Stuck in the Mud

Namibia (2015): Part 2 – Our 6 nights in the Caprivi Strip (Zambezi Region)

Pippa and I were both looking forward to our trip through the Caprivi. Pippa had worked at the State Hospital in Rundu in the late 1970’s and visited various Mission Stations between Rundu and Popa Falls as part of her nursing duties during that time. It was to be my first visit though.

We had an early start from Namutoni on the first leg of our trip to the Popa Falls Resort where we’d booked a campsite for 3 nights. It was a 640km drive so quite a long day on the road. The Veterinary Fence check outside the Etosha exit gate was quick but they did check our cold boxes and fridges for meat. We didn’t have any left so there was no problem.

We stopped at Tsumeb to stock up on provisions needed for the next 6 days. Our next planned stop was Rundu to find a miniature Mokoro for Pippa. There were quite a few craft stalls on the side of the road as we got closer to Rundu. Eagle-eyed Pippa spotted a Mokoro at one of them as we drove past. We were travelling quite quickly though so no time to stop and I didn’t want to do a U turn to go back. I was sure that we’d find something in Rundu. Well…we didn’t. Not a craft stall to be seen in the town. I was once again in trouble! Not a problem I said…Katima Mulilo would definitely have craft stalls!

We arrived at the Popa Falls Resort late in the afternoon. The camp site was a disaster. The site available to us was small and difficult to access with our trailers, the ground was covered in stones and the ablution block was difficult to get to. We’d been assured that the campsite would be accessible in a wheelchair so were pretty annoyed to see the reality. In fairness, there was one site up on the hill that looked like it might have been more suitable but it was already occupied.

We went back to reception. The only other accommodation they had available was in their luxury chalets, one of which was wheelchair enabled. By then it was too late to start looking elsewhere and we were tired from the long drive so we booked in. They were beautifully decorated, very spacious and very comfortable. But, they were very expensive.

A view of the stream running through the Popa Falls Resort

The stream running through the Popa Falls Resort

During dinner that evening Neil said he was a bit worried about his car. He wasn’t getting the normal power going up hills and fuel efficiency had deteriorated. Pippa and I had noticed that his exhaust had been belching black smoke when he was going up hills. I told Neil that I thought that there might be a tear in the turbo pipe. Knowing my complete lack of mechanical knowledge he tried his best not to look too dubious. He looked a bit more convinced when I told him that I’d had the same problem a few months earlier in Cape Town.

A view of a walkway getting to a viewing point of Popa Falls

Walkway getting to a viewing point of Popa Falls

After breakfast the next morning Pippa and I left Neil and Liz with our tool kit and a roll of duct tape and went off in search of a new campsite. Much to Neil’s amazement I was right in my diagnosis. He removed the turbo pipe and used the roll of duct tape to bind it and close the tear. It worked quite well for the rest of our time in the Caprivi.

Pippa and I went first to have a look at Ngepi Camp. They only had 1 campsite available and that for only 1 night. That was disappointing as it looked like a nice camp and had been recommended to us. We then headed back towards Popa Falls and went to the Nunda River Lodge. They had campsites that were available and which looked fantastic. We went back to fetch Neil and Liz and returned to Nunda to set up camp and spent the rest of the day there relaxing and enjoying the view of the Okavango river.

2 Hippos across the river

Hippos across the river from our camp

A White-browed Ribin-chat

A campsite visitor…White-browed Robin-Chat

A view of the sunset from in front of our tent

Sunset from in front of our tent

A view of the river looking upstream towards Popa falls

Looking upstream towards Popa Falls

The next morning we went to visit the Buffalo Core Area on the opposite side of the Okavango River. There was a nice variety of animals and birds to view.

A young elephant with it's mother

Little chap getting some love from Mum

An African Jacana

African Jacana

Two Vultures perched on a log

Brothers Grim

A small herd of buffalo browsing in the river

Buffalo browsing in the river

A jevenile Pale Chanting Goshawk perched in a tree

Juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawk

A small herd of Sable antelope

Small herd of Sable Antelope

The track along the river bank was an easy and very pleasant drive. The game park is relatively small but is very scenic. There were very few visitors there that day…We only saw one other vehicle while we were there. What a pleasure!

A Marabou Stork

Marabou Stork

A Grey heron

Grey Heron

A Fish Eagle taking off

Fish Eagle taking off

We went along the upper road through the ruins of the 32 Battalion Military Base on our way out of the park. It was interesting to see the size and set-up of it. Lots of derelict buildings with animals browsing amongst the ruins.

