Day 14 – 13 August 2013 – Caprivi to Namibia/Botswana Border, Ngoma Border, via a quick pit stop in the town of Katima Mulilo and through Chobe National Park. Ended up staying at a Thebe B&B (due to Botswana being overfull as there was a conference going on, meaning absolutely no camping facilities available).
Trip Report –
The morning started out nice and peacefully, as most mornings do when you’re alongside a river. We were in no rush as the Botswana border was close enough to where we were, and we were planning to enjoy the journey, see a few sightseeing places along the way and to make it an adventurous day.
We’d be back to this beautiful riverside and campsite. It is an excellent place to take a boat and camp for a decent amount of time.
The gravel road from our campsite to the main B8 was in good condition. It does, however, show scars from past floods so it could get rather hectic in the rainy season. You can imagine the gravel dust turning into sludge and the dry river beds, flowing fast with the water overflowing the road at places. They have compensated by building up a few bridges across the (dry)river bed to help in times of floods.
We decided to take a drive into the town of Katima Mulilo, as we needed to stock up on some supplies and wanted to do a bit of sightseeing around the town before heading off into Botswana. It meant turning right at the end of our road, instead of left, but, thankfully we had the time, or so we thought.
Wood sellers on the corner of the B8 and the road to Island View Lodge & Campsite.
The road into Katima Mulilo is quite beautiful, just out-of-town there is a large variety of very tall, indigenous trees growing in a forest setting, all with their scientific names. It was incredible to see but so hard to photograph such tall trees and the lushness the Bush creates.
We took a turn past the Giant Baobab just outside the town, with its fence around it. This Baobab holds a tremendous amount of history, and I’m sure it’s got some stories within its core.
Driving around the town, you can’t help but think about the past. South Africa and South Africans played a huge role in Namibia’s history and the struggles of tribal/territorial disputes and governmental enforcement.
We stocked up in town and headed back to the B8, turned right and were on our way towards Botswana. We were doing well for the time (or so we thought at the time), so we decided to “pop” down to the Pan, which shows on the map and was sign boarded along the way. The Salambala Pan is 47km North East of Katima Mulilo.
The road to the pan was medium in distance but took us incredibly long due to the bumpy and corrugated conditions with many potholes in the gravel road. We almost turned around due to the status of the road, but our curiosity about the destination was far larger, so we carried on along! The bushveld thickened, and we meandered through the trees that had already lost all their leaves, which were scattered all over the ground. The track became better near the end once we had taken a turnoff from the surrounding villages “main” road.
We reached the office and campsite at the end of the road. A lady came running towards us from a house nearby, with her little one in tow. We weren’t staying overnight or camping there, and it was no problem for us to view the pan which was a bit further along, on a 4×4 route from the campsite.
We found the pan and made ourselves something to eat for lunch while watching the movement of the big pan which wasn’t too active, probably due to the heat of midday.
We were on the road again and headed for the Botswana Border There were so many school children walking, kilometres down the road to reach their villages from school, along the B8. They all look like they take incredible pride in their school uniform, with their socks pulled up and all looking neat. Once they reach their village, they run to the water pump to quench their thirst from the long walk home. I admire the dedication and the determination these children show for the education they’re receiving.
There is a lovely little craft shop on the right of the B8, just before the border control where we stopped and bought a few things. It is always great to support the local communities as you go through them, whenever you can, and it made for fantastic treasures to remind you of the incredible places you’ve passed through and visited along our travels.
We arrived at the Namibian Border control, with no other people there, waiting to go through.
We crossed the river, into Botswana and the border control room was overflowing with tourists waiting to go through, smack bang in the middle of the day with the heat getting the better of some. We were about number 30 in the line. It took quite a while and was well worth the wait, to get through to Botswana again. It had been a while.
We stopped at the Chobe National Parks office to pay our entrance fees into the park which cost us 290 Pula. We were taking the scenic, off the beaten track route into the National Park and driving right through the park, to the other end where we’d reach Kasane. There is a more direct, main road into Kasane, which is tarred, shorter in kilometres and much quicker in time.
The route below is the one we decided to take, which ended up being an incredible, adventurous and a fabulous game viewing experience.
The route required 4×4 capabilities in the first section as the sand was super soft and thick for a considerable amount of distance and time. It was a smooth and easy drive for most parts until we reached the other end of the park, closer to Kasane, where the gravel road is much more corrugated due to the greater amount of vehicles using it.
Due to the severe road conditions near the end, we just managed to make it out of the National Park at sunset.
We had been banking on spending the night in one of the “upmarket” hotels in Botswana that we’d visited before. We were looking forward to some comfort and maybe a spa treatment, only to find out that they were fully booked due to a conference in town where they were discussing the building of a new bridge. All the campsites were also fully booked out. Something that has never happened to us while travelling around Namibia or Botswana and we found ourselves frantically looking for somewhere, anywhere to stay. We managed to find a beautiful room at Thebe River Safaris. It cost us 760 Pula for the night.
We unpacked, freshened up, then went for dinner at the hotel. We appreciated the gloriously, adventurous and eventful day we had just had in Africa.
Thebe River Safaris – information from their pamphlet:
Thebe River Safaris perfectly situated for visitors to the Chobe National Park and Chobe River in Northern Botswana. It is 12km from the Kazungula border and 8km from the Chobe National Park entrance. Our facilities overlook the placid Chobe River and echo the surrounding bush with a rustic design.
The Lodge offers comfortable yet affordable accommodation. With thirty twin rooms and one family room ideal for small or large groups. Each room offers an on suite bathroom and has air conditioning, mosquito nets and overhead fans. Tea and coffee facilities are in each room.
The campsite has retained its naturalness echoing the surrounding bush in its design. The variety of campsites is suitable for large or small groups. 220v power points are available in each campsite. Braai facilities are at selected sites.
The Lodge facilities include a restaurant, bar and swimming pool with the best menu in town we are sure to satisfy any hunger. Group dinners or braai dinners arranged on request. The large bar easily accommodates any crowd. The big screen tv is also ideal for catching up on the current sports events around the world. Guests can enjoy the sparkling pool that overlooks the river.
- Comfortable game viewing vehicles and experienced guides which will give you the opportunity to enjoy the best of Chobe National Park.
- They have a variety of boats which will take you up the Chobe River, allowing you to view the big game and birdlife without the dust of the roads. A highlight of any trip.
- Victoria Falls & Livingstone Day trips organised for self-drives or guided tours and transfers.