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The Kwando River forms the border between east and west Caprivi, 100 km west of Katima Mulilo. It also forms the border of both the Bwabwata and Mudumu National Parks. The Bwabwata National Park (formerly Caprivi Game Reserve) is an unspoilt wilderness stretching from the Kwando in the east to the Okavango in the west. Mudumu National Park lies east of the Kwando where it borders on Botswana, and further south and west is Mamili National Park. The wide range of habitats along the Kwando allow a variety of birding opportunities, with over 400 species recorded. A minimum of 2 days should be spent in this area. Game viewing in can be exceptional, with huge herds of Elephant present, particularly during the dry season (June-November). A 4x4 vehicle is a pre-requisite if you are planning to travel south of the B8 towards Horseshoe Lagoon.

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Specials

Wattled Crane, Hartlaub's Babbler, Swamp Boubou, Great Reed-Warbler, Greater Swamp-Warbler, Black Coucal , Chirping Cisticola, Luapula Cisticola, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Rufous-bellied Heron, Black Coucal, Purple-banded Sunbird, Copper Sunbird. The elusive Souza's Shrike has also been reported from this region. Red-headed Quelea have bred in large numbers for the past 15 years near the Kongola bridge and are often seen from the bridge.

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Habitats

Along the Kwando River there are extensive floodplains, reed and papyrus beds and riverine forest. Away from the river the mixed woodland includes teak, combretum, burkea, terminalia, and acacia forests and thickets, and open grasslands.

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Birding

1. Susuwe Island Lodge is situated in the Bwabwata National Park. It is built within the riverine forest on Birre Island in the Kwando River. Birding trips on the Kwando River are done by boat. 4x4 vehicles are used to access the surrounding woodlands, and guided walks within the national park are available to explore some of the more remote areas. Birding is good throughout the year, with the best time between November and April when migrants are present. October is Southern Carmine Bee-eater breeding season.

2. Lianshulu Lodge is situated in Mudumu National Park, adjacent the Kwando River and Botswana border. The lodge offers drives and boat trips on the river.

3. Mamili National Park. An area seldom visited by birders because of access problems is the magnificent, wild, Mamili National Park. The park comprises large open expanses of tall grasslands, riparian forest, floodplains, dry forest and a variety of wetland habitats. Access is difficult and should only be attempted with 2 vehicles. Contact Katy and Dick Sharpe in Katima Mulilo for information and assistance with guiding if required (066-253453).

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General

The area can be reached by road from the B8 highway which runs through the Caprivi from Katima Mulilo to Rundu. At Kongola village turn south along D3511 into the Bwabwata National Park. The road runs alongside the Kwando River to Mudumu National Park. The turn-off to Susuwe Island Lodge is 7km down this track, and Lianshulu about 35km from the main road. It is also possible to fly in to Kasane or Vic Falls with an air-charter transfer to Susuwe.

Accommodation is available in the area.

Guy Gibbon and Chris Hines 2002.



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