Home                                        Epupa Falls
Epupa Falls panorama

A. Introduction

The Epupa Falls are located in the Kunene River in Northern Namibia, approximately 150 km downstream from the Ruacana Falls. The river is 0.5 km wide just before the falls and drops in a series of 35 main waterfalls spread over 1.5 km, with the greatest single drop being 37 m. The name "Epupa" is a Herero word for "foam", referring to the foam created by the falling water. It is not described by the World Waterfall Database, but if the Ruacana Falls are regarded as number 14 of the top 100 waterfalls in the world, Epupa must have nearly the same ranking as it have the same water volume as Ruacana.

During the dry season, many of the 35 falls could be dry.
On the photo above, the camp sites are at the far right next to the spray of the falls.

B. On the map (reload page if necessary to go to the default view)

  1. At the bottom, right, with a red roof is the shop (very basic - have exact amount of cash ready).
  2. A little less than halfway from the shop to the left end of the map, where the swimming pool is visible, is the Omarunga camp.
  3. Directly to the left of the Omarunga camp is the Epupa Falls Lodge & Camp Site.
  4. From default view, click three times on the left arrow on the map - the Sundowner Hill viewpoint overlooking the falls becomes visible.
  5. From default view, click four times on the right arrow on the map and one down arrow - the Kapika Waterfall Lodge becomes visible.
  6. From default view, navigate with the left and top arrows on the map to see the complete falls (up to 3 times left, 14 times up) or use the link at the bottom of the map to open a larger map.

Use the +/- on the map to zoom and arrows to navigate


View Larger Map

C. Road advisory

Access to the falls: (Epupa is shown as "A" on the map)(all distances are map distances not odometer)
  1. from Opuwo 180 km gravel which is normally in a good condition, but may be impassible without 4x4 in the rainy season. Allow 4 hours during the dry season.
  2. from Kamanjab to Opuwo 226 km tar and 85 km gravel which is normally in a good condition.
  3. from Windhoek via Otjiwarongo and Kamanjab to Opuwo (736 km all tar)
  4. from Swakopmund via Hentiesbay, Uis and Kamanjab to Opuwo - 71 km salt road, 261 km tar and 333 km gravel which is normally in a good condition.
  5. from Swakopmund via Hentiesbay, Skeleton coast to Torra Bay via road C43 to Opuwo - 71 km salt road and 610 km gravel which is normally in an acceptable condition during the dry season. 4x4 not needed in dry season.

D. When to visit

Best to visit when the Kunene river is in flood - usually during March and April. Outside of this period the falls might be a disappointment

E. Climate  

Very hot in summer and warm in winter.

F. Access Permit  

No entrance fee is payable, but access to the viewpoint on the hill cost N$10.00 (have exact amount in cash ready).

Use the +/- on the map to zoom and arrows to navigate


View Larger Map

G. Best viewpoints

There is no single best viewpoint. Walk along the footpath next to the falls to the sandy beach where the river makes a bend (approximately 1.2 km). With each step the character of the falls changes. Do this at sunrise and again at sunset (start from far side shortly before sunset).

Drive to the Sundowner Hill viewpoint on the hill to the south of the falls for a complete view of the falls at sunset (not recommended with a normal sedan vehicle). Access to the viewpoint is maintained by the community and costs N$10.00 per person.

Epupa Falls

H. Other things to do in the vicinity

Visit a Himba Kraal

Ask at the small curios shop at the entrance to Epupa for a guide (if he hasn't approached you already). He will take you to the kraal at a fee of N$150 plus an entrance fee of approximately N$130 (may change with price increases) worth of food and other items. He will first take you to the small shop in Epupa where you will buy the pre-determined items and then drive with you to the kraal approximately 5 km in the direction of Opuwo.

You will be allowed to take as many photos as you want to and ask any question through the guide. Some of the camps / lodges also provide tours to a Himba village, but at a much higher tariff.

Other activities include 4WD Trails, Tours and Excursions, Hiking Trails, Guided Walks, Fishing and Rafting. Enquire at one of the camps or lodges.

Himba

I. Photography tips

1. General waterfall photography tips

Have a look at the following tutorials and tips:
a. "4 Tips for Shooting Drop Dead Gorgeous Waterfalls " by Eric Leslie
b. "How to Photograph Stunning Waterfalls" by Steve Berardi
c. "Quick Tip: Learning to Shoot Waterfalls" by Simon Bray
d. "Photography tips" by Grobler du Preez

2. Timing

The most beautiful photos are usually created during the "golden hour" (the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset).
Fortunately, you have unrestricted access to the falls and may be at any viewpoint any time of the day or night.

3. Technique

Use a tripod at all times to ensure sharp photos, even if you use a cheap point and shoot camera. You will see the difference. If possible, use a remote trigger or use the camera timer to further reduce camera shake. Even a cell phone camera could take much better photos if you use some sort of support to stabilise it.

Experiment with long exposures to make the water creamy white (See the tutorials in I1 above).

There is no need to use a high ISO if you use a tripod unless you want to freeze the action in bad light.

Epupa Falls
Nikon D300s, Sigma 50-500 at 135 mm, f22, 1/4 sec, ISO 200, tripod, camera timer 2s
4. Equipment

A tripod is a must if you want super shart photos or use long exposures for that creamy look. A remote shutter release is also handy to decrease camera movement. You will need standard, telephoto and wide angle lenses. During my last visit I used a 50-500mm and a 24-70 f2.8. The photo to the right was shot at 500mm with a D300s. Remember to take a macro lens for insects and small subjects.

