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 Zambezi Region – still widely known as the Caprivi Strip. The lodge was built before the park was proclaimed, which explains its fantastic location.
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 an adjacent en-suite shower room. Three of the bungalows (sometimes referred to as ‘suites’) are slightly bigger and come with baths as well as 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.
We have been impressed on our visits to Lianshulu Lodge, most recently in December 2016, that there are enough communal areas for guests either to socialise with other guests or to find somewhere more private to be by themselves. Largest of these is the open-plan communal area, an open-sided structure beneath a high thatched canopy. Within this 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, you’ll find deck chairs on a riverside deck, where dinner is sometimes served al fresco. There is also a cosy nook beside a wood-burning stove, with cushions on a wrap-around stone bench: a popular spot for pre-dinner drinks. Stairs from the deck lead to the first of two raised viewing platforms, with more seating and a wider view of the landscape.
We have found the staff at Lianshulu to be helpful and attentive, and have felt warmly welcomed upon arrival. Although the lodge is fenced and gated. you will be escorted after dark as animals are sometimes found roaming around the grounds.
Activities at Lianshulu Lodge focus largely on the Kwando River and the surrounding Mudumu National Park. There are guided walks and nature drives in the park, in an open 4WD vehicle, and a range of boat safaris.
From our experience, game viewing in Mudumu National Park is best between July and October. Easy access to water in the Kwando 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. Having said that, do not come here expecting the concentration or variety of big game that you'd find in Etosha. On our most recent visit we were lucky enough to see a herd of elephant with some fairly young ones in tow.
Mudumu's birdlife is rich, with colonies of carmine bee-eaters (best between September and May), hadeda ibis, darters and hornbills, while along the river you may also spot a variety of kingfishers, herons and a good range of migrant birds.
Water levels permitting, we recommend taking a boat cruise during your stay 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 you might expect to see elephants in and out of the water, as we did on a previous trip, as well as plenty of crocodiles and hippos and plenty of water birds. During our stay the river was too low for any boating activities, but since then there has been plenty of rain in the area so we hope that water levels will be back to normal soon; speak to us for the latest information.
It is also possible to arrange a guided trip to Lizauli Traditional Village, where traditional arts and crafts are practised. This was established in the early 1990s, with the aim of giving 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 stands out to us about Lianshulu Lodge are 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 a variety of water birds that aren't common in most other parts of Namibia.
Ideal length of stay: Two nights here to enjoy the river and the park is ideal.
Directions: Lianshulu is approximately 42km south of Kongola in Mudumu National Park.
Accessible by: Self-drive
Owner: Caprivi Collection
Staff: Reinhart and Aneta (managers dec 2016)
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Over various visits, including our most recent in December 2016, the food at Lianshulu has been 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, with eggs, bacon, sausage etc cooked to order.
A light two-course lunch typically consists of meat with a salad, a pasta salad or sandwiches, with a light dessert.
Dinner is served from a set menu with a few choices of main course. Following a starter of smoked salmon with corn fritter, we tucked into stuffed chicken with potatoes and carrots, and a strawberry mousse in a brandysnap basket for dessert – all of which were delicious. Our meal was accompanied by a good South African wine.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: House wines, beers and soft drinks are included but premium branded and imported drinks are charged at an extra cost. Bottled water is provided in the bungalows.
Further dining info: Room service is not available
Attitude towards children: Lianshulu welcomes children, with no age restrictions.
Property’s age restrictions: No children under the age of 12 are allowed on activities.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: Although the lodge welcomes children there is little in the way of facilities and entertainment for them, and they cannot take part in activities, so we would not recommend it for children under the age of 12.
Notes: Although the lodge is fenced it has been know for game, including hippo, to wander about the lodge grounds, so children should be supervised at all times.
Power supply notes: The generator is used at certain times during the day, with battery inverter power in between; this gives the lodge some form of electricity 24 hours a day.
Communications: There’s a cellphone signal and WiFi in main area, although the WiFi comes at an additional charge of N$200 (£12.50) per 24 hours (correct Dec 2016).
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Other
Water supply notes: All bungalows have flushing toilets and plumbed in hot and cold water. The water here is pumped from the river and filtered. While this is safe for washing, it isn’t fit for human consumption and it may retain a slightly muddy colour.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The lodge has a first-aid kit. The nearest doctor is in Kongola, and the nearest hospital in Katima Mulilo (150km away).
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.
Fire safety: All bungalows and the main areas are fitted with fire extinguishers.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Yes, laundry is included.
Money: There are no safes in the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: Lianshulu accepts South African rand and Namibian dollars, as well as Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards.