Day 9 – 08 August 2013 – Ngepi Camp to Mamili (Nkasa Lupala National Park, camping inside “Mamili” – Coordinates for where we camped in Mamili: S18 23.462 E23 42.109 – Distance: 317.20km – Duration: 8hrs9min
Trip Report –
“The early bird catcheth the worm”
There isn’t a more classic saying that went through my mind as our morning begun with gentle birdsong which gradually built up to having the entire orchestra of birds on call. Once up and about into the freshness of the day with my morning cuppa coffee. I had the privilege of a Yellow-bellied Greenbul eating out the palm of my hand. I sat there, like that for a few minutes, enjoying his company, peacefulness and beauty of being one with nature, Bliss!
Claw holding my paw
This river, in Angola, is known as either the Kubango (referring to the region it originates from and the people) or the Cubango others sometimes refer to it. The River, in Namibia and Botswana, is referred to as either the Kavango (referring to the people of northern Namibia) or the Okavango (pointing to where the river ends up in the Okavango Panhandle which seeps into the Okavango Delta.
The water originates in the Kuando Kubango, the central region of Angola on the 1.780m high, Bié Plateau.
The river flows from Angola southwards and reaches Namibia first at Katwitwi, where there is a border post between Angola and Namibia.
It is from this point where the river becomes the, roughly 350-kilometre border between Angola and Namibia, which is right up in the middle central to the northwestern region of Namibia.
The river then flows from Katwitwi in the south-easterly direction, passing alongside Rundu and then Kapako, where it ends being the border between the two countries.
The river then flows into Namibia across the Caprivi Strip, running alongside and then meandering through a section of the Bwabwata National Park.
It flows on, past Divundu and under the B8 main road, onwards past Popa Falls, Bagani and alongside Ngepi Camp where it carries on southwards, out of Namibia and into Botswana, (where you can take the Mohembo Ferry across it).
The river flows straight into the Okavango Panhandle and past the banks of Shakawe.
The river slows down as it reaches the dry, flat, reed desert and woodland sands of the Kalahari region, breaking up into smaller channels which form the 22 000 square kilometres of Okavango Delta, in the north of the north-west area of Botswana. The Moremi Wildlife game reserve is at the base of this delta with its Chief’s Island that is surrounded by water. The river comes to an end after around 1 600 kilometres within the Okavango Delta.
The rainfall in Angola determines the outcome of the Okavango Delta. The flooding of the delta changes its shape. The channels are created from the animals migratory path to the water in dryer times. As the water floods down, it will take the path of least resistance, forever changing the contours of the delta. The reeds dislodge themselves and form islands or narrow channels that were open before. The grasses and vegetation also start thriving with all the water. The dry season is always the best time to visit Namibia for game viewing. The animals one could find in the Ngepi area: hippopotamus, crocodiles, buffalo, lion, African wild dog, rare sable and roan antelope, bushbuck, reedbuck, tsessebe, elephants and around 430 species of birds, of which about two dozen are on the endangered list.
David Livingstone reached the swampy delta in 1849 with plenty of others doing the same yearly, albeit differently.
We took a stroll through the campsite to take a few pics here and there of their funky ablutions. The Throne gives you an awesome place to ‘go’ in the bush, well ventilated, easy to maintain with a lush woodland view of the thorn bushes. It is fit for a King where it won’t be the end of the world if the guy misses the ‘thing’.
Then you get the great ‘Poop a Falls’ pictured below where your poop can plummet down in a swoosh of sound as it makes its way to the underground. The view you have of the surrounding landscape when you’re on the loo is spectacular! It’s Pooh heaven where you can sit without a care in the world. I have a feeling, that when people ask if you’ve visited “Popa Falls” (the small rapids), that they mean “Poop a Falls” here at Ngepi and not the river area upstream. The resort, Popa Falls, was closed due to them renovating over the time we were there.
The locals suggest that if you want to see these small rapids, then viewing it from the other side of the river gives you a better vantage point.
We left the campsite at 9 am Nam time (10 am SA time) and made our way to the bar area to stock up on some ice for our cooler boxes and their UV treated water to top up our water tanks.
Ngepi reception, restaurant, bar, sun deck, their famous croc pool and the art memorabilia. It was touching to see our beloved Nelson Mandela’s face beaming down on us from above (R.I.P Madiba).
