The Kunene River flows fast in its bed, shattering against the blunted rocks, jumping finally for tens of metres and performing the natural wonder of Epupa Falls. The racket of water covers any other sound and almost sounds as a shout of amazement coming from millions of drops, suddenly split in canals carved in the mountain by constant motion. Little rainbows appear among the ruffled vegetation to crown the beauty of such a pristine place.
Northern corner of Namibia, natural and political boundary with anguished Angola which looks at us right over the waterfalls, but our eyes may not see any difference, as we never noticed the difference between Herero and Himba, the people living in this hilly place, the Kaokoland, even if they are so parted for habits and traditions. To reach this corner we travelled over gibbous dirt patches, sacrificing the Jeep’s dampening and our cervical vertebra, while asking each other if such a pain would be worth in the end.
Parted from the traffic, only a little indigenous group lives this area and manages the few tourists around. Days are articulated by the interchanging of light and darkness and all human activities find their place in this natural order. When evening approaches the air gets cooler, and everyone leaves its humble house and walks around this huge crater, taking a glimpse of the small pounds made by the plentiful water spurts. The women attend laundry, the men wash themselves shamelessly showing their statuesque bodies.
During sunset’s golden time the pounds really look tempting and the desire for a bath grows strong, but the signs warning from crocodiles let the common sense win and so we call ourselves satisfied with just the ecstatic contemplation of the surroundings. Sheltered on a cliff we watch the setting sun’s ritual: Nature is staging a majestic show of light and colours which is pushing in us the seed of nostalgia. Humidity fills the air, drenching skin and clothes, while the foam arises from the vapour and honours the name of this 1.5 kilometre wide place: epupa, in Herero language, means “foam”.
The light slowly dies and darkness lowers over the green as well as the trails. Only the water’s noise remains. A cover of stars, thick and endless, bursts from the baobabs’ naked branches, appearing as they were pasted to them. Without a torch we are left with instinct and chance, but we quickly learn to move our steps lightened only by the moon’s doubting light. The landscape turns blue and the river mirrors the night diva’s silver light.
Around a fire the night is shorter and our spirit gets ready for another sunrise. Climbing the peaks, looking for the best angulation, the African sun starts a new day. Here, where freshwater endlessly flows among eternal blazing rocks, we know all the pain suffered along the way was really worth.