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Open Africa

Caprivi Wetlands Paradise Route


Attractions

Mafwe Living Museum
A living museum where the Mafwe demonstrate their original way of life through basket weaving, fishing and a range of ot...


Features

   Accommodation

Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Kalimbeza Rest Camp & Fishing Safaris
Accommodation: En-suite chalet; Camping facilities with ablution blocks; Wash-up facilities; Freezing and cooking...

Camp Kwando
Nestled on the banks of the Kwando River, Camp Kwando invites you to come and explore the hidden treasures of an untamed...

Chobe Community Campsite
Chobe Community Campsite is owned and managed by the local conservancy, however, management support is provided by the n...

Bezi River Village
Situated on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River and nestled between lush towering indigenous trees, Bezi River Village...

Camp Chobe
Camp Chobe combines the peace and serenity of gliding through waterways lined with lush aquatic plants and the excitemen...

Caprivi River Lodge
Keith originally came to Katima Mulilo in 2001 to run Caprivi River Lodge before deciding to buy it. It needed a lot of...

Malyo Wilderness Camp
Malyo Wilderness Camp nestles on the bank of the Kwando River in one of the permanent channels. Located between permanen...

Caprivi Houseboat Safaris
Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River, a few kilometers from Katima Mulilo in the...

Kalizo Lodge
Kalizo, meaning 'place of safety or safe harbour' is well suited to this lodge, situated on the sandy bank of the Zambez...

Mavunje Community Campsite & Mashi River Safaris
Mavunje Community Campsite: Two luxury campsites with private facilities including a fully equipped kitchen, dining are...

Mazambala Island Lodge & Campsite
Mazambala Island Lodge & Campsite invites you to: “Come and experience the allure of Mazambala, a place o...

Mukusi Cabins/Camp & Restaurant
Mukusi Cabins offer a good range of accommodation with a lovely bar and restaurant area within Katima Mulilo. Mukusi is...

Nambwa Community Campsite
The Nambwa Community Campsite is part of the Mayuni Conservancy and was started in 2003. The campsite was identified by...

Namushasha River Lodge
Namushasha River Lodge is situated on the banks of the Kwando River, overlooking a tranquil hippo pool with over 30...

Namwi Island Lodge, Campsite & Restaurant
Namwi Island is situated approximately 10km from Katima Mulilo and lies on the banks of the Zambezi River. This tranquil...

Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge
Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge is built on the banks of one of the many channels of the Kwando-Linyanti river system. This un...

Protea Hotel Zambezi River
Protea Hotel Zambezi River is the gateway to Victoria Falls and the Chobe National Park. It offers 38 standard twin and...

Rupara Community Campsite
Rupara Community Campsite is located within the Nkasa Lupala (formally Mamili) National Park. It is only accessible by 4...

Salambala Community Campsite
Facilities: Individual, private and shady campsites - Each site can take 3-4 tents. Site 1 can accommodate a larger g...

Shamwari Houseboat Safaris
The Shamwari Houseboat is based on the Zambezi River from Katima Mulilo in Namibia's North-Eastern Caprivi  Wetland...

Susuwe Island Lodge
Susuwe Island Lodge offers visitors the opportunity to experience closely a wild and untouched island of Africa. Situate...

The Caprivi Collection - Lianshulu Lodge
Lianshulu Lodge in the East Caprivi overlooks the Kwando River and is situated on a private concession inside the Mudumu...

Nambwa Lodge
Nambwa Lodge features 10 luxury tents built up into the trees on high platforms, each with its own private raised viewin...

Fish Eagle's Nest B&B
Fish Eagle's Nest B&B offers the following: Friendly and homely atmosphere; 12 En-suite rooms (double/single);...

Island View Lodge & Campsite
Island View Lodge is situated in a sheltered backwater overlooking Kalimbeza Island, the perfect place to capture the sp...

   Activities

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Lizauli Traditional Village
Lizauli Traditional Village is a community tourism product that gives visitors a glimpse of life in a traditional villag...

