Overlooking the Kwando River, the lodge is set in a private concession in Mudumu Nat. Park.
Lianshulu Lodge: Our full report
Lianshulu Lodge is an old favourite that we first visited in 1992! It stands within the lush riverine forest of Mudumu National Park, beside the Kwando River in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. Guests stay in wood-and-thatch bungalows built by local craftspeople using natural materials, attracted mostly by safari activities in the national park.
There are 11 shady and spacious bungalows at Lianshulu Lodge with tiled floors and high-thatched roofs. In each of these, the bedrooms are equipped with mosquito nets, insect repellent (essential during the summer months) and there’s an adjacent en-suite shower room. Three of the bungalows have baths, offering views of the surrounding woodland, as well as an indoor and an outdoor shower.
The interior décor is based on light neutral colours, wood and other natural materials. We loved the large sliding glass doors that bring so much light into the bungalows and open onto a private seating area on the veranda. From the veranda you have pretty views of the Kwando River and a glimpse of neighbouring Botswana.
The main open-plan communal area of Lianshulu Lodge is large and open-sided, and stands beneath a high thatched canopy. Within this area there are smart bench-style sofas clustered around coffee tables, locally made furniture and individual dining tables. At around three in the afternoon tea, coffee and delicious homemade cakes are served here.
Stepping outside onto the veranda, there are deck chairs on a river deck, where dinner is sometimes served al fresco. There is also a cozy nook with cushions on a wrap-around stone bench beside a wood-burning stove, near the main dining area; a popular spot for pre-dinner drinks.
A set of stairs from the deck will lead you to the first of two raised viewing platforms with seating areas and a wider view of the landscape around. We were impressed that there were enough communal areas at Lianshulu Lodge make it easy for guests to choose to either socialise with other guests or, find a more private spot to be by themselves.
We found the staff at Lianshulu to be helpful and attentive, and felt warmly welcomed upon arrival. Although the lodge is fenced and gated you will be escorted after dark as animals can sometimes be found roaming around the grounds. Each room also has an air horn that can be used to attract attention in case of an emergency.
Activities at Lianshulu Lodge are mostly based on the Kwando River and the surrounding Mudumu National Park. There are guided walks and nature drives using an open 4WD vehicle in the park, and a range of boat safaris.
From our experience, game viewing in Mudumu National Park is best between July and October. Having said that, do not come here expecting the concentration or variety of big game to match what you’d find in Etosha. The easy access to water in the nearby river – and perhaps the proximity to Botswana’s big game areas – has encouraged big game into the park, including some large herds of buffalo and elephant. Meanwhile, on the smaller side, we felt that water monitors were also particularly comment. Mudumu’s bird life is rich with colonies of carmine bee-eaters (best between Sep-May), hadeda ibis, darters and hornbills.
We recommend taking a boat cruise during your stay at Lianshulu, as a peaceful alternative to the typical 4WD safari experience. The pontoon-style boats have a raised deck and chairs, from which there’s often a great view. On a typical ‘sundowner’ cruise during our last visit, in August 2013, we saw elephants in and out of the river – some fully submerged, as well as plenty of crocodiles and hippos. Some of the water birds typical of the Caprivi Strip you may see include a variety of kingfishers, herons, and a good range of migrant birds.
It is also possible to arrange a guided trip to Lizauli Traditional Village, where traditional arts and crafts are being practiced. This has been going since the early 1990s and was, at the time, quite an important and ground-breaking community project – as it tried to give the local communities a direct share in the revenue which flowed from tourism to the area. These days you will find an iron forge, grain store, and various carvers and basket weavers here. Wandering around Lizauli also offers a good opportunity to talk to local people about their way of life.
Our viewWhat stood out to us about Lianshulu Lodge were the pretty views of the river and the relaxed, peaceful atmosphere. Don’t come here for just the big game – although you will usually see some; do visit for colourful sunsets, great river trips and variety of water birds which aren’t common in most other areas of Namibia.
At present the boating activities at Lianshulu Lodge are suspended due to low water levels. It is suspected that this will remain so until after the 2017 rainy season of January to April.
Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights is perfect here, usually as part of a fly-drive trip across the Caprivi Strip.
Directions: Lianshulu is in Mudumu National Park, south on the C49. In August 2013 the road was being resurfaced, however progress was slow.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food served at Lianshulu is well presented with a touch of imagination; dishes are tasty with a variety of flavours.
Breakfast consists of a selection of fruit, bread and jam and hot options (eggs, bacon, sausage, etc) cooked to order.
A light two-course lunch is served typically consisting of meat with a salad; pasta salad; or sandwiches with a light dessert.
Dinner is served from a set menu with a few choices of main course. For large groups (15+) the lodge will put on a buffet. In August 2013 we ate tuna salad, beef-steak, basmati rice and vegetables and the lemon cheesecake – all of which were delicious. This was accompanied with good South African wine.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: No
Further dining info: Room service is not available
Attitude towards children: The lodge does welcome children, with no age restrictions.
Property’s age restrictions: None
Generally recommended for children: Although this lodge welcomes children there is little in the way of facilities and entertainment for them. We would recommend that this lodge is suitable for children over the age of 12 because of this.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: The generator is used during the day between certain times (at time of writing: 7.30–10.30; 13.00–15.00; 18.00–21.00) with battery power in between; this gives the lodge some form of electricity 24 hours a day.
Communications: Phone signal and WiFi in main area.
TV & radio: None
Water supply notes: All bungalows have flushing toilets and plumbed in hot and cold water. The three baths however use treated water from the river which, although perfectly sanitary, may still retain a slightly muddy colour.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The lodge has a first aid kit.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: All guests moving around the camp at night are escorted, as although the property is fenced, wild animals are very likely to be roaming around the grounds. (On our first visit to Lianshulu, in 1992, the lodge team did their best to play down the dangers of a resident hippo – which grazed between the bungalows at night, by naming her ‘Jemima’.)
Fire safety: In room.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Yes, laundry is included.
Accepted payment on location: Lianshulu accepts the following currencies: euros; pounds; US$; South African Rand; and Namibian dollars. Please note that they do not accept Botswana Pula. They also accept the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and American Express.