Expert Reviews – Mudumu NP
Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.
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Superb birdwatching in a little-known park
Mudumu lies beside the Kwando River in East Caprivi. Its glossy waterways, lush riverbanks and marshlands are home to red lechwes and sitatungas, as well as hippos, turtles, frogs and a fabulous selection of birds.
Away from the river, there are grasslands and thick mopane woodlands to explore, home to elephants, buffalo, antelopes and zebras. With dense vegetation and few tracks, it’s rather hard to see predators here, but lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs are all present.
I think Mudumu has great potential as a safari destination, particularly for birdwatchers, as its tranquil river and woodland habitats harbour a tremendous variety of species (well over 400, including cranes, coucals and gorgeously colourful carmine bee-eaters). But for now it’s little known. Opportunities to stay overnight and go out on boat trips, game drives or bushwalks are rather slim. There’s just one very basic campsite in the park, plus one well-established lodge, with a couple more nearby.
Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.
Kwando is King
The Kwando River is surely the best part of this oft-overlooked little park in the Zambezi Region. The watercourse provides an endless stream of great wildlife sightings and superb birding opportunities in beautiful surroundings. From the explosion of colour as a colony of carmine bee-eaters takes fright and erupts from their cliff-side nesting holes to a dazzle of zebra drinking alongside a herd of thirsty elephants, my wildlife encounters here have always been reminiscent of the quintessential African safari. However, what I like most is that the crystal-clear water of the Kwando River affords visitors the unique opportunity to sight wildlife below the surface and an all-time highlight for me was sitting on the edge of a boat observing a small hippo pod, clearly visible down below, as they slept contently on the river bottom. All the top carnivores occur here, but predator-viewing is unreliable, so if it’s big cats you’re after, then it would be better to head to Etosha or even neighbouring Nkasa Rupara.
Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Best for guided bird-watching or boat safaris on the Kwando floodplains
Lying in a wide river catchment area of Eastern Caprivi, Mudumu is accessed on sandy (muddy in the wet) tracks, and while we found it heavy-going in places, it was a pleasant drive through mopane woodland. There were lovely views of the reeds and papyrus along the Kwando River, where water lilies find a roothold in the floodplains. Because of the thickness of the bush, it was difficult to see for any distance, but we did see elephant pushing through the trees to get to the river and fleeting glimpses of roan antelope, kudu, impala and Burchell's zebra. But most visitors have their sights firmly fixed on the trees or swamps, and Mudumu is home to an extraordinary variety of birds. The well-heeled can stay at the up-market Lianshulu Lodge, though there are other lodges and simple bush camps in the area which can arrange four-wheel-drive safaris into the park.
Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.
Zambezi Region’s Weak Link
While wildlife is returning in numbers elsewhere in the Zambezi Region, it will take a little longer in Mudumu. Poaching devastated the wildlife here, but the park inhabits a precarious foothold of land surrounded by a rapidly growing human population. In the park’s core area, you may come across elephants and lions, but the wildlife here is pretty shy and glimpses are likely to be fleeting. The park has potential if connected by wildlife corridors to Bwabwata and Nkasa Rupara, but in the meantime you’re unlikely to see very much in the way of wildlife and nothing in the way of wilderness.