“Complaint box is in the river…Beware of crocodiles!!!”
“NOTICE ~ Be careful with personal property. Please tell reception immediately if you lose your sense of humour.”
A good attitude gets you a long way, no matter what.
The next time we are in this area, Ian and I are going to join one of their canoe/dragon adventures where you explore the main river and tributaries, meandering around the floating reed islands and spending a night alongside the river, out in the solitude of nature. Exploring the surrounding and then heading back to the camp by the end of the next day. A great adventure, experiencing the ‘ultimate vacations on earth, together with nature.’
We were in no rush, but it was time to move on. The journey ahead of us was about to unfold with adventures of its own, just to get to the office of Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park.
We left Ngepi Camp at 10 am feeling refreshed, tranquil and ready for the road. The sand road from Ngepi’s reception to the T junction, connecting with the C48/D3403 tar road, is 4.5km long. It took us roughly 20 minuites to drive with an average speed of around 16km/hr. We turned right, onto the tarred C48 road (coordinates – S18 06.721 E21 37.778) and drove 12km’s to get to reach the B8 main road. (If you were to turn left at Ngepi onto the C48, you would arrive at the Mohembo border post between Namibia and Botswana).
Ian and I did a quick pit stop at the Divundu Spar and Engen Garage (coordinates S18 06.074 E21 32.684) to buy batteries as our headlamps were dying.
The road between Divundu and Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park consists of the Caprivi Strip, made up of the Bwabwata National Park and the Caprivi Game Park.
The next time Ian and I find ourselves in the Caprivi Strip, we will make sure we visit and spend a night camping with the bushmen of the village.
The Living Museum of the Mafwe people –
The Living Museum of the Mafwe people, known as The Living Culture Foundation Namibia. It became independently owned and run by the people of Mafwe from February 2008. The entire community of Singalamwe gets involved in one way or the other.
They re-in-act their ancient way of life, in short skits, song and dance. Their traditions, rituals, heritage and culture of years past. While you’re standing on top of a hill, under the shade of a Baobab tree that is overlooking the landscape below with the Kwando river in sight.
They welcome you into their kraal, their home while being traditionally dressed from the smallest tribe member to the oldest. Keeping their memories and heritage alive from generation to generation. The primary aim is to conserve the memory of their ancient lifestyles and practises once lived. By performing their ancient rituals and in receiving your compliments and time, their spirits get uplifted, as they have learnt something from you, as you have learnt something from them. It’s a mutual give and take and they are grateful for the opportunity to share it with you.
They sell the communities handcrafted work and this uplifts their community on a whole as everyone is involved one way or the other. They are trying to raise more funds to build a better campsite as they feel they could increase their revenues like this. For now, they welcome visitors to camp the night in an area they have kept clean of long grass. You need to be entirely self-sufficient with all of your needs as there are no ablution facilities, water or electricity. Their camping fees are said to be N$30 per person per night. They sell firewood for N$10 per bundle.
We entered the Kwando Core Conservancy of the Bwabwata Park then turned right into the C49 ring road (coordinates S17 49.290 E23 23.829) off the Caprivi Strips B8 main road, passing the Mayuni Conservancy and the Mudumu National Park. The distance from Divundu to Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park along the B8, right at the C49 and all the way down till the turn off from the C49 towards Mamili, is a distance of 274km which took us 3h22min. There’s a long way to go till you reach the National Parks office with a few obstacles along the way.
The C49, Caprivi Strip ring road, turn off below where we turned right to take us closer towards Mamili, which is situated more or less at the bottom, the middle point of the C49 ring road. We found ourselves back within the dust plumes as the C49 road was under construction with roadworks along the way from start to end. We gave each other a bit more space between each vehicle so as not to eat too much of each others dust.
There is this little petrol station on the corner of the C49. The coordinates for the C49 turnoff from the B8 to the ring road is S17 49.287 E23 23.829.
Once again, another reason you don’t drive in Namibia or Botswana at night as the animals tend to love being on the road. Here a black cow stands his ground and we pass him slowly then next thing, there is a lonely tree standing in the middle of the road!
And if one black cow isn’t enough, below is a whole herd of them following one another! This whole area has a lot to do with the conservancy of the animals being free to roam and migrate around the great waterways around here and in the neighbouring countries, Angola, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. A passageway for them to use and for us to help protect them within their natural habitat.
