Caprivi Strip (Zambezi Region)
63,527 sq. km (24,528 sq. mi)
1890 (annexed) | 2013 (split & renamed)
June to October
Lush and untouched wilderness
The former Caprivi Strip (today’s Zambezi Region) is home to an abundance of wildlife, birdlife, fish species, and lush vegetation that is not typical of the generally arid Namibia. It is wild, unfenced, and untamed and in the former Caprivi, you can get a taste of the real Africa.
The Caprivi – Namibia, but totally different
With a landscape unlike anywhere else in Namibia and with a great diversity of wildlife, the former Caprivi Strip can induce any intrepid traveller to explore its wildlife areas. But it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. The fact that only a relative few dare to seek its rewards makes this destination one of the true pristine marvels of southern Africa.
To describe the former Caprivi Strip as the result of bizarre colonial map drawing would by no means be a stretch of the imagination. It does not take long to recognise that the straight lines were clearly drawn by hand, on a map, with the aid of a ruler. As the result of a trade agreement between colonial Germany and Great Britain, the island of Zanzibar was traded to Britain in exchange for the island of Helgoland in the North Sea and, to sweeten the deal, the strip of land north of Bechuanaland was also included in the agreement. This land corridor was subsequently named after the German Chancellor at the time and the one who signed the deal, Leo von Caprivi. The Germans were at first quite pleased with themselves, as they were eager to use the Zambezi River to access the Indian Ocean to the east. However, they forgot to factor in one major obstacle in their path: the Victoria Falls. There simply was no way around this rather large problem.
As time passed, the region gained strategic military importance to the then South African occupiers of Namibia and the second half of the 20th Century saw the Caprivi Strip at the forefront of numerous armed conflicts which were ranging in southern Africa at the time. These included the Rhodesian Bush War, the Namibian armed struggle for Independence and the Angolan Civil War, these conflicts often overlapping with one another. Signs of various military installations from these conflicts can still be seen in the region today.
When Namibia finally gained its independence in 1990, the Caprivi Strip was also incorporated into the new republic. Then in 2013, the Caprivi was split into three separate administrative regions and renamed. It now comprises of the Kavango East, Kavango West and the Zambezi Region. Despite the renaming, many of the locals in the area still prefer to use the term Caprivi, when referring to their home.
The two main rivers which shape the region are the Kavango and the Kwando. Both rivers flow from the Angolan highlands, supplying the Caprivi with water and thus, making the region greener and more fertile than the rest of the country. Interestingly, both rivers change their names when they enter Botswana. The Kavango becomes the Okavango River, which then goes on to feed the Okavango Delta and the Kwando becomes the Linyati River and further to the east, the Chobe River, which eventually merges with the mighty Zambezi River.
The former Caprivi Region is home to several national parks that you can explore:
The Khaudum National Park is a 3,842 km2 conservation area which stretches from the woodlands of the Northern Kalahari to the Caprivi Strip. While Khaudum offers a wide range of animals, the game viewing here can be seasonal and challenging. Off the beaten track, the campsites offer few facilities and a minimum of two 4×4 vehicles are required to explore this raw and untouched wilderness. The elephant population far outnumbers the human one here and rare species like the roan antelope or the African wild dog provides an undeniable allure.
Bordered by the Kavango and Kwando Rivers, the Bwabwata National Park is home to 35 species of big game including lions and leopards, great herds of elephants and other rarer species including African wild dog. Within the Bwabwata National Park you find the Mahango Game Park, the Buffalo Game Park, and the Kwando Game Park. The collective Bwabwata National Park might be one of the most beautiful parks in Namibia, with stunning landscapes in part comprised of giant baobabs and flooded plains. But it also has fantastic wildlife, particularly large elephant herds and rare antelope species such as sable, roan, and tssessebe, as well as predators such as lion, leopard, and hyena.
The Nkasa Rupara (Mamili) and Mudumu are the two most eastern national parks found in the Zambezi Region. Their landscapes consist of flood plains, riverine forests, swamps, and woodlands. Buffalo can be commonly seen here as well as the red lechwe and sitatunga antelopes. Both parks can be a challenge to navigate due to bad roads. But this also makes them perfect for those who seek to go on an adventure in an area that is not visited by many travellers. Birders will be in paradise in either of these national parks as they can be home to over 400 different species, depending on the time of year.
There are several fantastic accommodations and campsites in the former Caprivi Strip. Most of them are eco-friendly and strive to conserve the environment in which they are home. Often, lodges and campsites in the Caprivi will be beautifully located on the water’s edge, be it on the shores of the Kavango (Okavango) or the Kwando rivers or on the edge of a marsh or floodplain. You will find the lodges, tented camps and campsites all offering you fantastic views and a real “in the bush feeling” in a pristine wilderness setting.
The former Caprivi (Zambezi Region) is an adventurous destination that isn’t always easy to navigate. But for those who do, it offers plenty in return. Wonderful game viewing, both on land and on water is combined with stunning landscapes. After having seen the arid open spaces of Namibia, it is always a delight to step into the lush and green Kavango and Zambezi Regions. Sometimes, you have to remind yourself, that you are still in the same country.
