CAPRIVI, KAVANGO AND ZAMBEZI
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 was 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 4×4 enthusiasts can get a taste of pre-colonial Africa.
The 6 national parks of the area – Khaudum, Mangetti, Bwabwata, Mamili and Mudumu, as well as Popa Game Park – range from the woodlands of the northern Kalahari to the wetlands on the eastern tip of the Zambezi Region. Activities range from game viewing in 4×4 vehicles or on foot to river cruises, mokoro trips and tiger fishing.
The Kavango Region
The Kavango Region in the north-east of Namibia 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, Rundu, has an airport that handles cargo on its way to Angola and the DRC.
Rundu is known for an abundance of skilfully crafted wood carvings. The craftsmen have handed their skills down for generations and the wooden artworks can be admired and purchased at the Mbungura Woodcraft Co-operative.
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
Namibia’s oddly shaped extension towards the centre of Southern Africa is a lush wilderness with excellent birding and untouched game parks for adventurous 4×4 travellers. Large rivers from the Angolan highlands and heavy summer rainfall make the Zambezi Region, formerly known as Caprivi, a fertile area of swamps, flood plains, riverine forests and woodlands.
Excellent fresh water fishing, 400 bird species, water sports in an untouched wilderness area and off the beaten track game viewing have turned the Caprivi into a popular tourist destination. In close proximity to the Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park, the town of Katima Mulilo has become a popular tourist hub. Katima Mulilo is also the best place to purchase the work of the Caprivi potters.
The Zambezi Region is home to several pristine and underexplored game reserves, which are now included in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Bordered by the Okavango and Kwando Rivers, the Bwabwata National Park is home to 35 species of big game including great herds of elephants and rare species including wild dog. The park is developing several community based tourism options and has a handful of spectacular eco lodges.
The smaller parks including Mudumu National Park and Mamilli National Park offer more African wildlife and excellent birding.