Todays game drive down to the southern extent of Rupara Island and the Botswana border was 45km long and we spent 4 hours exploring slowly. There are no campsites within the park and the Rupara Community site is the closest to the park which is unfenced. To get to the park entrance and the office where the fees are paid, drive straight past all the campsites. At the Y-junction veer to the right. To the left is Lupala Tented Camp. This short route is signposted in a fashion. Thereafter there are a bewildering array of tracks to choose from but if you take what appears to be the most used and head in a south-easterly direction, you will reach the southern extent of the park and the main body of water channels constituting the Linyanti Swamps. Across the water is Botswana.
Heading back choose a more westerly route for a change of scenery. The dotted tracks on the official map of the park obviously vary from year to year and seasonally. T4A was surprisingly good and despite the profusion of minor tracks it would be difficult to become lost if you head back home in a northerly direction. Many of the tracks are seldom-used and become rather indistinct in places. The ladder-like metal bridge provides the only route onto the southern tip of Rupara Island. It is marked on T4A as a wooden pole bridge, the remnants of which can be seen. There are a number of water crossings which appear too deep to safely tackle with one vehicle. This nerve-wracking metal bridge is about 13km from camp.
As a routine precaution, because we usually travel alone, we took the phone number of the office before venturing into the park. There is no point in carrying a satellite phone if you have no useful number to dial.
Unfortunately for a variety of reasons we will not be visiting more of the conservation areas in Namibia's Zambezi Province and have really only been able to provide a snapshot of the 2 most easterly ones. By all accounts those to the west are also worth visiting and will be in the mix for future trips. These relatively new parks are still building up animal numbers but their main significance is their ability to link conservation areas and corridors between those in Botswana, Zambia and to some extent Angola. These trans-frontier parks are a concept holding out great promise for the future for environmental and animal conservation in much of Africa and this region is leading the way!
NKASA RUPARA NATIONAL PARK. SHORT SYNOPSIS.
This national park was proclaimed in 1990 and is contiguous with the Linyanti portion of Botswana’s Chobe National Park and is a good example of unfenced trans-national parks. It was originally known as Mamili. It is small, 320km2 in size. This is where the Kwando River reaches a flood plain and splits into many channels to constitute the Linyanti Swamps, later forming the better known Chobe River.
The area is extremely flat with grassy plains and woodlands penetrated by channels of water, reed beds, lagoons and islands. It has all the big game excluding rhino of course. Rarer species that may be seen include puku, sitatunga, reedbuck and some of the swamp associated bird species.
This park is part of the newish set of national parks in the former Caprivi Strip.
These also include:
Mahangu NP 31,711 km2 and Buffalo NP 818km2, which we will not be visiting as part of this trip.