A week in Katima Mulilo

We left Nata Lodge after a hearty breakfast and continued to travel North for the final 500 or so kms to Katima Mulilo.

Baobab tree in BotswanaA Baobab Tree in a flooded Botswana plain

All the way we saw flooded fields and deep pools on the roads though they were fortunately passable as our car was very low set. The southern and central parts of Botswana are included in the Kalahari Desert but as one travels north the vegetation increases and there are the flood plains of the Cuando and Okavango Rivers. They meet at one point and when there are heavy rains they form a delta rich in animals and vegetation in western Botswana. We have not had the privilege of visiting the delta as yet and, as it is a popular place with overseas visitors, it is a very expensive place to visit so I am not sure that we will get to do so.

As I make various observations and comments about the area and towns we visited please remember that it is 13 years since we were there and has possibly been improved since then. We arrived at the Namibian border with Botswana in the afternoon after crossing the wide and flooded Cuando River. Once again we found them pleasant and efficient and were on our way within a few minutes. I was interested to find that we were able to take photos at border posts at that time. It probably would not be acceptable today. What surprised us was the distance from the border to Katima as I understood it to be on the border of Botswana and this is where the Caprivi Strip is at its narrowest. It turned out to be approx. 50kms as it is on the far border with Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Namibia Caprivi border post

Approaching the Caprivi Namibia Border Post

It took us a while to find their home but arrived to find first, a dirt road with a huge puddle at the gate and then, a large yard with a lovely house. Once inside we found it to have large main rooms all tiled and on our later visits to Namibia we noticed that this was fairly common. Sadly, what they had to cope with even in this lovely home was the intermittent availability of electricity and water. One was never certain whether either of these would be available and, most frequently, it was only one or the other so doing laundry or general cleaning was quite a challenge. A generator had to be available all the time and carried around the house to wherever it was needed.

Over the week we discovered Katima to be a small town with a main road, a single OK Food store, of which I shall say more shortly, a single service station and a little shopping area with a coffee shop and a few clothing and household essentials shops. There were a number of restaurants and lodges a couple of which had been flooded due to the Zambezi River being in flood. Water had even flowed into town.

 

Only vege shop in KatimaThe OK Food Store in Katima. Note the flooded road.

The OK Food store could not be relied upon for a variety of fruit and vegetables with tomatoes and cabbage being offered one week and carrots and onions another as the shop had to rely on deliveries from Windhoek. The lack of greens was probably made very clear when we had a coffee at the Bistro. Some male employees of the construction company also came in for a bite to eat and included on their plates was the proverbial lettuce leaf and sliver of tomato which they were going to leave uneaten. They quickly changed their minds when Lyn and her friend told them very definitely that if they weren’t going to eat it, to take it home to their wives who would appreciate it.

Only coffee shop in KatimaThe Katima Coffee Shop which is popular with the construction team

The SA Defence Force left a few reminders of their presence in the late 1970s and the 80s. These included a hospital which is still in use and the 300kms of tarred road covering the full length of the Caprivi Strip (today known as the Zambezi Region in the East and the Kavango East Region in the West of the Caprivi). Before that a German leader had built, into a large Baobab Tree, in the town a toilet which is still there but not in use today. Namibia was under German rule from the late 19th Century to after WWl when it was ceded to the UK but the League of Nations and later came under SA in 1961 when that country became a Republic.

Toilet in a Baobab tree

Toilet tree

We had a number of days of pleasure exploring the area and having fun on their boat on the river. The river was so full that it was impossible to see any of the islands which are in the middle of the river or the long grass which grows on them. Both Trevor and Tyrone tried a little fishing but without success. One day we drove across the border into Zambia and followed the Zambezi for a few kms arriving at a lodge and restaurant which were closed due to the flooding. Nearby we were able to take a row on a mokoro, a type of canoe made by the local people. They appear rather flimsy but apparently are strong and are a good form of transport.

Side view of restaurant

A view of the flooded restaurant

Near the end of the week we drove back towards Botswana to visit the Chobe National Park and to do some shopping in Kasane, a town significantly larger than Katima. There had been some rain during the week and we were amazed at how much both the Zambezi and Cuando Rivers had risen. Although we didn’t see a large number of animals even though we could not move very fast due to the wet and muddy roads in the park. Our best sighting was of a large Monitor Lizard which ran across the grass and into the river very close our vehicles.

We finished the day with a visit to the Spar supermarket in Kasane and to watch Lyn get excited about buying fruit and vegetables was really quite heart-warming. We left with trolleys laden with filled with a big variety of fresh food some of which we ate that evening. Next morning, Trevor and I began the first leg of our journey home by continuing west across the Caprivi to spend a couple of nights at Popa Falls.

 

Lyn buying veges in KasaneToo much choice - such happiness

About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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