Expert Reviews – Nkasa Rupara (Mamili)

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Dynamite Often Comes in Small Packages
Overall rating

At a meagre 357 square kilometres, there is no denying that Nkasa Rupara is a small national park; however, it lies in the midst of a vast wildlife-rich region: a watery wilderness of tree-covered islands and expansive wetlands that ensures prolific birdlife and spectacular game-viewing. This park seldom sees more than 200 tourists a year, so it is properly wild and that is what I love most about the place. A powerful wilderness vibe is not, however, the only reason to visit. Wildlife is also plentiful and so are the big cats. Most nights I’ve slept here, I’ve been lulled to sleep by the guttural roaring of the parks chief terrestrial predator. Leopard, cheetah and wild dog also occur, along with huge herds of buffalo and elephant. This paradise, largely unknown and undiscovered by tourists, is one of Southern Africa’s last true wilderness areas. Nkasa Rupara lacks infrastructure and much of the reserve is flooded wetland, so is not for the faint-hearted; but, it certainly is for adventurous souls who love the solitude of a genuine wilderness experience accompanied by top sightings.

Watery wilderness
Overall rating

Like Mudumu National Park, Nkasa Rupara lies in East Caprivi, with the beautiful Kwando River marking its western border. As the river approaches the park’s southernmost point, it spreads into channels, takes a left turn and becomes the Linyanti River, which later becomes the Chobe before flowing into the Zambezi.

As you’d expect, the best thing about Nkasa Rupara is the river and its channels, islands and floodplains. Fans often describe it as Namibia’s answer to the Okavango Delta. I think that’s stretching the truth, but it’s certainly a great place to explore a pristine river environment and watch birds or rare, water-loving animal species such as sitatungas and red lechwes along with elephants, buffalo and noisy pods of hippos. There are also wild dogs here, but you’d have to be extremely lucky to see them.

Nkasa Rupara has no campsites and practically no infrastructure. Getting here isn’t easy, but if you’re travelling by 4WD or are staying on the Botswana side of the river you may be able arrange a visit.

Nkasa Rupara: Echoes of Linyanti
Overall rating

There’s something about Nkasa Rupara (Mamili NP) that sets it apart from the other Zambezi Region parks. For a start, it lies well south of the region’s major population centres, removing it nicely from the clamour further north. It’s also just across the water from the wildlife-prolific Linyanti region of northern Botswana and a boat trip here can yield some fine sightings into Botswana where wild dogs and other Linyanti specialties are present. On both sides, the birding is fantastic, and elephant, lion and leopard are all possible. In the park’s northern reaches, too, you’ll find a handful of excellent accommodation options, from tented camps to self-drive camping areas. If you can choose any two parks to visit in the Zambezi Region, Nkasa Rupara has to be up there with Bwabwata.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.4/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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