Exploring the largely undeveloped 384,000-hectare Khaudum National Park is an intense wilderness challenge. Meandering sand tracks lure you through pristine bush and dry acacia forest and across omiramba (fossil river valleys), which run parallel to the east–west-oriented Kalahari dunes. With virtually no signage, navigation is largely based on GPS coordinates and topographic maps, so visitors are few, which is precisely why Khaudum is worth exploring – Khaudum is home to one of Namibia's most important populations of lions and African wild dogs, although both can be difficult to see.
In addition to African wild dogs and lions, the park protects large populations of elephants, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, kudus, oryxes and tsessebes, and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to spot large herds of roan antelopes here. If you’re an avid birder, Khaudum supports 320 different species, including summer migratory birds such as storks, crakes, bitterns, orioles, eagles and falcons.
In order to explore the reserve by private 4WD vehicle, you will have to be completely self-sufficient, as petrol and supplies are only available in towns along the Caprivi Strip. Water is available inside the reserve, though it must be boiled or treated prior to drinking.
Tracks in the reserve are mostly sand, though they deteriorate into mud slicks after the rains. As a result, NWR requires that parties travel in a convoy of at least two self-sufficient 4WDs, and are equipped with enough food, water and petrol to survive for at least three days. Caravans, trailers and motorcycles are prohibited.
Wildlife viewing is best from June to October, when herds congregate around the waterholes and along the omiramba. November to April is the richest time to visit for birdwatchers, though you will have to be prepared for a difficult slog through muddy tracks.
If you can, pick up the Kavango-Zambezi National Parks map, which is available at some lodges or online via www.thinkafricadesign.com. There's little detail but the GPS coordinates for the major track intersections could save your life. The nearest fuel is at Rundu, Divundu and (sometimes) Tsumkwe.