Bwabwata National Park

Bwabwata National Park with Nature Travel Namibia
The Bwabwata National Park in the northeastern Caprivi strip of Namibia is what is known as ‘a people’s park’ as it supports both large wildlife numbers and a population of about 5,500 people. This unique and special arrangement benefits the local people and the wildlife of the area equally, with conservation and rural community development both coming out as winners from sharing this spectacular area.

Bwabwata is named after a village in the reserve and means ‘the sound of bubbling water’, and was established in 2007 after the merging of the Caprivi Game Park and the Mahango Game Reserve. The park is 6,100km² (2,350 sq2 miles) in size and extends for about 180km from the Kavango River in the west to the Kwando River in the east, with Angola to the north and Botswana to the south.

It is a flat region of swamps, floodplains and riverine woodland, with a few sand dunes on the horizon. The deciduous woodlands are dominated by trees such as wild seringa, false mopane, camelthorns and Zambezi teak. Bwabwata forms a crucial trans-boundary link for wildlife movement (especially African Elephants) between Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.

The park is home to 35 large and numerous small mammal species, including African Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Greater Kudu, Red Lechwe, Sitatunga, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and Spotted Hyaena.

Almost 450 bird species have been recorded in the park and surrounds, including regional specials like Black-winged Pratincole, Slaty Egret, Wattled Crane, Western banded Snake Eagle, African Skimmer, African Pygmy Goose, Coppery-tailed Coucal, White-backed Night Heron, Allen’s Gallinule and Dickinson’s Kestrel.

Bwabwata National Park with Nature Travel Namibia
A favourite and famous spot in the park is Horseshoe; as the name suggests, a large oxbow lake on the Kwando River with picturesque white-sand beaches, surrounded by beautiful Zambezi teak woodlands.

Bwabwata has three community-operated campsites within the park, and several lodges are situated outside Bwabwata on its borders. Tour operators offer game drives, boat trips and walks in the Park.

Join us on safari to have a chance to visit the extraordinary park. For more info, get in touch with us on info@naturetravelnamibia.com

 

Gemsbok

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No other animal embodies the spirit of the Namibian desert like the Gemsbok.

The name “gemsbok” in English is derived from Afrikaans gemsbok, which itself is derived from the Dutch name of the male of the Northern Chamois goat-antelope, gemsbok.

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The beautiful Gemsbok (Oryx gazelle), sometimes called the Oryx, is a large antelope with striking black and white markings on the face and legs, black side stripes on the flanks and a long black tail. Bulls measure up to 1.2m (4 feet) at the shoulders and can attain a mass of 240 kg (530lbs). Both bulls and cows have horns. Lone bulls are common and have been known to kill attacking lions by impaling them with their strong horns!

It has adapted to living in deserts where there is almost no water to drink. Gemsbok mostly feed on nutritious leaves, grasses and herbs. To supplement their water requirements they dig for succulents and extensively eat tsamma melons. They get almost all their water requirements from the food they eat. It also uses several complex physiological methods to further reduce loss of body water.

They are gregarious and occur in medium to large breeding herds (mixed bulls, cows and calves), herds consisting of bulls only (bachelor herds) as well as lone territorial bulls.

The Gemsbok is so famous it is even depicted on the coat of arms of Namibia!

 

 

Namibian Endemics

Endemics are species of plants and animals that occur only within a certain area, habitat, biome, country (like Namibia) or region (like southern Africa). Species can be endemic to an area as specific as a mountain range, or over broader areas such as the Namib desert or the arid lands of southern Africa.

The proportion of endemic plants, insects, reptiles and frogs is fairly high in Namibia. Endemism in mammals, birds and fish is lower, as these species tend to be more mobile and are distributed over wider areas.
The majority of Namibia’s endemic species are distributed in a belt along the western edge of the escarpment (escarpment zone). This region is a transition zone between the desert, karoo and savanna biomes and represents a hotspot of endemism.

Namibia has a special responsibility to conserve endemic species as an essential part of its biodiversity, because these species occur nowhere else on earth. If we allow them to go extinct here, they are lost forever to the world. Endemic species are a unique biological heritage.

There are an incredible 708 endemic plant species in Namibia. A further 275 species are near-endemic (75 in the Namib extending into Angola, 200 in the succulent Karoo, extending into South Africa). Most of the endemic species are arid-adapted. The totally bizarre welwitschia is endemic to the Namib desert within Namibia and Angola and is thus considered a near-endemic of Namibia.
Furthermore, there are 71 endemic reptile species in Namibia – 28% of all species!. The majority are endemic to the escarpment zone, in particular the Brandberg and surrounding area as well as the succulent Karoo.

When it comes to mammals, there are 16 endemic species in Namibia, excluding marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals. 11 of the endemic species are rodents (e.g. mice) and small carnivores. Only one species of large mammal, the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, is endemic to Namibia.

