Why you should add Waterberg Wilderness to your Namibia Bucket List

by | Jan 18, 2022 | Africa, Bucketlist Experiences, Namibia, Safari | 4 comments

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

All of a sudden, our safari vehicle comes to a halt. “Everyone get out of the vehicle”, our guide shouts, “the rhinos are close by.” Surprised, we look at each other, but then we clamber out of the car and follow our guide into the bush.

And then, we see them. A young male and an older female rhino, grazing peacefully about 20 meters from where we stand. In the past two weeks spent road tripping around Namibia, we had seen lots of wild animals.

But coming face to face with them, without the protection of our car, is a whole different story.

When we first talked about stopping at Waterberg wilderness on our way back to Windhoek from Etosha National Park, we were hesitant. After all, we had just spent 5 spectacular days at the national park and couldn’t see how these wildlife sightings could be topped.

Luckily, our curiosity won. And the Rhino Drive in the Waterberg Wilderness Nature Reserve was 100% up to par with the mindblowing wildlife encounters at Etosha National Park. And in this post, I am going to tell you exactly why you have to add Waterberg Wilderness to your Namibia itinerary too!

About Waterberg

Waterberg is a 16km wide and 50km long table mountain, rising high above the Kalahari in eastern Namibia. It’s located about 3 hours each from Etosha National Park, and Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek.

The plateau is part of the Waterberg Plateau Park, one of Namibia’s national parks, covering an area of over 400km2. As the plateau is largely inaccessible, several endangered species in Namibia were relocated there in the 1970ies, and the area still supplies other national parks with rare species.

Waterberg Wilderness is a private nature reserve, sharing an open border with Waterberg Plateau Park. Once a cattle farm, the process of transforming the 35km2 of land into a nature reserve started in 2000. Nowadays, Waterberg Wilderness is home to over 200 bird- and game species, including seven white rhinos.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Best things to do at Waterberg Wilderness

At the beginning of this post, I told you a little bit about the incredible rhino encounters we had at Waterberg Wilderness. Since you’re not allowed to self-drive at Waterberg Wilderness, booking a guided tour is the best (and only) way to explore what the nature reserve has to offer!

Morning Rhino tracking

Physical fitness is a must on the rhino tracking. You’ll explore the nature at the foot of the Waterberg with a tracker on a 3-4 hour walk. Your tracker will help you detect giraffes, oryx, kudus, and other wildlife, and if you’re lucky, you’ll even get up close with a white rhino.

Afternoon rhino drive

The more comfortable alternative to the rhino tracking is the 2-3 hour rhino drive in the afternoon. As you will be able to travel bigger distances, rhino encounters are almost guaranteed on this tour.

Along the way, you might also spot giraffes, ostriches, and other wildlife, and once you’re close to the rhinos, and once you’re close to the rhinos, you’ll get out of the safari vehicle and continue on foot for a more up-close and personal experience.

This is the tour we booked and it was the perfect end to our day at Waterberg Wilderness!

Guided and unguided hikes

If you want to explore a bit more of the Waterberg, you can book a guided plateau hike, and learn about the local Herero people, plants, and animals, while you make your way up to the plateau. You can even combine hiking with exclusive sundowners on Mount Olympus at the edge of the Kalahari.

You can also explore the valley, where the Waterberg Wilderness lodges and campsites are located, on your own on 5 different hiking trails. You can download a map of the signposted trails here.

Rhino drive at waterberg wilderness
2 week Namibia itinerary_Rhino

Waterberg Wilderness’ eco concept

Besides their unforgettable wildlife encounters, which I will tell you all about next, the other great reason to visit Waterberg Wilderness is their ecological and social commitment!

With a staff of 50 taking care of accommodation, nature conservation and activities, Waterberg Wilderness is the biggest employer in the area!

The reserve is funded through their hospitality business, which is run with as little impact on the environment as possible.

