Pg 6 – Tsumkwe to Khaudum National Park – Day 6

Day 6 – 05 August 2013 – Tsumkwe Country Lodge to Khaudum National Park, North-Eastern, Kavango Region, Namibia, camping at Sikereti Camp, Coordinates for Sikereti Camp: S19 06.22 E20 42.19 – Distance: 60km – Duration: 1h30  on the D3303.

Trip Report –

We were up early, excited and ready for the day ahead of us.

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The petrol station in Tsumkwe with its small shop inside.

The way we are camping is fantastic.  Everything is quickly packed away before going to bed.  The herbs, spices, pots, gas bottle and the rest of our kitchen stuff are readily available via the side windows of the canopy which are aluminium lift up doors.  The rooftop tent gets closed with all our bedding inside it, so we just need to make our bed.  It is so quick and easy, an ideal way to camp.

We stopped at the garage in Tsumkwe to fill up every one of our tanks and jerry cans with diesel.  The next place for us to be able to refuel may only be in three or more days time.  Only once we had exited the park out the north and made our way to Divundu.

Over the next few days, we were going to be game driving, sightseeing and 4x4ing as much as we could inside the park.  We first had to get there, and it was with great excitement that we were on the road again.  Heading Khaudum National Park way.

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The South gate entrance road from Tsumkwe leading to Khaudum National Park.

The road was unlike any road we had travelled on so far, it was by far the less travelled upon, showing only a slight sign of vehicle tracks, with plenty of human and animal prints crisscrossing it.

We engaged our 4×4 gear where the road became soft with its thick sand. In general, the road entering into the South entrance of Khaudum National Park was in an enjoyable driving condition.  It took us much quicker than we’d expected a we had heard it could take 3 hours to cover the 60 odd kilometres.  We were to find out later, that the road exiting out the top of Khaudum Park is much more treacherous. They may share the same distance in kilometres but the time it takes to drive the two roads are vastly different.  You are only allowed to enter Khaudum National Park from its South entrance to the park.  You can exit the North or South way.  The reason behind this must be due to the fact the road out Northwards is just a two tyre track road and passing vehicles that are oncoming would be impossible at times.

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A reed house along the way.
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The road less travelled. Heading North to the South entrance of Khaudum National Park.

We stopped to deflate our tyres while others stretched their legs and inspected the fresh elephant dung.

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It is advised not to drive around on any of the roads in Namibia during the night as the wildlife is active both during the day and night.  Elephants alone are active during the day and night time.  Our night vision is far poorer than that of the animals of the evening and before you know it, you could be colliding with an elephant weighing in between 3 600 – 6 000 kilogrammes as they are known just to saunter across the road, in their own time without a care in the world. You have to make sure that you don’t disturb or frighten them abruptly as they are also known to charge vehicles if feeling threatened.

Namibia 2013 - Khaudum National Park.006We were finally entering into the untamed, Khaudum National Park where we would be staying in its unfenced and wild camping area.  It has taken us a few days to get here, and we are confident that it was going to live in our memories forever as one of the wildest vacations that we’ve spent, enjoying it with wonderful friends.

The dry winter months of June to October are the best times to visit the park, so our timing was perfect!

It is advisable not to visit the park during the summer rainfall months which are from December to March.  These months are the hottest time of the year with rain, making the roads tough and muddy to drive on. The animal sightings are rarer in the rainfall summer months as the vegetation is so thick and the animals are in no need to be out in the open at one of their watering holes.

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The office where you pay for your permits to enter the park
Khaudum National Park.  This office opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. At times, the door is locked as the officer is busy somewhere else.  Book in advance to help them have an idea of when to expect you.

There was a friendly and informative gentleman who signed us into the park.  We paid our fees for the duration we were to be here. The park entrance and camping fees are minimal compared to the charges charged by other places.  It is because you need to be self-sufficient and that their facilities are very basic and not guaranteed.

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Being helped by the officer on duty.
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Belinda, sitting quite comfortably on an elephant skull!

We had been cautioned by the parks officer to be aware of the large predators that use the shade beneath the bushes as resting places.  It provides the animals with an excellent camouflage and ambushing position when the sun is out and bright as it forms a contrast between the light and shadow, making it difficult to see them and easy for them to see you! There had been an incident involving a leopard attack on a visitor who had decided to relieve himself behind a bush.  They suggest, that if nature calls, modesty is not the best policy.  They also warn if travelling with small children, to make sure they are supervised and kept together within the group.   Predators will hunt out the weaker one or the one straying away from the crowd so walking around, alone is inadvisable at any time during the day or night.

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It is so good to be here, in Khaudum.

We drove to the south camping area to find a place to camp and decided on a spot which was a short stroll to the ablution huts and main camping area.  A few campers were camping close to the ablutions but we felt we had safety in numbers and were willing and able to do without camping on top of any ablutions. We were grateful to find a hut that enabled us to set up a daytime kitchen area to store some of our ammo boxes with our food supplies.  It was rustic and rather beautiful with its thatched roof, planks from first cuts off a tree trunk and fine mesh on the sides for ventilation and to keep any animals out.

There are a few huts around the area in the process of being built.  I had read that the park was becoming privatised and am hoping that it does not lose all its appeal if it becomes too commercialised,  just like everything else, which in the end starts becoming less affordable for the traveller who is looking for that wild, untamed, adventurous vacation.

