PN Bwabwata, Namíbia

A Namibian Park Worth Three


Dark Dock
River Horses
Sausage Tree
Namushasha River Lodge
Ultimate Dazzle
When Below
Namibian Sunset
Paps
Namushasha River Lodge
Inside Canavial
Yellow-billed Storks
Croc
MaFwe II Dances
MaFwe Dances
Cuando's Horseshoe
Pachyderm distrust
Night Game Drive
Giraffe Supper
Rio II Horses
Jacanã Route
Once Namibia's independence was consolidated in 1990, to simplify its management, the authorities grouped together a trio of parks and reserves on the Caprivi strip. The resulting PN Bwabwata hosts a stunning immensity of ecosystems and wildlife, on the banks of the Cubango (Okavango) and Cuando rivers.

Even though it is tiny, almost imperceptible on the large border map of Namibia, Angola and Botswana, the Caprivi strip quickly makes us realize that we should take it to the scale of Africa.

The trip from Hakusembe Lodge would add another 450km to the thousands we already had. For a change, we were going to walk them on asphalt.

As common sense dictates, in Rundu, we refilled the tank. From this town, to the east, the B8 road stretches, endlessly straight after another, through the savannah between the Kalahari Desert and the Cubango River that meanders above.

After 200km, we reached Divundu. We're back to refueling. There, the Cubango curves to the south. We crossed it via a modern bridge. On the other side, we are at the gates of the areas “Breathtaking"and "Buffalo” from Bwabwata National Park, not from the sector “Basket” (Cuando) in which the final destination of the day was located.

At the entrance to PN Bwabwata, the challenging Popa Falls

Once we passed that way, we had to detour to the famous Popa Falls. We took advantage of the police approach on the other side of the bridge to discover the wrong path that the two applications on the phones gave us. With the help of the agent, after ten minutes of sandy trail, we checked into a booth with a gate.

Five more, we are on the left (north) bank of Cubango, now oriented towards Botswana and the Okavango Delta to which he surrenders without ever reaching the sea.

We contemplate a stretch of the river full of rock ridges and surrounded by forest that is taller and greener than the predominant savannah.

These formations dictate a difference in level of four meters which, in turn, accelerates the flow and generates small falls and rapids, territory of hippos and crocodiles, not recommended for bathing daydreams.

Adorned by some photos, the contemplation leaves us satisfied.

In agreement, we returned to the B8 road, with Okavango (Cubango) to the south. A large portico confirms entry into the vastness of PN Bwabwata.

We move it, at good speed. In spaces, between large fires carried out by authorities in prevention mode.

Arriving in Chetto, we are already in the Namibian region of Caprivi instead of Kavango East.

The Three Parks grouped in PN Bwabwata

At the same time, we visited Caprivi Game Park, one of three ancient wildlife reserves that Bwabwata National Park brought together, the other two being the Mahango Game Reserve and the Buffalo Game Park.

This reorganization reflected the commitment of the Namibian authorities (supported by foreign entities) in the management and protection of their landscapes and wildlife.

It completely contrasts with what happened during the Namibian War of Independence, when the colonial armed forces of South Africa decreed the entire domain as a military zone, expelling directors and the staff in charge of managing and preserving it.

Even though it is a protected area, there are traditional roadside villages along the Bwabwata NP. Most of them lack their own access to water.

Kongola and cozy Namushasha River Lodge

We notice it by the queues that walk along the side of the B8, with buckets in their hands and on their heads and that gather together to fill them, at pumps that are too far away for the weight of the water, but providential.

Forty minutes later, we arrived in Kongola. We refueled. Fuel and some supplies. We completed what was left of the trip, no longer on the B8 but on a road that turned south, parallel to the meanders of the Kwando, a tributary of the Okavango, both voluminous rivers originating in Angola.

Around 3 in the afternoon, we entered the Namushasha River, an ecolodge located on a high bank, with an open view of a vast expanse of papyrus furrowed by the meanders of the river, all this and much more, already part of the Kwando sector of PN Bwabwata.

The Meanders and Lagoons of the Cuando River

We settle in. We took measurements of the lodge.

Paying special attention to the trail that runs from one end to the other, tight and forested, between one of the river lagoons and the ravine that supported the lodge.

As we pass by, gray turacos raise the alarm. They alert African jacanas, green monkeys and more.

At his signal, two hippos submerge, investigating which intruders were probing their territory. They were the first of many that we would admire.

