Watch this space – this is one of Namibia's, perhaps southern Africa's most exciting national parks. In years of good rains, this wild and seldom-visited national park (formerly called Mamili National Park) becomes Namibia’s equivalent of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Forested islands fringed by reed and papyrus marshes foster some of the country’s richest birdwatching, with more than 430 recorded species to count.
Poaching has taken a toll on Nkasa Rupara’s wildlife, though – as recently as 2013, the park's largest lion pride was wiped out in retaliation for livestock lost to predators. Since then, things are on the up, thanks to human-wildlife conflict mitigation programs by Panthera (www.panthera.org), and lions are returning to the area; sightings of wild dogs across the water on the Botswana side are also possible while semiaquatic species such as hippos, crocodiles, pukus, red lechwes, sitatungas and otters, will still impress.
You must bring everything with you, including your own water, and be prepared for extremely rough road conditions. Although there is generally a ranger to collect park fees at the entrance gate, you’re all alone once inside. The simple but handy Kavango-Zambezi National Parks map includes a high-level overview of Nkasa Rupara NP. It's available at Nkasa Rupara Lodge or online via www.thinkafricadesign.com.
Birding is best from December to March, though the vast majority of the park is inaccessible during this time. Wildlife viewing is best from June to August, and is especially good on Nkasa and Lupala islands. It can be oppressively hot from October through to March or April.