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Caprivi Strip

Namibia Caprivi Strip Wildlife Elephant Dana Allen

Namibia's Caprivi Strip

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. Here you will find a wetland paradise characterised by wide rivers and land that feels distinctly more tropical and lush than other arid parts of the country, with vegetation including woodland, papyrus trees and tropical palms.

Quick Facts

  1. History: the Germans wanted this land as they wanted access to the Zambezi River which they thought would bring them to the Indian Ocean.
  2. Where: positioned between the Zambezi River and the Kwando-Linyanti-Chobe River System.
  3. Dimensions: it is 450km long.
  4. Commonly known as: the Okavango Panhandle.
"Due to the high number of waterholes, the wildlife of the Caprivi Strip is abundant, with antelope in large numbers along with elephant, wild dog, hippos and lion."

Location and Activities

As you leave central Namibia and the Etosha region you will traverse a ‘triangle’ of towns, namely Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Otavi, set around the Otavi Mountains and one of the country’s most important agricultural zones. The town of Rundu is the gateway to the Caprivi Strip, which has a distinctly rural African feel, where livestock roam. There is great scope for birdwatchers with a variety of species and this is also the only part of Namibia where you can see buffalo.

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.

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