Namibia as launch pad to the KAZA Trans-frontier Park

Namibia as launch pad to the KAZA Trans-frontier Park

21 October 2019 | Tourism

by Chloe Durr

Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi region is ideal to be used as launch pad to possibly enjoy the best game sightings in terms of large herds of animals and beautiful scenery in some of the best game parks in Southern Africa. Having extensively written about the Namibian parks in this as well as a previous edition, Tourismus Namibia would like to introduce its readers to the rest of the parks contained within the larger Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (commonly referred to as Kaza-TFCA or simply KAZA). Plans are underway for the partaking countries to automatically issue multi-visas to visitors. Depending on the time at a visitor’s disposal, one can explore some or all the following parks and sights:

Sioma Ngwezi National Park (Zambia): In the south-western corner of Zambia, this 5 000 km² National Park forms part of a bigger Game Management Area of 35 000 km². It is largely undeveloped and unfenced, allowing for free movement of animals between the park itself, the Game Management Area and the Zambezi River.

Kafue National Park (Zambia): This 22 400 km² national park is found roughly 300 km west of the Zambian capital city Lusaka and south of the country’s copper belt. It offers excellent game viewing, birdwatching and fishing opportunities.

Lower Zambezi National Park (Zambia): it needs to be remembered that the Zambezi turns and starts flowing in a north-easterly direction as from Mlibizi (Zimbabwe) entering into the Kariba Dam. Leaving the Kariba Dam’s wall and continuing in a north-eastern direction, you will reach the Lower Zambezi National Park of Zambia. It is not part KAZA, but this national park in the river’s valley is stunningly beautiful and has abundant wildlife.

Mana Pools National Park (Zimbabwe): The Mana Pools are found roughly 100 km east of the Kariba Dam in the Zambezi Valley, overlooking the mighty Zambezi River and the Lower Zambezi National Park. Large populations of elephants, hippos and crocodiles gather at sunrise in the Long Pool and in the park’s south, lions wait for prey around the waterhole at Chitake Spring. Camping sites are well-maintained and private sites, away from the main camp, are on offer. The camp sites are unfenced and extreme vigilance regarding wild animals is important. The camp sites appear to be allocated on a first come first serve basis, even if one has booked a specific site.

Lake Kariba, Matusadona National Park and Chizarira National Park (Zimbabwe): Lake Kariba, is the world's voluminous man-made lake. Wildlife can be viewed particularly on the southern shores (Zimbabwe), where the Matusadona and Chizarira National Parks are located. To save time and money one should consider taking the 22-hour trip with the Kariba Ferry from Mlibizi to Kariba (or vice versa) - it saves you 1 200 km of driving.

The Hwange National Park of Zimbabwe is found about 140 km south-west of Mlibizi and roughly the same distance away south of the Victoria Falls. Contrary to what is often heard, this as much as any of Zimbabwe’s parks, remains well-populated with game and its staff’s service is impeccable. Visitors can enter the park via the Main Gate or Mtoa Gate to the south and exit the park via Sinamatella (when heading for Vic Falls) or Nantwich (if heading for Botswana). Hwange’s grasslands and mopane forests are home to huge herds of elephants, Buffalo and predators and in the north-west, animals gather at Mandavu and Masuma dams, where there are hides from which to view the animals. Some of the sites, such as Masuma and Nyamandhlovu Pan offer exiting overnight stays.

Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (Botswana): The Nxai Pan lies just north of the main road from Maun to Nata, adjoining Makgadikgadi Pans National Park on its northern border. These large salt pans in the middle of the dry savanna are one of the country’s most unique and beautiful landscapes. Rain seasonally fills these pans, which then attracts an uncountable number of pink flamingos and other migratory birds. On the fringes you will find migrating zebras and wildebeests.

Okavango Delta (Botswana): The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta, known for its sprawling grassy plains, which flood seasonally, becoming a lush animal habitat. Maun is the base from which one can explore the Delta by light aircraft and by canoe. Here you can stock up on groceries before heading to Moremi and Savuti. A night spent on one of the delta islands is a memorable experience.

Moremi (Botswana): A 100 years after explorer David Livingstone called this land “country full of rivers”, the local Batawana people caused the Moremi Game Reserve to be proclaimed in 1963, when its environment and wildlife came under threat - this makes Moremi the oldest and first protected reserve of the Okavango Delta. Dug-out canoes are used to navigate past hippos, elephants and crocodiles. On land you are spoilt by choice of wildlife, including lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos.

Savuti (Botswana): The Savuti Reserve is found right below the Nkasa Rupara National Park of Namibia’s natural border, the Linyanti River. The Okavango Delta forms its border to the west and the Chobe National Park is on the east. The Savuti is one of Africa's best-known big game areas - be aware of hyena that roam around at night.

Chobe National Park (Botswana): The Chobe is found east of the Okavango Delta and is known for its massive herds of elephants and Cape buffalo, but also for its lions, antelopes and hippos, the latter relying on the moist lagoons around the Linyanti Marsh.

Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe/ Zambia): Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and the major waterfall on the Zambezi River. It is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. A breath-taking sight to behold.

NOTE: When doing a self-drive tour of the KASA-

·Pack a good, basic, First Aid kit, sunscreen creams, mosquito repellent and mosquito nets, if you intend sleeping under the stars.

·KASA is a Malaria Area. Malaria tablets are a non-negotiable must-have.

·Clothing that covers your legs and arms after sunset are advised.

·Wild animals walk around freely in most camp sites. Take care whilst walking outside at night, use a strong torch light, check bathrooms for wild animals before entering and before leaving the building. Beware of wild animals while sitting around the campfire.

·Do not feed wild animals.

·A tip for those of you who use ground tents: Park your vehicle a body's width away across the doorway of your tent. By so doing you can securely exit your tent and flash the torchlight so as to identify wild animals, before walking out into the darkness.

·Stringing your garbage bags up in a tree away from scavengers at night is a good idea.

·Be aware of hippo pathways and elephants’ migratory routes when setting up your camp site.

·Check rules regarding the possession of meat, vegetables and firewood in the areas you will be travelling in, before you leave on your trip.

·Check gate closing times.

·Check tyre pressure required for sand driving.

·Drink bottled water only.

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