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32 Travel Namibia Essential Namibia: Caprivi BEN FORBES sustainable income for local communities while simultaneously ensuring biodiversity conservation within the region. Bwabwatwa is Namibia's newest park, having had a long and, at times, torturous road towards proclamation. It began as the Caprivi Game Reserve in 1966 before being upgraded to the Caprivi Game Park in 1968. Unfortunately, during the Namibian liberation struggle it became a restricted security zone and the exclusive domain of the South African Defence Force ( SADF). The park is literally littered with reminders of the military presence and remnants from their occupation of the area. Game drives pass by overgrown shooting ranges and discarded military equipment - harsh reminders of a torrid time in the park's history. The derelict remains of Fort Doppies, now an excellent place to watch the sunrise, sit on a cliff- top. As the sun breaches the ? 2 Bwabwatwa The male leopard stood frozen in the middle of the road, surprised by the approach of a game- viewing vehicle. The fresh carcass of an adult impala ewe lay at his feet. After warily eyeing the vehicle, he lifted the impala in his powerful jaws and effortlessly crossed the track before silently slipping away. Within seconds he had melted into the silver terminalia woodland, and calm returned to Horseshoe Bend. As we stood enjoying a sundowner on the edge of Bwabwatwa's best- known watering hole, Bevan Knzeka, an experienced Susuwe Island Lodge guide said: " October can be stinking hot, but the heat concentrates all the animals on the last remaining waterholes and along the Kwando River. This makes it my favourite time with excellent and reliable game viewing". Horseshoe is one of the most productive wildlife- viewing areas, and we shared the waterhole with a large breeding herd of impala, 26 kudu and the rising full moon. Horseshoe, as the name suggests, is a large perennial oxbow lake with picturesque white- sand beaches that are surrounded by Zambezi teak woodlands. " Last month I was stopped right here enjoying a drink and chatting to my guests," Bevan continued, " when suddenly all the impala at the water's edge started snorting and running straight past us. I quickly bundled everyone back into the vehicle, in the nick of time, as seven inquisitive wild dogs showed up. They sniffed around our sundowner spot, drank noisily and then took off again in search of dinner". The 6100 square kilometre Bwabwatwa National Park, is named after a village located within the reserve. Bwabwatwa means ' the sound of bubbling water'. It has been heralded as part of a new generation of national parks that places emphasis on generating October can be stinking hot but it concentrates all the animals on the last remaining waterholes and along the Kwando River STEPHEN CUNLIFFE STEVE CUNLIFFE Bwabwatwa white sand beech

Travel Namibia 33 Hippos cool off in the Kwando River horizon it illuminates the meandering Kwando River down below and the wind carries the sound of grunting hippos from neighbouring Pelican Pan. It feels as if nature is slowly but steadily reclaiming her domain. I concentrated my time on exploring the eastern side of the park, known as the Kwando Core Area. It was well into November and early rains meant that many of the big herds had already dispersed into the Kalahari woodlands. This is a twitcher's paradise and, together with the spectacular afternoon thunderstorms, the birds more than compensate for the seasonal lack of large concentrations of game. An extensive road network, courtesy of the SADF presence, allowed us to explore the park between the Botswana border in the south and the Angolan border in the north. En route we saw racket- tailed and broad- billed rollers, blue- cheeked bee- eater, black coucal and Sousa's shrike. Our regular sightings of impala, kudu, southern reedbuck, red lechwe and Burchell's zebra were complemented with buffalo, tsessebe and eland around the seldom- visited Marombe Pan. BEN FORBES Unexpected guests at Susuwe Island Lodge ISLANDS IN AFRICA