Khaudum is a national park in the Kavango region of Namibia. It is a very remote and inaccessible reserve but is home to some magnificent animals such as the lion and the hyena.
Khaudum is one of the least visited places in Namibia. If you think "off the beaten track", then this park is one of the ultimate destinations in the country — the other one is Kaokoland in Kunene Region.
The Khaudum National Park is in Kalahari Desert. The three largest dry rivers (known as omiramba) — Nhoma, Cwiba and Khaudum — run through the wildlife park. They play an important ecological role when they run during the rainy season.
The Khaudum National Park was a conservancy until 2007 when it was proclaimed a national park. It is almost 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi) in size.
The landscape is broad-leafed savannah crossed by wide, grassy, mostly dry, riverbeds called omiramba (singular: omuramba). "Khaudum" means 'omuramba of the buffalo', referring to times long ago when the area received more water. Today there are no buffaloes in the park, even though tourist publications claim otherwise. In order to honour the different possible ways to write the name, the park is named "Khaudum", the omuramba that it was named for is called "Kaudom", and the only accommodation facility is called "Xaudum".
Flora and fauna
There are about 3,000 elephants that live in the park. While in Etosha it is sometimes difficult to spot them they cannot, and do not, hide in Khaudum. The 'poster animal' of Khaudum, however, is the Roan antelope. It is quite common in Khaudum, although you will normally only spot it from a distance; It is a very shy animal. Khaudum, along with Mangetti National Park not far away, is also home to some of the last packs of wild dogs.
The Kavango Region has a long dry season from April to November and a subsequent wet period from December to March. In the dry season in winter, the humidity is at 30% and the daily maximum daytime temperatures are above 25 °C. The temperature on cold nights can fall to less than 5 °C, but is usually around 12 °C. The rainy season in summer is marked by a humidity of 60% and daily highs typically between 30° and 40 °C. Even at night the temperature does not fall below 15 °C. The annual precipitation average is 550 millimeters, with 80% during the months December to March.
You are required to travel in a group of at least two 4x4s, so that you are not completely on your own in case of a breakdown. However, this is not enforced, and one vehicle in meticulous shape might be the better choice over bringing any second one just for the purpose of fulfilling the condition. "4x4" does not just mean two driven axles but also sufficient ground clearance and torque. See also the recommendations for driving in sand on our Off-roading page.
Khaudum has two entrance gates that visitors must use. The northern 1 Khaudum tourist reception can be reached via a 46 kilometres (29 mi) sand track from the B8 road. It branches off southwards between Rundu and Divundu. The southern 2 Sikereti tourist reception can be reached via the D3303 gravel road from Tsumkwe.
At both gates there are airstrips for small planes.
Fees and permits
There is a daily entrance fee for adults, and another one for vehicles. Children enter for free. For Namibians this fee is N$10 each, for SADC (Southern African) residents N$30, and for all others N$90. The car will be the same fee as the visitors, even if it has a Namibian number plate.
The northern half of the park consists of deep sand tracks, except where the track goes along one of the omiramba.
There are no shops inside the park or near its entrances. The Xaudum camp site office might have firewood.
Until the Xaudum Lodge opens there is no restaurant in the park.
There is potable water at the Xaudum camp site. All other supplies you need to bring along.
The well-known camp at Sikereti has been abandoned and cannot be used. Until Xaudom Lodge opens (estimated 2020) the only accommodation in the park is:
- 1 Xaudom campsite (12 kilometres (7.5 mi) south-east of the northern gate; the camp is signposted). Panoramic view over the Kaudom Omuramba, site #2 has a concrete shaded viewing platform and is particularly spectacular. 6 large camping spots for up to 30 people each. The campsite has been rebuilt from scratch in 2017, so for now everything works and is in good shape. Ablution facilities have water, and if you bring firewood then you can heat the geyser yourself. Animals roam the place at night. Pack away all food. N$110 per vehicle, N$110 per person, children free. The fees vary a bit depending on which officer is on duty.
Surprisingly there is five-star mobile phone coverage in the park, albeit only for MTC users.
Driving in deep sand will about double your fuel consumption, and depending on how many waterholes you visit you can easily accumulate several hundred kilometres of sand track. The nearest petrol stations are in Rundu and in Tsumkwe, so keep an eye on your fuel gauge.
The best noticeable feature of the park is its large herds of elephants. You'll find them on pretty much every water hole you visit. Keep in mind that the park is theirs, not yours. They certainly know it. Don't drive too close towards a herd of elephants. If they are on the track, do not drive around them and establish a new track in this fragile environment, but stop. 10-15 m is close enough for good holiday pictures and will normally not put your party in danger. Otherwise, the younger ones might play with your car, the older ones might get angry; either way, your car might end upside down. You'll know that an elephant is angry when it shakes its head. In this case, stay in the car and either back off slowly or switch off the engine, and avoid all unnatural noise (cell phone, camera, such things). They will eventually walk away; wait for this to happen instead of trying a daring escape.
The park is not fenced towards the east and the west. East of Khaudum is Botswana territory. Do not enter Botswana circumventing official border crossings, not even for a few metres — the authorities will assume that any person there is a poacher, and the rangers will shoot to kill.