"Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.
This is our 13th sleepover site already, we sure are sleeping around! The weather is lovely at this time of year, early mornings and nights can be a little (one light sweater) chilly, but the days are warm without being excruciatingly hot and there is virtually no wind.
Early morning start again to drive to the almost neighboring Nkasa Lupala (better known by its former name of Mamili). The name changes are confusing and often you will see the name Nkasa Rupara. This is because the locals have a problem enunciating the letter L, it comes out as an R and I think the name has or will change again. Once again most of the game was seen from the shortish section of the C49 tar road through the park. Anne and I were thrilled to find an African wild dog rushing about right next to the road. Then it was off, probably to join the rest of the pack on their early morning hunt. Make no mistake Mudumu has plenty of wildlife but like most African parks it would be at its best during the later drier winter months when the animals are forced to concentrate around permanent water sources.
After the short 1hr 40min drive we were very happy to find that the Rupara Community Campsite was of the same high standard as all the other community campsites we had patronized during previous visits to other parts of Namibia. The Namibian authorities have certainly got this right. I believe the principle of supporting community camps is important for the future of conservation areas as it reinforces financially the value of conservation areas to the local population. This rustic but neat and well thought out campsite is the closest stay over place to the National Park entrance gate. As advised we are in campsite 1. I had a look at the other 3 campsites and all are good but I agree 1 is the pick. It is a spacious site right on a channel of the Linyanti Swamps. This is fed by the Kwando River and drains via the river known (and already visited) as the Chobe. The site has good shade and a lovely open aspect to it, with the view being over the 20m wide water channel not 20m away. It has a large thatched lapa (lean to) with a wash basin, piped water and a large work surface. There is also another tap within the camp. The water is pumped up to a header tank directly from the swamp and is crystal clear. I am sure it is safe to drink but for those with indulged western stomachs it would be best to boil first. There is our own ablution block not 20m from the site. This has a flush toilet with loo paper and a shower with a donkey boiler which is lit as required for hot water. This facility is kept very clean and tidy.
We were greeted in a very welcoming manner by one of the camp supervisors, Website Kayambo. Don’t you just love the naïve choice of English “names”. He went off fishing for bream using small frogs he had captured in a nearby pool but even after our welcome offer to buy some of his catch, returned empty handed. He provided us with some fire wood at N$20 per batch. Website mentioned that game viewing in the park was picking up all the time as the animals returned to permanent water and that the previous night a pride of lions had been roaring in the park nearby as they shadowed a herd of buffalo. I wonder if sometimes these guys are a little liberal with the truth in whipping up your enthusiasm. Campsite 2 is on the opposite side of the track and is not on the water. It was the only campsite occupied when we arrived. It is more private, away from the road and away from the other 3 sites but has no view. One thing it and the other 2 campsites have plenty of is shade but this impacts a bit on the view. I have always preferred a more open site as long as there is some shade. Sites 3 and 4 are also along the same channel of the swamp and the sites are about 100m apart. Certainly, although you might just be able to hear your neighbors you certainly will not be able to see them due to the luxuriant riverine trees and vegetation. The only disadvantage with 1 is that it is the closest to the camp admin office. Again I must say that all 4 sites are perfectly acceptable.
The camp is just outside the boundary of the unfenced park and so one does not have to pay park fees unless entering on a game drive. This we will do this afternoon. At first impression the environment at Rupara has more birdlife than Mudumu. We met the occupants of campsite 2 when they returned from exploring the park. They are Derek and Michelle K. from Howick Natal and a very friendly couple they turned out to be too, as befits a member of the 4X4community. Derek visits the forum far more often than he contributes but trades under the name “natalmidlands”. We had a long chat, continued later that evening. They were at Savuti a few days after us and were lucky enough to see the leopard and her small cubs at leopard rock, which we had searched for and they also had a leopard pass through their campsite one night. They are on the way to Etosha amongst other places. They gave us some good tips for exploring the Rupara Park.
We took a short drive through the park that evening. I have to come clean about the biggest disaster to have struck our journey thus far. Believe me it has been reaching crisis proportions with Anne threatening to go on strike. It is that flippin’ mouse! As much as I have been in denial about its continued presence it is no doubt still on board. You may recall that I successfully clobbered one in CKGR and one must have died from all the Rattex eaten. This little bugger has eluded all my efforts to corner him. Only yesterday evening I managed to flush him out via the front passenger compartment but quick as a flash he was under the car, up the wheel and vanishing into the undercarriage. There must be a hole underneath that is used to enter the vehicle. I cannot believe Toyota would have been responsible for this and suspect it must be from modifications, perhaps something like an electrical lead. Perhaps when it goes in for the minor 5,000km service due soon, I can plug any holes with silicone or that expanding foam whilst we are able to get the vehicle up on a hoist. She has chewed holes in all the plastic bag contained foods including the plastic sachets of sundried tomatoes and pesto to pep up our pasta dishes. Olives, rice, pasta, water biscuits have also not been spared. The list could go on. The final straw was when she chewed holes in my camera door mount, the Apex beanbag used with a mount with my long lens. This is filled with rice and that was the target! Apologies to Orms for taking their name in vain for selling me rubbish as at first I thought it had spontaneously torn at the seams. Another use for duct tape which has patched the 2 chewed holes. When we pass through Katima on the way to Zambia the most vicious mouse trap available is on the shopping list. We will also be buying more plastic snap-shut containers as a further barrier to the depredations of this little demon. And here we were worrying about the dangers of lions and tigers. Anne has a phobia about mice and you need to imagine the resolve it takes for her to fiddle in the drawer system in the semi-dark. .
The main pic is of the steel bridge that replaced the notorious wooden pole one.
The view from the campsite.
Then 2 of the thatched lapa.