The villages or kraals are therefore fenced in to protect the people of the area from the wildlife surrounding them at times.
The picture below is of the signboard where we turned right, off the C49 and proceeded down the gravel road, getting closer to the Mamili/Nkasa National Park region.
We took a few minuites looking around the She She Craft Shop, admiring their wood carved and reeded basket, handmade items. This craft shop is at the end of the road, alongside the first river crossing.
She She Craft Center coordinates – S18 15.893 E23 38.528
The first river crossing, a rickety handmade bridge –
Bridge crossing coordinates – S18 15.939 E23 38.523
This bridge consists of many tree trunks which have been laid out to form a very rough water crossing with some of the trees not even tied together. These ‘planks’ are quite loose in places, but none the less, they are strong enough to drive over in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
We all managed to drive across the bridge, slowly and smoothly to the grass island. There are only a few remnants left of another bridge crossing over this section in past years. The next section was a water crossing. The water looked shallow until you drove through it. It was forced forwards by the front of the car and outwards from the grill where it lapped up quite close to the cars bonnet. The Robsters had their number plate dislodged off the front of their vehicle. We all wadded up and down in search of it and Ian managed to find it.
The road meanders through the lushness of the vegetation on a two track sand road that gets quite thick in places. The abundant grass and reed coverings vary in length and colours as they sway around in the breeze.
Thankfully for us, in today’s times, some bridges have been constructed to cross over to the other side of the river with ease and peace of mind.
Our GPS was getting confused due to there being a lot of different path options we could take. These tracks must have been made, over the years, depending on the level of the river water flooding the area. When new roads get formed, only to become other options once the water has subsided. These all, probably end up in the same place, at the office where you sign yourself in, pay your entry and basic camping fees and move on.
It felt so good to be back in the wild, where the animals are grazing, playing or lazing around. The air is unpolluted and crisp. The silence is golden as life and nature are unfolding. The scenery is breathtakingly spectacular and ever changing. You don’t know what to expect around the next corner. To be one with nature, in this simple, un-westernised, un-commercialised heart of Africa wilderness is the best!
The animals are not used to people and tend to move off when they do see you, not like the animals in Chobe National Park, Botswana, that are so accustomed to tourists visiting the park, in most cases, they don’t even flinch when a vehicle comes past.
A family of warthogs which ended up disappearing into the long reed grass. You can expect to see (especially between April – September, which are the best times to visit the park), elephant, lion, buffalo, giraffe, warthogs, reedbuck, red lechwe, hippopotamus, up to 5-metre crocodiles and a broad range of around 430 birds.
Another bridge helping visitors cross over, getting closer to the Parks office.
This park became Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park in 2013 after being called Mamili National Park. It is at times also referred to as the Nkasa Rupara (Mamili) National Park.
We eventually found the office for the National Park. We had felt a bit lost at times and the drive had already taken us longer than expected due to the road conditions along the way and the confusion as to which tracks to take. It had been an excursion so far, of note and progressively got better as we continue deeper into the swampy land of this wild and untamed National Park.
Shisintze Office – Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park. Coordinates S18 20.062 E23 39.788.
The lady in the office, Norah, was incredibly friendly and we all had a good chat. She said it would be perfectly okay for us to camp inside the National Park for a night or two night as camping is allowed. You have to be entirely self-sufficient as there are absolutely no facilities that they provide. We paid a park entrance fee for 7 RSA citizens and three vehicles for two nights = N$ 480.
It is possible to enter and drive around alone in the park but not advisable if you’re wanting to venture into the deeper water channels and thick swampy land. It is preferable to be in a convoy of two or more 4×4 vehicles.
The last 30km from the parks office to the spot we decided to camp at, took us 2h38min. The road was treacherous in places, brilliant in other places, spectacular in splendour and beautiful beyond words.
The park comprises of the Nkasa island on its one side and the Rupara island on the other with the Kwando/Linyanti river surrounding it. Situated in the southwestern corner of East Caprivi covering a wetland area of 320 square kilometres. This park has a large area of unnavigable land for cars and even less so when the river floods its banks and the park becomes totally inaccessible.
