Africa 2017

Mahango Area, Bwabwata National Park

Mike and I are big fans of Mahango, which is an area within the Bwabwata National Park in northeastern Namibia. I’m also a fan of saying “Bwabwata.”

We can cover the whole Mahango park road, sit and watch animals for several hours, and even revisit the river portion of the road three times in a single day. That is to say, the Mahango area is tiny. It’s also crawling with running, leaping, and just-standing-there wildlife.

Oh, and very few people visit it.

It’s where I saw my first leopard three years ago, but I’d love it just as much had I never seen a cat there.

Topping off this great park is a great nearby private lodge with tents, cottages, campsites, and restaurant/bar/lounge: Nunda River Lodge. Don’t go thinking it’s on the Nunda River. It’s not. I don’t know of a Nunda River. The lodge is on the Okavango River. “Nunda,” I just learned, is the Hambukushu name for the fruit of the jackalberry tree.

Many of the cottages and campsites are on the banks of the river, but this time we were in campsite #5, not on the river. I could have been disappointed, but the site was grassy and shaded, and shared every single night by these lovelies:

Four white-fronted bee-eaters perched at night, Namibia

White-fronted bee eaters

These are white-fronted bee eaters. We saw this group and two sets of pairs one night, and then various pairs or quads every other night during our stay. I was surprised by the flimsy branches they chose. They must enjoy rocking and swaying at night. Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at all: Who doesn’t like that?

I know that birds will roost together at night—at home, chickadees rely on their warm-bodied feathered friends to survive Alaska’s cold nights—but I’ve never seen it. Now I have, and I’ll look harder at home for roosting chickadees.

But . . . Mahango . . .

The park hours are 6 AM to 6 PM. We were at the gate at 6:00 AM, and as we expected, we were the only ones. Reception wasn’t open, but the gate was, so we considered that an invitation and let ourselves in. We spent the entire day there, despite being able to drive the available roads in a couple of hours. We stopped by reception on our way out, and I paid for that day and the next. The woman smiled, a bit incredulous, when she confirmed that we’d been in the park since 6 AM, but she didn’t give me a hard time about letting ourselves in, and she allowed me to pay for the next day, too, since we would likely show up early again. You might think this would be normal procedure, to take someone’s money any time it’s offered, but I assure you it’s not.

Here—along with the photo above, Mike, even though it’s a repeat—are a Daily Dozen of the day’s highlights.


The Fabio of warthogs!

Hairy warthog, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

Hairy warthog

Hairy warthog family, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

The whole hairy warthog family

Seriously, this family is notable for it’s extra-full and lustrous locks. And their muttonchops . . . or should that be porkchops? They appear to have exchanged their warts for extra hair.


Woot-woo! (That’s me whistling.) Check out that drumstick!

Ostrich with naked leg, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

The ostrich’s leotards

Ostrich with head hanging, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

That’s so embarrassing


Loads of kudu here, the antelope easily distinguished by their pince-nez, milk mustaches, and icing (or oxpecker) drizzles down their sides.

I want to design a pastry called a “kudu horn” that is twisted like the full-grown male’s horns and drizzled with icing. In fact, I’m dreaming up all sorts of Africa-themed bakery tasties for when I move here and open my bakery. (Calm down, Mother; I’m pretty sure that’s a pipe dream.)

Young kudus, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

Young kudus

Water Monitor

A blast from the prehistoric past, and a blast of yellow color. Of course I’m going to like it if it’s yellow.

There’s an ant on me

Connect the Dots anyone?

Go-away Bird

This bird has two things to recommend it, one of which is not its boring gray color. (Sorry, gray lovers. It’s my opinion and my blog. Deal with it.) The crest and longish tail compensate for the lack of interesting color, but the best thing about this bird is its call, from which it gets its name: the go-away bird. Actually, the call is whiny and would be extremely annoying if it didn’t sound like an old lady screeching “go away.” Smash those two words into “g’way” and say it in a high, whiny voice, like this.

I like a bird with attitude.

Go-away bird, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia


Crimson-breasted Shrike

But I also like a bird with screaming-red color.

Crimson-breasted shrike, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia


Antelope We See Less Often


Reedbuck, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

Where would you expect to find a reedbuck if not in the reeds?


We don’t see these often, and we don’t see many clumped together.

While gemsbok win my Best Coat award, I love the rich red-brown with black colors the tsetsebe sport. And they have a great name, no matter how you pronounce (or mispronounce) it. I’ve been saying “tse-TSE-bee,” but Ali says “SE-se-bee.” Who are you going to believe—me or the lifelong African? Yeah, me, too. It won’t be the first time I knowingly mispronounce something.

Tsetsebe in brush, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

You found me

Buffalo and Lechwe

We’ve been light on buffalo this time around, so it’s great to finally see some. I’ve missed their horndos. You know, the standard girl, flip hairdo sculpted into horns.

Cape buffalo and lechwe, Mahango, Bwabwata National Park, Namibia

Buffalo – lechwe tete-a-tete

Lechwe horns are nice, but it’s their leap that most impresses me. Plus I like saying, “leaping lechwe,” as in “Leaping lechwe, it was another great wildlife-spotting day!” And I didn’t even get to tell you about the elephants, giraffes, sables, roan, vultures . . . .

Categories: Africa 2017, Travel

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3 replies »

  1. Jen, I so love your way with words. Great images of fabulous nature, as always, but handed to us in such a fun manner. What a treat to read. Thanks!