Waterberg

Often skipped out, or at best given a single night's layover, as people race for pole position at a waterhole in Etosha National Park up north, the Waterberg has many game farms and lodges that warrant a longer stay.

The plateau, which is a remnant of an enormous ancient plateau, rises 200m above the surrounding plains and creates a diversity of habitats. The Waterberg Plateau Park and surrounding game farms are the base for numerous conservation-related research projects.

The plateau supports open grassland and broad-leafed woodland; the foothills and plains are marked by savannah woodland with acacia the dominant tree. Several springs well up to provide lush undergrowth and yet another wildlife habitat.

Age-old geological attractions en route to the northern regions offer interesting diversions and provide some spectacular scenery.

Rare species including white rhino, buffalo, and sable and roan antelope have been introduced to the Waterberg Plateau Park and the existing game includes giraffe, kudu, leopard, hyena and cheetah. While no match for Etosha National Park as a wildlife destination, the park has two excellent - and very popular - long walking safaris that provide a fascinating close encounter with Namibia's wilderness. One is guided with no set route and the other is a self-guided demarcated trail.

Several excellent game farms have developed over the years and offer exceptional private safaris with luxury accommodation and good numbers of Africa's big game. The Cheetah Conservation Fund is several amalgamated game farms with private lodges on the western side of the Waterberg Plateau Park. The AfriCat Foundation is part of luxury lodge/game farm combination, Okonjima Lodge Plains Camp, where they rehabilitate animals such as cheetah to be re-released into the wild.

On a farm, 60km south of Otjiwarongo, is a series of fossilised dinosaur footprints estimated to be between 150 and 200 million years old. Further north, near Grootfontein, is the Hoba Meteorite: the largest meteorite ever found and a huge hunk of metal 1m high and nearly 3m across.

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