  • The lodges and campsites at Waterberg Wilderness run on solar power. Solar power is an eco-friendly alternative to coal or hydropower that doesn’t need high voltage power lines, which disturb the landscapes and can become deadly traps for birds.
  • Hot water is supplied by donkeys, a water-heating system using wood fire to heat water. The wood for the donkeys is won by forestation, which is necessary to keep the grass plains open.
  • A natural spring, which was found to be of excellent drinking quality, provides water for the lodges and waterholes. Never more than half of the spring water is taken at a time, to ensure there is always enough water left for the resident plants and animals.
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Where to stay at Waterberg Wilderness

Waterberg Plateau Lodge ($$$) | the 8 chalets of Waterberg Plateau Lodge are located high up on the slopes of Waterberg, nestled between red rocks and native bush. Each chalet has a patio with a private plunge pool, and the lodge’s restaurant offers a stunning 270° view of the surrounding area.

Waterberg Wilderness Lodge ($$) | located at the bottom of steep rock cliffs, in a peaceful valley of the Waterberg mountain range, the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge offers 14 double and family rooms, a restaurant with a tea garden, and two springwater swimming pools.

Waterberg Valley Lodge ($) | the 9 canvas chalets of the Waterberg Valley Lodge are scattered on a hill in the same valley as the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge. Each chalet has its own balcony, and the lodge offers a restaurant with a bar and a swimming pool.

Waterberg Plateau Campsite & Waterberg Andersson Camp | there’s a total of 24 pitches at Waterberg Wilderness. Both campsites have their own swimming pool and bbq area. If you’re camping at Waterberg Wilderness, prepare for self-catering, as the lodge restaurants are only open to campers if there are seats available, and reservations are not possible.

If you have any questions about Waterberg Wilderness, let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to pin this post on Pinterest to save it for later!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

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  1. Daniela Froehli

    Guten Morgen liebe Sara Wir werden im Oktober für einen Monat nach Namibia reisen und möchten eine Rhino Wanderung machen. Ist der Plateau Camping dafür geeignet als Unterkunft? Werden wir dort abgeholt oder wohin können wir uns wenden, um eine 3-4 stündige Tour zu reservieren? herzlichst Daniela Fröhli 0796546780

    • sara far away

      Hallo liebe Daniela, entschuldige die späte Rückmeldung. Ich hoffe, es hilft dir trotzdem noch weiter. So toll, dass ihr eine Reise nach Namibia plant! Melde dich gerne, falls du weitere Tipps möchtest (hello@sarafaraway.com).

      Ich glaube, die Waterberg Plateau Campsite gehört zu Waterberg Wilderness Private Nature Reserve, die auch die Tour organisieren, die wir gemacht haben. Wir haben in einer der Lodges übernachtet, aber andere Gäste wurden auch von den Campsites abgeholt.

      Wir haben die Tour vor Ort an der Rezeption gebucht, aber wenn du im Voraus buchen möchtest, schau mal hier bei waterbergwilderness.com. Ich hoffe, das hilft weiter!

  2. Stefania

    Hello , We are in 2 and we’ll be in the park on 26.05, arriving on 25 ,
    We like to walk so se are Evaluating the RHINO TRACKING, but I read that by car rhino encounters are almost guaranteed so could you please let me know in the walk one which percent we have to see rhino?

    • sara far away

      Hi Stefania 🙂 Awesome to hear that you’ll be visiting Waterberg Wilderness. On the rhino drive it’s almost guaranteed because you’re able to cover much bigger distances during the tour, in order to find the rhinos in the reserve. Unfortunately, I don’t know how likely (or unlikely) it is that you’ll actually get to see rhinos during the tracking. I’m sure Waterberg Wilderness will be able to give you a more precise answer. Hope you’ll have the best time there either way!


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Welcome to my world!

Hi, I’m Sara, a twenty-something Swiss on a mission to become a full-time travel writer and digital nomad.