Nkasa Rupara NP, Bwabwata NP & Khaudum NP, Namibia
£7,450 pp sharing
At a Glance
Dates: October 10th - October 24th, 2024
Extension: We are able to offer extensions to Etosha National Park on request
Prices: £7,450 pp sharing (with a £500 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Namibia offers a well-trodden small-group safari and self-drive circuit, focussed on fenced reserves in the centre and north of the country, but has unexplored wildernesses to offer, including the majestic Khaudum National Park, that are the centrepiece of this itinerary.
Namibia is a self-driver's dream, with vast open spaces, excellent game-viewing and a well-developed road network. It is for these reasons that, for many safari-goers, their relationship with Namibia goes no further than a two-week sojourn around Etosha and other fenced reserves around Windhoek. This is a great shame, as Namibia has far more to offer than the limited wilderness in these reserves - here at Pictus Safaris, we much prefer open (unfenced ecosystems), although Etosha does have incredible game-viewing to redeem itself!
Unknown to many visitors, the remote north-east of Namibia holds perhaps the greatest safari destinations in the country. The dry and isolated Khaudum National Park is famously inhospitable, historically renowned amongst 4x4 enthusiasts for its deep sand and challenging road network. It is this remoteness that has sheltered much of its wildlife, and this national park, contiguous with the famed Okavango Delta of Northern Botswana, can be a rewarding destination. Visitors may encounter vast herds of Bush Elephant, elusive Sable and Roan Antelope and even Cheetah, Leopard and Lion. The jewel in Khaudum's crown, however, must be the healthy population of African Wild Dogs, one of only four in all of Namibia - these endangered canids are sometimes found around Khaudum Camp, and are surely the highlight of any Namibian safari.
The north-east of Namibia is also where the Okavango Panhandle extends into the Caprivi strip, attracting a variety of wildlife rarely encountered elsewhere in the country. Water-reliant species, including Hippo and Red Lechwe, are found here in abundance, both in Nkasa Rupara NP and Bwabwata NP. African Wild Dog and Cheetah are both seen here regularly, and Lion and Leopard are both encountered when specifically targeted. This lesser-travelled region of Namibia is also home to exceptional birdlife and, remarkably, is a hotspot for sightings of Ground Pangolin at certain times of year.
These under-appreciated corners of Namibia, combined with the better-known areas of Etosha and Damaraland, make for a truly sensational itinerary that is as unique as it is captivating - an essential trip for safari veterans and first-timers.
On arrival into Windhoek, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and the rest of the group. We will head directly to your local hotel, where we overnight. Dinner will be served at the hotel tonight, with a pre-tour briefing beforehand, and the remainder of the day is at leisure to recuperate after a long inbound flight.
This morning we head to Windhoek's Eros Airport for the ninety-minute flight north-east to Katima Mulilo. Here, we meet our local team and transfer directly the c.130km to our exclusive tented camp, nestled deep within Nkasa Rupara (sometimes spelt Lupala) National Park. This park is the definition of a hidden gem. Overlooked by the thousands of tourists who flock to the neighbouring reaches of Northern Botswana, Nkasa Rupara consists of exactly the same habitat as parts of the famous Chobe and Moremi. These headwaters of the Okavango create a wonderful environment for wildlife to thrive and, although game densities are not as high here as in Botswana due to lower standards of management, we still rate this as one of Namibia's best wildlife experiences.
We aim to arrive at the camp by mid-afternoon, after some time to settle in to your very comfortable elevated safari tents, we will head out on our first afternoon game drive. Species seen here regularly are many, including red lechwe, impala, greater kudu, buffalo, elephant and more - it is not uncommon for large herds of elephant to pass right by camp. This is part of a huge open ecosystem, and so we will of course be keeping our eyes out for predators too, including lion, leopard, cheetah and African wild dog, all of which pass through here.
Once our afternoon drive is concluded, a freshly-prepared dinner will be served in camp, before we return to game-viewing with a night drive. This is a fantastic way to spend our first night in the wilds of Namibia, and a rare treat as night drives are so rarely permitted in this particular area. The nocturnal mammal life here is fascinating, and whilst night drives can always be 'feast or famine' when it comes to sightings, species including serval, caracal, honey badger, wild cat, aardvark, leopard and lion have all been encountered here previously. After this drive, we will return to camp for some well-earned rest.
The full day is spent enjoying morning, afternoon and night game drives today. This stunning area can also be explored by boat, navigating the Linyanti River, which we will do during our afternoon excursion. Species we are likely to encounter at close quarters include lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, red lechwe and more, with cheetah and wild dog also possible. Several species can be spied even from camp, and we have seen elephant and leopard from our tents before!