Incursion to the Pantanal-Canavial Generated by Cuando

The following morning, aboard a suitable boat zigzagging through the sugar cane fields, the helmsman and guide Candy reveals a good part of that incredible flooded ecosystem to us.

In such a special way that it was classified as a RAMSAR place. We navigated through colonies of bee-eaters threatened by Varan lizards.

We see gazelles and sable antelopes, a list of herons, yellow-billed storks and many other birds.

We also saw crocodiles and, the highlight and hot moment of that incursion, a herd of hippos, this time more than ten.

To our amazement, in order to get closer to them, Candy makes the boat enter the arm of the lagoon that served as their territory.

With memory of a ferocious attack by a hippopotamus against a vessel five times larger than that, in the middle of chobe river, we asked him if he had experience, if we should be getting so close.

“Calm down, at the distance I keep us, these hippos are just controlling us.

I've been doing this for a long time. I know how far we can go and where we can go.”

We trust your words. We only truly relaxed when we safely flanked the seahorses, out of that part of the lagoon they called home.

We returned to the pier and Namushasha River Lodge. Already bored from a short rest, we went out exploring again, this time in the pick-up truck we were driving.

The Heritage Center at the Doors of Namushasha River Lodge

On the way to Kongola, we took a look at a Heritage Center dedicated to the tribes that share that extreme north of Namibia: the Balozi, BaYeyi, the MaFwe and the HaMbukushu.

Once inside a palisade that emulates the traditional one of local villages, a guide explains the place to us. It presents a sequence of displays carried out by dancers and musicians, around a huge split baobab tree which, we are assured, was used to detect poachers on the Kwando River.

The dancers and jambés players give themselves to the dances of their tribes, body and soul. One of them, the protagonist, even climbs to the top of the baobab tree, from where he performs a mystical choreography.

Everyone is sweating hard.

The Angolan Roots of Moisés Vicente

His delivery makes us almost completely forget that the display emanated from the heritage center rather than a genuine ceremony from one of their villages.

When we spoke with them, we realized that one of the young men, named Moisés Vicente, spoke Portuguese.

“My mother brought me here when I was very young.” explain it to us. “My little father and big one (grandfather) are in Angola. I’ve lived here in Namibia for a long time, but I still manage to speak a little like you.”

We left the group in a pleasant chat, Moisés, a little apart, plagued by life concerns that we probably aroused in him.

We go to Kongola, among a profusion of palisaded and real villages that the heritage center was meant to represent.

Bwabwata National Park: a frantic Game Drive

We returned to the lodge in time to go for a boat ride and then a jeep through the Bwabwata NP, in search of its wildlife.

Now, we must emphasize that, of the famous Big Five animals, the only ones that do not inhabit the park are rhinos, which can be seen further south in Namibia, for example, in the vast Etosha NP.

Lector drives the jeep and guides us, keeping an eye on the landscape and, at the same time, on the footprints left by the animals on the sandy tracks.

We came face to face with herds of buffaloes and elephants. In the case of pachyderms, so face to face that, responsible for our lives, Lector retreats in reverse.

Ahead, herds of zebras, giraffes and different antelopes run.

Including, to our amazement, sable antelopes. Lector suggests that we stop, in order to recover our hearts from all that turmoil.

The stunning wildlife of Ferradura do Cuando

It stops under a tree, in an open and exceptional place in the sector we were searching, the Ferradura do Rio Kwando.

There, attracted by the abundance and accessibility of water, there were much larger herds of elephants, zebras, different antelopes and a few more giraffes.

Bands of baboons fought over freshly fallen wild fruits.

From Ferradura, Lector follows the footprints of lions that he assured us were nearby and justified a flurry of maneuvers. To our chagrin, the tall vegetation hid them.

The sunset surprised us. He galvanized the sky, as he always does, in Africa.

During the freezing return to the lodge, darkness forces us to a disturbing thought:

How was it possible that all of that was just a tiny part of the immense Bwabwata National Park.

DESTINATION FORM

1 – Windhoek

2 – PN Bwabwata

HOW TO GO

TAAG – Angolan Airlines:  Flight Lisbon – Luanda – Windhoek (Namibia) in TAAG: www.taag.com per from €750.

Book your Namibia travel program with Lark Journeys: www.larkjourneys.com   Whatsapp: +264 81 209 47 83

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