RETURNAfrica will grow its footprint into Namibia with the opening of a new lodge in 2020 on the Kwando River in the Caprivi Strip.

RETURNAfrica signed a 25-year concession on February 5 with Kwando Conservancy to develop and operate a lodge at the Old Susuwe site on the Kwando River. The signing ceremony took place at the Kwando Conservancy office in the presence of the Kwando Conservancy Committee, traditional leaders and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Ed Humphrey signed on behalf of RETURNAfrica and Brilliant Musiwa (Chairperson) on behalf of Kwando Conservancy.

The new lodge will be on the Kwando River within the Bwabwata National Park, and is scheduled to open for 2020’s peak season. The luxury tented camp will comprise 20 rooms. RETURNAfrica will also develop a second exclusive lodge in the area for later release.

Planned activities include game drives, walking trails, boat excursions, fishing, and visits to a nearby living museum.

The lodge will be served by its own airstrip and be easily accessible from a main tarred road, ideal for travellers en route to the Chobe River, Savuti, Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls. In future, it will also serve as a gateway for adventurers wanting to explore the Luengue National Park (Angola) and Sioma Ngwezi National Park (Zambia), via a proposed three-way, one-stop KAZA tourism border post.

The Kwando Core Area is well known for its river system consisting of wide floodplains, backwaters, oxbow lagoons and riverine forests. A number of ancient drainage lines known as omarambas cross the landscape – many hold water for most of the year and serve as important migratory routes for wildlife moving between Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Angola. The area is home to large herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra, lechwe and impala. Other species of note include lion, leopard, hippo, crocs, sable, roan antelope, tsessebe and sitatunga. It is also an excellent birding destination.

RETURNAfrica held a small ceremony at the site for the new lodge with community representatives, park management and traditional leaders.

As part of RETURNAfrica’s ongoing sustainable ethos, various social investments and empowerment initiatives are planned. These include concession fees, a 20% ownership stake in the business by Kwando Conservancy, preferential employment of community members, procurement of local goods and services, support for human-wildlife conflict mitigation, and more.