Epupa Falls

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Epupa Falls from above
Epupa Falls from above / cobalt123, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
They might not be the largest falls in Africa, but… Epupa Falls belong to the most beautiful ones.

The mighty Kunene River here divides into numerous smaller streams and each of them falls down in a picturesque canyon. Add to this view an idyllic landscape with baobabs and palms basking in the afternoon sun – there can’t be anything better than this!

Kunene River and its waterfalls

Kunene River collects water from the vast savannas of Angola and, upon reaching the border with Namibia, falls from the mighty, 120 m high Ruacana Falls.

Some 140 kilometers further down the stream is the next large waterfall – Epupa Falls. Here the stream enters the dry hills of Kaokoveld, but the river still is powerful and impressive. Before the falls it becomes up to half a kilometer wide and then falls into several deep ruts. The height of each smaller fall is different but the tallest drops are up to 37 m tall.

The flow of the river is changing throughout the year and at some seasons there is not so much to see. The best time to come to the falls is in April – May.

Epupa Falls
Epupa Falls / Dr. Thomas Wagner, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Nature

In Kunene River, especially above the falls live rare and even unique species of fish – this is isolated sector of the stream between Epupa and Ruacana Falls and in this section have evolved several unique species, such as Nigrobaetis bethuneae, Cunene River stonebasher Hippopotamyrus longilateralis and others.

Waterfalls are located in a desert but in the river valley grows lush vegetation – mopane trees, large baobabs, palms, fig trees. Both local Himba people and occasional tourists love to sit under the mighty baobabs and admire the gorgeous landscape, especially the sunrise and sundown.

A lesser known feature is some sites with ancient petroglyphs near the falls.

Hydropower plant over Epupa Falls?

The waterfall was endangered by plans to build a hydropower plant with 150 m tall dam here in the late 1990ies. This project was stopped thanks to a large-scale international public campaign. Currently, there is planned another dam downstream – Orokawe Dam, which also is opposed by groups of indigenous people, although it would not affect the water level at Epupa Falls.

Rise of the tourism industry

Falls are a popular tourist destination even in the situation when this natural monument does not have tourist infrastructure and there are no good roads leading to it.

Local people in this area traditionally have been nomads but the increasing tourism changes this: there appear new opportunities to earn income at the falls. Thus the number of settlers around the falls increases. Here have appeared several lodges and tourists can have guided tours to see the picturesque and biologically diverse area around the falls.

References

  1. Background on Epupa Falls, International Rivers. Accessed in 3rd December 2018.

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Epupa Falls -17.000290, 13.243639 Epupa Falls
Coordinates: 17.0003 S 13.2436 E
Categories: Waterfalls
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: (3.5 / 5)
Address: Africa, on the border of Angola, Namibe Province and Namibia, Kunene Region, 72 km north from Okongwati town
Alternate names: Monte Negro Falls, Quedas de Monte Negro (Portuguese)
Height: up to 32 – 37 m
Width: around 490 m
Average annual flow: around 160 m3/s (upstreams, near Ruacana Falls)
Stream: Kunene River

Landmarks of Angola

Pungo Andongo, Angola
Pungo Andongo / Paulo César Santos, Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

Highlights of Angola could be the otherwordly cliff formations – such as Pungo Andongo and Tundavala cliffs with ravines. Scientifically important are archaeological landmarks left by many local cultures – but it seems that many discoveries are still to be made. Country has gorgeous waterfalls and also interesting examples of Portuguese colonial architecture.

Landmarks of Namibia

The mysterious fairy rings of Namibia
The mysterious fairy rings of Namibia / Thorsten Becker, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0 Germany.

Few countries in the world have such visually stunning landmarks as Namibia – it is no wonder that the landscape of Namibia has been used to depict life on other planets.

Here are found several unique landmarks without analogues – such as the largest piece of natural iron in the world (Hoba meteorite), the largest underground lake, 50 m long crystals and some others.

Waterfalls and rapids

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, / public domain
Some of the most fascinating and awe inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls, or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

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