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The National Parks of Namibia- Nkasa Lupala and Dorob

  
  

Namibian national parks like Etosha National Park and the Waterberg Plateau Park are world-renowned and well-visited by international and national tourists. This blog post is not about those parks. Today we want introduce you to two national parks run that you may not have heard of before...

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A Land Rover with Sandwich Harbour in the background.
One of the best things to do in Namibia is to explore locations that are off the beaten path.

(Image via Cardboard Box)


Nkasa Lupala National Park

We start in the north-east of Namibia in the Zambezi (Caprivi) Region. As you may already know this part of this huge nation is markedly different from most of the stark landscapes you find through out the mostly arid countryside. The land in the Zambezi is riverine and lush. It is home to several wetlands which and the region is criss-crossed by perennially flowing bodies of water.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa

The landscape is spectacular in the Zambezi.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

In this corner of Namibia, just to the north of Botswana, you can find the Nkasa Lupara National Park (formerly known as the Mamili National Park). The park contains the largest protected wetland area in the Land of the Brave.

Screen Shot 2014 08 01 at 12.37.22 AM1024px Map Nkasa Rupara National Park

Maps showing the location of the park.
(Images via the MET)

 

The network of rivers flowing around small islands and reed beds are home to hippopotamuses, crocodiles, several buck species and a massive population of birds. There are, in fact, more species of birds in this small area than anywhere else in Namibia.

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A bloat of hippos silently swim through the river.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

Before you back you pack your bags and head to Nkasa Lupala you should know that journeying through this national park is not for the feint of heart. There are very few facilities and sometimes the park is inaccessible due to heavy rainfall.

This usually will only happen during the rainy months of January and February. However, if the rains don’t spoil the fun, and you have a thirst for adventure then you should know that the camp is a 4x4 enthusiast and wildlife tracker’s dream location. For information on exploring the park by 4x4 click here.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, buffalo
Exploring the park is tough, but worth it to see undisturbed wildlife.

(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

In the winter some of the riverbeds dry up and visitors to the park can watch lions, large herds of buffalo and elephants migrate across the park. Making Nkasa Lupala the perfect place for a rough and tumble adventure tourist to do some exploring.

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There are even occasional sightings of lions in this riverine park.
(Image via Cardboard Box)


Click here for the official Nkasa Lupara National Park page, courtesy of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

 

Dorob National Park

The second national park we are looking at is located on the coast in the middle of Namibia’s vast Atlantic coast. Close to the Skeleton Coast and pressed up against the Namib Desert you will find Dorob National Park. As you might imagine, this national park’s landscape is very different to the lush and watery Nkasa Lupala National Park. Dorob is also far more accessible with the towns of Swakopmund, Henties Bay and Walvis Bay found within the park's borders.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, dorob
This map shows the area of the coast that falls under Dorob National Park.
(Map via NACOMA)

 

We mentioned Dorob a few weeks ago in an interview with Chris Nel (that you can read here). However, many visitors outside of Namibia have yet to hear about this gem of a park… Dorob was created in 2010 and since its creation the entire coastline of Namibia now falls under strict environmental protection. The reason this had to happen is because of the fragile biodiversity of the ecosystems found in this part of Namibia.

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This coastline has been rescued from destruction.

(Image via World Super Travel)

 

As far as attractions go in this park, BirdLife International has declared the park an “Important Bird Area” because this part of the Namibian coast is a haven that over 1.6 million birds call home. This makes Dorob an absolute must-visit place for anyone who is a birding enthusiast. Of particular interest to many tourists in this regard is Sandwich Harbour that boasts a sizeable population of flamingos.

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This famous spot located within Dorob and is definitely worth a visit.
(Image via Sandwich Harbour)

 

There is also some excellent fishing in this park and the town of Henties Bay should be the place you should aim for if you are a keen angler. Before you plan a trip read this page, as it details what anglers can and can’t do in the park.

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Going to Dorob? Why not go fishing!
(Image via Henties Bay)

 

While unguided exploration of the park is allowed, it is important to note that after years of careless behaviour by locals and tourists the area has had to become subject to some badly needed restrictions. So if you want to explore the park on your own you can check out some maps which detail where you can and can’t go in the park here.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa, dorob, chris nel

Rare creatures like the Namib Ghecko live along the coastline and need to be protected.
(Photo by Chris Nel)

 

For more information on the park you can download their press kit here or have a look at Travel News Namibia's breakdown of the regulations here.

 

These are just two national parks you can find in the Land of the Brave. In total there are eleven nationally run parks within Namibia and over the coming months we will bring to light some of these other parks. For a list of these parks click here.

 

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Want to know more about National Parks in Namibia?
Check our our posts on Etosha and the Waterberg below.

