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From Khorixas to Katima Mulilo

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VIEWS

After Bob and Anna-Marie Vaughan planned their 60-day trip to Namibia – with a mission to fish in the five rivers bordering the country – it took four years to get the wheels rolling.

In last month’s article they told of their adventure finally getting under way. In their Mazda BT-50 with Alu-Cab canopy, towing 2014 Sahara rough-roader, they set out from their home in Bronkhorstspruit to visit destinations including the Kgalagadi, Keetmanshoop, Klein aus, Kolmanskop, Sossusvlei, Windhoek and Swakopmund.

This month they continue their adventure…

ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK & KHORIXAS

After four nights in the Alte Brucke campsite in Swakopmund, we headed to the Etosha Safari Camp (part of the Gondwana Collection), 10km south of Etosha’s Anderson gate.

We found this camp to be tidy with well-grassed camping areas. The ablutions were neat and the sites have braai facilities and power points.

One can enjoy a drink at the Down Corruption Bar and listen to the music and song that the Safari Boys’ Band entertains the guests with. It’s well worth a stay if you have not been here before. Close by on the opposite side of the road is another neat campsite, Eldorado.

From the Etosha Safari Camp we drove to Khorixas on the excellent tarred road and chose to camp at iGowati Lodge which offers nice grassed camping grounds.

We managed to get a stand that had private ablutions rather than the shared ablutions enjoyed by the rest of the camp.

This lodge is in the centre of Khorixas and opposite the only fuel station in the town, so expect noise. It has a pool, a pub and restaurant. We chose this place after having heard not so good reports about the Khorixas Rest Camp. We were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed our stay.

During our three-night stay in Khorixas, we went to see the sights in the area. On the way to Twyfelfontein, we did the Petrified Forest trip, then went on to the Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain before visiting the rock art and engravings at Twyfelfontein.

The roads to and from Twyfelfontein had been hammered by traffic volumes and were badly corrugated. Twyfelfontein is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so is popular for visitors, but a bit of road maintenance would improve the experience for many.

The day before leaving Khorixas, we went to visit the Vingerklip. We took the C39 road back in the direction of Outjo for 50 kms and then took the D2743 road for 20 km to Vingerklip Lodge. After having a lunch in the restaurant, we decided to climb up the many stairs (200 odd) to the Eagles Nest Restaurant which is part of the Lodge. The view from up there is something to behold and a worthwhile visit.

TRIP STATISTICS

We travelled a total 11 304 kilometres in 76 days

Consumed 1 670 litres of fuel

Average overall fuel consumption was 6.77 km/L (14.78 L/100)

Fuel consumption ranged from 5.53 km/l to 10.32 km/L

We towed 7 933 km at average of 6.29 km/L (the rest was made up of solo trips and towing/solo combination where they could not be separated)

Towing fuel consumption ranged from 5.53 km/L to 7.20 km/L

Fuel price in Namibia at that time was R2 cheaper overall to SA’s price and Botswana, after exchange conversion, R3 cheaper.

Goes to show what the levies and taxes do to our fuel price.

OPUWO, EPUPA & KUNENE

From Khorixas, it was time to head for Opuwo. We took the gravel C35 through to Kamanjab – the road was good for the first five to six kilometres, then became badly corrugated for the rest of the 90 kilometres.

According to a surveyor I spoke to the day before, there are plans in place to tar this 100 km stretch of road. Let’s see what happens.

At Opuwo, we camped at the Opuwo Country Hotel/Lodge. Access to the lodge is not on the best of roads, but it is manageable, even with a large caravan in tow. Some of their sites are paved, but not necessarily level.

The ablutions are fine with plenty of hot water and each site has a power point, water tap and a braai. We booked for seven nights of which five of those nights we were to be away visiting Epupa Falls and Kunene River Lodge with the tent.

The next two nights saw us at Epupa Falls Lodge where we enjoyed the picturesque surrounding area and the various scenic views of the falls. No doubt the falls would be another magnificent sight when the river is up and in full flood, another reason to visit in the future.

After Epupa we travelled to Kunene River Lodge along the 95 km river route. A new river road has been made which made traveling this way a lot easier. They were still busy developing the last five or so kilometres from Kunene River Lodge. The new road mostly followed the old river route, but in some places was moved to higher ground.

Those who have travelled the old original 4×4 route would know better. But the river route is beautifully scenic and warranted taking many photos.

We camped for 3 nights here at Kunene River Lodge , but with the river being low, one could only fish from the bank as they did not want to risk damaging their boats in the low water. It was relaxing camping on the river bank under the Jackal Berry trees. For most of the day we shared our site in the company of some Water Monitors.

RUACANA & GROOTFONTEIN

It was now day 52, and we travelled the 70 km to Ruacana along a good river route road with some good views of the river. We checked out Hippo Pools Community Campsite – which has just 10 sites.

This could be worth a one night stop to relax at (we did not see any hippo when we checked this out) and visit the Ruacana Falls. Or one could camp at the Ruacana Eha Lodge and drive the 22 kilometres to see the falls.

At this time of the year (September/October) we did not expect to see water coming over the falls, but at a 700 metre width in full flood, this must be quite a site to see.

From the falls we headed for Opuwo, but first popped into Ruacana to look around. It was good to get back to the caravan after gallivanting up north for five days.

