2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

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Alex Roux
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2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by Alex Roux »

I always am little hesitant about drafting a trip report as it may seem a little vain.
However, there is merit in sharing experiences and ideas of travel.

This trip was by far the most memorable I have been on. This includes a few places that my wife and I are committed to visiting again.
Most notably Nkasa Rapura Reserve in the Southern tip of the Caprivi and the Khaudum reserve.
Day 1 was Kang, then Maun, then two days in Khwai. Khwai is a known gem in Botswana, so no need to add anything more about it, except that 2 days are way too little.
However, this was still enroute to where we wanted to go, which is the Caprivi.
From there we drove a long loose-sand day through Savuti to Muchenje camp, Botswana's side on the Linyanti river.
Muchenje is a good stop-over and offers a magnificent vista of the river from its deck.
From here we went through the border at Ngoma gate, to Caprivi. After restocking food (given the expected Vet fence North of the border, which was not), we drove to Livingstone camp, which is just outside the Nakasa Rapura reserve.

The first pleasant surprise: The Nkasa Rapura reserve (previously known as Malili). There are no camps inside, so we stayed at Livingstone camp.
In the wet season it is 80% covered in water. We were there in the driest period. The timing was not planned this way, but it allowed us to drive all the way to the Linyanti river on the Namibia side (just one water crossing - in the pictures to follow). Best of all, we were the only customers that day. Not a single other vehicle. And unlike its neighbouring Madumu reserve (which has a free entry and allows free wild camping next to the Kwando river) Nkasa Rapura is teemed with wildlife. Its most common antelope being the Red Lentswhe, but still with all the usual antelope you find elsewhere. We also saw two lions.

From Livingstone camp we drove the Ngepi (which is near Divundu) on the banks of the Okavango river.
This is a great place to spend a few days. Good for tiger fishing and sundowners. It has a back packers atmosphere to it. As the case is for Khwai, this is a well-documented destination and hence little need to elaborate further.

The second pleasant surprise of this trip: The Khaudum reserve. Initially when planning and booking for this trip (way back in 2019 before twice re-booking and rearranging plans for obvious reasons), I thought of Khaudum as just a place to get to and tick off from my bucket list.

Little did I know how unique the vegetation is, supremely peaceful and quiet and just outright beautiful this reserve is. Khaudum is known for its Roan antelope, and we saw plenty of that. The downside of Khaudum is that it is extremely expensive to camp. Once paid and booked, you also need quite a bit of cash to enter with all sorts of fees for the community, per car, per person and per day etc. Being this remote, the gate guard does not take anything other than cash. The Northern entry gate and Southern entry gate also correspond and check your fees paid per day when you exit. So no cheating is possible.
But it was worth it.

It is a pity no additional camping is allowed other than Khaudum camp n the North, and Sikereti in the South. The latter is just about finished being rebuilt now, and we were permitted to stay over there. However, we took the chance to drive out of the reserve to camp at a unique Baobab tree (more later)
There are plenty of newly and neatly built water holes Khaudum , but almost impossible to see all of them given the slow going in the sand and the limited camping options.
Each water hole seemed like a perfect wild camping spot.
After exiting Khaudum, we drove about 15 clicks South to the Dorsland trekkers' Baobab tree. It was used by the trekkers as a stopover and post office.
This camp is on a first-come-first-serve basis and free.
The irony was, after all the expense of camping in Botswana and North East Namibia, the kids' most memorable camp was at the Baobab tree.
After the Baobab tree, we drove a little further South to Tsumkwe from where our paths split. The Prado went West and spent some more time in Namibia on its way to Cape Town, while the three Patrols drove about 500km of dirt road to Gobabis. We were hoping to drive from Tsumkwe trough the Dobe gate and see the Drotsky caves, but this was still closed on Botswana's side due to the C-word measures. It has incidentally since been opened.
Gobabis left a bad taste with many inebriated beggars.
From there we drove to Kang, and then home.

Vehicles:
We were three Patrols (Two series 4, GU TB48s, and my 1995 GQ with TB48 conversion), and a Prado (I think the latest edition)
This accommodated four families, and one young individual that was a tremendous help on the physical challenges of long distance driving & camping, added to that, mechanical acumen, and very good company generally (known well by many on this forum)
On tar, the three Patrols (all Petrol) did around 6km/l while the Prado did 9km/l
On 80% sand, 20% dirt combo, the Patrols got around 4km/l while the Prado got 6km/l.
So relatively speaking the modern diesel maintained a 50% edge over the big petrol engines.

