Relaxation taken to the next level

By Kaula Nhongo
July 2012
Travel and Tourism
A hidden treasure, situated on Impalila Island, 9km long and 5km wide has the kind of beauty and uniqueness that would take anyone’s breath away.

Impalila Island is surrounded by two rivers; Zambezi Chobe and Kasanga Channel. It is situated at the mouth of both rivers where four countries meet (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana).

Home to Impalila Island Lodge, which was established in 1994, the island, with a population of 1000 people, offers out-of-this-world adventures.

Surrounded by rippling beds of pink-tinged water lilies, the lodge lies protectively beneath the branches of a 700-year-old Baobab tree under which, as history has it, David Livingstone camped.

The thatch-roofed main complex consists of an elevated deck built around the ancient baobab tree with a swimming pool overlooking the river.

The lodge has eight chalets, which offer a marvellous view of the river and can accommodate a total of 22 people. Each and every chalet has an ensuite bathroom and a mosquito net, which covers the whole sleeping area.

Waking up to the sound of the flowing river each morning, a promise of excitement by day and tranquillity by night, Impalila is ideal for those who want to relax and recover away from civilisation.

The most memorable experience of all the activities is the Chobe cruise, where cruisers are able to watch animals drink and dip in the river.

Hippos and Elephants are the most prone animals in the area; the sight of them interacting and sharing the river leaves anyone in awe.

The Chobe bank is also famous for buffalos, Chobe bushbucks, pukus, hippos, crocodiles and Roan antelopes. Less frequent but a distinct possibility, there may be a sight of a lion.

The Zambezi sun downer cruise is also one of the most popular. Wine is served in the boat while watching the sunset. One can also look forward to seeing local people peddling their mokoros in the river, which is how they move around.

Even though most believe that the tiger fish is renowned for its escape tactics and that only one out of 10 hooked tigers has ever landed in a fishing net, the look on my colleagues’ face when she caught a 2kg tiger fish was remarkably heart-warming as we all stared in envy.

There are fishing opportunities for guests who would like to try out and possibly leave a mark of their fishing skills.

In addition, incidental captures may include thin faced and humpback largemouths, pink happies (bream), three-spot tilapias and the ubiquitous catfish.

With a population of about 450 bird species, Impalila Island Lodge is an authentic bird-watchers’ paradise.

According to Kim Vermeulen, one of the managers at the lodge, the area attracts many bird migrants and the variety of habitats offer specials such as Pels fishing owl, Rock pratincole, African skimmers and Pygmy geese.

Many African cultures have managed to keep and celebrate their cultures; the villagers on the island are a very good example. The 5km village walk to see the 2000-year-old baobab tree is also one of the activities to look forward to.

With a range of healthy foods for those watching their weight, the lodge’s menu has different cuisines. The chef makes sure he prepares different extraordinary dishes every time.

There are also offers for those who want to rent out the whole Island Lodge for about N$39 000. However, for lodgers to enjoy this wonderful experience, it costs N$2840 for a single or a double room, per person per night.

Vermeulen commended the lodge for its uniqueness for being “a very nice place to relax, watch and listen to the wild animals. We have an excellent staff and very delicious food.”

Going to the island from Namibia, you have to cross into Botswana using the Ngoma border post and drive through a game park 80km to Kasani. There are tourist guides waiting with a boat to take you to the island.

The lodge uses a generator for electricity and has 34 very energetic and friendly staff. PF