From Opuwo, we headed East via Oshakati and Ondangwa and then South East to Onguma Tamboti Campsite close to Etosha’s Namutoni Gate. I understand this is one of the new campsites (the other is Onguma Leadwood Campsite with 6 sites) in the area which are well situated to catch any overflows or late comers to the Etosha National Park.

They have 15 sites each with own ablutions and the camp is well set out. The restaurant dining area overlooks a waterhole and we saw a variety of herbivores come to drink and also got to see the Damara Dik Dik close up. A visit to Etosha the next day produced some good game viewing. Whilst at Namutoni, we checked out the waterhole there and the campsite which is well maintained with shady trees and grass.

Sadly we needed to leave Tamboti, but it was only a short trip of 140 km to our next stay near Grootfontein at Bush Baby Safaris. We stopped at Otjikoto Lake where we hoped to grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, but sadly, that service is no longer available there anymore, so we headed for Bush Baby and gave Tsumeb a miss this time.

Bush Baby is on a farm about 8 km before Grootfontein from the Tsumeb side. If offers rustic facilities with about 10 sites and a number of chalets. We only booked one night here and visited the Hoba Meteorite and the local Spar for some groceries and the best droëwors.

RUNDU & DIVUNDU

From the Grootfontein area it was off to Rundu where we planned to stay at Kaisosi River Lodge which offers 16 campsites each with own ablution (one ablution block has 4 sites around it).

We were hoping to get some decent river fishing in, but the apparent worst water levels in the past 40 years meant that no fishing boats were going out on the water – what a disappointment.

There is a great pool and deck area overlooking the Kavango River and the restaurant serves up good meals.

Of interest, the area from Mpungo (about 150 km West of Rundu) to Divundu 200 to the East of Rundu and down to Mohembo Border Post is known as K.O.A.R. (Kavango Open Africa Route), a sub-route of Open Africa’s Four Rivers Route. You can find out more about all this on www.openafrica.org.

After three days at Kaisosi, we moved on to Divundu where we managed to get a camping spot at Nunda River Lodge – a favourite of ours.

After turning South off the B8 and travelling past Popa Falls, the turn-off is about 1.5 km from there, and then takes a 1 km gravel road after leaving the tar. The owner, Cameron Wilson, is always friendly and informative and runs a clean and efficient ship at Nunda River Lodge.

The lodge consists of a restaurant, bar, lounge, wine cellar and reception area all under thatched roof, and a deck set over the river where one can enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

In the 40 degree heat, the beautiful sparkling pool was the place to be. There are nine grassed and shaded camp sites and all are on or close to the river enjoying a braai area, electricity and water points. Here we managed to get some fishing in with Gideon of Rainbow River Lodge as the river was deep enough to handle his big pontoon boat. Here my wife proved she is better at fishing than I am. All in all, it we spent a great three days here.

KONGOLA & KATIMA MULILO

From Nunda, we went back to the B8 and made our way eastwards to Kongola as we were going to Camp Kwando for the first time. To our surprise, the C49, previously a gravel road, had been tarred since we were last in that area in August 2013.

At Camp Kwando we decided to take private campsite #1 which offered a big stand that could take a small group if need be. It was very rustic and relaxing.

Not having fished the Kwando river, this was the reason for being here, but unfortunately the river was black from rotting vegetation. With the limited rains, not enough water had flowed to flush the river clean. A few hours out in the boat realised and brought five Barbels, one of which was over 12 kg, which was also attacked by a croc as I was trying to land it. Next time hopefully they have had better rains and the river is back to its normal self.

After two nights at Camp Kwando we made our way to Katima Mulilo where we planned to stay three nights at Namwi Island.

This is a great place to camp with all the sites paved, plenty of shade, braais, power, water points and very neat communal ablutions. The bird life in the area also makes Namwi a birder’s paradise. If you plan to fish, you can arrange for the fishing charter to fetch you from Namwi or you can go to Island View or Kalizo Lodge. Kalizo is usually our favourite camping place and is worth going to if we were to stay longer than 3 nights.

BACK HOME VIA BOTSWANA

Our time in Namibia had come to a close and we headed for the Ngomo border post to make our way back to SA. But first we needed to spend four nights at Senyati Safari Camp situated in the Lesoma Valley, 20 km from Kasane. We enjoyed our stay here and each site has its own private ablution, hot water, power point and braai. The waterhole to view game coming to drink is a great spot for photography. It offers excellent opportunities for viewing elephant and buffalo.

One more river needed to be fished: the Chobe. One of our favourite spots in Kasane is the Chobe Safari lodge from where you can book fishing trips and sunset boat cruises which we enjoy each time we are up there. I know there will be other places where one can make bookings, but for us Chobe Safari lodge has always been convenient. They also serve great meals and pub lunches and the pool is always inviting in the heat of the day.

Sadly, that part of our journey also ran out of time and we headed for Nata. At the Engen garage we found the Wimpy no longer operational – what a pity as a big milkshake would have been welcome. We enjoy Nata Lodge and we got there at a very hot time of the day so we could enjoy a swim and a few drinks.

The following day we decided to push to Kwa Nokeng for the night so we could tackle the border formalities the next day.

The journey home from there saw us spend three nights at Weesgerus, which was a time for reflection and appreciation of the privilege we had been able to enjoy on such a trip.

Our journey had allowed us to stay at 31 different places of which 21 of those were the first time for us.

By Robert & Anna-Marie Vaughan

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