Similar to neighbouring Botswana, the Caprivi Strip is a completely different Namibia where wide tropical rivers flow & vegetation thrives. Head east from Etosha and you enter a narrow tract of land, the Caprivi Strip, that nestles in the far northeast section of the country in the heart of Africa. Here you will find a Namibia of a different kind; wide tropical rivers flow fervently, vegetation thrives on river banks and in luscious national parks and wildlife sightings shift from desert-adapted animals to the grazing mammals more commonly found in the neighbouring countries of Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
There are a total of five national parks here: Mahango, Popa Falls Reserve, Bwabwata, Mudumu and Mamili. Mahango borders the Okavango River to the east and is the best park in Namibia for spotting a wide variety of birds. Mudumu covers riverine forest bordering Kwando River, whilst Bwabwata is highly undeveloped with less tourism infrastructure and roads for game viewing. Popa Falls are a series of rapids that give rise to the Okavango, which then spreads out across the Kalahari.
One possibility for those looking to explore this area is to fly into Katima Mulilo Airport after finishing in other areas of Namibia, which is the main airport serving the strip. From here you can head down into Botswana and the excellent Kwando Lagoon Camp, to create a unique itinerary that showcases the best of this region.
Demonstrating perfectly the dramatic contrast that draws people to Namibia, Damaraland is a place of barren plains, petrified forests, flat-topped mountains, ancient valleys and rocky outcrops; a wilderness that not only entices with its scenic beauty but also contains desert-adapted wildlife and one of the few places where Africa’s magnificent wildlife can be seen successfully co-existing with rural farms and villages.
Arguably the main attraction of Damaraland is tracking the rare desert-adapted elephant, and you get a real sense of how powerfully adaptable animals can be when you first witness these dust-blown animals in such a harsh environment, as they usually rely so heavily on bountiful food and water. Black rhino have also survived on communal land without any conservation status here, meaning that Namibia is the only place in the world that this is currently true of. Tracking on foot with one of our expert guides to sight the rhino roam freely in this harsh environment comes highly recommended.
An important archaeological site and UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains some of the finest examples of Bushman paintings and rock engravings in southern Africa that date back some 10-20,000 years, and this makes it one of the most visited sites in the region. It is also a palaeontologist’s dream, with Jurassic sites located in the area, and some of the unusual rock formations such as the Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain add to the intriguing landscape.
Fish River Canyon
The southern hemisphere’s largest canyon is slightly off the beaten track in the southern half of Namibia in the Karas Region. The canyon was formed by the erosion of the Fish River, the country’s longest interior river, which started 500 millions years ago. If the canyon itself wasn’t impressive enough, visitors are also treated to a variety of animals that roam the nearby plains in modest supply, such as antelope, zebra, kudu and baboons.
One of Namibia’s most pristine and untouched regions nestled in the northwest corner of the country. Sparsely populated, serene and largely empty, you will find scattered settlements of semi-nomadic Himba tribes and a variety of ecosystems from desert terrains to the west and mopane savannah to the east, with mountain ranges to the north near the Kunene River. Due to the remoteness of these parts, they are usually visited through fly-in safaris. Wildlife in this region is mostly centred on the desert elephants, and it is possible to see herds roaming the desert plains.
Luderitz & Kolmanskop
Once thriving cities, Luderitz & Kolmanskop are now some of Namibia's most famous ghost towns.
The port town of Luderitz lies in the south west of Namibia on what is one of the continent’s least hospitable coastlines. Founded in 1883, it was in 1909 that diamonds were discovered in the region and a surge of popularity ensued, creating a boom town in the nearby Kolmanskop, where the diamond mining settlement burgeoned as German miners were attracted to the region. The village saw grand mansions spring up out of the desert, as well as facilities such as hospital, school, casino and theatre, reminiscent of a small German town in the middle of the desert, also with a rail link to Luderitz.
Following World War I the diamond field slowly diminished, and the town started heading into decline, and was ultimately abandoned in 1954, becoming one of Namibia’s most infamous ghost towns.
Namib Naukluft National Park covers an area of 40,000 square metres, making it Africa’s largest game reserve. Comprising gravel plains, desert, canyons and mountains, its highlight are the desert dunes that surround Sossusvlei.
Located in the southern region of the country in Sesriem, Sossusvlei is set within the heart of the park. Sossusvlei itself refers to the clay pan or 'vlei' (an Afrikaans word meaning ‘valley’ or ‘pan’) that is created by a river that flows through the Namib Desert every 5 to 10 years. Mostly dry, the pan rarely fills with water, but it is surrounded by towering dunes of up to 300 metres from the desert floor.