   Arts & Crafts

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Mashambo Crafts Centre
Mashambo Crafts Centre offers locally woven baskets from the !kum !kwe san community. Even though the craft shop may be...

Katima Craft Centre
The Katima Craft Centre started as a community project in 1986 with only ten members. In 1988 the owner of the Zamb...

Mashi Craft Centre
The Mashi Craft Market is located next to the filling station at Kongola. The craft centre is supplied by 11 community g...

Ngoma Craft Centre
The Ngoma Craft Centre coincided with the establishment of the Salambala Conservancy in 1994. The construction of the cr...

Sheshe Craft Shop
Priscilla started this initiative in 1997 while working as a community resource manager for the Wuparo Conservancy. She...

   Environment

Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Impalila Conservancy
The Impalila Conservancy is located on Impalila Island in the Eastern Caprivi Floodplain. The easiest way to reach the i...

Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC)
Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) is a field-based, non-governmental organization and registe...

Kasika Conservancy
The Kasika Conservancy started in 1998 with the help of the IRDNC. The vision of the conservancy is to help improve the...

Mashi Conservancy
The Mashi Conservancy is a community initiative 30km south of Kongola. Conservancies are self-defined common property ma...

Mayuni Conservancy
The Mayuni Conservancy is a community initiative located at Kongola. This conservancy is one of the first to be establis...

Mayuni Conservancy
The Mayuni Conservancy is a community initiative located at Kongola. This conservancy is one of the first to be establis...

Salambala Conservancy
The Salambala Conservancy is one of Namibia's most biologically diverse areas, encompassing a rich combination of mopane...

Wuparo Conservancy
Wuparo Conservancy was started by the Mayeyi Traditional Authority in 1997 after they found that the community was not r...

   Food & Drink

Below is a list of restaurants and other food and beverage outlets on this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Passione Restaurant
A local restaurant in Katima Mulilo offering a variety of meals from seafood to burgers and pizza. They are open for bre...

Baobab Bistro, Transfers & Safaris
Situated in the main street of Katima Mulilo, Baobab Bistro's cool and tranquil atmosphere will ensure you relax before...

   Services

Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Kingfisher Bakery
Kingfisher Bakery offers a range of freshly baked breads and other baked goods.          &...

Mopanie Xpriss Shuttle Services
Mopanie Xpriss offers a shuttle service in and around Katima Mulilo. They have been operating since 2007. Transport is...

Vista Optiks
Vista Optiks provides optical services such as professional examinations, spectacles, contact lenses, sunglasses, prescr...

Tutwa Tourism and Travel
The land and waterways of the Caprivi Strip in Namibia provide a host of activities. Tutwa Travel and Tours offer a dive...

Katima Mulilo Town Council Tourism Office
This office can assist with information on the area, accommodation and activities.

Elephant Energy
Elephant Energy distributes appropriate sustainable energy technologies in the heart of elephant country in rural Africa...

 

Overview
History
Map
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The Caprivi Strip, now known as the Zambezi Region is a verdant paradise in the north east corner of Namibia. Katima Mulilo is the main town with Kongola, Bukalo, Linyanti and Ngoma being much smaller centres within the region. The Mafwe and Subia are two main groups in East Caprivi, where Silozi (a Zambian language) is the lingua franca and only written indigenous language of the region. In the Bwabwata National Park there are 10 villages housing a majority population of Khwe San people, part of a much larger San (or Bushmen) population that extends from Botswana to Angola. The continued residence of so many indigenous people in a state protected area is an unusual feature in Southern Africa and a testament to the Namibian government's commitment to co-management and benefit sharing. 

The Zambezi Region has two of the five permanently flowing rivers in Namibia (the Zambezi and the Kwando, which have their catchments in Zambia and Angola). In years of heavy rainfall, these rivers flood over an extensive area. In fact up to a third of the Zambezi Region is floodplain. Two other rivers are often regarded as rivers in their own right - the Chobe and the Linyanti – but they are really extensions of the Zambezi and Kwando rivers respectively.