Vehicle issues: In summary very little
My aircon belt tensioner pulley's bearings went, causing the belt to screech, and had to be taken out. So no aircon after that, although winter travel did not necessitate this.
One other Patrol's swing arm at the back came loose, requiring the spare-wheel to be placed on the roof. Bad aftermarket craftmanship.
No flat tires, no recoveries and no mechanical breakdowns (almost disappointing).
The only vehicle issue we came across was a Disco 5 on a trailer, enroute between the B8 and Khaudum's Northern gate. It seemed abandoned. So not clear what the story was there.
The Prado did well, keeping up with the Patrols in the loose sand. Mostly. We had to stop and wait a few times for it to catch-up. The air suspension was set to its firmest, but still bottomed out a bit, and allowed the ‘tupperware’ to pick up sand in the process.
The sand road between the B8 and Khaudum I would say is a little looser and deeper compared to the sand road of the Savuti. But at the right tire pressure, and not having any trailers remains perfectly doable.

In summary: I concluded that the best overland experience comes from organising it yourself.
It is a lot of work, especially if you planned it over three years and had to change bookings twice.
But the key is being able to select your own customers….

So why Khaudum. Its vegetation is unique. It has tall trees (mostly in the North) that I failed to identify. The water holes are well built and affords excellent vistas. It is wild.

and then, forgot to mention:
Khaudum has plenty of Ellies. Especially in the South.
The vegetation is thick and difficult to spot them before they are close by.
So the convoy got split up and the front two vehicles was chased by an angry mother, with little one in toe
She was serious. We estimated she did around 35km/h in loose sand for the best part of one km, before calling the chase off.
TripReportMap.jpg
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Alex Roux
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Re: 2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by Alex Roux »

2022-06-25 KhwaiChess.jpg
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2022-06-29 NkasaRapura1.jpg
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2022-06-29 NkasaRapura2.jpg
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2022-06-29 NkasaRapura3.jpg
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2022-06-29 NkasaRapuraRedLentshwe.jpg
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2022-07-02 DiscoRecovery.jpg
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2022-07-02 RoadtoKhaudum.jpg
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2022-07-03 KhaudumCamp1.jpg
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2022-07-03 KhaudumCamp2.jpg
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2022-07-03 KhaudumRoanAntelope.jpg
2022-07-03 KhaudumRoanAntelope.jpg (36.16 KiB) Viewed 7016 times
2022-07-04 BaobabTree1.jpg
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2022-07-04 BaobabTree3.jpg
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2022-07-04 BaobabTree5.jpg
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2022-07-04 KhaudumTrees1.jpg
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2022-07-04 KhaudumTrees2.jpg
2022-07-04 KhaudumTrees2.jpg (65.75 KiB) Viewed 7016 times
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Alex Roux
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Re: 2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by Alex Roux »

2022-07-04 KhaudumWaitingForEllies.jpg
2022-07-04 KhaudumWaitingForEllies.jpg (44.62 KiB) Viewed 7016 times
2022-07-04 KhaudumWaterhole.jpg
2022-07-04 KhaudumWaterhole.jpg (40.85 KiB) Viewed 7016 times
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2022-07-04 KhaudumTrees3.jpg
2022-07-04 KhaudumTrees3.jpg (54.52 KiB) Viewed 7016 times
2022-07-04 KhaudumTrees2.jpg
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Re: 2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by JohnBoyZA »

Awesome Alex, thank you for sharing!
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Re: 2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by iandvl »

Thanks a stack Alex. Sounds like it was awesome. :)
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Re: 2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by Peter Connan »

Khaudum has long been on my bucket list but I have heard quite a lot of complaints about aggressive elephants. Did you experience anything like that?
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Alex Roux
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Re: 2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by Alex Roux »

Peter Connan wrote: 21 Aug 2022 15:48 Khaudum has long been on my bucket list but I have heard quite a lot of complaints about aggressive elephants. Did you experience anything like that?
Yes very much so. See last paragraph
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Re: 2022 June/July Caprivi & Khaudum Trip Report

Post by Peter Connan »

Sorry, I missed that.
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