Day 42 – 48: Santa Clara border to Khaudum NP

Distance on this trip from home to date: 10 987 km

We spent the last night with the group at Palmeiras Lodge in Oshikango (Namibia) just outside the Angolan border. The next morning we proceeded to Tsumeb where we spent two nights at the Kupferquelle resort. A luxurious resort with chalets, restaurant, laudromat, shops and 25 campsites under large trees.

Kupferquelle campsites

Then we drove along the C44 to Tsumkwe, where we camped at Tucsin Tsumkwe Lodge for the night. The wide gravel C44 road was in an excellent condition. The plan was to enter the Khaudum NP at the south gate and drive through the park to the camp in the north.

Tucsin Tsumkwe Lodge campsite

We have not visited the Khaudum before, and were a bit apprehensive. There are lots of comments on the internet on how inaccessible the park is, how bad the roads are, how aggressive the elephants are, that single vehicles are not allowed to drive through the park, etc…

The stretch from Tsumkwe to the southern border was an easy drive – solid two-spoor tracks across flat area.

We have not booked a campsite with the northern camp, and the official at the NWR gate phoned the camp to reserve a campsite for us. Normally this camp is quite deserted, but a LivetheJourney group of 23 people also spent the night at Tucsin Tsumkwe Lodge on the way to Khaudum camp. Luckily they only booked 4 of the 6 campsites for the group.

Khaudum gate

The distance from the southern gate to the camp is 86 km. The road was solid until we reached the Dussi waterhole (40km) where we deflated the tyres for the sandy stretch to the north.

Khaudum road condition from the south to Dussi waterhole

Wildlife along the road was less than what we expected, but they gathered at the different waterholes.

Soncana waterhole – warthogs & elephant
25+ elephants behind the Omuramba waterhole – they did not move until we drove away from the waterhole
Juvenile Flamingo at Omuramba waterhole
50+ elephants at Dussi waterhole

Small groups of gemsbok, kudu and rhone antelopes were occasionally seen in the bush along the road.

Kudu bull at Tsau waterhole
Rhone antelope near Tsau waterhole
Large herd of Rhone antelope at Burkea waterhole

The sand section of the road was better than what we expected. We drove in low range at 15-25 km/hour and were quite comfortable.

Road condition of the northern section – deep sand and bumpy…

The Khaudum camp was built by a private company as a luxury lodge with restaurant and chalets and 6 campsites. The lodge is completed, but not open and has never been opened. The campsites are large open sites with views across the dry Khaudum river. They have private ablutions – flush toilet, donkey-heated shower and no electricity. And a reed shelter for shadow. The southern camp – Sikereti – is also completed, but has not been opened. The park is not fenced and allows for migration towards Botswana.

View from campsite – elephant in the river

Camping here has a similar atmosphere to the camps in Botswana – unfenced, view towards the pan or dry riverbed in this case. We heard lions roaring from two sides in the river throughout the first night. The second evening a lion was heard roaring while walking in the river in front of the campsites towards the waterhole. Large herds of wildebeest and rhone antelope were further down at the waterhole in the river during the day, as well as some elephants passing by towards the waterhole.

The animals are skittish. As soon as they hear an approaching vehicle, they move away.

The road north from the camp to the main B8 (Rundu to Katima) is a slow drive – loose sand, curvy and very bumpy. Low range for more than 3 hours on 60 km.

Road from camp to B8

Khaudum National Park is an isolated Nature Reserve situated in the Kalahari Desert at the west of the Caprivi Strip in northeast of Namibia. It is a very remote and inaccessible reserve but is home to some magnificent animals such as the lion and the hyena.

The unspoiled nature of the reserve encourages a rich and varied wildlife in the dry forest. The ideal time for seeing wildlife is from June to October. From November to March more than 320 species of birds inhabit the area, including parrots and more than 50 birds of prey.

Big game can be found in the park occasionally, more than 500 African bush elephants, many Angolan giraffes and many antelope, including roan antelope, kudu, lyre antelope, eland and reedbuck. Even the stock of prey animals is high. Besides the smaller cats, there is a larger population of lions, but also leopards, spotted hyenas, jackals, occasionally cheetahs and even Cape wild dogs.

The poor road conditions make it inaccessible for a lot of tourists, but this results in an unique wilderness experience for those who take the challenge. It is absolutely worth the effort to visit this park.

Lovely experience!

From here we proceeded to the Kwando area of the Caprivi…

Route from Santa Clara border post:

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