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A hand full of hornbills came to check us out. The hornbills are far from shy as they made their way into our hut to eat the bread crumbs dropped from the lunch we made.

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It was quite hot, so we put the Bedouin tent up for some shade as we were staying here for the next two days. We relaxed around our campsite for a bit, reading while listening to the wildlife around us.  The Robsters were styling after hanging up their hammock and lying comfortably back and enjoying a quiet hour or two.  We were now in the bush, with time being of no essence and relation to anything.

We took a drive and stopped at the first view hut to watch some action at the watering hole.

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There are a few hides that have been built close to several watering holes making game viewing easier and safer for all.  There are 12 artificial watering holes and two natural fountains within the park.

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A herd of elephants standing protectively together.
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I caught an Elephant relieving himself.
  • Elephants are the largest land mammals with males weighing in at around 5 – 6 000 kilogrammes and females weighing around 3 – 4 000 kg.
  • Elephants drink between 100 to 300 litres of water per day.
  • Elephants eat grass, leaves, branches, bark and fruit.
  • Elephants are active during the day and night time.
  • Their gestation period is roughly 22 months.
  • Life spans around 65 years.
  • They have one offspring at a time.
  • Male Elephants are larger with bigger tusks.
  • Elephants can trumpet loudly and make low rumbling noises.
  • Matriarchal breeding herds consist of between 10 – 50 elephants.
  • Old-male herds of numbers between 5 – 8 elephants.
  • Solitary males roam around alone.

Khaudum Park covers an area of 384,000 hectares, and they have counted over 3 500 animals during the dry season while doing their annual full-moon, aerial survey counts. Species of animals within the park include lion, leopard, spotted hyena, kudu, oryx, giraffe, eland, tsessebe, gemsbok, reedbuck, ostrich, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, warthog, wild dog and side-striped jackals.

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The various herds around the watering hole.

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A large herd of elephants enjoying a refreshing drink of water.
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A family of elephants was leaving the watering hole on the left and other herds, scattered here and there.
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An elephant was teasing and scaring away a bird.
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An elephant on his way to the water hole, all alone.

Namibia 2013 - Khaudum National Park 2.008The animals are free to roam and migrate between the floodplains of the Okavango Delta in Botswana through the unfenced and untamed wilderness of Khaudum National Park in Namibia and over into Angola.  There is legislation that protects them, allowing a natural migratory route to occur through this corridor passage between the countries.

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This park offers the 4×4 enthusiast abundant, self-driven adventures of viewing game and birdlife in their natural habitat while you are required to be entirely self-sufficient with all the supplies you need for the duration of your stay here.

It’s quite hard to see the animals while driving around the park.  A pair of binoculars, observant, watchful and sight-seeing eyes are needed to search into the extremely dense bush, woodland savannah with its long grasses to see the giraffes as they blend away into the vast vegetation, camouflaging themselves with absolute ease.

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Giraffes were blending away into the vegetation.

Giraffes have the following characteristics:

  • They need to drink regularly and drink about 40 litres of water a day.
  • They eat leaves, fruit, flowers and twigs from the surrounding trees and shrubs.
  • They have a gestation period of around 15 months and give birth to only one.
  • They have a lifespan of around 30 years.
  • They can give off an alarmed snort, a grunt, or a flute liked bleat.
  • Their horns are present at birth.
  • When they walk they walk on the two legs on the same side, striding along together to support their large frame and weight.
  • Their lips are covered with a horny membrane to protect them from the sharp thorns of the Acacia trees while they eat off the leaves with their long, 45cm tongue.

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We came across this large herd of elephants who lifted their trunks to pick up on our scent.  We waited and watched for a while until we felt that it was safe enough to drive slowly past them.

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The old male elephant below was taking a casual stroll down to the watering hole all alone.  Notice the dust clouds lifted into the air as he walks on by, showing you just how dry the land is at the moment.

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We thoroughly enjoyed watching the sunset from this viewpoint overlooking an active watering hole.The hide.

We made sure we were back inside our campsite before dark and lit the fire for the night.  We prepared a lovely meal and enjoyed a social evening around the campfire before retiring early to bed.  I was still concerned that maybe the animals would be visiting us during the night after picking up on our scent.

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Our Bedouin tent which helps keep everything underneath it dry from the moistness in the air at night and provides us with ample shade during the day for when we were at our camp.
The ladies preparing the bread and supper for the braai.
Us ladies, preparing the bread and supper for the braai.
A lovely end to the day around the camp fire with strange noises out and about during the night.
An excellent end of the day around the campfire with strange noises out and about during the night.

One of our friends had seen an elephant visit the outskirts of our campsite during the evening while we were asleep in our rooftop tent.  Its head would have been the same height as our tent, allowing him to ‘check up on us’.  I felt so blessed to be able to experience the wildlife in its natural habitat while living within it.

To view the mapped route we travelled for today with pictures showing you exactly where they were taken then follow the following link which will get you to my Garmin adventure I’ve made:

http://adventures.garmin.com/en-US/by/earth-wanderer/tsumkwe-to-khaudum-national-park-and-taking-a-drive-inside-the-park/#.U8kjm1ar38s

For tomorrows adventures and contact details for Khaudum National Park, please visit our next page. Thank you

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