How to Explore Etosha

Safaris in the Waterberg

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Three Shipwrecks on Namibia's Skeleton Coast

  
  

Namibia has several thousand shipwrecked vessels strewn across its vast coastline. The Skeleton Coast’s rough seas, roaring winds and strong ocean currents are primarily responsible for many of these beached ships’ fate.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure
(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

Many of the wrecks on the harsh coastline have been completely destroyed by the sun, sea, and wind but a few are still visible. The vessels' remains can be seen up close by explorers who are keen on making the trek along the Land of the Brave’s beautiful but perilous coastline.

This blog post is about three of these still visible wrecks.

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(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

The Eduard Bohlen (1907)

This is perhaps one of the most well known shipwrecks in Namibia if not in the world. Its fame is largely as a result of its strange location. This is because the Eduard Bohlen appears to be stranded in the middle of the desert.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

Stranded, in the desert.
(Image via BePic)

 

The Eduard Bohlen was a German cargo ship that ran aground while it was on its way to Table Bay from Swakopmund. It is believed that thick fog caused the ship to founder close to Conception Bay. Years after the ship ran aground the desert began to encroach on the ocean and the ship that was once stranded in the ocean slowly became stranded in the desert. The wreck currently sits about 500 metres from the ocean, making it a must visit site for wreck enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

The Eduard Bohlen, up close.
(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

How to get there

If you want to get as close as possible to the Eduard Bohlen you can go on a guided 4x4 tour from either Luderitz or Walvis Bay with Coastways. You can also embark on a flying safari that will take you over the wreck. Suricate Safaris offer a few flying safari options and one of them will take you over the famous wreck.

An aerial view of the famous wreck.


The Dunedin Star (1942)

During the Second World War the Dunedin Star left Liverpool carrying munitions and supplies for Allied forces. On board as well as the cargo were 21 passengers who wanted to escape a war-torn London. The vessel, however, hit an underwater obstacle and landed up grounding 500 metres offshore, stranding its passengers and crew on the inhospitable Skeleton Coast.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

A photograph taken shortly after the boat was wrecked in 1942.
(Image via John H Marsh)

 

The rescue efforts that followed were dogged by bad luck and adverse conditions. A tug boat dispatched to aid in the rescue efforts ran aground, while a Ventura bomber, tasked with dropping supplies for the survivors of the Dunedin Star, crashed into the sea after delivering its cargo to the stranded crew and passengers of the wreck. Both the tugboat and the warplane are still visible today.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

All that is left of the famous vessel.
(Image via Trekity)

 

How to get there

The wreck is in the far north of the Skelton Coast National Park and as such you will not be able to drive yourself there. Flying into the northern section of the park is the only realistic option if you want to explore this famous wreck. Skeleton Coast Safaris offer a variety of aerial tours of the region.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

Sometimes a 4x4 is just not sufficient.
(Image via Skeleton Coast Safaris)

 

The Suiderkus (1976)

Close to Henties Bay there are several visible shipwrecks, one of which is that of the Suiderkus, a relatively modern fishing trawler. The ship ran aground near Möwe Bay on her maiden voyage despite having a highly sophisticated navigational system. After a few months most of the ship had disintegrated but a large portion of the hull still survives to this day.

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Water flowing through the wreckage of the Suiderkus.
(Photo by Charlie Summers)

 

The hull is now perched on the beach and is currently a home for a group of cormorants. Because of its peculiar location and decaying frame it is a popular destination for photographers visiting the area.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

The wreck is deteriorating rapidly; so don’t delay in getting there!
(Photo by Olwen Evans)

 

How to get there

The Suiderkus, as with many of the visible wrecks in Namibia, can be found within the Skeleton Coast National Park. The Skeleton Coast Camp offers tours of the nearby wrecks, the Suiderkus included, and if you choose to stay at that lodge then they will happily take you on a tour. Anglers who are fishing at the nearby Terrace Bay drive past the wreck on their way to the fishing grounds.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure

There is some world-class fishing on offer near Terrace Bay.
(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

As mentioned above, there are literally thousands of wrecks dotted along the coast of Namibia. The three chosen for this article have been picked because they are still visible and are relatively easy to access. As the Skeleton Coast National Park continues to become more accessible to more and more people other wrecks will be easier to visits. For now, however, you can beat the crowds and get exploring in one of the world's strangest and most haunting landscapes.

Skeleton coast, Namibia, Namibia photography, shipwrecks, eduard bohlen, shipwreck namibia, adventure
Bits of ships and old boxes of cargo are strewn across the Skeleton Coast…

Who knows what you could find!
(Image via Africa Travel Resources)

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Looking for more eerie adventure?
Check out our post on the ghost town of Pomona by clicking on the picture below:

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Explore Namibia's Precious Coastline and Dunes with Chris Nel

  
  

Chris Nel is a tour guide who runs the Living Desert Adventure through the Namib Desert near Sossussvlei. On these tours he shares his wisdom and expertise with visitors. Chris was also involved in the establishment of the Dorob National Park in 2010 along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

We had a chance to sit down and chat with Chris about desert conservation and the role that ordinary citizens can play in protecting Namibia’s natural treasures.

