The Waterberg Plateau is at the centre of the Waterberg Plateau Park in Namibia. This area was originally used as a reserve for the largest African antelope, the eland. It has since become a sanctuary for several rare animals, including the white rhino which was introduced in 1972. There is a rare breeding colony of Cape Vultures.
A starkly contrasting environment to the Waterberg Plateau is the dramatic and wild Skeleton Coast, and if you can fit this in, as well as a trip to the Sossusvlei, you've got the perfect foundation for an ideal Namibian safari.
There are a number of different environments here, as in many other areas of Namibia. The plateau is made of compacted Etjo sandstone and is around 250m high and used to cover a much larger area than it does now, but over the years it has eroded away. The top of it is covered in wooded areas and open grasslands, whilst the base of the escarpment has acacia bushes, evergreen trees and lush undergrowth especially to the south where there are a number of springs.
The springs emerge because the sandstone plateau is extremely permeable, and water runs straight through it; however, the base has mudstones which are impermeable to water, and so the springs well up as the water is forced to run along the rock instead of through it.
Several endangered species have been introduced to the park, including the white rhino and roan and sable antelope. This has enhanced the game already found in the park, which is widely varied from giraffe to kudu, and includes predators such as leopard, brown hyena and cheetah.
The main purpose in bringing the roan and sable antelope in has been to attempt to establish breeding herds which will encourage a large increase in the numbers of the mammals in Namibia.
There are 200 recorded species of bird, with black eagles and breeding Cape vultures being two of the most spectacular.
For hikers, the nine wilderness trails through the park are outstanding, and go as far as the lookout on the plateau. They are designed to give a rounded flavour of the park, with all of the environments included.
Organised drives around the park take around three hours, and run in the early morning and late afternoon. They tour around the plateau and visit the waterholes and some of the hides in the park, and there is a good chance of seeing the sable or roan antelope.
The Waterberg is a good day and night stopover en route back to Windhoek from Etosha on a self drive programme.
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