A view of the entrance to the army base

Entrance to the army base

 

Army base ruins

Army base ruins

Later that afternoon we went to the Mahango Game Reserve…another section of the Bwabwata National Park but on the opposite side of the Okavango River to Core Buffalo. We initially missed the turn to the river route (no fault of Mrs Garmin this time…she wasn’t switched on!) and we ended up at the border post to Botswana.

It was a pleasant drive along the tracks through the park. Quite a nice variety of game on view but in very small numbers. We were lucky to have a good sighting of some Kudu. They’re normally very skittish but these guys seemed quite relaxed.

A Kudu bull

Kudu bull

A Kudu doe

Kudu doe

A young Kudu bull about to cross the road

Young guy heading to the Kudu crossing

Tsessebe browsing in the bush

Tsessebe

It was a short drive back to Nundu and we stopped off at the lodge for a drink on their deck before going back to our campsite. The facilities and décor at the pub and restaurant looked very nice. The view overlooking the river was beautiful.

A view of the river from the deck at Nunda Lodge

A view from the deck at Nunda Lodge

With only 250km to travel to get to Camp Kwando we were able to take our time packing up the next morning. We’d enjoyed our time at Nundu. One full day to explore the area wasn’t enough though. I could happily have spent a few more days there.

The drive through to Camp Kwando was uneventful. Sadly there were no craft stalls along the way so Pippa’s much desired miniature Makoro still eluded us.

Camp Kwando was very nice. Our campsite was big with a nice grassed area and lots of shade. We even had our own shower and toilet…rustic, but private.

Our private ablutions with reed walls

Private ablutions…see what I mean about rustic?

A vioew of our camp with a Mokoro in the foreground. Too big for a souvenir!

The Mokoro in front of our camp was a bit big for a souvenir. Besides which, one side was missing! 🙂

The rest of the afternoon was spent setting up camp and relaxing. That evening we went to the pub and had a drink on the deck overlooking the river. The restaurant and pub area was very nicely decorated and had a warm, friendly atmosphere. The sunset was spectacular…as is so often the case in that part of the world.

A view of the sunset from the deck of Camp kwando

Beautiful view of the sunset from the deck of Camp Kwando

A view of our seats in the front row on the deck

We had front row seats!

The next morning we went to the Mudumu Game Reserve. Game viewing was very disappointing…hardly anything at all on show. We drove around for a couple of hours trying to find a track close to the river. The cars got a few extra scratches from some over-grown areas and in the end we gave up and headed back inland. We were lucky to come across a waterhole where there were quite a few elephant enjoying a bath and a drink.

A small herd of Elephant at the water-hole

Part of the small herd of Elephant at the waterhole

A view of an Elephant family drinking at the waterhole

Family gathering having a drink

We went back to camp for lunch and a rest and tried Mudumu again later that afternoon. Unfortunately there still wasn’t much game to see so we headed back to camp to enjoy the sunset and have a braai for dinner.

A view of the launching area for the river boats

Launching area for the river boats

The next morning we went to the Horseshoe area in the Susuwe Triangle. The roads were quite rough and had some very sandy stretches. I had a few anxious moments while following Neil and Liz but fortunately didn’t get stuck. That would have been embarrassing! At some point along the way when we’d stopped at a viewing area I asked Neil how he was finding the sand. No problem he said. He then asked if I’d programmed our Landy for sand driving. Oops! I hadn’t…going back was a lot easier!

There was a better variety of animals and birds to see but once again their numbers were sparse. An Elephant lying down quite close to the road gave us a fright. There was no sign of movement and we were worried that it might have been dead. It was a relief to find that the Ellie had gone when we drove back later on.

A view of an Elephant lying on it's side having a snooze!

Must have been having a morning snooze!

A Lechwe standing in the grass

Lechwe

A Vulture shortly after taking off

A Vulture taking off from it’s perch in a tree

A Fish Eagle perched in the branches of a tree

Fish Eagle

A view of the river bank

A view of the river bank

We were back at Camp Kwando by lunchtime and spent the rest of the day relaxing and packing up in preparation for the next leg of our trip to Kasane the following morning.

A view of Camp Kwando from the river front

A view of Camp Kwando from the river front

In spite of being unlucky on our game viewing drives, our stay at Camp Kwando was very pleasant. The facilities there were good and there was a nice atmosphere. One problem that should have been attended to though (and wasn’t)…the shower didn’t drain properly. Not nice for those who had to stand in the pooling water. It didn’t affect me on my shower stool though! 🙂

Next up: On to Kasane and then home

 

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