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A desert-adapted chameleon photographed on one of Chris' adventure tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Vehicles Chris uses for his Living Desert Adventure Tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

How long have you been involved with desert conservation in Namibia? What made you decide to get into it in the first place?

I have always loved nature and always been interested in protecting it since a little child but in 2002 I started doing day tours in the dunes around Swakopmund. At that stage I realised that quad-biking had become the new craze of the nation and thousands of people were driving all over the Namib Desert just for fun.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Chris getting up close with a desert chameleon.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I attempted to run an educational tour for tourists and it was virtually impossible to do a quality tour because of the noise, aesthetic destruction (with tracks all over the place) and the little creatures we were showing people were getting killed under the wheels of the quads and 4x4 vehicles.

The year I started doing tours out of Swakopmund I realised Namibia had a big problem in the coastal Namib, largely caused by quads and 4x4’s. I did a flight over the Namib to take pictures and videos of the state of the desert. It was this day that my heart broke- I saw one of the most destroyed deserts in the world.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

When Chris saw the damage he knew he had to do something to help.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)


What are the most important lessons you hope to impress upon the people in your tour groups?

For me it is vital that people learn to respect and appreciate the desert, it is only then that we have a chance to understand the desert. If more people understand the desert better then there will be a greater chance that they will see the beauty of the desert.

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Chris feels that once people understand, they will want to protect.
This is why he encourages guests to close to the fauna of the desert.

(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What do you enjoy most about taking a guest into the desert for the first time in their life?

I love showing them from the beginning that this is one of the driest places on earth relative to rain, but because of the fog we have a certain degree of moisture that sustains a large variety of specialised desert life.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

A desert adapted chameleon having a snack.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I always start by telling them that because it almost never rains we will not see typical ‘safari’ wildlife (some tourists want to see lions and elephants no matter what part of Namibia they are exploring). I then tell them that the fog is made of micro drops and this means that on the tour we will only find micro elephants, bonzai crocodiles, and tiny lions.

 

The Namib Desert is an extremely fragile ecosystem, what do you think are some of the greatest threats to its survival and continuing biodiversity?

The Namib is very fragile, especially its gravel plains. When vehicles or quads travel on the gravel plains the tracks can last for hundreds of years. Dust and gravel form a crust with the humidity of the fog over hundreds of years. When the wind blows over these tracks, the dust comes out but the ridges of the tracks stay on the plains for just about forever. You can see where the Germans crossed the desert in 1880 in ox wagons.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Marks from the German settlers' wagons from well over a hundred years ago.
(Image via Andy Cowley)


I believe the aesthetic damage is of great concern as tourists and local Namibians don’t want to see their beautiful desert scared for life. I don’t think all of the animals are in danger but many get killed from off road driving.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Animals like this Namib dune gheko are at risk when vehicle access is not regulated.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement with the Dorob National Park?

After seeing the destruction of the desert I started an online petition to bring it to the attention of Namibia and the rest of the world. The petition was signed by thousands of people and it lead to the Namibian government forming the Coastal Management Committee (the CMC). The CMC brought together people from all different spheres of the community - town councils, regional councils, commercial fisheries, tourism stakeholders, local residents - to work together in finding a solution to the devastation of our precious desert.

A video about Namibia’s incredible and fragile coastline.
(Video via NACOMA)

 

Around the same time, fellow conservationist Rod Braby managed to get sponsors from the World Bank to start NACOMA (The Namibian Coast Conservation and Management project). Together with NACOMA, the CMC and the people of Namibia, we were able to establish the Dorob National Park.

Helping with a project like Dorob was stressful at first. Holiday makers from all over Southern Africa would flock to Swakopmund with their quad bikes and 4x4s. As an advocate for restricting their playground, locals feared tourism (their livelihood) would suffer. There was a lot of opposition, even death threats. This was despite expert conservationists like the late Dr. Hugh Berry saying: “The most destroyed accessible coastline in the world is found in Namibia”.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

No rational person could deny the seriousness of the situation.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

The truth is that we didn’t want to ban people from enjoying our dunes, but there were simply too many people joy-riding over Namibia’s deserts and ruining the beautiful landscapes that would be so important for tourism in the future. Steps had to be taken and access to the park had to be controlled.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Etosha has strict rules about staying on the roads in the park…
That’s why it looks like it did 50 years ago even though millions of tourists visit each year.


