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Northeast Namibia Holidays

Northeast Namibia is not usually on the itinerary for first time visitors to Namibia, but if you have the time to spare it is a fascinating addition to any trip, or perfect for a second time visitor to see the contrast between desert Namibia and the wetlands of the Zambezi Region. For those interested in learning more about the San Bushmen and their way of life, it is a must. This region can be combined easily with Botswana and Victoria Falls, to experience more of Southern Africa’s highlights.

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The Zambezi Region is the narrow strip of land (450km long and up to 100km wide) at the north-eastern corner of Namibia. Formerly known as the Caprivi Strip, the name was changed recently as part of a movement in Namibia to move away from its German history (Caprivi was a former German chancellor). The Zambezi Region is a wetlands area so feels very different to the rest of Namibia and much more similar to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, just across the border, but at a fraction of the price.

There are three national parks in this region; Bwabwata, Mudumu and Nkasa Rupara, which can be explored on game drives, walking safaris and by boat. These parks are the only place in Namibia where you can see hippos. You can also see crocodiles and large herds of elephants and buffalo here, as well as over 400 species of birds.

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Bwabwata National Park (previously Caprivi Game Park and Mahango Game Reserve) is 180km long, stretching from the Kavango River in the west to the Kwando River in the east. Bwabwata is known as ‘a people’s park’ as it supports both large wildlife and human populations. More bird species can be found here than in any other park in Namibia, making it a favourite with birders. Nearby is Popa Falls, better described as a pretty series of rapids than a waterfall.

Mudumu National Park (100,000 hectares) is full of riverine forest, marshes, dense savannah and mopane woodland. You can see the rare sitatunga and red lechwe here. Nkasa Rupara (formerly Mamili National Park) is a wild and lesser visited park, located on the border with Botswana. The eastern tip of the Zambezi Region is located very close to Botswana and can be used as an alternative base to Kasane (Botswana) or combined with a Botswana holiday. This area attracts huge herds of elephants between July and October. A special way to explore this area is staying on a houseboat such as the Chobe Princesses.

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East of Etosha National Park is Bushmanland, home to the San Bushmen. The San is a collective term referring to the traditional groups of hunter-gatherers that occupy sub-Saharan Africa. According to archaeological evidence San communities were present in Namibia as long as 20,000 years ago and left behind records in the form of rock paintings. To experience more of their way of life, a stay at Nhoma Camp is highly recommended.

Also in this area is Khaudum Game Park (38,400 hectares), an extremely wild and undeveloped game reserve where elephants outnumber visitors; it is best suited to the more adventurous traveller. It has an open park system; only the border with Botswana and a 55km section of the western border are fenced, allowing animals to follow their natural migration routes. This park is currently not very accessible; you have to visit with a guide. You will not see wall-to-wall game as you would expect in Etosha; Khaudum is more of a wilderness experience but animals you could expect to see here include wild dog, lion, leopard, kudu and spotted hyena.