Wilderness is indeed Khaudum National Park’s comparative advantage.
The park, situated in north-eastern Namibia bordering Botswana, has less than 3 000 visitors annually and there are few tracks through the deep Kalahari sand. More elephants than people are seen around the park and it is a refuge for African Wild dog, Roan antelope and more.
Initially, Khaudum was established to protect the lifestyle of the San Bushmen who have inhabited the Kalahari Desert for thousands of years. Today, it is the most pristine and an almost completely wild area conservation area.
The park is unfenced except along the Botswana border, so game are able to move freely between neighbouring conservancies and small scale farms. Hence, Park staff co-operate with the conservancies in the joint management of the wildlife.
It must be said that exploring this reserve will not be for everyone. It is wild in every sense of the word. A requirement of entry is that driving safaris consist of two or more vehicles as the tracks are sandy, become muddy after rain and getting stuck is a real possibility.
But for those who love adventure, the rewards are many.
Nowhere else in Namibia is there that same sense of remote wilderness that you get in Khaudum. The infinity of stars undimmed by lights, the absence of other vehicles. In some ways, this is a return to the old safari ways, to the days of do-it-yourself safari experiences that led to total immersion in the African wild. It’s a vast park and so wildlife can be elusive, but it remains one of the best places in Namibia for lions outside of Etosha, while African wild dogs are also a highlight here.
Khaudum is located 796km northeast of Windhoek for those arriving into Windhoek airport.
Khaudum National Park is a great wilderness destination with a healthy population of wildlife. This is probably Namibia’s second-most productive wildlife destination, after Etosha, but much less visited.
For those who are well equipped and experienced, Khaudum offers adventurous wildlife viewing. Most big safari animals are easily seen and predators are present in good numbers. Lions are sometimes spotted and this is one of the strongholds for wild dogs. Giraffe, zebra and wildebeest are common and elephants are particularly abundant in the Dry season when they migrate from neighboring Botswana.
The park also offers great birdwatching opportunities. It has over 300 species recorded and is a magnet for summer migrants. The migratory birds are present from November to April.
It is again stressed that it is a challenging area to both get to and explore. You need to be well kitted out for a trip here and have some wilderness experience in the African bush.
Generally, winter in Khaudum National Park lasts from May to October, and summer from November to April. But the rains that mark the beginning of summer often arrive early, making the transition between the two periods unpredictable.
Animals typically gather at water sources in the drier months (May to October), marking the best time to visit. The landscape is prettier in the wetter months, but roads might be impassable at this time.
Malaria is a concern in Khaudum NP, especially during the Wet season, from October to April. Anti-malarials are recommended, as well as wearing clothes that cover the skin in the evening and utilizing mosquito repellent
Khaudum National Park is usually visited on a self-drive safari, but this is definitely not for the fainthearted. The campsites are unfenced and so it is strongly advised that one or more in the party have 4x4 and wildlife experience.
It is a requirement of entry that driving safaris consist of two or more vehicles. Tracks are sandy and become muddy after rain and getting stuck is a real possibility.
Ensure your supplies include enough fuel to traverse the park and plenty of water and food. You need to be totally self-sufficient. Consider renting a satellite phone in Windhoek.
Khaudum National Park is wild and offers basic services, aside from a three very primitive camps. The accommodations are not fenced, so adventurous visitors can expect elephants, hyenas or lions to visit their campsites and should be prepared.
There is a rudimental campsite. Those choosing this option are strongly advised to travel with at least two 4x4 vehicles per party. To have at least three days’ worth of food rations per person and 100 litres of water per vehicle.
There next a lodge with slightly more infrastructure of en-suite bathrooms and a restaurant but it is still very simple.
The third offering is a fixed, tented camp with meals provided, but offering a unique experience. It is centred around eco-tourism and living as the traditional communities in the area would.