“Afternoons are a special time on the river – as if the natural order of things is preparing for the night. Birds and animals all begin to move about and local fishermen return on their mokoros.“
Our journey to Namibia started on a stormy July morning in the Western Cape, glad to be heading North in search of sunny winter days, African bush and some time to relax.
A few days later, we entered the Caprivi Region of Namibia – a unique part of the continent where so many different worlds meet. One where stop signs and traffic lights are replaced with warning signs of elephants crossing. Several large perennial rivers fed by rain in the Angolan Highlands cut through rich African bush and flow into some of the world’s natural wonders.
Thankfully, vast areas in this region are still protected and within these, there are scattered lodges where one can enjoy the peace, serenity and wildness of Africa from the comfort of a deck chair.
Namushasha River Lodge
Turning off the B8 just after the town of Kongola (that has a craft shop worth a visit), we arrived at Namushasha River Lodge.
Sunset drinks on the deck overlooking the Kwando river were followed by a hearty buffet dinner under starlit skies – a welcome refreshment after being on the road for several days. Namushasha has a quietness to it, something calm that helps you slip into African time.
As we planned our day over breakfast the next morning, we absorbed the stunning views of the river and a kudu, ever so graciously, coming down for a drink.
The central deck area is well positioned to bask lazily in the African sunshine surrounded by an array of birdlife and some monkeys going about their day.
Whenever we wanted some more privacy, we retreated to our room to enjoy our own private deck with secluded views of the river.
Despite being on the edge of the wildlife reserves, Namushasha has the classic and traditional African lodge setup, allowing you to feel right at home in the bush. There are guided boat cruises and game drives leaving daily from the lodge. Or you can self-drive through the surrounding National Parks such as Nkasa Rupara or Mudumu, which is what we did en route to our next stop – Mubala River Lodge.
Mubala River Lodge
Mubala River Lodge is located on the mighty Zambezi River about 35 kilometres East of Katima Mulilo.
Once checked in, our bags were swiftly carried through to the main deck on the river where we found a sunny spot and waited for our ‘transport’. As the lodge can only be accessed via the river, we hopped aboard a small boat and cruised upstream.
We were welcomed in a modern and refreshing setup: small dwellings on stilts strung along the river on each side of the central area that comprises an open plan restaurant and bar, curio shop and fire pit in the middle of something like a zen garden.
The individual dwellings are not what we expected in an ‘African bush’ setup. Each unit is stylishly furnished and rounded off with elements of the river. The modern touch is refreshing and the houses complement their striking surroundings.
Afternoon light beams into the main bedroom through the balcony doors, of which ours were normally left open to enjoy the view of flowing water, birds, and the occasional hippo on the opposite bank.
Afternoons are a special time on the river, as if the natural order of things is preparing for the night. Birds and animals all begin to move about, local fishermen return on their mokoros, as do the guided tiger fishing excursions.
In the evening we strolled over to the restaurant and enjoyed a four-course meal of African cuisine.
Mornings in the bush are fresh and crisp. As breakfast was served we watched the life surrounding Mubala take shape – as if the gearing down of the previous evening is reflected in the morning’s preparations for the day ahead.
Days along the river can be spent in many different ways. You can keep busy with tiger fishing excursions and boat cruises, or as we did – spent relaxing in the African sun, reading a book and listening to the Zambezi lap the bank below our private balcony. Time loses its grip and the commitments of the usual grind are long forgotten.
Feeling rather lazy, we spent our last evening at Mubala on a sunset cruise. Floating along the Zambezi with a G’n’T in hand, we watched the sun disappear behind the trees – a fine way to round off an African holiday.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Distances in Namibia are vast, plan the days carefully if you are driving.
- Namushaha and Mubala are well equipped but a fair distance from any shops. Stock up with any personal essentials you might need in the nearest towns – Kongola and Katima Mulilo respectively.
- Having experienced only two of the Gondwana Lodges in Namibia, we were surprised to read up on how many more are scattered throughout this fantastic country. In all places of interest, some only recently discovered, there is typically a Gondwana Lodge close by.
- National Parks in these areas such as Nkasa Rupara or Mudumu is worth the visit but also vast in size. Budget a reasonable amount of time to explore them. 4x4s are typically required for the roads in these parks, inquire about conditions before entering.
- Elephants and other animals are often along the roads, take caution when driving, especially at night.