Epupa falls



// Nikon D7200

After a full breakfast at the campground, I went back on the road to Epupa, 500kms to go. The last refuel point is Opuwo, 200kms away, and obviously, I need to stop.
As soon as I stopped to the gas station, 10 girls came to my window to sell stuff, they ended up putting things all over the window and my dashboard, this scene was so confusing, I was glad I didn’t step out of the car !
Tank full, I ended up buying something for 10 nad to the first girl who came.

I also saw more and more Himbas by the side of the road, some people surprised to see a white guy driving with the steering wheel on the wrong side, some kids running after mister Fox, and tons of cows and goats blocking the way :p
At last, after 100kms of gravel roads, where I nearly crashed a couple of times (the van tends to overturn a lot on bumpy gravel roads), I made it to Epupa.
The first thing on the way is the viewpoint (40nad). I came all this way to see these falls, I had to do it. At this point, I still had no idea what this place would look like and somehow, I had low expectation, but this place is really beautiful. After thousands of kilometers across the sand, water, finally, and in the form of a very large river, carving rocks and cascading over a large barrier with majestic trees in between ! Worth it ! And the sunset makes it even better !

Since there is only one campground in town, and from what I know, it’s a bit on the expensive side, I asked if I could sleep there. But they told me no. Fair enough. I spent more time enjoying the view, until the manager came to me.
He’s Himba, knows a bit of french, and after a quick chat, he agreed to let me sleep for an extra 40nad (which is the price of the viewpoint for the second day). Deal !

Since I’m travelling with my van from France, he wanted a longer conversation so I setup 2 chairs, and ended up cooking a rump steak on the bbq with potatoes, with moutarde a l’ancienne from France, a house classic.
We had a very nice conversation, and I learned a lot about the Himbas. Tomorrow, we’ll meet again for breakfast, and hopefully we can arrange a visit to his Himba village 🙂

Meanwhile, I remain alone here, with the sound of the campfire burning, and the Epupa waterfalls crashing in the background. Cannot beat this.
The difference of temperature between day and night never cease to amaze me. Last night I slept on top of my sleeping bag, all naked, with the fan turned on, and I woke up at 4am, frozen ! And when I finally fell asleep again, the rising sun hit my window, turning the pop top tent into an oven…..

Fair enough, time to wake up I guess. Having breakfast in front of the Epupa falls is a privilege, I could not miss it.

As expected, Samuel is already there, and I agreed to go with him to a himba village. At this point, we didn’t talk about price or money, but that’s where it told me it would be rude to visit them without bringing something. So first thing first, we went to a small local market to buy products. 10kgs of maize, 2L of oil, some flavouring for soup (brand knorr, probably the most expensive item, but I’m using the same, I cannot complain :D) and brown sugar. A total of 200 nad, about 18euros, rather expensive, but remember we are in the middle of nowhere, at the border with Angola.

The village is located 5kms from Epupa, next to the main “road”. I stopped 50m away from the village and Samuel went there to ask for permission (very last minute decision, but I prefer those).
When he came back, he started drawing in the sand a map of the village. The whole thing is more or less a circle, with 3 important points : the area where they keep the cattle, on one side of the circle, the holy fire, standing in the centre, and the house of the first wife, standing on the opposite door, making a line. One should never cross between the cattle area and the holy fire. Never ! And if you are given permission, you may cross between the holy fire and the first wife’s house. Sounds easy ? Well there ain’t no map in the village, and it took me time to figure out where that holy fire is, because the fire is not always burning, and it’s sometimes just a few grey stones on the ground !

Ok, first contact with Himbas ! My guide being Himba, we started a conversation. Were they surprised to see a white man ? Nope. Maybe a guy driving a foreign registered vehicle ?? Nope. But they were absolutely confused to see me alone ! “Where is your wife ?”
” Where are your kids ? ”
ahah so far it has been the most confusing fact for everyone I met !

They wanted to keep me for the night and I was offered a girl…….. awkward, but seems common here :p
Very interesting contact with them !

Once back in Epupa, I took a few more shots of these beautiful waterfalls, and went back on the gravel road to the east. 170kms of bad gravel roads, with a few spots where I had to figure out how to cross…… my nerves took a serious hit, and after 4hrs of driving, I was exhausted. I found a campsite managed by Himbas by the river, and I really wanted to say a few words in Himba (I know some !), but after this bad road and the heat (went up to 40 celcius today) even my english was nearly gone.
Back on tar roads, and after a long drive, I had to find a place to sleep for the night. Way too many animals along the road and randomly crossing in front of vehicles, it would be a suicide mission to drive at night.

I made it to Tsumeb for sunset, and I checked the only campground in town. It’s looking nice and shiny and I’m expecting a steep price.
I was welcomed by a lady and her bright smile but then she told me the price. When I asked for a discount, I felt I was in a luxury perfume house in central Paris…..
Alright, time to find somewhere else to sleep 🙂

I’m looking at gas stations, trucks parking, but they all seem very noisy, so I went a bit deeper into this small town, to eventually find a parking in front of a 2 stars hotel by a park.
It seems quiet, but a few security guys are doing rounds. Well maybe they won’t let me stay here if it’s against the hotel rules but I’ll try my luck first.

Not trying to hide, I kept the sliding door open, having a beer.One guard came to me for a chat, and I quickly setup 2 chairs and few more beers.
This guy was a treasure hunter, looking for gems in southern Africa, and he had some crazy stories, back when Angola was still a kill field but diamonds were easy to find in the rivers. Really amazing stories. After we killed all the beers, he told me there would be no problem to sleep here and his guys will check my car nicely. A surprising but very nice meeting 🙂

The day after, on the way to Hoba meteorite, I realised my fuel pump was not transferring any fuel from the rear tank……
It’s still early morning, and I checked the meteorite first. It is the biggest meteorite in the world, and despite its small size, weights about 50 tons !
You cannot sit everyday on the biggest shooting star which crashed on earth 80 000 years ago.

And back to the vehicle, it was time for the tough job, bleeding the fuel tank, and removing the whole fuel system. It took me 5hrs of work to find a loose feeding line and an air lock in the fuel pump. When the guys saw me undergoing such a massive repair, they told me it was fine to sleep there for free, and just go when the vehicle is running again. I was expecting to pay a small fee, but nothing, they just came to visit the van and have a nice chat. Love these guys !

Now everything should be back in order, I’ll try to refuel tomorrow to see if everything is fixed. Meanwhile, we have a massive thunderstorm coming, and it’s time to pack everything !

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