Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge: Our full report
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.
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.
- Caprivi Strip, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- 2-3 nights
- 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
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.
- Namibia's largest wetland area with conservation status, Nkasa Rupara National Park boasts more species of bird than anywhere else in the country. Nkasa Lupala is ideally located for birdwatching be it on foot, by vehicle or by boat.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Cultural experiences
- Set within the Wupara Conservancy in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge offers a cultural visit to the homestead region of the conservancy. This tour takes in a local school and – where possible – a traditional authority.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- Walking safaris
- Experience the lush environment of the Caprivi Strip on a walking safari from Nkasa Lupala. Led by a professional guide and an armed community ranger this is a great opportunity to experience the bush from a different perspective.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- 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
- Generally recommended for children
- Due to the remote and unfenced nature of the camp, Expert Africa would not recommend Nkasa Lupala for young children.
- Children must be under parental supervision at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Nkasa Lupala
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- mains electricity
all the tents have electric sockets for charging devices.
- 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
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The tap water is filtered and is fine for washing, but it is not fit for human consumption.
Better water management in a fragile ecosystem
Comprising of 10 With 10 luxury tents, Nikasa Lupala Tended Lodge is world-known for its eco-friendly management. Prizes such as the 2016 Responsible Tourism Award or the highest accreditation (5 desert flowers) from Eco Awards Namibia stand to confirm the lodge’s dedication for protecting the natural environment. As part of its sustainability practices, one of Nkasa’s main focuses is the responsible management of water.
Nkasa Lupala starts by educating both employees and staff about the importance of saving water, especially during the dry season, and strictly monitors watersheds and pipes to prevent any leakages. Moreover, the lodge has installed water saving devices, which represent another measure to ensure that using a small portion of the water from the close by channel brings no harm to the swamps or the neighboring National Park. Additionally, to prevent any wastewater from entering the channel surrounding Nkasa Lupala, the lodge uses exclusively biodegradable detergents and does not use treated wastewater for irrigating its gardens. Any wastewater obtained from the lodge’s daily operations is captured in underground septic tanks and filtered through drain fields before being reused.
Most importantly, Nkasa Lupa makes sure guests clearly understand their role in conserving the environment through orientations, written materials and guide explanations, as they are constantly educated about the different culture, the acceptable behaviors, and the challenges of operating in a fragile environment.
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A laundry service is available for an extra charge.
- There are no safes in the rooms.
- Accepted payment on location
- Payment is accepted in most currencies and Visa and MasterCard are also accepted.
Other lodges in Caprivi Strip
Alternative places to stay in this same area.