Namibia Travel Destination: Nkasa Rupara Park
In the south-western corner of the eastern part of the Caprivi Strip you will encounter a piece of Namibia almost completely submerged in Botswana. With wooded islands, watery river channels and swaps and high reed beds, during the wet months the Nkasa Rupara National Park is comparable to the Botswana’s renowned Okavango Delta. Contrary to what one would expect in Namibia, Nkasa Rupara Park is prone to periodical flooding and is considered Namibia’s largest wetland area with conservation status.
A park of many names, formerly known as Mamili National Park, it was named after a family of traditional leaders in the area. It now goes by Nkasa Rupara or Nkasa Lupala National Park named after two constant islands and is the protector of the Kwando-Linyanti triangle and its swamplands. The Kwando River flows from Angola and changes course to become the Linyanti River and together they serve as the only border between Namibia and Botswana surrounding the park. A unique dynamic is formed as a usually dry area becomes subject to flooding during the wet season as plains and channels shift and some areas of the park become inaccessible.
The Nkasa and Rupara Islands, although at times hard to reach, are a bird watchers haven as their swampy marshes attract many a feathery friend with more species of birds recorded in the park than anywhere else in Namibia. Some rare birds to be spotted are the black-cheeked Lovebird, Pel’s fishing-owl, the endemic Slaty Egret and the endangered Wattled Crane. The vegetation is equally fascinating and biodiverse featuring different sorts of Acacias, False Mopane, the Monkey-bread tree and the Jackalberry tree. Embrace yourself as you are bound to experience a truly Namibian thunderstorm in this area.
Daring and beautiful the lightening often causes fires in the area which are necessary to maintain ecological balance.
Nkasa Rupara is more like a wild hide-away site and many a time you’ll find yourself in blissful solitude being the only adventurer in the park. You need to be an independent traveler in these parts and self-sufficient when camping in the park. Be sure to have enough supplies of food, fuel and water and be prepared to rough it in the great outdoors. It’s a watery, wondering journey as you make your way through the park dodging swamps and looking out through the reeds for huge crocodiles and hippopotami in the marshes.
At your campsite it’s not uncommon to be woken in the morning by the roar of a lion or a grunt of a hippo nearby. During the dry months you are bound to find scores of elephants on the islands and the park is also home to the largest concentration of buffalo in Namibia. Warthogs, giraffe, hyenas and all sorts of reedbuck and aquatic antelope are to be spotted on your drive. On a good day you might see a lion or a leopard. If you are looking for a little luxury the Jackalberry Tented Camp located inside the park provides a gorgeous sundowner overlooking the Linyanti River Lagoons. Also on the border of the camp, very close to the Sangwali Village, is the Livingstone’s Camp and the Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge. Take a fascinating Mokoro Safari or boat trip along the river or just relax with a fishing rod and a drink for a relaxing day.
A wet wildland, Nkasa Rupara National Park is an area like no other in Namibia. Much more lush and untarnished by the outside world it’s a free land where humans and animals can coexist and you have the opportunity to experience nature in one of the closest proximities in the world.