Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge

Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
10 tented rooms
Traveller's rating
Good (89%) From 19 reviews
Children
Best for aged 16+
Open
March to Jan (closed Feb)

Surrounded by trees in the beautiful and peaceful Wuparo Conservancy, the small Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge was opened in 2011. The lodge is built on the banks of a channel of the Kwando–Linyanti river system, only a short drive from the Namibia’s Nkasa Rupara (formerly Mamili) National Park and is a perfect base from which to explore this little-visited corner of the Zambezi Region (widely known as the Caprivi Strip).

While not quite are remote as its sister property, Jackalberry Tented Camp, Nkasa Lupala is still well off the beaten track allowing travellers to experience the wild beauty of the Nkasa Rupara park and Wuparo Conservancy. The camp is unfenced, allowing game to wander freely through. On one of our stays here, a herd of more than 20 elephants came to visit, preventing anyone from returning to their rooms after breakfast until they had moved on!

As the first lodge in the area, Nkasa Lupala was in theory named to match the park when its name was changed from Mamili. Unfortunately, due to a quirk of the the local accent, the Italian Micheletti brothers called their lodge Nkasa Lupala, only to find that the park itself was to be Nkasa Rupara.

The lodge consists of 10 tented rooms, all raised up on stilts like treehouses, giving superb views of the surrounding area. The rooms are simple yet comfortable, with a double bed, wardrobe and luggage area. The style is quite modern, with smooth curves and artistic touches, such as the wire hearts that hang above each bed. Through glass sliding doors in front of the bed is a wooden veranda, with a couple of chairs and a lovely view.

Behind the bed, the en-suite bathroom has a sink, flush toilet and a teardrop-shaped shower. One room, mostly used for honeymooners, has an outside bath and shower as well. Another has a small supplementary twin bedroom the other side of the bathroom, creating a family unit. When it’s not in use, however, you’d hardly know it was there.

Linked to the rooms by a network of pathways is a three-storey communal area overlooking the river, where game is frequently spotted. Along with a bar, a partially undercover dining room, a comfortable lounge, and a viewpoint on the top floor, there’s even a campfire here, raised up over the river on the deck.

Close by is a plunge pool, whose covered seating area affords the perfect place to relax in the heat of the day with a drink and a book, or a pair of binoculars. There’s also a small curio shop.

On our last visit, in July 2017 the channel that the lodge overlooks had a decent amount of water present, even allowing for mokoro activities. However on previous visits at the end of the dry season we have seen this channel dry up, restricting the activities on offer.

Nkasa Lupala has been designed to blend into its surroundings as much as possible. To complement this, it is designed to be eco-friendly, with solar power for electricity and solar geysers for hot water – supplemented by wood-burning boilers.

Activities at the lodge focus on game drives, day and night, into the Nkasa Rupara National Park, as well as within the Wuparo Conservancy. Possible sightings on these drives include elephant, buffalo, hippo, wildebeest and lion, as well as antelopes such as impala, kudu, roan and sable, and a wide variety of birds. Although those with 4WD vehicles can self-drive in the national park during daylight hours, it is not well signposted and the going can often be difficult, with poorly maintained roads that often flood. For this reason, Expert Africa would recommend leaving your own vehicle and exploring the park with a guide.

Guests at Nkasa Lupala may also take part in a boat trip (if water levels permit), visit a local village or go on a guided walk.

Our view

Remote Nkasa Lupala is a lovely choice for exploring Nkasa Rupara National Park, and its open location should attract those with a sense of adventure. Food, service and comfort are all of a high standard, and the remote location gives a real sense of being in the wilderness.

Geographics

Location: Caprivi Strip, Namibia

Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights

Directions: Due to the remote location, Nkasa Lupala Lodge takes a bit of effort to reach. Self-drivers should park their car in Sangwali village, before a bumpy 4WD transfer to the lodge. However, don't let this put you off – the lack of accessibility and remoteness adds to the appeal of the lodge, which has a real wilderness feel to it. The journey is definitely worth it.

Accessible by: Self-drive

Key personnel

Owner: Micheletti brothers (Simone, Alessandro and Ruggero)

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: The food here is Namibian with an Italian twist, thanks to its Italian owners. On our last visit we did not get a chance to try the food, however on a previous visit in December 2016, we found it to be well presented and very tasty.

A continental breakfast is served, with a hot option also available to order.

Lunches are light – perhaps a salad or sandwich.

For dinner on our last visit we enjoyed lentil soup, followed by roast chicken with vegetables, roast potatoes and tomato sauce, and rounded off by a delicious malva pudding.

On a previous trip the Italian influence was apparent on our sundowner boat cruise, where we tucked into mini pizzas with our gin and tonic.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are not included with the exception of a flask of filtered drinking water in the rooms.

Children

Attitude towards children: Nkasa Lupala accepts children, but do not recommend that children under 16 stay here because the camp is unfenced and game frequently wanders through.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions here.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: Children must be under parental supervision at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There are no charging points in the rooms and as lighting is provided by low voltage LEDs we recommend having a torch with you. Electrical devices can be charged in the main area from 7.00am to 7.00pm.

Communications: There is a cellphone signal here, and WiFi in the main area. The WiFi runs on the same schedule as the charging, 7.00am–7.00pm

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The tap water is filtered and is fine for washing, but it is not fit for human consumption.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a first-aid kit at the lodge and a clinic at nearby Sangwali village. The nearest hospital is in Katima Mulilo, approx 140km away.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: For those leaving their car in the village, it is parked in the fenced and guarded area conservancy office. There are security on duty throughout the night. After dark guests are escorted to their rooms,

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in every room.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available for an extra charge.

Money: There are no safes in the rooms.

Accepted payment on location: Payment is accepted in most currencies and Visa and MasterCard are also accepted.

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