Namibia’s Caprivi Strip: Unspoiled Africa safari destination

A classic panhandle, the ultra-narrow strip separates Botswana and Angola as it runs 280 miles (450 km) west to east from the main part of Namibia to the Zambezi River on the eastern border.

For much of its length, the Caprivi is only 20 miles (32 kilometers) wide — a narrow extenuation of national sovereignty matched only by the equally obscure Wakhan Corridor in northern Afghanistan.

There’s a good argument to be made that the Caprivi has played a key role in modern pop history: Both Freddie Mercury and a band called Queen may never have existed without the strip’s creation. More on that later.

As a tourist destination, the Caprivi has only recently come into its own. It was off limits to safari seekers and other outsiders during the long border war that once raged in this region,

Its attractions are manifold: copious wildlife, a warren of navigable waterways, several large national parks and very few human residents.

The back and beyond

Taking a cue from the popularity of the Okavango Delta just across the border in Botswana, safari camps and lodges are gradually sprouting across the Caprivi.

The lodges are still few and far between, and that’s a large part of the region’s attraction — the Caprivi area allows a feeling of really being off the grid, far removed from modern civilization and all its peccadilloes.

Adding to the region’s utter wildness is the fact that many of the safari camps are unfenced, allowing animals of any spot or stripe to wander onto the grounds any time of day.

“We have a resident hippo we call Oliver who comes out of the water at night and often sits in front of the staff tents,” says Linda Smit, manager at Nambwa Tented Lodge on the Kwando River in Bwabwata National Park.

“And a female leopard who likes to hang out around the swimming pool.”

Like much of the central Caprivi, the lodge sits astride the elephant migration route between eastern Angola and the Okavango.

It’s not unusual for herds of a…

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