The Zambezi Region experiences a tropical climate and during dry winter months, large populations of elephant and buffalo are known to congregate along the Kwando, Zambezi and Chobe river corridors, making this time of year good for game-viewing. Water flows in these rivers vary from year to year, depending on the rain falling in the catchments. The Caprivi Wetlands Paradise is situated in a malaria area and travellers are advised to take relevant prophylaxis, always use mosquito repellent at night and sleep under a mosquito net.

Reasons to visit:

The Zambezi Region is Namibia’s bird paradise. It has varied habitats including broad-leafed and acacia woodlands, mopane forests, riverine forests, grasslands and floodplains, and therefore boasts more than 400 species of birds. The eastern floodplains and grassveld are accessible by 4x4 vehicles, but only at certain times of the year (May to November). When the waters of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers are high you can visit parts of this area by contacting one of the lodges on Impalila Island or the staff from Impalila or Kasika conservancies for a local guide.

There are three state-protected game reserves on the Caprivi Wetland Paradise (see map for location); the Mamili, Mudumu and the Bwabwata National Park. Here, the limited road and infrastructural development adds a sense of adventure and wilderness. In the dry season (May to November), these parks are home to large herds of migratory buffalo and elephant. Attractions in the wet season (December to April) include bird-filled pans fringed by water lilies and inhabited by hippo. Look out for the water-loving antelope – lechwe, reedbuck and waterbuck – in the floodplains. You may even see roan and sable antelope or a glimpse of the rare, semi-aquatic sitatunga found in the dense papyrus reed beds.

The Bwabwata National Park is located in the 200km stretch from the Kavango River to the Kwando River. Nambwa and Bum Hill campsites are located along the Kwando River in this park and have set a precedent in Namibia by being the first conservancy-owned and -managed tourist facilities in state protected areas. Mudumu and Mamili National Parks were proclaimed at Namibia’s independence in 1990 and are located south of Kongola.

Closer to Katima Mulilo town the habitat changes to mopane woodlands, where you can expect to find Arnot’s chat, white-breasted cuckooshrike and many species of woodpecker. After the rains these forests are really exciting when pools of water gather in the black, sticky cotton soils and attract numerous waterbirds, including migrants such as lesser moorhen, blacktailed godwit, great snipe and many more. About 20km east of Katima Mulilo take the Kalembeza road north towards Kalizo and Island View Lodges on the Zambezi River. You can expect to see many raptors and grassveld species in this area, including Dickinson's kestrel and yellow-throated sand grouse. On the banks of the Zambezi River between the two lodges is a breeding site for carmine bee-eaters. Thousands of these birds gather annually from September to November. 

Birding in and around Katima Mulilo is brilliant. One can expect to see, among many others, African finfoots, African skimmers, African fish eagles and, if you are lucky, bat hawks on the Zambezi River. Birding in the gardens of the Zambezi Fish Farm, Caprivi River Lodge and around Katima Mulilo should produce specials like the Schalow’s turaco, trumpeter hornbill, coppery sunbird, eastern nicator, eastern bearded robin, Hartlaub’s babbler and western banded snake eagle. Night specials include pennant winged nightjars, wood owls, barred owlets and three-banded coursers. 

As one leaves Katima Mulilo towards the west the state forests host some exciting birds too. These teak forests (Baikea plurijuga) host at least eight species of sunbird, including Shelley’s and purple banded. You may also be lucky enough to see the Stierling’s wren warbler, black-eared seed-eater (canary), broad-tailed paradise whydah and the northern grey-headed sparrow.  Travelling south-west from Katima Mulilo on the gravel road (C49) to the Mamili Game Park is a 4x4 adventure of its own. The Mamili Game Park borders Botswana and is a swampland with copses of large trees. The swamplands are filled by local rains and overflow from the Linyanti River. In this special environment, birding is very exciting. You can expect to see large numbers of pygmy geese among hundreds of waterbirds. This park also hosts a few pairs of resident wattled cranes and, if you are lucky, you may get a sighting of the uncommon Denham’s bustard. 

