KHAUDUM NATIONAL PARK
“Not for the feint hearted, for the true adventurer”
Hidden away in Namibia’s north-eastern Kavango Region of Namibia along the Caprivi Strip, the Khaudum National Park is not to be taken lightly. The park covers an extensive area of 3,842 sq km. One of five national parks located in this region of the country. The other parks include Bwabwata National Park, Mudumu National Park, Mangetti National Park, and Nkasa Lupala National Park, all of them amazing parks to visit during your Caprivi trip.
Rarely visited, this park is remote and unspoiled, very large, extremely wild and with only a rudimentary tourist infrastructure, it could be described as Namibia’s ‘forgotten wilderness’. You will most probably see more elephants than people.
A visit to the Khaudum National Park is all about adventure, discovering a true African wilderness and perhaps a bit of self-discovery. The Khaudum National Park is home to large herds of elephants, the African wild dog, Africa’s most endangered large predator, rare sable antelope, and over 320 species of birds.
Best times to visit would be in the dry season between June to September. Hnoma, Cwiba, and Khaudum are three rivers that cross through the park during the rainy season contributes to the survival of the ecosystem.
Khaudum National Park is an unfenced park to allow for mammals who migrate through the area in search of water and food between Namibia and Botswana.
Detour through the Khaudum
Instead of taking the main road, why not detour through the Khaudm National Park.
We gathered in Grootfontein as the starting point of the trip. While in the area make time to visit the biggest meteorite in the world, The Hoba Meteorite.
Next stop Tsumkwe Country Lodge just south of the Khaudum National Park as our base. On arrival the kids were upset as the pool were dry (do consider this was during the lockdown periods and most lodges were closed), staff were very helpful and supplied the kids with a piece plastic for a slippy slide. Kids got innovative and laid out the Lapa braai with sail and stones and filled it with water. That is what group camping is all about. Kids getting creative and teamwork.
Day 1- we explored the south of the park, visiting various waterholes in search of all the life in the park. Driving through the park you see once wet areas and the scenes of elephants playing in the mud, birds singing their songs and trees telling tales.
Scorching hot, kids were cooling off in the big dam before long we hear branches cracking and dust clouds swirling into the air. Yes, the herd were on their way. We scattered to the vehicles, and out of the bushes came the most unreal sight. Herd of about 100 elephants, the biggest land mammal. We were in awe and felt so blessed to be this close to nature. Having 100 elephants play in the waterhole. I felt so small, the pure greatness of nature dawned on me. I have once seen a big herd of elephants at Etosha, but never at a waterhole like this.
Leaving the park back to Tsumkwe tracks for Africa guided us to this Baobab tree can be found south of the Khaudum National Park. It keeps growing, despite having fallen. From afar it looks like more than one tree.
Day two – driving South to North in one day. Yes, it is possible. This morning the area had no electricity. I was unable to fill my fuel tank or swipe a card. I had to leave with what I had. Heavy 4x4 and sand ahead! I am not a sand driving expert, but my car is a pro. Looking in the mirror I saw two very eager faces ready for the road ahead.
North is where the thick sand started. These trails need a 4x4 vehicle, in my experience and high ground clearance. We have a few aftermarket changes to our Prado. Some of the other vehicles struggled with the “middelmannetjie” (ridge between the wheel ruts of the unsurfaced road). Two of the vehicles had loose engine mountings and a great deal of sand in their filter. Some part of the trail reminded me of Milkshake Hill at Kleintalfelberg 4x4 trail in the West Coast of South Africa.
I took us about 6 hours from the South Gate to the North Gate excited that we only had about 60km left to Okacuito River Camp, Kavango River. The North gate delivered unexpected news - the next 40km from the North Gate to B8 will take us 3 to 4 hours. Kids tired and hungry we started the last 40km. This is a main road, the sand is worse than in the Khaudum, but worth the drive. It is raw beauty; you have to capture with your own eyes. It felt like being in the wilderness, if you get stuck here it will be days before anyone help you.
The downside is that we did not spend enough time in the park. We are going back to the Khaudum this year to camp inside the park and spend more time at the waterholes and hopefully see some of the predators and hearing them at night. This footage will air on our YouTube Channel.
Can you go with a 2x4?
I will not recommend it, as it is 4x4 required. Sand is very thick, the roads are rough and tough. High ground clearance 4x4 and some sand driving and 4x4 skills.
Price entering the park?
For all others N$100
Fuel when on self drive?
Fill up in Tsumkwe, next fuel station is in Divindu. If you do not have a double tank or big tank, I suggest filling a jerry can.
Malaria in the Khaudum?
It is a concern in the Khaudum, especially during the wet season from October to April. Anti Malarias is recommended. Also cover up in the evening and use mosquito repellent, preferably ones containing deed.
Best time to visit?
During dry season from June to September.
Can I enter alone?
No they recommend that you are at least 2 vehicles, and a satellite phone.
Can I do the Khaudum with a trailor?
Depends on the trailor, big trailor I will say no. Smaller trailors are better. Besides the thick sand, the road are rudimentary, for about at least 20km you can not drive more than 20km/h due to bad road conditions.
You can camp or lodge, both are at the North gate.
Red line? If you exit the Khaudum South gate you will encounter the meat checkline, so I suggest you cook all meat before or make sure you have eaten all meat! This check point is critical in the combat again foot and mouth disease. It is a stock disease control mechanism that protects Namibia's beef exporting industry from stock diseases such as foot and mouth and lung disease.