After breakfast today (and, if time allows, a final morning game drive in Nkasa Rupara) we continue on our journey through this area, once known as the Caprivi Strip. Our destination, about two hours away, is the eastern section of the Bwabwata National Park, known as the Kwando Core Area. Here, we again are using a superb accommodation option, a luxury tented lodge. Some time is again set aside on arrival for a bite to eat and a chance to unpack before we head out on an afternoon game drive.
Bwabwata National Park covers much of the Caprivi Strip and is a vital wildlife corridor between Botswana, Angola and Zambia. But, in its own right, it supports a rich diversity of game, and we have had some of our best sightings in Africa at the iconic 'Horseshoe Lagoon'. This lake is one area we will visit this afternoon, as it is frequently attended by elephant, buffalo and a rich diversity of ungulates at this time of the year. More generally, this area is one of the best places in Namibia to spot cheetah, leopard and wild dog, and we will make a special effort to locate these species before returning to camp at nightfall.
We spend our full day exploring Kwando today, with morning and afternoon game drives on offer. Predators will be a key focus for us here, but the birdwatching can also be hugely rewarding, as can the mammal-watching more generally. The Kwando River supports impressive populations of unusual mammals including sitatunga and spotted-necked otter, and the cries of Pel's fishing-owl are regularly heard, much to the excitement of our birding clients!
We continue our journey west this morning, driving through the park to the Mahangu Core Area. An afternoon game drive after acclimatising to our new lodge is a great way to explore this often-overlooked area. It is a great are to spot wild dog as they venture in from Shakawe in Botswana - big cat sightings are rare here, but seeking out dogs is always hugely exciting, especially in Namibia! Dinner will ber served at the lodge tonight.
Our full day is spent on game drive today, exploring the wildlife corridors of Mahangu. Wild dogs are a key target today, and we aim to get out into the field as early as possible to intercept a pack on the hunt, which is a sight regularly seen in the narrow strip of savanna adjacent to the Botswana border.
Days Eight to Eleven
Early on day 8, we continue west to Khaudum. Khaudum is Pictus Safaris' very favourite destination in all of Namibia. Startlingly remote, with deep sand roads, almost no visitors and unhabituated wildlife, this is a far cry from Etosha. Game-viewing is at its best at the waterholes around Khaudum Camp in the north of the park and the remote Sikereti Camp in the south, our bases for these four nights. Contiguous with the wildlife-rich northern reaches of Botswana, this is one of the few places in Namibia where antelope including Roan, Sable and Tsessebe. The arid environment is also home to a range of dry-country species, including Caracal, Aardwolf and Brown Hyena. Perhaps most excitingly, the predators here are truly wild, with little interaction with visitors. Lion, Leopard and Cheetah all prowl this large national park and are encountered infrequently. More often seen are the large packs of African Wild Dogs that plunder the herds of Impala in the northern reaches of the reserve, and the vast herds of Bush Elephant that descend thirstily on the waterholes each morning and evening. For those looking for an unfiltered, authentic Namibian experience, nothing can better Khaudum.
After a final brief morning game drive in Khaudum, we will head due south to Tsumkwe Country Lodge. Tsumkwe is the gateway to the remote far eastern section of Namibia, home to a variety of wild animals rarely encountered elsewhere in the country. We overnight here ahead of the long drive back to Windhoek to come.
Days Thirteen to Fourteen
En route to Windhoek
The next two days are spent traversing Namibia at a very relaxed pace, taking the opportunity to stop regularly for photographic opportunities in this stunning country. We will overnight at a comfortable hotel on day thirteen, arriving back in Windhoek by the mid-afternoon of day fourteen.
This morning guests are transferred to the airport, where the tour ends.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in October 2024, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. The tour will run from October 10th to October 24th.
The cost of this trip is £7,450 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals outside Windhoek, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities (excluding night drives). All drinks, apart from water, are excluded. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £500 for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £2,250 plus any single supplement must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Windhoek at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Windhoek after 17.00 on your return to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter Namibia. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Please note that Namibian immigration officials allow visitors to stay up to 90 days from the date of their arrival, but sometimes (arbitrarily) grant entry for as few as seven days. Be sure to check you have been granted entry for at least 17 days from the date of your arrival before leaving the arrivals hall.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Namibia in October is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 21 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
This tour does not visit any areas with security concerns at present.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.