Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Caprivi Strip. Okavango Panhandle and Delta, self drive, June 2014.

The pick up of the hire car was easy, but it took a while as the Bushlore rep went through the Van, tent and the camping equipment with us, it was very well equipped with everything we needed. Due to extensive briefing we were a bit later than planned leaving Kasane and heading to the Nogoma Bridge crossing.
Getting out of Botswana was easy, as usuall the boarder staff were great. Getting into Namibia however was a very different matter! The staff were surly and very unhelpful, far worse that when we visited Zim a few years ago. They also did not explain that you had to go to the office in Katima Mulilo to pay the fees, a fellow driver told us this very important fact.
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Once through the immigration process we found the office at the petrol station. Here we paid the road fees to a very pleasant man, got some meat from the shop and drove down the Caprivi Strip to find a place to stay.

The Caprivi Strip

 It was so disappointing!!! I don't know what we expected, but it wasn't this straight, fast road. I thought it would be by a river, but it was just bush, with very poor people living along the strip. The road is very good, so it did not take long to get to the junction at Knogola. There were shops here, but we had forgotten it was a Sunday, so everything was closed! Thank goodness we did a bit of shopping in Kasane.
We drove through some gates that stated Namushasha Lodge and after a drive down a long track found a hut with a man in. He told us he had camping space but the lodge was closed. we wanted to purchase fire wood, but he did not have any for sale! He told us if we wanted hot water, it was alittle extra and he would light the Rhodesian boiler. We did want hot water and he did have wood to light the boiler. But it was a waste of time as the water was a slow trickle and never came out of the taps hot!

The next day, after very little sleep in out tent we carried on our way, we were to stay at a lodge on the Okavango Panhandle for one night prior to flying into the Okavango Delta. We drove down the Caprivi Strip to Bagani, here we turned left and drove towards Botswana again. As we brove down this road towards the boarder we passed into Mahango Game Park, and the tar road finished. For a while we did wonder if it was the correct way, and it was. We spotted the boarder crossing.
Mahango Game Park

Mahango Game Park

 We were going to a lodge called Nxamaseri Lodge, as the panhandle does not receive a lot of publicity I was unsure of what to expect. We had received instructions to meet at a sign post on the road to Shakawe. Our guide was waiting for us. we left the car in a local krall by the sign and off we went with Adam.
Nxamaseri Lodge turned out to be a wonderful surprise. Our guide Adam looked after us from the moment we met him at the 'junction' on the main road. Firstly he drove us down a very sandy track to the waters edge, then we had a ride by boat to get to the Lodge.

 The lodge was clean with great accommodation, a bar and lots of good food. We were offered a choice of water based activities and chose to go out on the Okovango River for a sun downer bird watching cruise and this was better than anything we did in Moremi National Park or in the Delta. I think Nxamaseri is a fantastic camp and a real alternative to the Delta.
The next day we were flying for the airstrip at Nxamaseri to Shindi Camp in the Okavango Delta.
Adam took us on the boat to the air strip, it was covered with cows, Adam had to run up and down clearing the beasts from the grassy airfield to allow the very small aircraft to land.

Shindi Camp was, as I expected, fabulous, again booked via Expert Africa. And there is plenty of information about this camp on line so I will just put a few words:
Shindi. There are water based activities and land based activities, and that was what I wanted to do. The camp was full and we met some very interesting people here, including one of the original owners of Shindi….he had many interesting tales to tell us round the camp fire. The camps staff were outstanding, working hard to make your stay special and the guides of good quality. This photo says it all really:
However, if its water based activities & birds your after, then Nxamaseri is just as good if not better. And it was back to Nxamaseri airstrip that another small aircraft took us to, thank goodness it was only 45 minutes! Again Adam was ready with the boat to meet us and take us back to our car. Then that was it we were on our own, no pre booked accommodation. so we set off back the way we had come to Popa Falls in Namibia.