​Expert Reviews – Zambezi Region (Caprivi Strip)

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Emma Gregg   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: Multiple times

Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.

8 people found this review helpful.

Calm, riverside scenery, dotted with tranquil lodges
Overall rating

The odd-looking stretch of territory sticking out like a panhandle at the top right corner of the map is a place unlike any other in Namibia. Instead of dunes and plains, here you’ll find smallholdings, rivers, floodlands, lush woods and thousands of birds.

Wedged between Angola and Botswana and measuring around 500km by as little as 32km at its narrowest point, the Zambezi Region was a classic colonial construct. The German settlers acquired it in the late 19th century, thinking it would give them access to the Zambezi and thence into East Africa. Unfortunately for them, it was of limited use, as the eastward route along the Zambezi was blocked by Victoria Falls which lay just beyond the strip, in British territory.

Today, the Zambezi Region is rightly famous for birdwatching, which is at its best in the rainy season (November to April). I’ve heard of twitchers clocking up astonishing counts here. I’d also recommend the region to anyone who has already visited Namibia’s famous desert attractions and likes the idea of taking in some contrasting terrain. Local guides can introduce you to village communities for an insight into the way of life in this rather remote rural region.

Anthony Ham   –  
Australia AU
Visited: September-October

Anthony is a photographer and writer for travel magazines and Lonely Planet, including the guides to Kenya and Botswana & Namibia.

3 people found this review helpful.

The Zambezi Region: Wildlife’s Next Frontier
Overall rating

It wasn’t that long ago that the Zambezi region (Caprivi Strip), that strangely shaped sliver of Namibian territory wedged between Zambia and Botswana, was a wildlife wasteland. On the tails of a short-lived, secessionist rebellion, guns flooded the region and poaching either wiped out the wildlife or drove it away into Botswana and beyond. With the return of peace and government control, coupled with a number of innovative conservation projects, wildlife has begun to return and the potential here is endless. The Zambezi Region borders some of the best wildlife country in southern Africa and the return of its wildlife greatly amplifies the wildlife-rich Okavango and Etosha regions. Lions, African wild dogs, elephants and fabulous birdlife diversity appear to be the first to take advantage of this new reality, and with safari infrastructure growing all the time, especially in Bwabwata and Nkasa Rupara national parks, the Zambezi Region could just be Southern Africa’s safari destination to watch.

Sue Watt   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: Multiple times

Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.

Namibia’s watery wonderland
Overall rating

If you think Namibia is all dunes and desert, think again. The Zambezi Region (formerly Caprivi Strip) is dominated by four mighty rivers – the Okavango, the Linyanti, the Chobe and the Zambezi – that give this place its character. Part of the bartering process of the colonial Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, it looks like an odd appendage to the country, jutting out like a skinny arm into neighbouring Angola, Botswana and Zambia.
And in truth, it has more in common with Botswana and Zambia, sharing much of its wildlife across their borders, including elephants, buffalo and big cats. But it was the birdlife that astounded me, particularly the seemingly thousands of carmine bee-eaters nesting in the riverbanks. Tourism here until recently was more the domain of South African self-drivers than Europeans. But when I researched the area for Bradt’s Namibia guidebook, I was astounded at the number of new and very lovely lodges in the region that work with local conservancies and are certainly attracting visitors from further afield.

Christopher Clark   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: March

Christopher is a British travel writer and has contributed to various Fodor's guidebooks and a range of travel magazines.

An incongruously verdant oasis
Overall rating

The Zambezi Region is a strange, thin appendage to the Namibian mainland. Compared to the arid landscapes that characterize most of Namibia, this lush, verdant region of perennial rivers and floodplains feels like an entirely different country. If you brush up on some colonial history, it actually should be.

The Zambezi Region comprises a number of pleasant and still underexplored game reserves, which boast an astonishing diversity of wildlife and birdlife, including a number of rare species, though densities of the bigger game don’t compare to the likes of Etosha, with the exception of elephants. This is the only area in Namibia you are likely to spot the critically-endangered African wild dog.

The Zambezi Region also has some spectacular, secluded riverside eco lodges and camps. My personal favourite is the quirky and bohemian Ngepi Camp, where I enjoyed a sunset mokoro (dugout canoe) trip along the languid Okavango River, while my guide regaled me with tales of the various close scrapes he’d had with the local hippo population.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.6/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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