I had long wanted to visit Epupa. It was not the place itself that intrigued me, but the Himba people who live there. There was something that seemed magical about the red ochre-smeared women who lived in the far north of Namibia.
My guide book said that getting to Epupa would be a day-long mission. It was practically the end of the earth, so I set enough time aside. During the journey there, I only thought of the encounters to come.
As I left the last of the Namibian tar behind me, I started to delve into another world. The vast open plains were replaced by rolling hills with cattle weaving through them. Goats browsed on purple-leaved trees, Himba children occasionally following in their wake. I had stepped into a magical place.
After driving through undulating hills and oppressive heat, I finally realized I was nearing the place I had dreamed of reaching — Epupa was only a few kilometers away.
The last few kilometres of gravel road slipped down a hill into a valley not far away. The valley itself had been created by millennia of flooding waters which now divided Namibia from its northern neighbor, Angola.
Between the two countries lay a landmark I hadn’t given much thought, but astounded me upon arrival.
The mighty Epupa Falls. A place of foam and sound.
Distant plumes of water rose in every direction I looked. I no longer wished for a place to rest after the strenuous drive, as I had been rejuvenated by the twisting cascades before me. Over the distance of one and a half kilometres, I could see nothing but waterfalls, twisted baobabs, and Himba women weaving along slender goat tracks.
Everywhere I looked were sights I could not believe. This was truly one of Africa’s greatest sights — an oasis in an arid land. The Kunene River ran like a snake through the Angolan foothills toward the horizon, its mouth before me opened up to give way to the parched land, I instantly understood why the Himba considered these falls to be their land’s spiritual heart.
That first encounter was well over a decade ago, but I still remember it vividly. The humid air, hidden details, and precariously perched trees still pull at my thoughts. I have returned annually ever since and each visit has me mesmerised in the same way.
After all these years, and over 10 visits, there are not many crevasses or views I have not encountered.
Looking at my amassed images now, I think each scenario was worth the risks I took. I know I will be back. I already have the tickets booked, and I can’t wait to get back to my favorite corner of Africa.