There’s lots to do at Namushasha River Lodge in the Zambezi region (formerly Caprivi) of northeast Namibia. Its position along on Kwando River makes it perfect for boat trips or fishing. As we discovered, it’s also a good kick-off point for a game drive in Bwabwata National Park.
The Bwabwata National Park, where wildlife and local people live side by side, covers more than 6000 square kilometres. It has been described as ‘one of a new generation of parks’ because it is pioneering a live-and-let-live conservation ethic that has opened opportunities for community members in conservation and ecotourism.
We saw the tracks of elephant and spotted hyena but the animals had melted into the bush. A group of white helmetshrike went cackling overhead and landed in a tree, startling two warthog who ran off, tails in the air. A yellowbilled hornbill called out from another tree. ‘There’s a fried banana,’ Rector said with a grin – a reference to the bird’s long curved yellow beak.
He also had an amusing name for guinea fowl, calling them ‘$1000 chickens’. Why? ‘Because that’s what it’s going to cost you when one goes through your windscreen if you’re travelling fast’ on the tarred B8 that runs from Rundu to Katimo Mulilo.
A patch of buffalo dung prompted a lesson in mosquito control. When it’s dry, the local people use it to make a fire to smoke out mosquitoes from their houses.
We stopped at Horseshoe Bend, where elephants often come to drink. The afternoon before guests had seen at least a hundred, but there were none at 10.30 in the morning. They were still feeding in the bushes. Instead, we watched a darter and some reed cormorants. We saw where elephant had rubbed against the bark of trees and deposited their mud, how they had debarked a camel thorn tree. ‘The bark is like chocolate for them, they can’t resist it,’ said Rector. ‘But in time the tree will die.’
We stood in the shade of a jackalberry tree and discovered that jackalberry fruit smelled and tasted like green fig, but the aftertaste was very dry, leaving my mouth spitless, my teeth powdery.
Although we missed the elephants we’d been hoping to see at Horseshoe Bend, we did see a magnificent sable bull on the way back, which was possibly more exciting because we see them far less often than elephants. The mane on his neck stood at least 5 inches high, his horns were long and fully curved.
We were also chuffed with our bird sightings, including emerald-spotted wood-dove, African purple swamphen, African green-pigeon, brown snake eagle, lilac-breasted roller, doublebanded sandgrouse, wattled lapwing and Meyer’s parrot.
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