Travel Guide Africa Namibia Caprivi

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Introduction

Caprivi, sometimes called the Caprivi Strip and formerly known as Itenge, is a narrow protrusion of Namibia eastwards from the Okavango Region about 450 kilometres, between Botswana to the south, and Angola and Zambia to the north. Caprivi is bordered by the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi rivers. It went through a civil war from 1994-1999. The strip is administratively divided between the eastern Zambezi Region and the western Kavango East Region.

The Caprivi Strip is named after German Chancellor Leo von Caprivi who acquired it from Great Britain in 1890 for the German colony of German South-West Africa (Namibia) in order to have a river connection to the German colony of Tanganyika. The connection proved unsuccessful, due to the Victoria Falls. Due to the colonial connotation the are is officially called Zambezi Region in Namibia but tourists and tourist maps still commonly call it the Caprivi.

There was a conflict in Caprivi in 1999, but it lasted only a few days, and the strip has been peaceful since then.

It is a tropical, wet stretch of land, known for its typical round huts along the street.

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Cities

Its largest settlement is the town of Katima Mulilo.

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Sights and Activities

The area is rich in wildlife and has mineral resources. Of particular interest to the government of Namibia is that it gives access to the Zambezi River and thereby a potential trading route to Africa's East Coast. However, the vagaries of the river level, various rapids, the presence of Victoria Falls downstream and continued political uncertainty in the region make this use of the Caprivi Strip unlikely, although it may be used for ecotourism in the future.

Within Namibia the Caprivi Strip provides significant habitat for the critically endangered Wild African Dog, Lycaon pictus. It is a corridor for African elephant moving from Botswana and Namibia into Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. National Parks found in the Caprivi Strip are Bwabwata National Park, Mudumu National Park and Nkasa Rupara National Park. Local communities have organised themselves into communal area conservancies and community forests.

  • Bwabwata National Park - The largest covering the whole of the Caprivi strip and has a somewhat unique landscape. It is situated on an old dune system which means that there are a number of drainage lines running north west-south east across the whole length of the park. In the rainy season the drainage lines fill with rain which sits in natural pans providing drinking water for game long into the dry months. Once the water evaporates totally the game moves to the Kwando and Kavango rivers so if you are staying on the riverfront the best time of year for seeing game is July-November. When there is water in the pans there is an almost unexplored road network (most of which is old routes created by the South African military) in the park interior. The vegetation is a mixture of, riverine forest, teak forest, acacia fringe woodland on the edge of the drainage lines and open grassland.Expect to see buffalo, hordes of elephant, lion (which are making a big comeback in the area), leopard, African wild dog, sable, roan, giraffe, and the usual impala, kudu, and zebra.Bwabwata has a national route running the length of the park (the B8) with 120 km/h speed limits. The road is unfenced so please watch your speed and avoid driving at night time if possible. Many animals are killed each year by vehicles including endangered species such as wild dogs which are very inquisitive of vehicles.
  • Mudumu National Park - Mudumu National Park is situated around 30 kilometres south of the main B8 tar road running through the strip and has its western boundary on the Kwando river. To the east of the transit route through the park there is a huge area of beautiful mopane forest which the game moves into during the rainy season and to the east of the road, mixed mopane scrub/riverine forest which is the place to be in the dry season. Mudumu is a very under-rated park with easy access and beautiful scenery. Expect to see huge numbers of elephant in the dry season, buffalo, zebra, leopard, hyaena and plenty of roan antelope.
  • Nkasa Lupala National Park - Located around an hour south of Mudumu with the southern boundary of the park formed by the Linyanti river, the opposite bank of which is Botswana. Mamili is a stunning swampland which due to its often inaccessible nature has remained cut off from the human population of the area for many years. As a wilderness experience it has few equals and although it does not hold the diversity of game that Bwabwata holds if you get it right (usually end of the dry season) it can be fantastic. There is a stable population of lions in the park which prey mainly on the huge buffalo herds which inhabit the two islands (Nkasa and Rupara). They are generally quite easy to track down if they are not moving between the islands. Due to the diversity of habitat in the Caprivi birdlife in all of the three parks is stunning with over 400 recorded species including specials such as slaty egret, racket-tailed roller and black coucal.

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Weather

The Caprivi has a hot climate. Rain usually falls in the form of heavy thunderstorms. There is a wet season, which coincides with the summer months of November to April. During the dry winter months, from May to October, there is virtually no rain at all and it gets very cold in the morning.

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Getting There

There are some small landing strips in the far part of the strip, but otherwise the best way in is by road.

The main way in would be via the B8 through the Bwabwata National Park (composed by ex "Caprivi Game Park" and ex "Mahango Game Reserve"). The B8 can be accessed from Rundu, the D3400, or the D3309.

There are a few river crossings into Angola, Zambia, and Botswana, but be aware that these can close at any given time.

There are minibuses which go from Katima Mulilo to Windhoek; there is also a Intercape Mainliner bus.

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Getting Around

The B8 is tarred and in very good condition. The C48 from Botswana to Bagani is a gravel road and in fair condition, easily passable with an ordinary sedan. Other roads (D-roads and those without letters or numbers) tend to be rough, sandy, heavily corrugated, and muddy after rainfall. The roads in the wetlands east of Katima Mulilo will normally require a 4x4. During the rainy season (Oct-April) they might not be passable with any type of car, phone your host to enquire about road conditions.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

  • Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge, Sangwali/Mamili NP (GPS: S18 19.766 E23 40.324), ‚úČ info@nkasalupalalodge.com.

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Safety and Health

All of northern Namibia, and particularly the tropical Caprivi, is a Malaria risk zone. Take the necessary precautions.

The Caprivi is famous for its many elephants. Don't drive too close, and don't drive too fast, even (and particularly) on the B8. Unless accompanied by a screeching halt, 10-15 m will normally not put your party in danger and is close enough for good holiday pictures. Come any closer and the younger elephants might play with your car, the older ones might get angry, either way your car might end upside down. You'll know that an elephant is angry when he shakes his head. In this case, stay in the car, switch off the engine, and avoid all unnatural noise (cell phone, camera, such things). They will eventually walk away; wait for this to happen instead of trying a daring escape.

The Kavango River also has crocodiles and hippos. It is not safe to swim there. Outside the settlements it is not safe to even go near, as hippos are both aggressive and territorial and can easily outrun a human on land.

Namibia has the larges variety of poisonous snakes on the planet, and many inhabit the Caprivi. Specifically, the Black Mamba and the Mozambique spitting cobra are more common in this region than you may think. Be extra careful, even when in the premises of a lodge, or even in your room or dining area.

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Caprivi Travel Helpers

  • Lauriesam

    My husband and I rented a car in Botswana (Kasane airport) and did a self drive from there into the Caprivi strip and then through Namibia in May of this year. We spent about ten days driving through this beautiful country.

    Ask Lauriesam a question about Caprivi

This is version 3. Last edited at 9:56 on Jul 30, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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