Caprivi National Park, Namibia
Caprivi is a narrow strip of land on Namibia’s north-western corner that is probably as famous for its landscape as it is for its borders. It borders Botswana (south), Angola (north) and Zambia (north-west). So distinct is Caprivi’s culture from the rest of Namibia that it at one time was the scene of an armed conflict between secessionist rebels and the Namibian government forces in 1999.
Fortunately for tourism, the area has remained calm and visitors are often surprised to hear that there was an attempted secession less than 15 years ago. That of course does not mean there is no seething discontent with the state so it helps to steer clear of political conversations as much as possible.
Caprivi is teeming with game and includes 3 national parks. But despite the wealth of wildlife, the parks in Caprivi seem starkly under-utilised particularly when compared to the thriving parks just across the border in Botswana.
The Three Parks
- Nkasa Rupara National Park – Nkasa Rupara is a picturesque swampland which derives its name from two islands – Nkasa and Rupare. It is separated from Botswana by the Linyanti River. Thanks to the difficult terrain, the park has remained largely insulated from disruptive human activity. Though it may not have as much wildlife diversity as Bwabwata National Park, it does have its own unique appeal. Fauna one can see here include lions, buffalo, egret, roller and coucal.
- Mudumu National Park – Mudumu is bordered by the Kwando River to the west. It has a large forest where much of the wildlife moves to in the rainy season. Mudumu is not as popular as the other two parks in the Caprivi Strip but this is probably what makes it such a hidden treasure. The dry season is the best time to experience the wildlife which include elephants, zebras, buffaloes, roan antelope, hyenas and leopards.
- Bwabwata National Park – Of the three parks, Bwabwata is the largest and covers large swathes of the Caprivi Strip. During the rainy season, the park’s pans fill with water where wildlife congregate to quench their thirst. When the water eventually dries well into the dry season, the animals opt for the Kavango and Kwando rivers. You can see elephants, buffaloes, roan antelope, sable, giraffe, kudu, zebra, impala, leopard, lion and the group-hunting masters that are the African wild dog.