Reviews of Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Remote Nkasa Lupala.
This was a lovely remote lodge with an hours drive down a potholed track. The manager, Simone, is very environmentally aware, power is provided by solar panels as is the case in many lodges.
We arrived too late for lunch after a long drive but nothing was provided for us to eat until tea time.
It was very hot here, our tents were in full sun most of the day and unbearable to be in until the sun went down. There were no fans to alleviate the heat and no pool either despite the lodge's advertising, which also mentions fans, mosquito nets, laundry, swimming pool, tea and coffee stations (there is only one in the main lodge, and no free cold drinks available) and an in room safe, none of which exist. We were also disappointed to have to buy water in plastic bottles despite the heat. - both economically and environmentally unsatisfactory. Perhaps this is to be expected in this remote location, but it was very disappointing to be promised things in the lodge's advertising that simply didn't exist. We stayed in a number of lodges for 2 nights and this was far and away the most expensive.
The trips were good, we went out in the afternoon with Simone who is very knowledgeable about all aspects of the area. The next day we did a combo which was delightful. We watched elephants eating in the reed beds which was very exciting. We also saw huge herds of buffalo. A very enjoyable trip with a good informative guide called Moses.
It was lovely to eat dinner at a long table overlooking the water each night.
We would not have missed this for its wilderness setting or its game drive/boat trip, but its ecological ethos removed home comforts such as facilities to cool down. It claimed more facilities and creature comforts than it actually provided.
However the service was excellent, the food was good and the setting incredible and remote.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here and would happily recommend it.
Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge review
This lodge was disappointing
The transfer to the lodge (11kms) from the main road (in their vehicle) was pretty horrendous and took over an hour. We were late arriving because of this, and were required to make an immediate decision to go on an evening game drive, which we joined, but turned out to be lackind in game. wiith only 3 types of mammals. and a rather diffident guide The lodge communal accommodation was nice but the bedrooms were pleasant but tight on space. The dinners were fine and the first night my vegetarian food was good,. On the second, I was given lentils as my main course, which was OK but a little uninspiring, You cannot walk around outside the grounds in case of predators, so this limits any self birding etc
Our main criticism of our stay at this lodge is that the road there is poor and long and that we did not see much wildlife from teh truck on the first afternoon. This location is especially dependent on good rains supplying water for animals. They do offer a boat cruise unless you do the drive first as the river was too low . This part of was fine much better than the dry afternoon drive.,
When it came to paying the bill, we had to remind the owner that the fees should as on his website for dates after November 1.. He agreed.
Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge review
As we had returned our car at Lianshulu we were collected for the drive to Nkasa Lupala by the very bubbly KK. This trip took longer than we had anticipated as the roads deteriorated significantly after about 15km. On arrival we were greeted by Simon, the owner, and arranged our first activities.
Arriving at our tent we found it stiflingly hot, particularly the bathroom, but next day we discovered that this could be prevented by leaving the tent flaps down so that a breeze could flow through. As the tents are mostly very private they could also be left down at night if it is not too cold. We found there to be little storage space in the tent – just a few hangers on a pole in one corner. This meant that we were effectively living out of our bags for the 3 nights we were there. There would easily be room for a small set of drawers in the corner of the tent. In addition the lighting in the tent was very poor (this was a major topic of conversation at the communal dining table one evening) which meant that a torch was required to find anything in your bags after dark. It would be a relatively small job to move the main light from the front of the tent to the back of the bed where it could illuminate the shelf where bags are placed. We fully understand the eco-friendly ethos of Nkasa Lupala but solar powered lighting does not mean having to grope around in the dark!
Moving to the positives, the bed was comfy, towels great and it was delightful sitting outside the tent watching the world, especially a large herd of eles passing by. We loved the ‘Combo’ activity, combining a game drive and boat cruise followed by lunch in the bush. Unfortunately the water was too low for boat trips to run from the lodge itself but we took two game drives on which we were lucky enough to spot the lions.
