Part 6. Divundu, Nunda Camp, Mahango and Buffalo Game Parks.
We left Shamvura after a leisurely breakfast. We were in no hurry as we only had a short hop to the next area we wanted to explore – the area around Divundu (the most westerly town in the Caprivi strip). We had a number of choices at which to stay – the Goabaca community camp, Ngepi, Popa Falls, Mahango and Nunda. In the end we went to Nunda first and decided that we would be happy there. We later realised that we had made a very good choice.
We knew Mahango from before – open and grassy but none of the facilities of Nunda.
Popa Falls was closed for renovation (there went our chances of seeing the Rock Pratincole).
Ngepi has a lovely setting by the river but down 4 kms of very rough road. Also it now has a reputation of being a main Overlander destination.
The Community campsite Goabaca has a nice setting and is directly opposite Popa Falls supposedly with a view of the rapids. However the reeds were so tall you could barely see the river.
Nunda was well located on the river. We had a campsite right on the river’s edge with power, a drinking fountain and hot water from their donkey every morning and throughout the day. The lodge has a deck over the river – good for sundowners. We stayed 3 nights.
Birding in the camp was not bad but we really just used it as a base.
We spent one day in Buffalo Park and the other in Mahango Game Park. In both camps it was sharp eyes out for Sharp-tailed Starlings. It was like that in all the camps along the Caprivi strip. In the end we were tired of looking at yet another Cape Glossy Starling. Sharp-tailed Starlings are so difficult to differentiate that we suspect that they are simply a figment of someone’s imagination!
Buffalo Park. The entrance is 30 kms from Nunda, back to the main road at Divundu, turn right and go over the bridge. Buffalo Park is a ways along on the right. It’s name is appropriate as there were hundreds of buffalo about. Once in the park we headed for the wetland area by the river’s edge. Once at the wetland the drive alongside seems to go on forever – kms and kms.
There are numerous animal species to be seen, Sable, Roan, Red Lechwe were among the more usual buffalo and elephants.
Talking of elephants we had an amusing incident with one well hidden. Loo stop beside the wetland area. Very open view from the car over the wetlands with a slight bank and shade trees on the other side. Off goes Sally heading up the bank for the nearest tree. As she approaches an elephant lets off his trumpet- it must have been just over the rise. At first Sally thought I was trying to scare her but she soon realised we best move on and hot foots it back into the car.
Among the many waterbirds, we saw Wattled Crane, Rufous-bellied and Black Herons, Slaty Egrets, Knob-billed Duck, Collared Pratincoles, Spoonbill, Saddle-billed Storks, Goliath Heron, Red-billed Teal.
In total we saw 83 species in the Park – the highlight being the Wattled Cranes and the Slaty Egret.
The following day we went to Mahango Game Park. The main road to Botswana runs through the Park. The last time we were there it was very wet and difficult to get around. Since then they have improved the main road through the park to Botswana but more importantly they have renovated the main game viewing road to the east of the park – many stretches have been raised and there are bridges over the rivers. The road to the west remains the same and will be tricky in the wet season.
We followed the east side viewing road along the wetland areas to start with and had good sightings along the way, including Roan antelope, Long-toed Lapwings and an African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene) ferociously determined to extract his meal from the innards of a tree.
However the main highlight was a Western-banded Snake-Eagle. At first we did not realise what it was as it had its back to us and flew away. Then we found it a bit further along – unfortunately much further away but with the scope we were able to identify it.
We also went down the road on the west of the Park – to the waterhole and hide (very run down). There, we watched flocks of birds drinking including a variety of Waxbills and Black-throated Canaries amongst other seedeaters.
Altogether we saw 84 different species of birds in Mahango.
Our next stop was Nambwa. A 4×4 only community camp about 15 kms off the main road on the west side of the Kavango bridge on the way to Katima Malilo. More on this in Part 7.