So, we're staying at the Namushasha River Lodge on the Kwando River in the far east Caprivi region of Namibia. They offer boat tours on the Kwando River, and yesterday we went out with two other couples and our guide, Alfred.
Sometimes you can judge the quality of your day by how many good pictures you get. Well, we took 267 pictures yesterday. We always whittle through them at the end of the day and only keep the best ones. We still have 84 pictures we would like to show you! Obviously can't do that here, but we'll show you some of the better ones and you can get an idea of how our day went.
Before we get to the boat tour, why don't we start with a few pics of our morning walk. They have a 4 km hiking trail that allows you to see a lot of wildlife right from the trail itself. Especially birds!
The lodge sits on the eastern bank of an estuary of the Kwando River. Yes, this is sub tropical Africa and there are lots of wild animals here!
This is a goaway bird!
If you are a bird lover, you will fall in love with Namushasha River Lodge!
Our first proof that there are hippos here!
The lodge occasionally gets the larger animals right on it's property. The hippos usually leave the water only at night, and sometimes they come ashore on the lodge property. So you will see indications of them, but you will not usually see the hippos themselves.
Be careful if you're camping though...!
Ruth, at one of the washroom buildings for the campground. They have 15 campsites here.
This fellow was about two inches long!
A young African fish eagle.
We got caught in a rainstorm! Found a little shelter to stand under until it passed.
Another pretty bird! Apparently there are over 300 species of birds in this area.
Okay, let's get to the main part of our post today...the Namushasha River Lodge boat trip...
The boat departed at exactly 4:00pm, and we were told we would be out for approximately two hours.
There were only six of us so we went out on the smaller boat on the right of the dock.
Our guide Alfred introduced himself and told us a little about the area. He said that as with any wild animal tour, we may or may not see any animals. The areas around the river are sometimes thick with marsh and the animals like to hide in the marsh. He said we will probably see hippos, or we will probably see crocodiles, but we may not see either...or, we will be very luck and see both!
Well let me tell you, we got lucky!
Alfred told us about the greenery surrounding the river, and explained what type of grass the hippos like to eat.
One of the problems with trying to find the hippos is that they spend a lot of their time under water. They are usually under water for about five minutes at a time, but if they're frightened of something, they can stay under water for fifteen minutes!
Also, hippos are strict vegetarians, despite their big mouths and lots of teeth. And, they can't swim, even though they spend most of their lives in the water. They can only walk on the bottom which is why they like water less than two meters deep.
And, hippos are very dangerous.
If you want to learn more about the hippos, Gondwana Collection has posted an audio clip on their blog. You can access it here...
As we searched for the hippos, we came across lots of other bird life.
Our guide Alfred has been leading these tours for 10 years. He also grew up in this area. He knows the animals in the river, and he knows how to find them. We were cruising along, when he cut the engine to nothing. We coasted to a stop, but we didn't see anything. He said "there, straight ahead". And we watched. And then it surfaced!
This one was pretty far away.
We continued on, looking for more.
We were coming around a corner, when Ruth said "wow, look at that!", and we slowed up. By the time I got the camera to my face it was gone. But I saw it. A huge crocodile, maybe 14 feet long had slid into the water off a sandbank. Even Alfred said, "yes, that was a big one!".
The crocodiles will often lie in the sun on these sandbanks.
One of the other guests spotted this young one in the reeds. He was about a foot long. There was a baby on the other side of him, maybe 8" long.
Around another corner and we saw two more hippos. Hippos are one of the most aggressive creatures in Africa and are also responsible for the most human deaths. Yes, hippos kill more people in Africa than lions or crocodiles! They are naturally aggressive and have been known to attack humans if they get too close...on land or by boat!
I think they are kind of spooky looking!
I'm glad we had an experienced guide. You could tell when the hippos got tired of us being there. They would start snorting and then going under water. Of course when they get under water, they could be heading your way! It was pretty exciting. Much more so than I thought it would be!
All of them are watching!
We had carried on and come around another corner. There were about 15 of them in a group! And all of them were watching us. And we were lucky enough to be able and sit and watch them for about 15 minutes!
An adult hippo can open it's mouth almost three feet wide!
What a neat experience! The only African animals that we haven't yet seen are the leopard and the water buffalo. We had a great time at Etosha seeing the lions and elephants, but I think this experience watching the hippos was absolutely fantastic!
On the way back to the lodge, Alfred stopped to show us some of the water lilies. He explained how they are edible...you pick a bud that hasn't bloomed yet, peel it back like an onion, and split it open. They are edible raw, but he says his culture likes them better cooked! We didn't try it.
How to eat a water lily!
Alfred showed us how they use the water lily in their wedding ceremonies. They make a necklace out of it!
We are officially married now!
Spotted one more large male on the way back.
And so we're coming around another corner, when we again startled another animal. What was it this time? A water buffalo!
Wow...didn't expect to see this guy! Apparently the water buffalo are fairly common, but not at this time of year. Usually they have headed into the bush by now and are not often seen by the river.
But it was time to head back. We had spotted so much wildlife that we were late! we didn't get back until 6:50 and we had been gone almost three hours. What a great trip. Well worth the N$280 ($30.25) per person, and they had beer and soft drinks on the boat. Don't drink too much though...there are no washroom facilities available!
Dusk on the Kwando River.