Namibia actually only has one true endemic bird species, the diminutive Dune Lark. It occurs in western Namibia on the fringes of the Namib dune-sea between the Koichab River in the south and the Kuiseb River in the north. A further 15 species are considered near-endemics.

The only amphibians found in Namibia are frogs. There are 6 endemic frog species in Namibia. There are also 1541 endemic insect species in Namibia. It is predicted that less than 25% of all insect species have been recorded, with new species and endemics being described regularly.

For a chance to see some of these incredible endemics, come join us on one of our personalised Namibia tours. Go to www.naturetravelnamibia.com for more information on all the fantastic trips we offer, or get in touch on info@naturetravelnamibia.com and we will set up the perfect endemic-high itinerary for you!

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon with Nature Travel Namibia

It is one of the most impressive natural beauties in southern Namibia.

Yes, we are talking about the spectacular Fish River Canyon, situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River.  With a depth of up to 550 metres/1800 feet, the Fish River canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest in the world. The enormous ravine meanders along a distance of 100 miles/160 kilometres and is up to 17 miles/27 kilometres wide in some places.

The Fish River canyon probably formed about 500 million years ago during the rainy pluvial times. The gorge was created by water erosion and the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth’s crust.

Because the Fish River is being dammed further north at the Hardap dam near Mariental, it only contains a small amount of running water. In winter the river bed is often completely dry or reduced to just some puddles here and there. However, after rainfalls in summer the river can, incredibly, become a raging torrent.

A trip to the Fish River canyon can also be combined with an Active Safari with our sister company, Nature Travel Active. This truly memorable experience includes paddling down the Fish River during certain times of the year.

Fish River canyon

The Fish River canyon has also become a popular hiking destination. However, the strenuous hike requires good physical health and can only be undertaken during the cooler winter months (between May and September). The hike is 86 km in length and takes about 5 days. Unofficial running through the canyon has subsequently evolved into the annual Fish River Canyon Ultra Marathon which held its inaugural race in 2011. This technical marathon follows most sections of the current hiking trail, testing the athlete’s capabilities to the extreme. The current 100 km record is held by South African AJ Calitz, at a shade over 8 hours!

To see this incredible natural wonder, join us on a Southern Namibia safari. This safari also includes visits to the Quiver Tree forest near Keetmanshoop, the Sperrgebiet with its incredible sunrise photo opportunities, the historic town of Luderitz and the iconic Sossusvlei.

For more information, visit www.naturetravelnamibia.com or get in touch with one of our safari experts at info@naturetravelnamibia.com

Kunene

We here at Nature Travel Namibia love our country and its stunning landscapes. One of our favourite areas to visit is the pristine and remote Kunene region.
Travel to Namibia and visit Kunene with Nature Travel Namibia

Kunene is one of the fourteen official regions of Namibia and is located in the far northwestern corner of the country. It is roughly 115 260 square kilometres (44 500 square miles) big, with a population density of only 0.75 people per square kilometre (2 per square mile)!

Kunene’s western edge is the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In the north, it borders Angola’s Namibe Province, and in the far eastern part of its northern edge, it borders Cunene Province. Compared to the rest of Namibia, it is relatively underdeveloped. This is due to the mountainous inaccessible geography and the dryness that significantly hinders agriculture.

It is home to an abundance of wildlife. A wealth of African Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Springbok and Gemsbok roam here. This is also home to the largest population of free-ranging Black Rhinoceros in the world.
Gemsbok in Namibia, Kunene with Nature Travel Namibia

The region’s name comes from the 1050 kilometre (650 miles) long perennial Kunene River, which forms the northern border with Angola. It flows from the Angola highlands south to the border with Namibia, and then west along the border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. The dramatic and beautiful Epupa Falls lies on the river and is a popular tourist attraction. There are all sorts of exciting activities to enjoy on and along the river, from boat cruises and canoeing to white-water rafting and fishing.
It is also a birdwatching hotspot, with many localised and highly prized species occurring here.

The largest town and capital of the region is Opuwo. It is the only bigger town to be found in the Kunene region and is an ideal stopover when travelling north to the Epupa Falls. The only airport in the region is found here, offering the option of fly-in safaris.

The Kunene region is home to the Himba tribe who seem to thrive in this stark desert landscape. The Himba people, one of the last true nomadic tribes on Earth, is a highlight on any visit to the area, with their intricate customs, ochre-covered bodies, jewellery and skins.

There are many other attractions in this fascinating region to enjoy, from dedicated wildlife conservancies to informative cultural museums and thrilling 4×4 adventure trails. We offer trips to the dramatic Kunene region as part of our self-drive or guided Namibia safaris.
Travel to Namibia and visit Kunene with Nature Travel Namibia

For more information on these trips or to customise your itinerary, get in touch at info@naturetravelnamibia.com