Bwabwata National Park Safari Guide
Bwabwata is a recently established park merging the former Caprivi Game Park and Mahango Game Reserve. The park preserves an area that has suffered heavy poaching. Wildlife numbers are recovering but a visit here is more about escaping the well-trodden tourist trail. The few tourist facilities tend to be located around the park’s boundary.
Pros & Cons
Excellent wilderness ambience
Little visited off-the-beaten-track park
Wildlife numbers are increasing
Poaching and human encroachment are still a problem
Few accommodation options inside the park
Limited driving tracks
Wildlife & Animals
Bwabwata doesn’t offer easy wildlife viewing. Four of the Big Five are present, with rhinos excluded, but wildlife densities are low and animals tend to be skittish. Large herds of elephant migrate through the park and other big mammal species you might encounter are buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and hippo.
There is a good variety of antelope, including the sought after roan, sable and greater kudu. The rare red lechwe is one of the park’s most unusual antelopes and the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope is shy but can sometimes be spotted in dense swamp vegetation. All main predators, including lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena, are present but sightings are rare. Lucky visitors might even spot wild dogs.
About one-third of the 340 species recorded in the park are migratory. This includes a good number of waders, attracted to the big body of water in Bwabwata pan, which fills in the Wet season (November to April). The pan is an important breeding ground for lesser and greater flamingos. The park is excellent for seeing birds of prey, there are up to 35 species – including many hawks, vultures, eagles and falcons. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
Best Time to Visit
Although Bwabwata can be visited year-round, the Dry season (June to September) is slightly better for viewing wildlife. Animals congregate around reliable water sources and foliage shrinks back due to the lack of rain, making it easier to spot wildlife.
May to October – Dry Season
Vegetation thins and animals cluster together near water
Although it’s warm, the heat doesn’t become overbearing (except during October)
Even during peak tourist season, the park isn’t crowded
The sky can be hazy as it gets very dry and dusty
November to April – Wet Season
Flowers are prominent, the sky is clear and the scenery beautiful
Newborn animals can be seen and wildlife appears healthy
Birding is more productive with the arrival of migrant bird species
The rains come as a relief to the dry conditions
The heat can be stifling
Animals are more scattered and wildlife viewing is more difficult
Weather & Climate
The climate in Bwabwata is quite hot. Rain comes by way of intense thunderstorms. Summer (November to April) is the Wet season, while the Dry season (May to October) is characterized by no precipitation at all.
Dry Season – May to October – Winter
This time is characterized by an absence of rain and cold temperatures. Drought increases with the progression of winter.
May, June, July & August – This is a time of drought, 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. Game drives in open vehicles require warm, windproof clothing.
September & October – Temperatures increase. October averages 34°C/93°F and peak temperatures can be much higher. Early mornings are warmer, reaching around 15°C/60°F. Rains generally start toward the end of October or in early November.
Wet Season – November to April – Summer
With the heat of summer comes the Wet season, which actually doesn’t produce much rain. Afternoon thunderstorms occur sporadically and it is primarily sunny and hot. Early mornings are characterized by warmer temperatures, averaging about 18°C/64°F.
November & December – November is generally the first month of rain, 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, afternoon thundershowers tend to cool things down to an average of around 30°C/86F.
April – April is characterized by a drop-off in rain and lower temperatures.
Bwabwata is located 900km/560mi from Windhoek on the Trans Caprivi highway (B8). The park is rarely visited on an organized tour but more often explored independently on a self-drive safari. There are several lodges outside the park with airstrips for chartered flights. Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), located 40km/25mi east of Windhoek, is the main access point into Namibia and most people rent a 4 x4 here to begin their journey. Another option is to book a fly-in trip and take charter flights between destinations.