bilateral descent, every tribe member belongs to two clans, one through the father (a patriclan, called oruzo) and another through the mother (a matriclan, called eanda). Inheritance of wealth does not follow the father’s line but is instead determined by the mother’s. This means that a son does not inherit his father's cattle, but his maternal uncle's instead.

A special favorite at Epupa Camp is the “sundowner drive,” where guests are taken out onto the open savanna an hour before sunset. The trip proceeds to one of the hills overlooking Epupa falls, and you will watch in awe as the landscape explodes in color as the sun sets.

Adventurous travelers can take rafting or canoeing trips down the gentle Kunene River. Qualified guides lead the cruise, and you will have more than enough time enjoy the scenery, spot birds and crocodiles, and shoot photos of the surroundings. Almost 250 bird species inhabit the Kunene region. A visit to Epupa Falls is a must. The camp offers a guided walk begging at calm waters and ending at the dramatic falls. The falls are a half mile wide and over 100 feet high, but the flow varies from spectacular during the rainy season to more modest in dry season.

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