Boasting amazing scenery, spectacular birdlife and big game the Caprivi Strip of Namibia is one of Africa's greatest wilderness areas, but due to political upheavals it has been virtually forgotten, until now.
© Halfway between nowhere and nothing, the Maun/Shakawe road
By Leigh Kemp
The Caprivi Strip in Namibia is one of the wildest and most beautiful stretches of land in all of Africa, with huge tourism potential
, but through a series of political and civil upheavals the area has remained unknown to the outside world.
Things seem to be settling down and the area can hopefully attain its place among Africa's top safari travel destinations
. Superbly located in one of the most wildlife -rich regions of southern Africa the Caprivi Strip has it all.
Colonial Trials and Errors
The Caprivi Strip is the narrow section of land
that straddles the northern border of Botswana, and in fact was once considered part of the British protectorate of Bechuanaland. At the height of the European colonial powers' Scramble for Africa the Germans planned to connect the East Coast of Africa with the west coast and thus provide an overland route for trade and transport to connect Africa with their colony of German South West Africa, now Namibia.
The idea was to travel by boat up the Zambezi River and then establish an overland route to Walvis Bay on the west coast. What was not taken into account were the un-negotiable hazards of the Cohora Rapids
and more importantly the Victoria Falls, but by the time the error was noticed the political boundaries had been redrawn and the Caprivi Strip had become German territory in exchange for Zanzibar.
Wars and Unrest
During the 1970's and 1980's the Caprivi Strip was at the heart of the Namibian war of liberation, with the South African defence force hunkering down along the entire stretch of land. The wildlife suffered and was virtually eradicated from this area that has historically been an important part of the migratory route of many species, especially elephant.
With Namibia achieving independence, the tourism capacity of the Caprivi developed rapidly with as many as 16 safari lodges available to guests, but this ended when an uprising occurred around the turn of the century.
Local politicians have wanted to secede from Namibia and develop an independent territory. The Namibian government reacted with force and the Caprivi was taken off the tourism map again.
The Calm with No Storm
The past few years have seen a new promise in the Caprivi
, with tourism singled out as the driving force for recovery. Located among legendary wildlife regions such as Chobe, Linyanti and Kwando, the potential for the Caprivi Strip as an African safari travel destination are endless. Throw in the Zambezi and Okavango River and you have a wilderness area that can in time become legend in itself.