The government zoned areas so everyone could enjoy this unique part of Namibia. So whether you are a tourist, an environmentalist, or a quad biker, there's something for everyone to enjoy. You can download the park’s rules and regulations here.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Namibia is now the only country on earth with its entire coastline falling into a national park.

 

Is there a way that people not already directly involved with a conservation organisation can get involved?

The best way for the public to get involved is through NACOMA. You can read their brochure on their website. You can also be a game warden in your own capacity – approach people who are driving off the road and hand them the brochure, stop them littering, and make sure they respect the area.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

There is still a long way to go, but there is good reason to be hopeful about the future.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What part of your conservation work are you most proud of thus far?

I am most proud of my involvement in the creation of Dorob. Ten years ago everything was destroyed, it felt like mission impossible, but today it’s quiet, beautiful and flourishing again. Thinking back to all the death threats and stress I had to deal with, I still think it was totally worth it.

I am also proud of our country. It took a lot of years, tears and sweat but now our children can enjoy our hard work. The town of Swakopmund is within the area that has been declared a national park- several thousand people live in a national park, and that is quite something if you think about it.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Dorob National Park is Namibia’s first national park since independence.
Its creation ensures that landscapes like the one above can be shared with future generations.

 

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The Ngepi Camp in Namibia's Zambezi Region

  
  

Bush-bound Girl has written for us once before and now she is back for a second time. In her recent post she shares her experience of staying in one of the most unique accommodations in Namibia: The Ngepi Camp in the Zambezi (Caprivi) region. Read on to find out what makes this camp so special...

My George-of-the-Jungle tree house in the Caprivi

by Rachel Lang

 

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Ngepi Camp.
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

 

Ever since watching George of the Jungle as a kid, I’ve wanted to live in a tree house. Unless you’re scared of heights or of sharing a bed with the odd creepy crawly creature, who wouldn’t want their own cosy tree hideaway? Recently, I spent time at the legendary Ngepi Camp in the Caprivi region of Namibia where I stayed in the tree house of my dreams! Although George didn’t swing by, I (Ursula) had plenty of company, from hippos and little skittering mice, to fish eagles and coppery-tailed coucals…

The Caprivi, in the upper reaches of the Okavango Delta panhandle, is a magnificent area – calming plains of green viridescent marshland and white Kalahari sand, and, of course, the Okavango (or Kavango) river, where Ngepi Camp (and the beautiful tree houses) are situated.

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Caprivi Region – seen from a microlight.
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

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A hippopotamus in the Kavango
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)


The camp has twelve tree houses in total, each one unique and completely open to the river. They are all built of farmed materials upholding Ngepi’s owner Mark Adcock’s strong belief in the importance of safeguarding the area’s indigenous trees. Even the trees that the houses are built around have not been touched or used as building structures, with the intent of symbolising that man and nature can live together peacefully.

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One of the cabins.
(Photo © Bush-bound Girl)


Everything (including hot showers) is run on solar energy. Mark, who can also be referred to as Ngepi’s ‘artist’, has made sure that solar panels are not hidden by vegetation, but placed in full view for guests to see, “I want people to ask questions, I want them to say this works so well, where can I get one for my house?”

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Larger rooms are available too.
(Photo © Otto Grimm)

 

Another environmentally friendly novelty is the tree houses’ air-conditioning system. It’s a method so simple yet so clever! At the top of each thatched roof is a tap, and, when it’s switched on the cool water runs down each side of the roof. Air blowing against the water is cooled (the same as when we sweat) and this causes the temperature of the room to drop by at least 10 degrees c. More than a camp, Ngepi is a place of learning. Every element reflects a commitment to live sustainably, to reduce human impact on the environment, and, as a foreign client once put it,“live with your feet in nature!”. This is exactly what I did every morning as I opened my eyes to the sunrise between my toes!

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Gran and Grandad – you asked if this pretty bum was mine and who took the photo…
Sadly, I have to report that this is not me.
I got the photo from the kind folks at Ngepi and I’m not sure who the model is!

(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

Mokoro in front of Tree House - resized

Instead of George of the Jungle’s ‘watch out for that tree’
it’s a matter of watch out for that mokoro going by while you’re in the shower!!

(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

 

Bedtime in an Ngepi tree house is equally special. I showered beneath a million bright stars, naked for only the hippos to see. I listened with delight to the low hoots of a Pels Fishing owl, which echoed into the evening and eventually sent me soundly to sleep. On some nights you may even hear the roar of a lion from the other side of the river, which is Bwabwata National Park, or from Mahango Park to the South.

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There’s a hammock on each tree house deck to chill with a book in the afternoons.
(Photo © Ngepi Camp)

 

Read more about Ngepi’s tree houses here

For More info email:  bookings@ngepicamp.com

+264 (0) 66 259 903 or +264 (0)81 20 28 200

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