History of the Zambezi region:

Until the end of the 19th century the Caprivi region was known as Intenga and was under the rule of the Lozi kings. Later it formed part of the British Bechuanaland Protectorate (known as Botswana today). In 1890 Germany laid claim to the British-administered Island of Zanzibar, but the British objected. This was settled at the Berlin Conference in 1890 when Queen Victoria acquired Zanzibar and Germany acquired the territory that is now known as the Caprivi strip. The Caprivi strip was named after the German Chancellor General Count Georg Leo von Caprivi di Caprara di Montecuccoli.

Lake Liambezi also has a strange history. Less than 50 years ago there was no lake. In 1958 the Zambezi rose to the highest levels ever recorded. It flooded the entire eastern portion of the Caprivi, pouring into a broad depression located south of Katima Mulilo and thereby creating a lake now known as Lake Liambezi. Most of the time this lake is dry. An interesting theory as to why Lake Liambezi dried up after the floods of 1958 is that many hippo were poached. This apparently caused the channels (which had always been kept open by hippo) to close up, preventing water from flowing into the lake and so depriving the local population of a plentiful supply of fish. Even with the high floods in 2004 the lake received very little water.

The swap of land between Germany and England:

The reason behind the swap was to acquire a strip of land that would be added to German South West Africa, linking the Zambezi River, Lake Tanganyika and the Indian Ocean via another German colony, Tanzania (German East Africa). It seems that the Germans were oblivious to the fact that the Victoria Falls were downstream and their plan to use the mighty Zambezi to access the Indian Ocean was naturally out of the question. The capital of the Caprivi was at Schuckmansburg until around 1933, when it was moved to Katima Mulilo. It was then administered by South Africa from Pretoria and from 1981 to 1990 ruled by the Administration for the Caprivians as part of South West Africa. Namibian gained its independence on March 21, 1990. In 1992 the Caprivi became one of the 13 political regions in Namibia with its own Regional Governor and six councillors. There are also traditional leaders. Each area is under the control of an induna (chief) and the indunas form the governing Traditional Council.

Communities, conservation, tourism and cultural products:

Since 1990, Namibia’s world-renowned Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme has grown into a significant national rural development movement. This programme aims to return communal area residents’ ownership and control over resources, as well as rights to receive benefits as an incentive for conservation. For wildlife and tourism, the conservancy system has provided the necessary supportive legal framework. A local NGO called Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) promotes conservancy development in Caprivi, which currently has seven registered conservancies and many more emerging. There are three conservancy-owned and -managed campsites located at prime river sites in the Bwabwata National Park - Nambwa, Bum Hill and N//Goabaca campsites. Conservancies located in the eastern Chobe floodplain offer activities to tourists from Kasane.

Conservancies:

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism's conservation vision for Caprivi is an impressive plan that outlines its commitment to community consultation, joint venture partnerships and equity in its efforts to achieve conservation and development goals for the region. The region has now embarked on tourism, not as an alternative to traditional livelihoods, but as an additional income source and job creator. Through tourism, people are maintaining their culture because that’s what they can sell to tourists in exchange for money.

Conservancies are established within the Caprivi region to integrate traditional livelihoods with conservation and tourism. This helps optimise benefits for the community. Furthermore the establishment of conservancies led to the development of two tourism plans: the Tourism Development Plan for the eastern floodplain and the Kwando/Linyanti Tourism Development Plan. Through these plans communities have identified historical and unique sites. One of these is the historical site of Sekeletu in Malengalenga. Sekeletu was reputed to be a man whose walking stick turned into a growing tree. His grave is situated close to this tree. Long ago tourists visited this site and now people have decided to use the site to generate income. Another example is the baobab tree in the Impalila conservancy. If a person climbs to the top of this tree they can see where the four countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia meet.

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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.

Part of Four Rivers Route.

Namibia

Namibia

Caprivi, a thin strip of land in the north-east of Namibia, lies in the centre of Southern Africa. Now known as the Zambezi Region, it is bordered by Angola, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Three perennial rivers cross Caprivi, making it a wetland paradise full of animals and birds.

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Key Contacts

Name:
Simone Micheletti

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Tags

bush zambezi kwando namibia mafwe 4x4 wildlife birding culture desert

 

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