This beautiful park is right in the top-most Northern corner of Namibia. It falls under many names and areas including the Zambezi region, the Transfrontier Conservation area, the KAZA corridor and what is probably the most well-known – the Caprivi strip; a biodiversity mecca!
It is one of five managed as a unit along this famous and wildlife-rich Caprivi Strip. The others are Magnetti, Khaudom, Mudumu and Nkasa Lupala (previously known as Mamili National Park). Collectively, this conservation area is sandwiched between the Okavango and Kwando rivers, with the northern border formed by Angola. The park is 40 km wide and 190 km long covering a vast area of 7,600sq km.
Bwabwata is very serious about nature conservation and committed to programmes that support it. The Park, therefore, takes part in a very exciting project that lets them work with neighbouring countries to achieve maximum success. Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have agreed to manage transboundary conservation through the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KaZa TFCA). Bwabwata is situated in the centre of the KaZa TFCA and forms a corridor for elephant movement from Botswana into Angola and Zambia.
Historically, because of the man-made fences that were erected over the centuries, there has been a growing problem of over-population of Elephants in these countries. So with the natural migratory routes being impeded, it has become a much-publicised issue. But with this area, the Elephants now have the freedom to roam.
It’s also an unusual Protected Area as about 5,500 people live in the park. In most circumstances, traditional human settlements were relocated from conservation areas and mutually beneficial agreements were arranged. So to accommodate Bwabwata’s resident people, the Namibian Government has adopted integrated park management with them. The park is zoned into core areas for conservation and farming. Three areas are designated for special protection and controlled tourism.
Bwabwata is also known as the ‘people’s park’. The strong focus on rural development assures local communities also benefit from tourist infrastructure. One of these projects is three locally managed camping sites: Ngoabaca, Nambwa and Bumi Hill. These campsites are neat and well-organised with private ablutions and spectacular riverside settings that bring you close to nature as well as the hospitality of the local people.
Accommodation in the form of safari lodges ranging from luxury to low budget can be found just outside Bwabwata’s borders.
The Area is a challenge to get to, but those who do manage it are rewarded 10-fold for the untouched and truly wild experience of the Caprivi Strip.
1) Bwabwata is located 900km/560mi from Windhoek on the Trans Caprivi highway (B8). The park is rarely visited on an organized tour but more often explored independently on a self-drive safari. There are several lodges outside the park with airstrips for chartered flights. Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), located 40km/25mi east of Windhoek, is the main access point into Namibia and most people rent a 4 x4 here to begin their journey. Another option is to book a fly-in trip and take charter flights between destinations. The trails of the park is very little traffic and sometimes very sandy, well-equipped vehicle is highly recommended.
1722 Kwando map is available at the office of the Surveyor General, Windhoek.
No permit is required to cross the park if you take the paved road B8, also known as Trans-Caprivi Highway (Trans Caprivi Highway).
But there is no barrier, so keep the utmost vigilance!
The Bwabwata National Park is a sub-tropical climate - it is very hot and humid in summer, with heavy rainfall during the wet season (November to March). The average rainfall is 550 – 600 mm per year, which makes it the wettest region in Namibia. The best time for game viewing is from April to September and it is during this period the weather is at its most pleasant as well. During these dry winter months you can expect comfortable temperatures between 26 – 28°C (79 – 82°F) during the day. The summer months rise to quite uncomfortable temperatures mixed with never ending humidity.
The Mahango National Park
This is located near the Okavango River and it is not separate from the Bwabwata National park. The Mahango Park is divided into two parts that is the water side where birding takes place and the bushland side where most of the animals can be spotted. Animal viewing is mostly done in the mornings and afternoons when the heat is still bearable and these are mostly seen on the Bushland side of the Mahango National Park.
The Buffalo Park
The Buffalo Park is also part of the Bwabwata National Park and although it is not explored by many tourists, it is still a gem and one should visit in order to get an experience that is worthwhile. It is extremely hard to find the park on your own and that is why you will need a tour guide to drive you there so that you do not get lost. Even though it is referred to as the buffalo Park, it is still a home to numerous wild life and some of these include the red Lechwe which has just of recent been introduced to the Park, Buffalo, Roan antelopes, Impalas, Elephants, Warthogs, Kudu, Sable antelopes, Lions and many more other species.
The Bwabwata National Park is home to numerous wild animals The dry season brings out many of the animals from their natural habitats as they all come together in search of the last remains of water. Some of the wildlife that you will see in Bwabwata National Park include crocodiles, cape buffalo, zebra, Tsessebe, wild dogs, Red Lechwe, elephant, Roan antelope, cheetah, lion, leopard, hippo, reedbucks, the rare Sitatunga, and many more others.
Elephants regularly move between Namibia, Angola, Botswana and Zambia. The main predators are lions, leopards, cheetahs and Spotted hyenas. The Mahango Area and Kavango River in western Bwabwata are listed as an internationally Important Bird Area supporting globally threatened species and is an avian diversity hotspot.
Bwabwata National Park is an all year round but this is highly determined by the activities that you would want to carry out. The dry season is experienced in the months of June to September and this is the best time for animal viewing. Though there are still flood plains that do have constant water attracting birds and animals alike.
The wet season is experienced in the summer months of November to April and it is considered as the low season as many of the roads in the National Park are flooded and almost completely inaccessible during this time. But it is the perfect time for one to go birding although you will need to be extremely ready for the changes in weather. The Summer season can be unbearably hot with almost constant humidity
Visitors travelling off the main road need a permit and must drive only on designated roads. Several sandy roads, suitable for all-wheel drive vehicles, are found near the Kwando and Okavango rivers. 4x4 only. Self-drive (though with caution). Guided, Boat safari. Walking, Photographic, Birding, Eco tourism
Bwabwata has three community-operated campsites within the park, namely Nǁgoabaca, Nambwa and Bum Hill. Local communities, organised into communal area conservancies, earn revenue from these campsites. Several lodges are situated outside Bwabwata on its borders