Caprivi

Epupa Falls in the Caprivi region that straddles Namibia, Botswana and Angola.

The Caprivi wilderness area is fed by two major perennial rivers, ensuring a wealth of wildlife.

Location:
Eastern Namibia
Borders :
Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana & Angola
Bird Species:
+/- 340
Animal Species:
+/- 450
Regional capital:
Katima Mulilo

Introduction

The remote Caprivi, named after General Georg Leo von Caprivi, is unlike other parts of Namibia and has two major rivers crossing it. These rivers are the Kwando and Okavango. With various minor waterways also contributing to this oasis, the Caprivi is well-watered, lush and green. The forests on the edge of these rivers attract many animal species and many birds who flock here to wade and feed from the watery landscape. There is plenty of wildlife in the area.

The Eastern Caprivi has its fair share of flood plains and swamps because of the convergence of the Kwando, Chobe, Okavango and Zambezi rivers. There are a number of safari lodges in this specific area, and visitors will love all the outdoor activities on offer like fishing, river cruises, game viewing safaris as well as walks with a professional guide. The Mahango and Caprivi Game Reserves, along with the Mudumu National Park, are all in the area.

You are more than likely to see a lot of game species near the Kwando River. Mahango and the Kavango floodplain are where you will find reedbuck, as well as the rare Sitatunga. Organized game drives and fishing safaris are available. In the rainy season, the high rainfall brings life to the pastures of the floodplain, and water-loving antelope are to be seen in abundance, along with elephant, giraffe and zebra.

Reasons to Visit

1

A Remote Oasis

The Caprivi Strip displays a stark contrast to the rest of Namibia and its reserves are almost incomparable to other parks such as Etosha. Its lush, green, well-watered areas, and even its strange finger-like shape, is truly an escape from the dry Namibian lands to the west and south. Its borders being surrounded by different countries such as Botswana and Angola adds to its haven-like sense.   

2

River Quartet

The Chobe, Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando rivers run along the Caprivi Strip, and besides the fact that it attracts a multitude of animals and birds, it embellishes the area in near-tropical green conditions. It makes for a range of extremely enjoyable water-based activities, and spectacular sunsets accompanied by sightings of local animals like hippos and crocodiles.

3

Best kept birding secret

The area is an Eden for birds and, for that matter, a 'must visit' for birding enthusiasts. More than 450 different species are found across the region. The great fish eagle and its heart-wrenching call can be heard from miles away, and seeing it swoop into the fresh waters to catch fish is an experience that will stay with you forever.

Useful Info

Getting There
Plane

By Air

Your expedition to the Caprivi will start at OR Tambo International Airport, where you will be assisted in checking in for your two hour flight to Windhoek in Namibia. Depending on your safari package, you will then start traveling through Namibia. A charter flight to the Caprivi will be arranged to get you to the area in the quickest, safest manner. 

Car

By Road

The Caprivi Strip is located in the far northern outskirts of Namibia, approximately 850km from Windhoek International Airport via the recently paved Trans-Caprivi Highway. African Sky combines the Caprivi with other destinations in Namibia, and therefore the long drive will not be necessary. Guests will be transferred from local airports in the region to one of the parks in the Strip.  

Weather & Best Time To Visit

It’s hard to determine the best time to visit the Caprivi, partly because Namibia experiences approximately 300 days of summer, and partly because it depends on what your interests are. During the dry winter, from June to August, the wildlife gravitates towards the watering holes and rivers and thus game viewing is exceptional. Nights are cool however, and temperatures drop significantly.

January and February are the wettest months of the year, and also mosquito season, which means precautionary measures should be taken for malaria. Nevertheless, the summer months are the best time to view birds and newborn wildlife is abundant. We would recommend visiting from September to December to enjoy the best of both seasons.    

History

The Caprivi Strip was obtained by Namibia (at the time known as German South-West Africa) in 1890, and named after German Chancellor Leo von Caprivi who negotiated the exchange of land with the British. This gave the Germans access to the Zambezi River that they thought would provide them a water passage to the Indian Ocean and a shortcut to Tanganyika - a German colony at the time. This was before the Germans knew about the Victoria Falls that abruptly stopped this venture. The acquisition of the Caprivi Strip was part of the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, where Germany gave Zanzibar to the British and obtained the Caprivi Strip and the Heligoland Island in the North Sea.

Even though the German plan to gain access to the Indian Ocean did not work out, Namibia gained an area with exceptional natural wealth and even mineral resources. Due to the immense diversity of the fauna and flora in this area, there are currently three marvelous national parks; Bwabwata National Park, Mudumu National Park and Nkasa Rupara National Park. Bwabwata National Park was proclaimed in 2007 when the Caprivi Game Park, Mahango Game Reserve and the unproclaimed area along the Kwando River were united. Mudumu National Park was created in 1990 along with its sister park Mamili National Park, that was changed to Nkasa Rupara National park in 2012 by the Namibian government.

