Mongu has a reputation for theft, so visitors should take great care of their belongings and vehicles here. The police appear to be vigilant, as there are often several roadblocks around the town where they will check your vehicle and its papers. Make sure that you're wearing your seat belts and driving slowly through town. Options for getting around are:
Boat transport is the best way to see the immediate area around Mongu, and it is the only way if the flood is high. For a few dollars you can hire a mokoro (dugout canoe) to take you out on the waterways, and perhaps down towards Lealui and the main channel. Spend a few hours like this, on the water, and you will appreciate how many of the locals transport themselves around. You will see everything from people to household goods, supplies, live animals and even the occasional bicycle loaded on to boats and paddled or poled (punted) from place to place.
For rather more, larger boats with outboard motors will take 20 or so people on longer journeys; there's typically one of these per day between Mongu and Kalabo.
Given that boats are the only way to reach some settlements in this area during the wet season, there is a 'postboat' on the Zambezi that carries passengers, cargo, and even the mail. It is large enough to also take the odd vehicle, though this may need a special arrangement. Ask at the Mongu District Council offices, or telephone 07 221175, for more details – although note that this is currently a very expensive option, costing over US$100/Kw500,000 one-way for a vehicle from Mongu to Kalabo.
Apart from the main roads from Lusaka to Mongu and Lukulu, most of the area's roads are little more than vehicle tracks, and they degenerate into patches of deep sand quite frequently. You really need a 4WD here even in the dry season, and the worst of these tracks will require almost constant low-range driving through long sections of Kalahari sand.
During the wet season, the whole area north of the Ngonye Falls is subject to flooding. Then the Barotse floodplain becomes a large, shallow lake – much of the population moves to higher ground to live, and boats are the only option for getting around. Don't even think about trying to drive anywhere off the tarred roads then.