It is the most important wetland conservation area in Namibia. It consists of the Kwando River at the southern edge which becomes the Linyanti River. With plenty of other sub-channels with forever moving reed islands, lush reed grasses that grow taller and taller during the rainy season. It is harder to view the animals during the rainy season. The area becomes one big sandy, black, muddy wetland. Making up the Linyanti swamps with its protected flora and fauna.
The Kwando River water travels 1 000 kilometres from Angola, through Namibia then changes into the Linyanti River when reaching Botswana where it forms the border between Namibia and Botswana. The river veers sharply to a south-westerly direction between the two countries and later changes its name again to the Chobe River in Botswana.
We are as close as can be to bordering Chobe National Park in Botswana while standing right here, in Namibia. We are also just east of Botswana’s Okavango Panhandle and Delta. Namibia proclaimed this land on 1 March 1990, just before it gained its Independence.
If I am not mistaken, these look like Impala’s who thrive on annual grasses to graze on and prefer higher ground.
A warthog was running past us to join his family on the other side.
The puzzles you find along the way: What did this signboard stand for in better days?
The sun was starting to lie low in the sky when we came to a consensus to camp for the next two nights alongside the one and only palm tree we could see. It enhanced the setting for us to a T.
The beauty of getting out into the wilderness, away from absolutely everything is soul energising. No traffic, people, malls, shops, houses to clean, computer, tv, telephones, etc. Being away from all these ‘none essential’ things in life made our vacation just that much better. We were content, in the company of our friends with a campfire warming our body and helping us prepare the lovely meal whereafter we played a few games of cards while listening to the nightlife sounds around us as we laughed the night away. The sounds of hippo grunts and splashes as they waddle through the water. They were so close to us but left us alone. Sounds travels far in the stillness of the night. The animals seemed very close to us.
Camping under a million, trillion, gazillion stars that lit up our sky within the milky way, galaxy and the universe beyond that, being viewed by our naked eyes, without any interference/interruptions of any city lights breaking it down was spectacular.
The sun kissing the day goodbye with its beautiful hues of fantastic colours as it set and us giving life itself thanks for another fabulous day!
Our campsite coordinates – S18 23.465 E23 42.109
Here is our link to the Garmin Adventure for the route we travelled today with pictures and waypoints added –
The following link will indicate where our campsite within Mamili was on google maps.
The permit for entry to Mamili, Mudumu and West Caprivi from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism states the following conditions. It states that it is illegal to,
- Be in possession of an unsealed firearm or ammunition.
- Bring any animal, domestic or otherwise into the park.
- Make excessively large fires.
- Throw burning objects out of vehicles.
- Kill, injure or unnecessarily disturb any animal.
- Pick, collect, uproot, cut down or unnecessary disturb any flower, shrub, tree or other plants.
- Disfigure or damage any object in the park.
- Park or drive a vehicle in the park in such a way that it annoys, disturbs or inconveniences others.
- Disregard official instructions from a Nature Conservator or Tourist Officer.
- Collect, or remove any minerals, precious or semi-precious stones from the park.
- Discard, place or dispose of any fish or part of a fish, bait, refuse or garbage in any place in the park other than in the containers provided for that purpose.
- Place, leave or discard fish-hooks or lines with bait attached (other than for angling purposes) in any place in the park where marine birds might pick them up.
- Take a motorcycle, as defined in the Road Traffic Ordinance 1967 (Ordinance 30/1967), into the park.
- Drive a vehicle anywhere other than on a road which is indicated by an Official road sign.
- Fly an aircraft less than 450 metres above ground level except when taking off or landing (Rules of Air 3.2 (1c) ).
- The park entrance is via the gate at Ngenda and Shisitnze between sunrise and 15h00.
- This permit is subject to all the provisions of any Nature Conservation legislation.
- Arrival at the park must be reported to the nearest Officer immediately.
I found the above descriptions classic especially seeing that they have gone into so much detail regarding fishing, your lines and hooks when on the rules from the Office it states that you are not allowed to fish in the park at all.
Contact details for Mamili National Park – Tel: +264 (0)61 254848
The Minister of Environment and Tourism for Mamili National Park, Shisintze Office Park and Wildlife Management Tel: +264 (0)66 253027 or Private Bag 1020, Katima Mulilo, Namibia.
Caprivi Regional Council, Linyanti Constituency Office, Private Bag 5002, Katimo Mulilo, Namibia. Tel: +264 (0)66 686013 of Tel: +264 (0)66 252044