Wildlife

The Caprivi Strip is one of the few places in the world where one can still enjoy a true wilderness experience. As there are hardly any fences, indigenous animals still follow their true historic migratory routes. With unmatched biodiversity due to all the different biomes, the amount of different species are mind blowing. Elephants can still be found wading through rivers alongside hippos and crocodiles. Rare antelope species such as sitatunga, red lechwe, roan and sable occur here, and it also serves as a sanctuary for rare and endangered species like the African wild dog. Other predators include lion, brown hyena, spotted hyena, leopard, caracal and cheetah.

Buffalo, giraffe, zebra, reedbuck, oribi, tsessebe, duiker, impala and puku also graze in the area. Similarly, the Caprivi is a paradise for any bird watcher. More than 450 bird species have been documented. The western reaches of the Bwabwata Park have been proclaimed as internationally important bird area, supporting globally threatened bird species. It is also an avian diversity hotspot. Alluring birds in the area include the Barret owlet, Bennett’s woodpecker, white-backed night heron, African skipper, African pygmy-goose, and Southern ground hornbill, to name a few. The area has also become a very popular fishing destination, where anglers target the highly predatory tiger fish.

Vegetation & Terrain

The Kalahari Desert covers over 900 000 km2, which includes the largest part of Botswana and sections of South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola. The Caprivi Strip lies at the bottom of the Kalahari Basin, half-way between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The Strip, although classified as part of the semi-desert, is the wettest region of Namibia and floods occur regularly in the floodplains. The region includes biomes such as marshes, riverine forest, mopane woodland, deciduous woodland, dense savanna and sand dunes. The area is characterized by a generally flat terrain and lush vegetation as opposed to the western tree-and-shrub savannas of the more arid desert regions.

The region encompasses a variety of terrains, some vegetated with tall riverine trees and lush green shrubs, whilst other marshy areas are covered with papyrus and long grass. The Bwabwata National Park's vegetation is best described as deciduous woodlands. The Mudumu National Park covers savanna and mopane woodland, and the Nkasa Rupara National Park is known for its wetlands and marshes. The subtropical features and the presence of the Chobe, Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando rivers allow a multitude of trees species such as the mopane, acacia, Zambezi teak, copalwood and leadwood to prosper along the riverbanks and the plains.

Activities

The Caprivi Strip allows for various methods of pristine game viewing, such as game drives through the parks, bush walks accompanied by experienced rangers, and game viewing by boat. Game can also be viewed from the comfort of the various lodges along the riverbanks. Other water-based activities such as sunset cruises and canoeing are great ways to view the area and unwind. House boats are also found on the rivers, and fishing in the area is a popular pastime. Trips on the traditional mokoro boats (made from the trunks of indigenous trees) accompanied by knowledgeable guides, make for unique experiences.  

Birding along the Strip is exceptional, and it is regarded as one of the top birding spots in Southern Africa. Hiking activities are also available in some of the areas. It is, however, best not to wander off by yourself, especially in riverine areas. Hippos are common, and are extremely aggressive and territorial. Namibia is also considered to be one of the top destinations for stargazing, as the night sky is generally cloudless, so be sure to lie down and experience the marvels of our solar system. In the evenings, the night is also filled by animal noises, and guides can help you determine which animal or bird you are hearing. 

Experiences to be Savored

A traveler takes a photograph of the sunset over the Caprivi.

Relaxing by the River

The rivers are a constant source of serenity. You can enjoy the view from the various lodges or an array of boats, including houseboats, which wade up and down the rivers, whilst passing a multitude of animals. Moreover, sunrise and sunset on the waters are like something out of a film, every day.

Big, bigger, biggest

Crocodiles are often seen on the banks or in the rivers. They are joined by hippos, which can break a crocodile's back with their large jaws. The largest of the land mammals - the elephant - also tends to frequent the area. Every splash or sound results in heads turning to the source of the commotion.

Your Own Private Show

The Caprivi is often referred to as the Okavango of Namibia. It is, however, not as well-known as the latter, which means that guests will experience a more unobtrusive, private wilderness. Enjoy secluded game drives and boat rides in this remote strip of Namibia.

FAQ

It is safe to walk around?
Always pay attention to the warning signs, and always be cautious of snakes and wild animals.
Is there more than one park in the area?
Yes, the Caprivi is home to three game parks; Bwabwata, Mudumu and Mamili.
What is the largest town in the area?
The largest town in the area is Katima Mulilo. It is still a developing town, but it is growing at a rapid pace.
Can you fish in the river?
Yes, fishing is very popular in the Caprivi, and numerous competitions are held.
What about internet connectivity?
Some of the lodges have WiFi available in their main areas, but not in the rooms.
What is the Caprivi Strip?
The 'Caprivi Strip' is just another name for Caprivi, also referred to as the 'Okavango Panhandle'.
Is it safe to swim?
Due to presence of hippos and crocodiles, the rivers are not safe for swimming, but the lodges do have swimming pools available.

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