The central highlands of Namibia are the backbone of mountains that divide the coastal desert regions and the higher, more temperate interior. These rolling hills are the home to many of Namibia’s sheep and cattle ranches. Some are ‘guest farms’ where you can experience first-hand what it is like to farm in such a vast terrain. Others such as Okonjima and Erongo have turned to wildlife conservation many years ago.
The distance between Windhoek and Etosha is a solid 5-6 hour drive so we recommend breaking the journey for a night or two, if you have time.
The Africat project on Okonjima is a pioneer in the world of wildlife research & conservation. It focuses on rehabilitating cheetah and other predators into the wild. They take in cheetah which have been found on neighbouring farms and then release them into the wilder parts of Namibia. You learn about the project, but also see cheetah and other big cats in an up close and personal way.
Frans Indongo Lodge and Otjibamba Country Lodge are also convenient lodges to break the drive.
Waterberg Plateau National Park
To the east of the main highway lies the Waterberg. This is a flat-topped sandstone plateau rising 150 metres above the surrounding plains. Named for the springs that emerge at the base of the plateau, the Waterberg is a fascinating geological site of sandstone crags, 200-year-old dinosaur footprints and petrified sand dunes.
The area’s natural water sources make it far more fertile than its immediate surroundings. So the park is home to plenty of wildlife including eland, sable and roan antelope and both white and black rhino. You may also see wild dog, tsessebe, buffalo and cheetah. Indeed it is one of the best places in Africa to see cheetah and leopard. Bird species include the black eagle and the rare Ruppel’s parrot, rock runners and Bradfield’s hornbills.
You can stay in either the modest restcamp or in nearby guestfarms. Around the Restcamp there are nine short walking trails including one up to the top of the plateau at Mountain View.
The Erongo region receives its name for the majestic Erongo Massif that dominates the area around Omaruru. It makes an excellent half-way house between Etosha National Park to the north and Swakopmund to the east. We recommend the Erongo Wilderness Lodge in the lovely Erongo highlands for a walking, wildlife and nature experience.