Working for the Gondwana Collection has offered me frequent, unique and exciting opportunities to travel and experience Namibia from a perspective I had never seen before. And my latest trip allowed me to travel to the northern regions of Namibia for the first time. This trip included a three night stay at the Namushasha River Lodge along the Kwando River in the Zambezi Region.
The first thing I noticed when I got out the car was the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds the area. As I was handed a refreshing welcoming drink, I was drawn through the massive wooden arch and onto the viewing deck overlooking the Kwando River. Looking over the calm waters and into the Bwabwata National Park I was awed by the vast open plains that stretched out before me. After a few moments of staring in disbelief at the wonders Namibia holds, I was guided down a path to my room.
Well simply put, the view from the deck is incredible, but once I got to my room and walked onto my own private balcony I considered never leaving. The slow movement of the river flowing only a few meters below and massive trees stretching up and over the river banks…as a Namibian I have always loved my country, but seeing it from this point of view I fell in love once again (excuse the soppy sentiment). And of course I am sure it comes as no surprise that I enjoyed every sunrise from my little sanctuary along the river front, listening to the life in the water below.
I was scheduled to go on a river cruise right after arriving and was keen to get back to Reception. Well, I just about jumped out my skin when I opened my door to find a small velvet monkey sitting at the steps (I only found out it was a velvet monkey about two days later). The little creature disappeared into the trees, probably having gotten the fright of his life at seeing me, but he wasn’t gone for very long. I noticed him jumping across the tree branches above the restaurant later that evening.
Anyway, back to the cruise. We met up with our guide and made our way down to the river side and onto the boats. The guide/skipper quickly explained all the necessary safety precautions and we were off. As the Kwando loops from side to side, we did't have to wait too long to find a pod of hippos lounging on a sand back. As we approached they ducked into the cool water and all you could see were the tiny ears flicking above the water surface.
Gliding across the water, we were awed by the stunning brightly coloured birds that swooped and hovered around the boat. After a short break with a snack platter and refreshing drink our group was on our way back to the lodge, right as a small herd of elephants were crossing the river and playing in the mud.
Having seen so much just while cruising along the river, I was curious to find out what we would see when we move on solid land. Surely enough, I was not disappointed... Other than a massive herd of elephants hiding between the trees and a smaller group of giraffes, the morning game drive also presented a large group of elephants crossing the river with week-old babies in tow!
The next day I decided to head out onto another game drive, this time going out in the afternoon. Once again I was pleasantly surprised. Our guide was super informative, explaining how some fruit could be used as medicine and how some plants could be turned into soap when mixed with water…but the best treat of all came late in the afternoon.
Driving along the side of a quiet water channel that flows from the river, I noticed something in the road up ahead, pointing it out to the guide. He quickly switched the car’s engine off and we silently rolled closer to find a young leopard lounging in the shade. Being a typically curious cat, he watched us as we watched him and lazily walked around the car and disappeared into the riverside foliage. Of course he stayed long enough to allow our group to get a few beautiful photographs of him.
From there we set out to Horseshoe, a bend in the river’s flow, and enjoyed a delightfully chilled sundowner while another, smaller herd of elephants made their way to the water for a drink.
As a Namibian I have been on quite a few game drives in my life, at various locations. And I can honestly say that this was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had.The realisation of how close nature truly is fully sets in when you’re lying in bed just before sunrise and you can hear the hippos making their way to the water, splashing and calling to one another. Or you see a pride of lions waltzing along the riverbed across from the viewing deck.
Namushasha River Lodge is a special place, it is a unique opportunity to relax and experience a different way of life. And it’s an experience I am happy to have enjoyed.
If you have visited the Namushasha River Lodge before, we invite you to share your experience with us in the comment section below.
Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.