The Caprivi – Zambezi Valley

After we sadly left N’gepi we visited the real Pupa Falls, which are only 10kms away. At Pupa Falls the Kavango river breaks into a collection of streams, each with their own rapids. The river is so low that there isn’t much of a show.

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One of the bigger streams of rapids

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A family enjoying their day at the river

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The boardwalk leads to the chalets overlooking the falls

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We spent an enjoyable time visiting the falls as day trippers but don’t plan to sleep over. It’s very expensive and there are other more affordable places in the neighbourhood as well as N’gepi.

The road through the Caprivi passes by mixed usage tribal areas where wildlife lives alongside rural family villages and livestock.

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Everybody knows of the Big Five. Do you know what the Little Five are? With names and characteristics derived from their bigger counterparts they are:
The Elephant shrew, the Buffalo Weaver, the Leopard tortoise, the ant-lion, and the Rhino beetle.
Thank you to Roy Rudnick and Michelle Weisz from their book “World by Land” for the above piece of interesting trivia.

Katimo Mulilo, a border town in the Zambezi Valley. The commercial and administrative centre of the area.  We’ve stopped there on numerous travels north and south, and is our prefered border into Zambia and Central Africa. We usually stay over at a lovely campsite at the Protea Hotel, with a view of Zambia across the Zambezi river, and hippos!
We know our way around town and have our favourite places to shop and enjoy a coffee or bite to eat. It’s a town where even the supermarkets become a tourist attraction!  But, it can become somewhat repetative and not portray the true experience of the Caprivi. 

Solveig maintains that by being a smoker she always meets the most interesting people while having a quick puff outside. Well it happened again!  Fellow smoker Bruce,  MD of Island View Lodge about 25kms downriver told her of their facility.

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This sounded like just what we were wanting as a change from the norm in Katimo Mulilo :- Nature,  River frontage, Electricity, Pub area deck, Free WiFi, Shaded sites, Swimming pool and clean ablutions. If you’re not Wild Camping and you’re paying for it you expect the lot! We booked in until after the New Year madness!
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Not one of the Small Five, but a closer look at nature.
Here’s another….
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Pieter, the birdlife was incredible!

Namibia (N’gepi revisited)

The Namibian border was only a short drive from where we’d been staying at Shakawe. We were soon at N’gepi.
Mark’s offer overwhelmed us  when we’d enquired about accomodation over the Christmas weekend. Since finding the campsites rapidly filling as Christmas approached we thought we’d better make enquiries before simply pitching up.

Mark invited us to stay in a reed and thatch Tree Hut, usually reserved for special guests and honeymooners! We were speachless! We never expected such generosity. What an amazing Christmas present for both of us and fantastic birthday present for Solveig. I could never have matched that!  We had such a good feeling about being back at N’gepi again, almost as if we were home.

There are numerous signs dotted about the property. Mostly humerous, but there is a serious side too….

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N’gepi is a fully sustainable property on the banks of the Kavango River – change of name in Namibia. By fully sustainable I refer to the various projects successfully embraced, such as all electrical power is from solar energy as well as hot water and water purification of water for drinking. Refrigeration in their kitchen is from a water and charcoal evaporation construction. Many of the vegetables and salads are grown on the property and there is an interesting sustainable tree project practiced by the many staff required to run a place of this nature and the locals.

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The facilities like showers and toilets are so creatively constructed they’ve just got to be seen to be believed!

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Late Christmas afternoon nature delivered the best present ever…much needed rain!

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The heavens opened up and an almighty storm ensued as witnessed from our bed where we sheltered.

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My dad’s Bass Saxophone finds a new home alongside my Autoharp and other instruments, hanging from the ceiling in a riverside lounge.

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The sign says it all!

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Our campsite

We stayed on for a further two enjoyable nights of camping after our complimentary Tree Hut  stay. Thank you so much to all of those that made this such a memorable occasion for the two of us.

The Okavango

Our route to the Caprivi took us up the panhandle on the western side of the Okavango Swamps. We weren’t in a hurry and wanted to make a few stops on the way.

For our first night we had chosen the Ngoma Island Lodge and Campsite . The description in the T4A book on Botswana and Veronica Roodt’s wonderful travel guides looked inviting. After 12 kms of sandy track with detours around washed away bridges we arrived at the camp.

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A beautifully shaded camp on the edge of the swamp. The lodge was a number of en-suite tented huts on raised decks with a communal kitchen.

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We were accomodated in a shaded campsite.

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At 140 Pula per person it was the most expensive place we’d stayed at. No electricity, nor Internet.  But we enjoyed the setting so much, and we were on our own again, so peaceful…

We were sidetracked on our way to the Tsodilo Hills, a world heritage site, that has 4500 rock paintings in a 10sq.Km area created between AD 850 and AD1100. There are also numerous archaeological finds such as metal spearheads, pottery, glass beads, stone tools. The cliff faces  consist of 4 hills. Ledgend has it that they make up a family. Male, female, child and grandchild. Too good to miss! We’ll have to go there tomorrow!

On our travels we are often sidetracked.  We go where our fancy takes us…. We’d  seen signs every now and again advertising  Sepopa Swamp Stop Rest Camp. The final straw was getting a pamphlet handed to us at a Vetenarian check point.

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We were hot and thirsty and and decided to  look in.

Next we’d found a shady riverside site and booked in for the night. It wasn’t even lunchtime!

We met up with Ziggie and Catrin again who we’d first seen in the CKGR at Piper Pan and again in Maun. We just spent the day chilling in the campsite and pool.

George approved of our choice. While travelling he has to lie on the seat in the back and doesn’t get to see much.

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It’s amazing the difference water makes to nature.

Early the next morning we did visit Tsodilo Hills, but never stayed over.

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The colours of the rocks were such a contrast to what we’d been used to seeing.

A storm was brewing on the way. We hoped it would develop and some rain would fall.

It’s so hot and dry everywhere.

At last the heavens opened and there was a short but heavy shower. The poor domestic animals, so desparate for water just stood in the middle of the road and drank from the puddles and wouldn’t move out of the way.

There are numerous placed to stay along the Okavango River part of the panhandle near the Namibian border . The well known Drotsky Cabins offer camping too, but we stayed at the Shakawe Lodge which has 10 campsites on the banks of the river in paradise.

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The campsites were fully booked but we went to have a look anyway as we were there.  Imagine our surprise when we found Ziggie and Catrin there too. The campsites were large and they suggested we share theirs.

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We made many new friends along the way. Always discussing where we’d been and what we’d seen, but we seldom discussed details of our future route as none of us really knew. Most, like us, had a vague plan only. This is one of the best things about the way we travel.

Having said that, we knew definitely where we were going for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, Solveig’s birthday….

We’d been invited to stay at N’gepi by the owner, Mark Adcock. We’d become good friends since meeting him on our Cape Town to Oslo atempt in 2014. More about that later….