The Caprivi Strip and Kavango
The north-eastern tract of Namibia is an isolated finger that points towards the heart of Southern Africa. Fed by a multitude of rivers the Caprivi Strip is an area with a very different character to the rest of the stark Namibian landscape. On the border of 4 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 appeal of the Kavango and Caprivi region 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 – Khaudom, Mangetti, Bwabwata, Mamili and Mudumu national parks and Popa Game Park – range from the woodlands of the northern Kalahari to the wetlands on the eastern tip of the Caprivi Region. Activities range from game viewing in 4×4 vehicles, on foot or even on horseback to river cruises mukolo trips, tiger fishing and camel safaris to Bushmanland.
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 on 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 particularly 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 the Khaudum National Park. The 3 842 km 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 camp sites offer no facilities and a minimum of two 4×4 vehicles is required to explore this untouched wilderness. Dense vegetation can make game viewing difficult, but rare species like the roan antelope or the African wild dog have an undeniable allurement.
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 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 Caprivi region is home to several 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 and 400 bird species. While there are no overnight facilities, the park is developing several community based tourism options. The smaller parks including Mudumu National Park, Malili National Park and Popa Game park offer more African wildlife and excellent birding.