Kunene is a region in northwestern Namibia.
- 1 Kamanjab —
- 2 Khorixas — near an important deposit of petrified wood and the Twyfelfontein valley, known for its rock art
- 3 Opuwo — the capital of Kunene
- 4 Outjo — the gateway to the Etosha National Park
- 5 Sesfontein — a sleepy settlement with a re-built German fort
- 1 Kaokoland — connected to the rest of the world by 4WD-only tracks, this is the remotest part of the country and is the home of the Himba tribe
- 2 Skeleton Coast National Park — has the country's most inaccessible shores, dotted with shipwrecks
- 3 Epupa Falls — next to the D3700, Epupa, on the Kunene River, is a scenic waterfall on the Kunene River
- 4 Twyfelfontein — the largest repository of San art in Namibia and a UNESCO World Heritage site
Compared to the rest of Namibia, Kunene is relatively underdeveloped. This is due to the mountainous inaccessible geography and the dryness that significantly hinders agriculture.
Kunene is home to the Himba people, a subtribe of the Herero. The most commonly spoken languages at home were Otjiherero languages (42% of households) and Nama/Damara (36%).
Due to the scarcity of other options, most travellers will arrive by car. There are no national roads (B roads) in Kunene. The major roads leading into the region are the C38 from Otjiwarongo to Outjo, the C138 from Etosha National Park, and the C46 from Oshakati to Ruacana. There are no major airports in the region but a lot of small airstrips, suitable for 2 and 4 seaters.
By public transport
Between towns you can catch a minibus. Opuwo has local shared taxis that can take you around.
The C39 from Outjo to Khorixas, the C40 from Outjo to Kamanjab, the C35 from Kamanjab to Ruacana, the C138 from Etosha, and the C41 to Opuwo, are all tarred. All other C-roads are rough and heavily corrugated gravel roads that are just about passable with an ordinary sedan. Unlike in other regions of Namibia, D roads in Kunene may require a 4x4. For instance the D 3703 from Opuwo to Etanga is missing a bridge and happily takes you on a bypass through the sandy riverbed. During rainy season entire areas might be cut off from the the road network altogether.
Keep also in mind that in entire Kaokoland (the northwest of the region) only Opuwo has a petrol station. At smaller places you can buy petrol in 5-liter cans at an inflated price. Diesel likely comes from neighboring Angola where it is much cheaper and of inferior quality, but with a car that requires clean Diesel fuel you should not be visiting this area, anyway.
There is a veterinary demarkation between Kaokoland and the rest of Kunene region. Check Wikipedia for details. No meat may be taken from north of the line southwards. You will nevertheless be checked both ways, nobody knows why. Passing the Red Line from the north will cost you all your red meat, plan accordingly. The "Namibian way" of getting through these controls is to arrive mid-day with your camping fridge topped with ice-cold drinks. When the officers open the fridge they will likely mention how hot it is today. Offer some of the drinks, and in most cases this will lead them to take the loot and abandon their search. But whatever you do, stay friendly, or else they will let you unpack your entire car in the blistering sun.
A few popular destinations have well-developed tourist services. Everywhere else you are on your own, with communal camps (camp sites without potable water or electricity) often the only option for accommodation. Unlike the indigenous Ovahimba people you will not find water in the dry savannah and need to bring it along.
- 1 Palmwag Lodge. Oasis on the banks of the Uniab River, nicely set into the barren surroundings. Elephants may roam the river at night. Swimming pools, bar, restaurant, curio shop, basic travel supplies. There is also a small petrol station. Very well maintained, very friendly staff. Chalets and a campsite. Palmwag Lodge has been around for a long time but all visible infrastructure is brand new. The camp site has 13 camping spots on sand with shaded verandahs, hot water, electricity and light. Part of Gondwana Collection. Camping 295 N$ pppn, children under 12 half price. Residents of Namibia / other SADC countries can purchase the Gondwana Card online (300 N$ pp, children 150 N$, 5 years valid) and get 50% / 40% discount on accommodation. Breakfast buffet 245 N$, pizza 150 N$, burger 140-220 N$.
Cholera is a major concern in Kunene Region, particularly near the border with Angola.
All of northern Namibia is a Malaria risk zone. Take the necessary precautions. Cholera is a major concern in Kunene Region, particularly near the border with Angola.
The Kunene River has crocodiles and hippos. It is not safe to swim there. Outside the settlements it is not safe to even go near, as hippos are both aggressive and territorial and can easily outrun a human on land.
The dry riverbeds north of the Swakop River are inhabited by desert elephants. If you are driving through one of the rivers, remember that the area is theirs, not yours. They certainly know it. Don't drive too close towards a herd of elephants. 10-15 m is close enough for good holiday pictures and will normally not put your party in danger. Otherwise, the younger ones might play with your car, the older ones might get angry, either way your car might end upside down. You'll know that an elephant is angry when it shakes its head. In this case, stay in the car, switch off the engine, and avoid all unnatural noise (cell phone, camera, such things). They will eventually walk away; wait for this to happen instead of trying a daring escape.
Kunene borders Angola in the north. Domestically the following regions of Namibia border with Kunene: