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Everything about Namibia’s Caprivi Strip

The Caprivi Region has a quite unique historical story to tell. Unlike the other regions in Namibia, the Caprivi has a completely different past. Till the end of the 19th century, the Caprivi has been known as “Intenga” and has been under the rule of the Lozi kings, but later forming part of the British “Bechuanaland” Protectorate (known as Botswana today).

The Namibia Caprivi Strip, The Caprivi strip was named after the German Chancellor General Count George Leo von Caprivi di Caprara di Montecuccoli, who negotiated the land trade with the United Kingdom in 1890 for the exchange of the little Island Group belonging to Tanzania known as Zanzibar. Von Caprivi coiffured for Caprivi to be affixed to the former German South-West Africa in order to allow Germany access to the mighty Zambezi River. Importance emphasis was on the route to Africa’s East Coast, where the German colony Tanganyika was based.

DSWA 1986 Caprivi Strip Postal Stamp

It seems that the Germans were oblivious to the fact that the Victoria Falls was downstream and their plans 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 Namibian city known as Katima Mulilo. This annexation between Germany and the United Kingdom was a part of the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, in which Germany ceased interest in Zanzibar for the possession of the Caprivi Strip and the North Sea island of Heligoland.

The Caprivi Strip played a strategic military importance. Between 1965 and 1994 the African National Congress operations against the South African apartheid government and the apartheid regime. In the years of 1970 up to 1979 saw the brutal guerrilla Angolan Civil War and the Rhodesian Bush War. The Caprivi Strip bared witness to continual military activity and multiple attacks on enemy territory by diverse armed forces like SWAPO Planfighters and other known and unknown Terrorist and Freedom Fighter Groups. The use of the Caprivi Strip was as an ideal corridor to access and perform logistics between strategic Zones and territories.

Caprivi Strip Map

The Caprivi Strip also drew attention as Botswana and Namibia had a longstanding dispute over the strip’s southern boundary at the International Court of Justice.
The entire Caprivi Strip was administered by South Africa from Pretoria and from 1981 to 1990 ruled by the Administration for the Caprivians as part of South West Africa. The transitional period from 1990 to 1992 was followed by Namibian Independence on 21 March 1990. In 1992 the Caprivi became one of the 13 political regions in Namibia with its own Regional Governor joined by six councillors for future regional management. The centre of the territorial dispute pertained which irrigation channel of the Chobe River was the thalweg, the bona fide boundary.

What to expect from a Caprivi Safari:
Namibia’s Caprivi Strip is sandwiched between Angola, Zambia and Botswana near the tip of Zimbabwe and close to other outstanding holiday hotspots like Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls. This inspiring safari destination in Namibia is made up of a number of reserves and parks for game viewing and birding both by boat and on land. Five mighty rivers flow through this beautiful location – the Zambezi, Okavango, Linyanti, Kwando and Chobe Rivers. Some 200 kilometres east of Rundu lies one of the scenic highlights of Namibia in the western part of the Caprivi Strip. Known as the Popa Falls where one can expect are rapids rather than waterfalls. Here, the Okavango River breaks through a four-metre high rocky intrusion in its riverbed and tumbles down a series of rocky plateaus.

Hippos in the Okavango River, Nunda River Lodge, Caprivi Strip, Namibia

About the Bwabwata National Park:
The entire Western Caprivi today is a game reserve known as the Bwabwata National Park. In the year 2002, the Western Caprivi Game Park and the former Mahango Game Park were joined to the new Bwabwata National Park. The park stretches from the rivers Kwando and Okavango, covering a stretch of land more than 5000 square km. Over 8000 elephants, as well as many antelope species, hyenas, buffalo, hippos, lions and leopards, inhabit this area. Currently, no permits are needed for driving via the Trans Caprivi Highway. A big matter which one has to be very aware of is the fact that there are no fences! So keep your eyes open for roaming wildlife!

Wetlands Boat Ride

A border post to Zambia can be accessed in the city of Katima Mulilo, hence to the new Zambezi bridge at Wanella, is great for tourists wanting to go to Zambia and experience the majestic Victoria Falls. This border post near Wanella (Wenella) lies 4 km north of Katima Mulilo. On the Zambia side, it is called Sesheke. Holidaymakers will be able to acquire the required visa directly at this border post. If you are heading for Botswana or Zimbabwe, follow the B8 to Ngoma Bridge.

Victoria Falls

Some advice: If you prefer to get to the beautiful Victoria Falls, you can still travel through Botswana (border post at Ngoma Bridge) and Zimbabwe, despite the present problems in Zimbabwe. We advise to pack sufficient fuel and food rations plus be prepared for long waiting times at the border. Many issues also arise when stacked up on selected fresh foods, mostly meat products.
Travelling overland one of the most important thing once leaving Namibia is to hang onto the cross-border permit, normally available for N$160,00. You need to provide this crossing permit to exit. It also happens that some officers will request to inspect this permit at selected roadblocks along the way – so keep it nearby or somewhere safe!

Road Signage, Bwabwata National Park

Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to have ownership documents to hand. Third party insurance is most of the time not required, although it is also a good idea to bring insurance documentation, just in some rare cases. Travelling via a Non-SACU registered vehicle, we at Hippo Adventure Tours highly recommend a carnet de passage.

Self-Drive Guest’s travelling with a rental vehicle, request the Vehicle rental company to write a letter of permission to bring the vehicle across the border, as there is a possibility that officials will want to see it due to vehicle theft control.

Recommended locations and links:

+ Mahangu Game Reserve
+ Bwabwata National Park (was Caprivi Game Park)
+ Mudumu National Park
+ Mamili National Park
+ Impalila Island

Caprivi Strip Wetlands Aerial

Our Adventure Centre insider Tipp:
The Caprivi is a pure angler’s paradise! These breathtaking rivers of the Caprivi Strip in Namibia are habitats and breeding grounds to nearly 100 different species of fish. The top sporting fish in this Namibian region is the much loved Tiger Fish which can be caught in the wide deep waters of the Zambezi River. Recorded catches of 10kg (22lbs) have been caught here. The Caprivi’s rivers also offer great Bream fishing. In Namibia, the Okavango River apart from the much loved Tiger Fish offers other fighting species such as Nembwe, Three Spot Tilapia and African Pike. The Kwando River restricts yields of Nembwe and Bream.

For more Information read one of our recommended Post regarding the same location (click here).

Also, have a look at our newest Blogpost’s regarding Namibia Freshwater Angling… 

Do you know the Nambwa Tented Lodge?



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