Popa Falls is a welcome stop-over for visitors travelling between Rundu and Katima Mulilo, and is a convenient base for those wishing to explore the nearby Mahango Game Park.
The rest camp on the banks of the Kavango River is dominated by mature stands of knob thorn and dense bush willow scrub.
Much to the credit of Namibia's conservation authorities, the vegetation was disturbed as little as possible when the rest camp was being built and today the tall, shady trees are much appreciated after a long, hot drive.
From the camp it is an easy ramble to the falls. A wooden bridge has been built across the channel that flows past the camp sites. This gives day visitors access to an island, on which a short walk will bring them to the cascades.
Provided the level of the river is low, it is possible to boulder-hop across some of the smaller channels to get a better view of the falls. However, you must not expect to see a waterfall in the true sense of the word.
The name is a misnomer as the falls are nothing more than a series of rapids created by a rocky quartzite ledge which obstructs the course of the Kavango River at this point. Although the rapids have a total drop of only about 4 m, they extend across the full width of the river - about 1,2 km at Popa.
When the river is in flood, the rocky ledge is submerged - the cascades are, therefore, best viewed during the dry season when the fully-exposed ledge reveals a multitude of rushing channels and small islands.
The turn-off to Popa Falls Rest camp is sign posted 210 km east of Rundu on the B8 to Katima Mulilo. Turn right here and follow the road to Botswana for 5 km to reach the entrance gate of the rest camp.
BAGANI AIR STRIP:
180706 S, 213747 E
Runway East West; 1000 m; Gravel
Visitors can choose between staying in rustic thatched-roofed huts and pitching a tent in the shady camp site. Each hut consists of two rooms with two beds each, as well as a large balcony with a bench, table and chairs.
Cooking is not permitted inside the huts, but there are outside fireplaces, as well as a communal field kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, freezer and scullery. The central Boma is ideal for groups. The ablution facilities are, likewise, communal.
Gas lighting, bedding, towels and soap are supplied, but visitors must bring their own cooking and eating utensils.
The camp site is served by a communal kitchen and ablutions.
Although non-perishables and cool drinks are available from a kiosk adjacent to the reception office, you are well advised to be self-sufficient.
Petrol is not sold in the park, but is usually obtainable at Divundu near Bagani Bridge or at Mukwe 17 km further west.
Popa Falls: Opens sunrise and closes at sunset.
Only four persons allowed per hut.
Fishing only with a licence is permitted (obtainable from the office at Popa Falls)
Open all year.
No pets or motor-cycles allowed.