The Bwabwata National Park is very special in that it supports a large wildlife population and a large human population. The lion does not lie down with the lamb, and there is inevitably conflict between people and animals (particularly elephants). Nevertheless, the major accomplishment of the Bwabwata National Park is that human and wildlife are now living in a status quo that offers tremendous benefits to both conservation and rural community development. Described by Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba as ‘one of a new generation of parks’, the Bwabwata National Park is pioneering ‘a live and let live’ conservation ethic.

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While visiting the Bwabwata National Park you are sharing space with some of the biggest wildlife Africa has to offer. Large mammalian predators include leopard, cheetah, lion, hyaena and African wild dog.

African wild dogs, or ‘painted dogs’, are the most endangered large carnivores in Africa, with continental populations estimated to be only 3 000 to 4 000, down from an original population of half a million, due to persecution by farmers and other competitors. Lions kill wild dogs whenever they can. Superbly adapted to hunting (80% of hunts result in a kill), they specialise in pursuing prey relentlessly over long distances. They have the strongest bite measured against body mass of any carnivorous mammal. Interestingly, males often act as babysitters. Wild-dog numbers are increasing in the Bwabwata National Park.

Lion populations are low. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the local resident’s association hope to improve numbers by adding value through an increase in tourism and trophy hunting value so that lo- cal people have an incentive to not only tolerate, but also to protect lions. While not many people want more lions next door, here they do!

Extremely large crocodiles patrol the rivers. More dangerous to man, however, are the hippos that live in the Okavango and Kwando rivers. Territorial and aggressive, hippos kill more people in Africa each year than any other large wild mammal species. Never come between a grazing hippo and the water.

African elephants, the world’s largest land mammal, need no introduction. Extremely abundant in the Kavango and the Caprivi, which they use as a migration corridor between Angola, Botswana and Zambia, they visit the rivers of the Bwabwata National Park in large numbers during the dry season. The park also serves as a corridor for many other migrating animals moving between Botswana, Zambia and Angola.

The Bwabwata National Park is the best place in Namibia to see Cape buffalo (thereby filling your Big Five tick list!). The Buffalo Core Area conserves a large buffalo population that, with the exception of the buffalo on the Waterberg Plateau and the population near Khaudum National Park, is unique in the country. The buffalo are normally followed by an entourage of red and yellow-billed oxpeckers and egrets that feed on the parasites and insects that are attracted to the herds.

Roan and the majestically horned sable are the highest-value antelope species in the Bwabwata National Park, due to their rarity elsewhere. Kudu and impala occur in high numbers in the conservation core areas. Riverine habitat and floodplains support red lechwe, sitatunga and reedbuck.

Birds include  Wattled Crane,  African Skimmer, Western- banded Snake  Eagle, Narina Trogon, Wood Owl, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Cape Parrot, and both Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers.

Bwabwata is one of five national parks in north-eastern Namibia. It is managed as a unit with Mangetti, Khaudom National Park, Mudumu National Park and Nkasa Rupara (formerly Mamili National Park).

Since 2006, the NamParks Project (formerly BMM Parks Project), co-funded by the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW has helped develop management and tourism plans and constructed new park offices and staff housing in Namibia’s north-eastern parks, including Bwabwata. The Project has helped introduce park-friendly land-uses in the surrounding areas and collaborative management structures. Management priorities include the conservation of important habitats, safeguarding corridors for regional wildlife migration; providing income for rural residents and developing tourism

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is in the Kalahari a semi-arid region with an average rainfall of 150mm/5.9in in the southwest to 350mm/13.8in in the northeast. The summer rainfall occurs from October to April. The rains come mostly in the form of heavy thunderstorms, often accompanied by strong winds. As in every desert environment, there is a strong contrast in day and night temperatures. Winters can be extremely cold.

Dry season – May to October

During this months visitors will experience the total absence of rain and cold nights.

May, June, July & August – Not a drop of rain, cool temperatures and abundant sun. Temperatures average 26°C/79°F most afternoons. The early mornings are cold with temperatures hovering around 7°C/45°F. Wildlife drives in open vehicles require warm clothing.

September & October – With the end of the winter’s temperatures increase . October can be very warm with averages of 34°C/93°F and peak temperatures can be much higher. Early mornings are warmer, increasing to around 15°C/60°F. Rains generally start toward the end of October or in early November.

Wet season – November to April

This period normally marks the beginning of the raining season. Afternoon thunderstorms occur, but not every day and it is primarily sunny and hot. Early mornings are characterised by warmer temperatures, averaging up to about 18°C/64°F. Wildlife sightings are good.

November & December – In November the few first rain showers start, with precipitation really picking up in December. Although it is fairly dry for the most part, an occasional thunder shower can happen. Afternoon temperatures are around 32°C/90°F.

January & February & March – The wettest months are typically January and February. Although mostly sunny, thundershowers occur during the afternoon, cooling things down to an average of around 30°C/86°F.

April – April is when the rains slow down but occasionally some isolated storm still occur.

Access to the Bwabwata National Park is easy. The park is located 120 km West of Katima Mulilo (or 200km East of Rundu) on the B8 Trans-Caprivi Highway, which runs the length of the park (180 km).

Fuel can be found at Kongola just before the Eastern entrance. Or Divundu before the Western Entrance.

There are also simple grocery shops.

The park requires 4×4 vehicles and in the dry season sand can be challenging in some areas.