The main B8 road from Rundu to Katima, known as the Golden Highway, has always been gravel – which was fine for 2WD cars, though its bad potholes and fine dust cause many accidents. In the last year this has been tarred, and it is now possible to drive from Katima Mulilo to Rundu entirely on tar.
A word of warning though. Do not underestimate the distances on the Caprivi: they are deceptively long. Driving in one day from Victoria Falls or Kasane to Mudumu, or from Katima Mulilo to Popa Falls, or from Mudumu to Rundu, are the maximum distances that you should attempt as part of a normal holiday trip.
Rundu to Divundu: 204km
This section of the road makes a pleasant drive, as it is often surrounded by green, irrigated fields with the Okavango River as a backdrop. The entry point to the Caprivi Game Park is a bridge over the Okavango.
A few hundred yards before the river the road forks. The right goes to Botswana, via Popa Falls and Mahango. Just after the fork, on the left of the Popa road, is a useful service station which usually has petrol and diesel. This may not seem like a very important place, but it is the only reliable source of fuel for hundreds of kilometres.
Fork left on to the bridge (which always used to be referred to as the Bagani Bridge) and there's usually a small checkpoint. This puzzles many: why maintain it? It is just a hut by the bridge. But consider the importance of that one bridge over the Okavango, and you will realise why the checkpoint remains.Okavango River View Restcamp
Out on a limb, there's a restcamp about 5km north of the main B8. It is reached just opposite the turning south into Khaudum, signposted Khaudum and Sigaretti, about 111km from Rundu. The author would welcome any news on this new camp. It seems ideally situated for those (many) who misjudge just how bad the road going north, out of Khaudum, is going to be.
Divundu to Kongola: 191km
The map shows that a large chunk of the Caprivi Strip is taken up by the Caprivi Strip Game Reserve. The Golden Highway bisects this undeveloped park which, while it is home to much wildlife, has no facilities and no marked game-viewing side roads. Most visitors just pass through, saving their time for other parks, as the game seems to avoid the main road. The most that you can usually see is a few raptors aloft and the occasional elephant dropping on the road – but drive carefully in case something does appear on the road.
Because it borders on Angola, this area was very sensitive and controlled by the military for many years. Now only two control posts remain to remind you of Caprivi's past troubles: one at Bagani and another at Kongola. You do not need any permits to cross the strip and the people manning the control posts will usually just ask where you are going and wave you on with a smile.
There are only two larger settlements within this park: the Omega Shopping Centre, 70km from Bagani, and Babatwa (with a Baptist Mission Church), 23km further on. Neither township is large, and few visitors stop at either but they might be helpful in an emergency. Aside from these, this game reserve is very sparsely populated. One interesting stop should be:Kxoe Cultural Village
This community development project, being built at Omega III (about 60km west of the Kwando), is due to open around the end of 1998. It is promised as a showcase for some aspects of the Kxoe people's traditional culture, probably including information and demonstrations of their food, medicines, dancing and traditional healing ceremonies. Like Lizauli, this is run by the people for the people's benefit, and so is well worth supporting.
Kongola to Katima Mulilo: 110km
Kongola used to be like Bagani, just a small hut by the bridge over the river Kwando. Now the bridge has become a large tar-and-concrete structure, so perhaps we should expect Kongola to expand similarly. About 5.5km east of the bridge is a small group of buildings, including a convenient bottle stall, and 1.5km later is the Engen fuel station and a turn-off to the south, signposted Sangwali and Lianshulu. The sign also notes that the next fuel stop along this road is at Linyanti, 122km away.
Continuing towards Katima the road becomes busier, with more people around. About 40km from Katima there is a collection of people selling wooden elephants, which is worth a stop if you have the time.