After a soak in a hot tub (there is water in this part of Namibia!), I found my tarnished crown, gave it a quick polish and explored the Namushasha kingdom. It was exactly what a lodge in this area of abundance should be. Grand! Large tree-branch ‘candelabras’ hung from the high thatched roof and massive carved heads and animals contributed to the grandeur. The spacious dining room was open to the tall leafy trees, the river and waterways (without another building in sight), and extended onto a lower deck with comfortable wooden chairs. Outside, tree squirrels scurried up the trees, swamp boubous sang duets and the Phragmites reeds blew gently in the fresh breeze, singing their own Caprivi tune.
This was the attraction of the area, to experience the wild beauty of the Caprivi from a lodge created to accentuate all the fine qualities of the region. The days rolled into each other with a balance of ease and excitement, and sufficient time to spend on my deck (with my laptop and binoculars on hand) savouring the scenery.
Two of the excursions not to be missed are the game drive into Bwabwata National Park and the boat trip along the river. Namushasha’s excursion is slightly unusual in that it begins with a short boat trip across the Kwando River to a point where their 4×4 vehicles are parked, ready to explore the park. I took it all in, enjoying everything from large leadwood trees and bush interspersed with waterways to oxpeckers hitching a ride on the back of an impala ram. I appreciated the freedom of the wildlife. As guide Eric mentioned, “The animals can wander into Botswana, no passport required.”
This is elephant territory and although we saw impala, red lechwe, tsessebe, wildebeest, giraffe, hippo and buffalo on our three hour trip, it was the wizened giants of the bush that I was really looking forward to seeing. A horseshoe bend in the river provides the prime spot for viewing the kings having a drink, and we were not disappointed. We raced the red sun back to the boat, briefly acknowledging some imposing-looking buffalo, and along the waterways to the lodge. Sherry awaited us on the bank before a scrumptious four-course meal. (I could feel those love-handles growing.)
The next day followed the same gentle pattern with a boat cruise and exploring the Kwando River as the highlight. This is a water-world that blows the mind with its prolific birdlife, providing a different perception of the place, not possible from the land.
Ending with yet another deep-crimson sunset, little else could top the day, but supper was still on the cards, and then bed and the sounds from the river. Darkness descends when the generator is switched off at 11. I woke between nourishing dreams to the sounds of a hippo grunting, the hooting of wood owls and peace.
Ron Swilling is a freelance writer, based in Cape Town, writing for Namibian and South African publications. She is a regular contributor to Gondwana’s History and Stamps&Stories columns and documented the information on the Wild Horses in the Namib Desert for Mannfred Goldbeck and Telané Greyling. She invites you to ‘Follow her footsteps’ on her journey from the Orange River, exploring the Gondwana routes through the intriguing country of Namibia.