Keeping The Best for Last – Shametu River Lodge and Spa.
Camping on the Kavango River
- Fact: Experience Namibian hospitality at Shametu River Lodge, where the Kavango will feel right at home.
- Fact: At Shametu River Lodge, you arrive as guests and leave as friends.
- Fact: Shametu River Lodge enjoys luxurious solitude on the edge of the Kavango River with a magnificent view of the Popa Falls.
- Fact: The lodge is halfway between the major hot spots of Southern Africa, the Okavango Delta and the Victoria Falls, making it an ideal stopover to unwind during your journey.
There are three things I love doing while on safari (holidays)
- Prepare delicious meals using the best ingredients available. That doesn’t mean it has to be exotic, just fresh, seasonal, and the cherry on top would undoubtedly be foraging for my dinner.
- Game drives with my beloved and Butch! That’s a joke, and my camera comes second after my dove.
- Spa treatments. Oh, nothing beats a good massage, Pedicure, manicure or facial. I can’t go regularly, but when I do have the opportunity to indulge, there’s no stopping me.
Butch and I had popped into the lodge previously during one of our bike rides. When I spotted the vegetable garden on the way out, I was reminded of our Farm Stay in Tuscany a few years previously. We were permitted to pick vegetables, herbs, and saladings in the garden. With the thought of the vegetables, flowers and herb garden in mind, I was determined to spend a few nights at Shametu.
During the thunderstorm, we did make a reservation to dine in the open dining room, which was very special. We could mingle and enjoy the company of other guests.
During the day, we’d go for our usual cycle; we’d relax at the pool overlooking the river and laze on deck chairs with our books. A walk through the lush sub-tropical gardens is a must. The young warthog, adopted by the Labbie, stole our hearts, and he was her constant companion and guard dog.
The treatment I received at the Spa was all the proof I needed to confirm that guests’ needs are always met. The therapist, on her last day before relocating to Windhoek, agreed to come in the following day, as a favour, to do my treatments.
I left the Spa feeling relaxed, refreshed and revitalised. We were ready for our next adventure with feet beautifully manicured, eyebrows arched, and without one grey hair in sight. My back and shoulders were pummelled and kneaded while I drifted off on an essential oil-infused cloud of tranquillity. I was rearing to go!
It is not often that Butch has the opportunity to enjoy a guided game drive, and we decided it was his turn to be spoiled and booked a game drive to the Bwabwata National Park.
“Bwabwata was established to rehabilitate local wildlife populations and was only recently recognised as a national park. Before the 2002 Angolan ceasefire, this area saw almost no visitors, and wildlife populations had been decimated by rampant poaching instigated by the ongoing conflict. Conservation has resulted in wildlife making a slow but impressive comeback. You might see lions, elephants, African wild dogs, perhaps even the sable antelope and some fabulous birdlife.
Bwabwata includes several zones: the Divundu area, the West Caprivi Triangle, the Mahango Game Reserve, Popa Falls, the former West Caprivi Game Reserve and the Kwando Core Area. The Mahango Game Reserve presently has the largest concentrations of wildlife, while the Kwando Core Area is where the repopulation of carnivores is taking off.
The West Caprivi Triangle, the wedge bounded by Angola to the north, Botswana to the south and the Kwando River to the east, was formerly the wealthiest wildlife area in the Caprivi. Poaching, bush clearing, burning and human settlement have significantly reduced wildlife. However, you can still access the area via the road along the western bank of the Kwando River near Kongola.
Finally, the Golden Highway between Rundu and Katima Mulilo traverses the former West Caprivi Game Reserve. Although this was once a haven for large herds of elephants, it served as a pantry for local hunters and poachers for a long time. But this zone is becoming an essential corridor for wildlife from northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip and the hitherto-threatened wildlife of south-eastern Angola.” Taken from Lonely Planet.
Our guide was very knowledgeable and could relate much of the history and animal lore to us. We stopped for a picnic and tried to spot a lion in the distance; his trained eyes far outstripped our efforts.
During the day, most of the animals will come down to the flood plains to graze or drink from the river. The road hugging the river edge is where it’s all happening and a favourite game-viewing area. There are no camping spots within the park at this stage, but this is where I’d love to set up my camp, a reminder of our wild camping at the Khwai Community camp in Botswana.
Situated within the park, and largely ignored, is a deserted army camp, once occupied by the South African forces during the apartheid years. Overgrown creepers, roots and trees choke skeletal barracks. I loved the fact that cacti now stand sentinel while wild animals roam freely. This “gravesite” is a poignant reminder that nature in all its glory will, if left untouched, reclaim man’s destructive efforts, and the scarred earth will heal.
Our large park-like camping spot was secluded and enclosed. We enjoyed private ablutions and a scullery area. We dined and relaxed under large ancient Indigenous trees and could pick a mango or two from the laden trees. The early bird catches the worm, and every morning we’d hear the Robin chats and the many other species flitting about from tree to tree.
We met one of the lodge owners, a lovely lady, who couldn’t do enough to make our stay memorable. She is a dedicated member of the team and an enthusiastic gardener. I would look forward to seeing her on a path, and we’d stop and chat before going on our way.
Yes, one does arrive as a stranger and leave as a friend. I recommend Shemetu for a memorable stay amongst like-minded people. Another destination I’d like to revisit if there’s ever an opportunity.
Tel: +264 61 237 294
Fax: +264 61 237 295
Cell: +264 81 127 4584