After a thoroughly enjoyable summer holiday in the USA, August was devoted to a long-awaited and much anticipated JavZam work trip to explore the Sisheke District in the northern sector of the KAZA TFCA (http://www.kavangozambezi.org/).
I departed Cape Town with three work colleagues on a drizzly winter’s morning for Namibia; first stop was seldom-visited Khaudum (http://www.met.gov.na/Documents/Khaudum%20National%20Park.pdf) in northeast Namibia. This arid park falls within the KAZA TFCA and is quite possibly Namibia’s wildest national park. Elephants are dime a dozen here and anyone with a soft spot for these giant pachyderms should make sure a trip to Khaudum features prominently on their safari bucket list.
After 5 days exploring the wilds of Khaudum and its neighbouring flamingo-rich Nyae-Nyae Pans, we reluctantly bid farewell to the elephant herds and made our way through the Caprivi to try out the new Sioma Border Post north of Kongola. A fancy new road terminated in the middle of nowhere and we were forced to backtrack 17km to find the Namibian ‘immigration table’ perched under a shady tree! In contrast the Zambian side had some very fancy new immigration offices, but no road yet! All this made for a great adventure as we eventually figured everything out. Later, we learned that we were the first visitors to use this new KAZA tourist facility, which had only officially opened 5 weeks earlier.
The primary reason for our trip was to conduct a thorough reconnaissance of the Sisheke District and Sioma Ngwezi National Park as these areas make up the core area for the exciting and ambitious Sisheke Conservation Project (http://www.sisheke.com/).
For the next two weeks we drove, boated and flew through out the 3,000,000ha Sisheke Conservation Area that was recently awarded to JavZam to manage and develop on behalf of the Barotse Royal Establishment for the benefit of the local people and wildlife alike.
In amongst clocking up many miles investigating this massive tract of wilderness, we also managed to catch a few tiger fish and find a pack of 16 wild dogs! Sadly, we also saw the unsustainable practices of escalating elephant poaching, widespread logging and uncontrolled burning at every turn. The area has incredible potential but huge challenges as well.
After a couple of weeks deep in the bush, we headed for a well-earned break in Livingstone where the folks at Safari Par Excellence (http://www.safpar.com/) treated us to a great day of world-class whitewater on the mighty Zambezi. After an adrenalin-charged morning of river boarding where it was hard not to feel like crocodile bait, we abandoned our little body boards in favour of a more sociable self-bailing raft for the afternoon session. The rapid-infested Zambezi is a very special river and it’s hard to imagine there’s any better way to spend an action-packed day in the wilds of Africa.