|Happy Campers BotsNam 2018 – Travel log Day 13 & 14|
|Place||Shametu River Lodge, Divundu|
|Type of lodging||Camping|
|Water at site||Yes|
|Wi-Fi||Yes, available at reception area|
|Diesel top-up||R300-00 / 22.76lt|
|Kilometers traveled||Day 13: 457km
Day 14: 131km
We left for Divundu early on the morning of Day 13, and the drive there was great; all tar road till you reach the turn off to Shametu River Lodge. Along the way there are several roadside stands where you can buy all sorts of curios items. If you are keen on buying a little mokoro boat as a memento, you should pull over at these sellers, as you cannot find them anywhere else. I was hoping to find some in Kasane but sadly the local traders don’t sell them there. We stopped for fuel in Rundu and from there we headed straight to the campsite.
To say that Shametu River Lodge is beautiful, is an understatement. They offer luxury chalets situated on the Kavango River as well as stunning private camp sites. Each camp site has its own ablution facility with a thatched kitchen and power point. You are totally private from your neighbors and the main building is connected to the camp sites with a lush walkway. The deck and swimming pool area are beautiful with breath taking views over the river landscape. You can hand your laundry at their reception and the Wi-Fi spot is in the lounge area next to the restaurant.
On our second day in the area, we visited the Mahango National Park as well as the Bwabwata National Park. It is in the Bwabwata NP that we found the ruins of the army base of 32 Battalion (also known as the Buffalo Battalion). This South African Defense Force Unit was deployed mainly in the Caprivi area, to act as a buffer between the Angolan and South African borders. The unit consisted of a diverse group of people including both South African and Angolan citizens. The group was finally disbanded in 1993 and there’s been quite a few books written about the unit and its members. If you drive slowly and keep your eyes peeled, you’ll find the cemetery where a few hundred people who died during the border war was buried. It’s disappointing that the Parks Board aren’t doing more to keep these ruins intact, it could be a huge drawing magnet for tourists but it’s hard to decipher where’s what on the old base. Proper signage would be a huge plus as we missed many of the structures that we wanted to see. If you are interested in finding out more about 32 Battalion and its history I can recommend that you get yourself a copy of Buffalo Battalion – A tale of sacrifice / Die Buffel Struikel: ‘n Storie van 32 Bataljon en Sy Mense
Later that day we drove to the other section of the National Park namely the Mahango National Park to do some game viewing. Sadly our poor game viewing experiences just continued and we only saw some antelopes and giraffes during our game drive. Maybe next time we should add a trip with Shametu’s guides to our list of things to do whilst in Caprivi. We’ve been having the worst luck when it comes to seeing the Big Five during this trip, luckily we’ve been lucky during previous holidays so this time round we were taking in our surroundings and enjoying the views of the river plains. There is a lot of potential to grow the tourism in this area, and a lot of opportunities to get the community involved in the hospitality sector. We are excited to return to this region some day in the future to see if the locals are grabbing the opportunity ahead of them.
This would be our second last night in Namibia, and the following morning we headed out to Camp Kwando, via Katima Mulilo, where we would spend a night before entering Botswana via the Ngoma Border Post. Word of advice, keep in mind that you are not allowed to move uncooked red meat from Namibia to Botswana, so try and finish all your meat supplies before you go into Botswana, as they will search your vehicle and confiscate any uncooked red meat that they find. Plan your meals and shopping so that you stock up in Kasane, which is the closest big town after you enter Botswana via Ngoma.