5. Ideas for stunning photos

  1. Use people in the photos to show the size of the falls
  2. Epupa is not only about the falls - be on the lookout for birds, reptiles, interesting plants and insects
  3. Look for the Baobab trees in the middle of the falls
  4. Walk around until you find a rainbow in the spray of the falls
  5. Use a telephoto lens to zoom in on interesting parts of the falls
  6. From the Sundowner Hill viewpoint, use a telephoto lens to make a stitched panorama of the falls. The photo at the top of this page was created using this technique
  7. Look out for water monitor lizards which visit the camps.

6. For more inspiration please see the Epupa Falls high quality photo gallery (link on the main menu bar)

Epupa Falls

J. Accommodation at Epupa Falls

1. Epupa Falls Lodge & Camp Site     Official web site     More information

This is the camp nearest to the falls, aproximately 30m from the first falls. When the river is in flood, the noise of the falls is deafening. During a high flood, the camp might be under water.

Camping15 Campsites on gravel below tall Makalani palm trees right next to the river with barbeque facilities at each site. Tap with river water within easy reach. Not advisable to drink the water, although it should be safe. Not tasting good. Electricity for small appliances only. Communal ablution facilities - toilets, showers with hot water (donkeys heated by burning wood - at certain times no hot water).

Chalets and double rooms 5 chalets. Make use of same communal ablution facilities as camp sites.

Shop Small shop approximately 400 m away - very basic, cash only (exact amount, no change given). Nearest supermarket at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Restaurant  Restaurant and bar on site overlooking the falls. It has been extended and improved since our last visit when you could order only russian and chips.

Fuel  Nearest fuel station at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away. It is advertised that you could arrange for fuel at the camp (at a premium)

Post Office  No Post Office

atm  No ATM. Nearest bank / ATM is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

credit cards   Credit cards NOT accepted. Travellers cheques accepted

first aid  Nearest doctor / hospital is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Swimming pool  No swimming pool, no swimming in river - crocodiles.

Epupa

Epupa Falls Lodge and Camp Site - deck at restaurant


Use the +/- on the map to zoom and arrows to navigate


View Larger Map           Epupa Falls Lodge and Camp Site

Epupa

Epupa Falls Lodge and Camp Site


2. Omarunga Camp      Official web site & tariffs    More information

Situated next to the Epupa Falls Camp further away from the falls.

Camping9 Camping Sites with ablution blocks (hot water) next to the river. All sites on gravel (most have decent shade)

Chalets and double rooms 13 luxury, en-suite chalets and one luxury family chalet

Shop Small shop approximately 200 m away - very basic, cash only (exact amount, no change given). Nearest supermarket at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Restaurant  Restaurant and bar on site

Fuel  Nearest fuel station at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Post Office  No Post Office

atm  No ATM. Nearest bank / ATM is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

credit cards   Major credit cards accepted. Foreign currency accepted

first aid  Nearest doctor / hospital is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Swimming pool  Swimming pool on site, no swimming in river - crocodiles.

Use the +/- on the map to zoom and arrows to navigate


View Larger Map                    Omarunga Camp

3. Hot Springs community camp site      More information

Situated opposite the shop in Epupa upstream from the falls. As can be seen on the map, it is greatly underdeveloped. During our visit, it was partially under water.

CampingAn unknown number campsites available. No electricity, communal ablution facilities - toilets, showers without hot water.

Chalets and double rooms Camping only - no chalets.

Shop Small shop nearby - very basic, cash only (exact amount, no change given). Nearest supermarket at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Restaurant  No restaurant and bar on site

Fuel  Nearest fuel station at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Post Office  No Post Office

atm  No ATM. Nearest bank / ATM is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

credit cards   Cash only - have exact amount ready

first aid  Nearest doctor / hospital is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Swimming pool  No swimming pool on site, no swimming in river - crocodiles.

Use the +/- on the map to zoom and arrows to navigate


View Larger Map                    Community Camp

4. Epupa Tented Camp     Official web site & tariffs     More information

Situated next to the river about 800m upstream from the Epupa shop. Due to flooding, it was not accessible when we visited Epupa.

CampingFive exclusive campsites under huge ana and makalani trees. Each campsite has a river view and has private ablution facilities, consisting of a shower with warm & cold water, flush toilets and two hand basins, a barbeque area and a sink for dishes.

Chalets and double rooms Nine luxury safari-style tents on stone platforms, each with two single beds and en-suite bathroom. All tents have electricity and mosquito netting and an outside, shaded balcony overlooking the tranquil Kunene River. Large makalani palms overhead provide welcome shade from the midday sun.

Shop Small shop approximately 800 m away - very basic, cash only (exact amount, no change given). Nearest supermarket at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Restaurant  Restaurant and bar on site

Fuel  Nearest fuel station at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Post Office  No Post Office

atm  No ATM. Nearest bank / ATM is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

credit cards   Major credit cards are accepted.

first aid  Nearest doctor / hospital is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Swimming pool  Swimming pool on site, no swimming in river - crocodiles.

Use the +/- on the map to zoom and arrows to navigate


View Larger Map

5. Kapika Waterfall Lodge      Official web site    More information

Situated on a hill overlooking Epupa and the Kunene River approximately 700m by road from the Epupa shop.
Camping Camp site currently closed

Chalets and double rooms 10 Spacious Comfortable Chalets with en-suite shower/toilet/electricity and mosquito nets

Shop Small shop approximately 700 m away - very basic, cash only (exact amount, no change given). Nearest supermarket at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Restaurant  Restaurant and bar on site

Fuel  Nearest fuel station at Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Post Office  No Post Office

atm  No ATM. Nearest bank / ATM is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

credit cards   Credit cards NOT accepted. Cash, Travellers Cheque, Debit Card, Electronic Funds Transfer accepted

first aid  Nearest doctor / hospital is in Opuwo town 180 km / 4 hours away.

Swimming pool  Swimming pool on site.

Use the +/- on the map to zoom and arrows to navigate


View Larger Map