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Caprivi Strip: Namibia's Wetland Safari Beyond the Dunes

submitted on 18 December 2023 by travellistings.org

A Curious Sliver of Land with a Confusing History

As I stared at the map before me, I couldn't help but be amused by the peculiar shape of the Caprivi Strip, a thin stretch of land jutting out from Namibia's northeast corner like a tentacle desperately reaching for the Zambezi River. You see, the Caprivi Strip is a quirky geographical oddity that owes its existence to none other than Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, who, in a fit of colonial acquisitiveness, demanded it in 1890.Why, you may ask, did the Kaiser covet this particular sliver of land? Well, my friends, it was because he believed it would provide a direct route to the Zambezi River, and thus access to Africa's east coast. Unfortunately for the Kaiser, his imperial ambitions were thwarted by the mighty Victoria Falls, which, as it turns out, is not particularly navigable.But enough about the Germans. Let's talk about what the Caprivi Strip has to offer for the intrepid traveler.

A Wetland Wonderland Amid the Arid Dunes

Contrary to the arid landscapes that come to mind when one thinks of Namibia, the Caprivi Strip is lush, green, and teeming with life. As you venture along its muddy roads, you'll encounter a landscape more akin to the Okavango Delta or the swamps of Botswana than the deserts you left behind. Indeed, the Caprivi Strip is home to four of Namibia's major rivers - the Zambezi, Okavango, Kwando, and Chobe - and as a result, it serves as a vital lifeline for an abundance of flora and fauna.For the wildlife enthusiast, the Caprivi Strip offers a smorgasbord of delightful critters. En route to the Bwabwata National Park, you may see elephants ambling by, hippos wallowing in the river, or perhaps even a leopard slinking through the undergrowth. And let's not forget the abundant birdlife - more than 450 species have been recorded here, making it a veritable paradise for the avian aficionado.

Caprivi's Can't-Miss National Parks

With an area of more than 7,000 square miles, the Caprivi Strip is home to a number of national parks, each with its own unique character and charm. Let me regale you with tales of three of my favorites:
  • Mudumu National Park: A stunning mosaic of savannah, woodland, and wetland, Mudumu is home to a dizzying array of wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, hippopotamus, and the elusive sitatunga antelope. The park's Kwando River is also a prime spot for fishing, and if you're lucky, you might just reel in a hefty tigerfish or a feisty bream.
  • Bwabwata National Park: This park was established to protect the migratory routes of elephants and other wildlife between Botswana and Angola. As you traverse the park's sandy tracks, keep an eye out for roan antelope, sable, and the rare African wild dog. While you're there, why not pay a visit to the Horseshoe Bend, a picturesque oxbow lake that serves as a popular watering hole for the park's thirsty denizens?
  • Mamili National Park: A watery labyrinth of channels, lagoons, and reedbeds, Mamili is often referred to as "Namibia's Okavango." The park's swampy terrain is best explored by boat, allowing you to drift silently past hippos, crocodiles, and perhaps even a lion or two. Be warned, though: Mamili is not for the faint of heart, as the park's roads are notoriously treacherous and best tackled by experienced 4x4 drivers.

Cultural Encounters in the Caprivi Strip

While the stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife of the Caprivi Strip are undoubtedly its main draw, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the region's fascinating cultural tapestry. The Caprivi Strip is home to several ethnic groups, including the Lozi, Subiya, Mbukushu, and Fwe, each with their own unique customs and traditions.As you travel through the Caprivi Strip, you'll have the opportunity to visit traditional villages, observe local craftspeople at work, and partake in regional festivities. Trust me, there's nothing quite like sitting around a crackling campfire, listening to the hypnotic rhythms of traditional drumming, and sipping on a cup of frothy beer brewed from the fruits of the marula tree.

How to Get There and Where to Stay

So, you're ready to explore the wonders of the Caprivi Strip, but how do you get there? Fear not, for I have the answers you seek. The most common way to reach the Caprivi Strip is by car, either from Windhoek, Namibia's capital, or from neighboring countries such as Zambia or Botswana. Once you arrive, you'll find an array of accommodation options, ranging from rustic campsites to luxurious lodges, ensuring that you'll find the perfect abode for your stay in this enchanting wetland wonderland.In conclusion, my dear reader, if you find yourself craving adventure beyond Namibia's dunes, do yourself a favor and journey to the Caprivi Strip, where you'll discover a world of wildlife, culture, and natural beauty like no other.

 







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