The food at the lodge was very good, particularly the oryx steak and there was a good wine list of mainly South African wines. Simon was an excellent host and we very much enjoyed chatting to him in the bar after dinner – and even gave him our dead batteries for recycling. Erika was delightful and we very much enjoyed talking to Laura about her plans for the village kindergarten.
On our second day we discovered a very useful leaflet in the bar which, among other things, revealed that each tent had a 12v charger which could be used for charging mobile phones (or Kindles!); if this was publicised it would free up the charging station in the bar for charging camera batteries rather than it being clogged up with mobiles; why not put a copy of the leaflet in each tent?
Nkasa Lupala grew on us over the three days and we were sorry to leave.
Nkasa Lupala - a hidden gem!
On the day before, we heard that the road C49 from Kongola to the turn-off to Sangwali village was in bad shape, due to some road works (road rebuilding), and that got us worried as we were driving a sedan vehicle. The road was perfectly passable, without any problems (two hour drive for 72km) . The B8 that transverses the whole Bwabwata National Park, and hence the Caprivi strip, is a good tarred road, but care should be taken as there are elephants crossing the road at times, due to the opened corridors to the neighboring countries (Angola/Zambia).
Reaching Sangwali we had people from the lodge waiting for us as expected. After leaving the sedan vehicle on the Nkasa Lupala NP / Wuparo Conservancy offices, the transfer to the lodge was done on a 4WD, which took less then 30 minutes.
The lodge itself is on the Wuparo Conservancy, which just borders the Nkasa Lupala National Park , and is situated on the margins of one of the water channels that links to the main Linyanti River (Kwando/ Chobe). Simone, Laura, Erika and of course the little and brave Hetore are incredible hostesses, that made our journey worthwhile. The whole lodge is driven on a low impact policy without leaving you without any amenity. The food is great, and the coffee excellent.
The lodge is the only operator on the Nkasa Lupala NP, and thus, as a visitor you feel privileged to be there enjoying it all. Activities are well explored as we can choose from game drives to the NLNP (including night drives on the neighboring Wuparo conservancy), boat trips on the subsidiary channels to the Linyanti River, or better, a combo activity that includes a whole morning, that comprises a game drive into the park and a boat drive on the Linyanti river itself, with the "Botswanan" Linyanti concession on the Chobe National Park, just on the other side. Incredible value.
Game wise the park is still being naturally re-populated, but we managed to see quite a lot including lion. Birdlife is prolific.
At the end of our visit, we felt that a three night stay is almost mandatory as to fully enjoy this hidden gem of Namibia.
Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge review
The track in to the camp was the most rutted and difficult of our whole three week trip.
For us, the fact that the camp was fully booked and hence seemed very busy was a detractor. ie 20 plus sittng down at one long table to eat in the open each meal on the viewing deck.
The written nfo supplied to us re the place is not correct ie there is no pool, no fans, no mosquito nets and this should be corrected.
The led light in the rooms take some getting used to - ie definitely take a head torch or two!
The fish we were served on our first night should not be tackled without a head torch, as the lighing in the open air dining room is minimal and fish very bony.
Simon who runs the lodge is charming, and worked extremely hard to ensure everyone was welcomed. As you are extremely constrained as to how far you can walk around the camp Simon may wish to think about other board games etc., And for children a box of childrens books and games, and perhaps a bucket and spade in the sandy area. I would definitley not recommend it for young children.
Grunts in the night!
Friendly lodge with communal meals and lots of input from the owner. Meals were good with excellent vegetarian food. Fantastic views of the night sky with virtually no light pollution.
Excursions were good and with knowledgeable guides but there was relatively little to see when we were there. Hippos at night around the tents were an added bonus, but this meant that you needed to be escorted between the main lodge area and the tents at night for safety reasons.
You need a 4WD to make the journey to the lodge alone, but there was a good pick up service with secure parking if needed.