Zambezi Region & Kavango
Ever wondered why Namibia has that peculiarly shaped stretch?
The north-eastern tract of Namibia is an isolated finger that points towards the heart of Southern Africa. Fed by a multitude of rivers, this area previously known as the Caprivi Strip and has a very different character to the rest of the stark Namibian landscape. On the border of four neighbouring countries lies a lush and untouched wilderness that gives explorers at heart a playground full of big game in the perfect African setting.
The former Caprivi Strip is comprised of the Kavango Region and the Zambezi Region. The appeal of this area lies in an abundance of big game, birdlife, fish and vegetation that is not only completely untypical of the mostly dry Namibia, but also completely untamed. Here, self-reliant enthusiasts can get a taste of pre-colonial Africa.
The Kavango Region lives off the Okavango River, which forms part of the Angolan border. The river, flowing from the Angolan highlands, supplies this region with water making it greener and more fertile than the rest of the country. The Kavango people live from fishing, cattle and farming. The region’s largest town of Rundu is known for an abundance of skilfully crafted woodcarvings. The artisans have handed their skills down for generations; their wooden artworks admired and purchased at the Mbungura Woodcraft Co-operative.
The land jutting out to the east of the Kavango region has four national parks where you can view game. It offers something for everybody, with Bwabwata and Mahango Game Parks to the west and Mamili and Madumu to the east. 2WD vehicles easily reach Popa Falls and Mahango Game Reserve, whereas the more remote eastern areas would require 4×4 vehicles. With plentiful water in the region, there is an incredible wealth and diversity of wildlife: some 600 species of bird, four of the big five and an incredible variety of flora.
You may also be lucky enough to spot some of the rarer species like roan and sable antelope in Mahango. In the wetter areas, you will be able to see sitatunga and red lechwe. Other animals you are likely to see besides huge herds of elephant and buffalo, are kudu, impala, oribi, zebra and wild dog. If you are a keen birder, look out for the rare racket-tailed roller and Schalow’s turaco among other prolific species such as fish eagle, kingfisher, and hornbill.
The major tourist attraction in the Kavango Region is Khaudum National Park. The 3,842 km2 conservation area stretches from the woodlands of the Northern Kalahari to the Caprivi Strip.
While Khaudum offers a wide range of animals, the game viewing here is challenging. Off the beaten track, the campsites offer few facilities and a minimum of two 4×4 vehicles are required to explore this untouched wilderness. Rare species like the roan antelope or the African wild dog have an undeniable allure, and the elephant population far outnumbers the human one.
The Zambezi Region is home to several pristine and underexplored game reserves, which are now included in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. This horizontal strip is 500 km long and only 32 km wide before finally opening at its furthest point into the shape of a rough triangle where four countries meet: Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. This is known as a quadripoint and is the only one in the world, while there are more than 150 tripoints worldwide.
This of course means that you can combine several countries within one trip, for example Chobe National Park in Botswana and the Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. If you plan to visit Zimbabwe after your stay in Caprivi, you can either cross over into Zambia from Katima Mulilo and travel on to Livingstone and Victoria Falls or you can cross the border at Ngoma Bridge into Botswana, which is a mere 70 km from the Zimbabwean border.
Temperatures can be extremely high, especially in mid-summer. The rainy season extends from December to March in this wettest region of Namibia. Game viewing is best during the drier winter months when the vegetation is less dense, during the dry season.
The islands toward the Okavango border can be reached by road but after the rains, 80 % of the area becomes flooded, cutting roads off from the mainland. It is important to note that malaria is especially prevalent during the summer months, make sure to take extra precautions during this time.
How to get there
For time constraint travellers is a fly-in safari to the smaller close-by airstrips. A guided fly-in safari comes highly recommended; everything arranged on your behalf, from the transfers from the airstrips to your game drives and excursions.
Accommodation and Activities
The area has its fair share of luxury bush camps and waterfront lodges with lush vegetation and vast wetlands. You will be able to explore the rivers by mokoro and flat-bottomed motor boats, watch the wildlife come down to drink or enjoy some of the excellent fishing the area is known for: sporty tiger fish, tilapia, silver barbel, catfish, African pike, and bream.
You can also visit the local settlements and experience the true Caprivian culture.
Never stop exploring, your next adventure is one click away.