Many national parks in one region
You can explore various national parks including the Khaudum, Bwabwata, Nkasa Rupara and Mudumu in the Caprivi. Each can provide you with an excellent and unique wildlife experience.
See herds of buffaloes
You can see large herds of African buffalo in the national parks of the Caprivi Strip and this is one of the very few regions in Namibia where this member of the Big 5 can be found.
Bordering three countries
You can journey through the whole Caprivi Strip, which borders Angola, Botswana, and Zambia, and looks like an isolated finger that points towards the heart of Southern Africa.
The Zambezi Region is lush and green nourished by the Kavango and Kwando Rivers.
The national parks are some of the best spots in Namibia to see wildlife, from large elephant herds to beautiful antelopes like this kudu.
You can explore the area on boat tours, organised by your lodge or camp.
If you are a fairly experienced off-road driver, you can do self-drive game drives. Otherwise, you can go on a guided tour or book game drives with your accommodation.
The Zambezi Region (former Caprivi Strip) is a very remote area, and you usually won’t meet many other tourists here.
WHEN TO GO
Best time to go to the Caprivi Strip
The dry winter months are the best time to travel to the Caprivi. Wildlife is easier to find, the temperatures are more pleasant, and the trails are as good as they are ever going to get. The parks rarely get busy, which makes a visit during the high season even more attractive. Exploring the parks during the green season can be a challenge at the best of times and sometimes, even impossible. It also can get very hot in summer. Unless you are an avid birder, for whom the green season will be very rewarding, the dry season is the best time to visit the Caprivi region.
Dry SeasonJune to October
Best wildlife viewing and road conditions
Green SeasonNovember to May
Best for birding but flooded trails can be a problem
Why to go
Step off the beaten track
The Caprivi Strip can provide you with a fantastic wildlife experience. You are not likely to come across many other safari-goers here and you can find yourself totally immersed in unspoilt landscapes. This is due in large part to the rough nature of the parks in the region and the fact that a 4×4 vehicle and the necessary skills to drive off-road are required.
The Zambezi Region is still one of the best kept secrets for wildlife and safari enthusiasts. The national parks here are remote and you usually don't have to share sightings with many other travellers. It's a great area to visit when going on a cross-border trip of Namibia and Botswana or Zimbabwe.Marlene | Namibia Travel Expert
Classic Game Drives
Find herds of elephants, buffalo, and rare antelope species.
Wonderful game viewing and fantastic sunset river cruises.
Kavango River Tiger Fishing
Eco-friendly fishing for both the experienced and inexperienced angler.
Things to do
Go on game drives, boat cruises, and try your hand at fishing
You can go on a game drive experience which is very different to the rest of Namibia and on boat cruises in the Kwando-Linyati region, you can find some unexpected wildlife and birdlife along the way too. The more active and adventurous of you can try catching a prized tigerfish in the Kavango River, while the more relaxed can simply go on a beautiful sunset river cruise.
- Classic Game Drives
- Boat Cruises
- Kavango River Tiger Fishing
Hear the grunt of the hippos from your sundowner viewpoint as they swim down the Kavango River.
These water loving antelopes are found nowhere else in Namibia.
The Caprivi Strip is the best place in Namibia to find herds of African buffalo.
Large kudu antelopes roam the Mudumu and Bwabwata National Parks.
Migrating elephants cross into the Caprivi and vast herds can regularly be sighted here.
WILDLIFE & PLANTLIFE IN THE CAPRIVI
The hidden safari gem of Namibia
The Caprivi strip is an adventurous wildlife destination and after the Etosha National Park, it is arguably the second-best safari region in Namibia. What makes the wildlife areas in this region so special is the fact that you have the chance to encounter animals, plants, and landscapes which you will not find anywhere else in Namibia.
Where to stay in the Zambezi Region
Nkasa Lupala Tented Camp
River Dance Lodge
Nambwa Tented Lodge
Mobola Island Lodge
The former Caprivi Strip, located in the north-east of Namibia, has been split into three separate regions namely, Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi. The panhandle connects to the rest of Namibia by a narrow strip of land with the entire region only about 100km wide at its widest point. The narrowest point is only around 30km wide. It stretches on for roughly 450km, right into the centre of southern Africa.
Experience the Zambezi Region (Caprivi Strip)
Marvels of Southern Africa
Places Windhoek, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Etosha National Park, Zambezi Region, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls
NAD 82,500 per person
Highlights Windhoek to Victoria Falls
Places Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Etosha National Park, Kavango & Zambezi Region, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls
NAD 38,700 per person
The Best of Namibia and Botswana
Places Kalahari, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Ugab Valley, Etosha National Park, Zambezi Region, Okavango Delta & Moremi Area, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls
NAD 72,900 per person
Highlights of Namibia and Botswana
Places Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Etosha National Park, Zambezi Region, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Okavango Delta, Kalahari
NAD 72,800 per person
Gems of Namibia and Botswana
Places Waterberg Plateau, Khaudum National Park, Okavango Delta, Tsodilo Hills, Zambezi Region, Kavango Region, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls
NAD 95,000 per person
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