Botswana panhandle, Caprivi and Hunters Road- just completed July 2017

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Thanked: 8

    Default Botswana panhandle, Caprivi and Hunters Road- just completed July 2017

    As I use this forum religiously for updated information and ideas, I thought it only fair that I return the favor with some updated information on our recent experience. Sometimes getting current information can be tough so hopefully this helps someone with their travel plans.
    My son and I entered the border post at the Pioneer gate in to Botswana. It was not our original intention but because of the taxi blockades on the JNB - Pretoria N1, we had no choice. The crossing was no problem, but we would advise against this gate entry point as getting through Gaborone can be painful and time consuming.

    The cattle and donkeys in Botswana are as bad as ever- and yes night time driving can be harrowing. And as it was back in 2015, when the A 3 turns right from Motopi to Maun- the potholes are very very bad- and the cattle and donkeys on this stretch are particularly bad. In Maun we stayed this time at Drifters- nicely positioned overlooking the water. We happened to get there when there were no overland trucks so it was a sublime, quiet night. Obviously being Drifters, expect to be joined by big groups if you stay there.

    Heading north on the Western Panhandle- the A 35 is currently very very bad- potholes are continuous. we had hoped to make it to the Namibia border but only reached Shakawe before we called it quits. Shakawe River Lodge was very nice- many upgrades going on- and some very nice campsites overlooking the Kavango. For those not wanting to camp- Shakawe now has bungalows that while not cheap- are a worthwhile option.

    Mahango was tremendous- what a great little park- great birding and very good general game. I agree with everyone on the forum regarding Shametu- without question the best campsite I have ever stayed in. Campsites are massive with own ablutions and kitchen. You even get towels! Shametu is not as close to Mahango as Ngepi- but still worth the longer drive in. Shametu also offers great accommodations for those not wanting to camp- the lodge is perfectly situated overlooking the river below. Pricing at Shametu was R150 per person per day- so very cheap. We did visit Ngepi again- still has a charm about it- and is a touch more expensive than Shametu at R180 a day.

    Having spent some of my informative years in the SA army I did want to visit 32 Battalions old camp- so that is now on the eastern side of the river in an area known as the Buffalo Core Area. Game was great on that side of the river as was the visit to 32's old haunts. An eerie experience walking through the ruins of this once notorious battalion. Even for those not interested in this, the game on the east side makes it a worthwhile drive and very productive.

    Heading east along the Caprivi we then spent two nights at Nambwa in an area known as the Kwando Core area- which is on the western side of the Kwando river. I thought that the campsite was a touch overpriced at R250 per person- but I may be picky here- perhaps best advice is to spend at least three nights here as the drive in is heavy slogging with much sand. Driving is somewhat limited to in and around Horse Shoe Lagoon. It is productive though- and a very picturesque area. Once again there is a lodge here at the Campsite called Nambwa Lodge- for those wanting to get some trail dust off themselves and perhaps spend a night or two being spoiled..

    Looking for fresh provisions we did the two hour drive up to Katima Mulilo. There is a tremendous Shoprite Checkers here- that can stack up against any grocery store back in SA. Katima has really come a long way since I was last there.

    Our last stop in the Caprivi area was Nkasa Rupara- previously Mamili- of which I have such fond memories from a visit many many years ago. A couple of important points to note and some updates. One CANNOT camp in the park anymore- all camping needs to be in the community campsites of Rupara or Livingstone. We stayed in Rupara- very nice- basic facilities about ten minutes from Nkasa Rupara gate. Cost was ZAR 180 per person. Livingstone a bit more expensive at ZAR250. Game in Nkasa Rupara was very scarce unfortunately. Looking at it now- I realise that with the flood season in the Okavango Swamps- all animals have moved across the border to spend the high season in the islands of the Okavango. Chatting to some folks in the area- the believe is that things typically improve game wise- late August onwards as the swamps dry up and animals head back to the river systems in the north. But still- this is a gorgeous part of Africa- and well worth a visit at the right time.

    Before leaving the area we spent one night at Caprivi Houseboats. We loved it- such a quirky bunch of folks running the place- and a welcome shower and warm bed after a dusty couple of nights in Nkasa. The beers were cold and the sunrises spectacular.

    I did want to add one more experience and that was Hunters Road in Botswana- we traveled about 70 km on it from Pandamatenga south to a cutline. It was such fun- and every named pan had water in it. There is something deliciously satisfying in finding a gorgeous pan in the middle of Africa and you are the only ones there to see its splendor. I am sure in the dry season this drive can be a non event- but if you can travel it just after the rains it is full of surprises and always there is the feeling of splendid isolation.

    Before leaving Botswana we did stay at Nata Lodges Campsites. I agree with community members- Nata Lodge is perfect as a stop over and they really are geared to offering the 4x4 community a warm shower and a hot meal at a very reasonable price. FYI- the road running south from Nata is terrible at the moment- with potholes a plenty so do not drive it at night time!

    And one last thing- we were stopped at every vet stop south bound- and at one we were ordered to throw out our vegetables- now that is a first....

    Thanks to the community for all the information made available and I do hope that this update assists someone with there travel plans.

    Safe Travels

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    king william's town
    Thanked: 138

    Default Re: Botswana panhandle, Caprivi and Hunters Road- just completed July 2017

    Thanks for sharing. Seems you really enjoyed your trip...

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Thanked: 233

    Default Re: Botswana panhandle, Caprivi and Hunters Road- just completed July 2017

    Thanks for sharing.

    When can we see some fotos


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