Crossing the border from Zambia to Namibia at Katima Mulilo went relatively smoothly, yet it still took almost two hours. Katima Mulilo turned out to be quite a decent modern town. We raised some Namibian dollars from ATM, refilled our diesel tanks to the brim, and replenish our provisions in one of the modern supermarkets. We also found a shop, where we could refill one of the two gas bottles. We were a bit surprised the previous evening, when we discovered, that it was already empty – it shouldn’t be. We were not really worried about it, as we still had the second one, but we decided to refill it anyway.
Mudumu National Park
Mudumu is a small park on the eastern end of the Caprivi strip. We were here two years ago and it was one of our favorite parks in Namibia, so we decided will spend two nights here again. Road from Katima Mulilo is excellent, so we covered that 150 km in just a bit over an hour and a half. Nakatwa Community camp inside the park has three campsites, spread along the left bank of the Kwando River. Campsites are very basic and wild, offering nothing but a pit latrine. They are well apart from each other, so campsite privacy is guaranteed.
All campsites were empty, so we were free to choose whichever we liked. After inspecting all three of them, we decided to stay at #1 again, the same one as two years ago. It is a bit more open than the other two and that proved to be a very important thing in the next two days. Large herds of elephants were constantly moving around the campsites, so having a bit more of open space offered some assurance that unexpected close encounter with one of those giants is less likely to surprise us.
After setting up the camp, we started to cook our lunch, but to our dismay, we discovered that something is wrong with the gas bottle, which we have refiled just a few hours earlier. And to make things worse, we discovered that the other bottle, which we haven’t used at all, is also empty. So, we were out in the wild, without a working gas cooker. We didn’t particularly like the idea to be on dry food for the next three days, so we decided to get back to Katima Mulilo to refill that second bottle. We packed the car and instead of having a nice relaxing afternoon game drive in the park, we hurried back to where we came from in the morning. It is 150 km each way and we just made it back to the campsite before night. You can imagine our disappointment when after all that boring driving, we discovered that the real problem is with our cooking plates, not gas bottles. We had two of them, and obviously both of them have somehow got clogged. Aaargh!
We eventually resolved that problem three days later in Divundu, by buying a brand new gas cooking plate. In the meantime, we successfully cooked whole meals on an open fire. So, not condemned to canned food after all…
Game drives the next day were wonderful. We were the only visitors in the whole park, so we had it all to ourselves. We didn’t venture to the northern part of the park, as it was totally void of wildlife two years ago, but we thoroughly explored all the tracks along the Kwando River. Mudumu is packed with elephants, but there are also lots of other large mammals: giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, kudus, waterbucks, lechwe, buffalos,…
But game drives are not mandatory in Mudumu: one could simply stay in the campsite and have complete “Animal Planet” program roll in front of him. There is always something going on around the river. For one thing, birdlife is simply amazing.
On the second day, we had a real “elephant show” on display, right out of our campsite. A large herd of around 50 elephants slowly moved along our campsite, browsing in the bush, toward campsite #2, where they slowly descended to the river and crossed it in groups to the island on the other side. This whole performance lasted for hours and it was amazing to watch their movements and interactions between individuals or families from so close.
And when we were finally leaving the park early in the morning of the third day, Mudumu had one last surprise for us: a nice herd of roan antelopes was grazing right near the road.
Bwabwata National Park
Bwawata is a large park, that covers the whole central area of the Caprivi strip. On the eastern side of the park, near the town of Divundu, there are two “sub-parks”, that both belong to Bwabwata NP: Mahangu and Buffalo area. Last year we had time to only visit Mahangu, which we loved. This year we intended to also explore Buffalo core area on the eastern side of the Kavango River.
It is around 250 km from Mudumu to Divundu. The road is excellent and allows fast driving, but one must be very alert for unexpected creatures crossing this highway.
We camped at Nunda Lodge campsite, which was very nice and quiet. We got a campsite right on the Kavango River, which offered us a spectacular sunset.
We visited the Mahango core area of the park in the afternoon. We covered the area near the river that we also visited two years ago. Good gravel road offered leisure driving among baobabs and various animals, that were congregating on the wide floodplains along the river. Later, we also explored the area west of the main road, that bisects the park, up to the waterhole, where we found a very relaxed herd of zebras, mixed with ostriches.
On our last morning in that area, we visited Buffalo Core Area of the park, which lies on the eastern side of the river. It is a beautiful area, that offers quite versatile landscapes: from beautiful marshy flats close to the river, to dense dry forest on higher grounds. And wildlife is equally prolific as in Mahango, if not even more.