Unlike its western counterpart, this eastern section of Bwabwata National Park, the Kwando Core Area, is only accessible by 4WD. It consists of low-lying vegetated sand dunes covered in deciduous woodlands of wild syringa, Zambezi teak and copalwood, as well as areas thick with acacia and combretum species. The main, poorly signed sandy track twists and turns for several kilometres before reaching the wetland areas, where your efforts are most likely to be rewarded. And the rewards can be substantial, especially along the banks of the Kwando River – where stunning carmine bee-eaters nest (Aug–Nov) – and at Horseshoe Bend, an oxbow lake that lies some 10km into the park. Here, resident hippos snort and wiggle their ears while vast herds of elephants can be seen converging on the water in the afternoon, to bathe, drink and play. Buffalo and impala are also present in large concentrations in the reserve, alongside roan and sable antelope, while the elusive sitatunga – a strange swamp-dwelling antelope – can also be spotted. You’d have to be very lucky, though, to encounter wild dogs; though the park is one of the last refuges in Namibia for these endangered animals, only a handful are estimated to inhabit the area. You may also catch occasional glimpses of leopard, lion and hyena.

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