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The Kavango River

Rivers of Namibia

The Kavango River (also ofter called the Okavango River) flows for some 1,600km (1,000 miles) south-eastwards from where it rises in Angola, (where it is known as the Kubango) forming part of Namibia's northern border, (approx 350km). It continues across the Caprivi Strip and into the Kalahari regions of northwestern Botswana, where it divides into streams and and empties into the Okavango (swamps) Delta wetlands.

It is a precious source of water for all 3 of these countries, and for the Kavango and the people of the Caprivi, the river is life itself. It nurtures the land, sustaining the herders and their cattle simultaneously. Watu dugout canoes are used by the Kavango people, both for transport and for fishing.

No visit to the Okavango would be complete without hopping on a boat for a cruise along the river, with a choice ranging from houseboats, to tenders, mokoros, (dugout canoes) and river rafting. Some of these forms of (river) transport are ideal for fishing trips, (catch and release) with bream and tiger-fishing the most popular. Anglers can also expect to hook various other species including tilapia, sharptooth catfish and nembwe.

Sunset cruises are a popular activity on the river, where binoculars and camera's should be at the ready. Hippo and crocs loll around on the river banks and the dry season is a particularly rewarding part of the year for game viewing. Huge herds of elephant congregate along the Okavango River, and there are frequent sightings of lion, buffalo, African wild dog, the rare sable and roan antelope, bushbuck, reedbuck and tsessebe.

There are also some greats spots along the river banks for birding and guided birding walks. The region is home to an estimated 430 species of birds, with over 20 endemic or near-endemic species, including the yellow wagtail, wattled crane, great snipe, African rail and African skimmers.

Popa Falls: On the road south of Divundu and near the town of Bagani, the Okavango River plunges down a broad series of cascades, creating a 4m waterfall, before the river enters Botswana and the Okavango Delta. The 'falls' consists of a network of rushing channels, water courses and small islands, that form a spectacular 1km (0.6mile) wide series of rapids, misleadingly known as Popa Falls.

However, only a small section can be seen from the southern bank of the river. The best time to visit is between July and October when the level of the river is low. Do not swim in the river, because of the danger of crocodiles and hippo, and some parts of the river are bilharzia-infested. If you visit the 'falls' then the Popa Falls Resort is your best bet accommodation wise. It is also only 15km from the Mahango Game Reserve.

Several bird species can be found only in this area or have a limited distribution elsewhere in Namibia. The African skimmer feeds by flying low over the water's surface, with the long lower mandible (lower jaw) immersed in a skimming action. The coppery-tailed coucal can be distinguished from other coucals by its deeper, richer call and other residents include the slaty egret and the longtoed lapwing.

Rivers of Namibia

  • Kavango River: Kavango At Dawn Near Rundu
  • Kavango River: Malachite Kingfisher
  • Kavango River: Makalani Palm
  • Kavango River: Croc
  • Kavango River: Popa Falls
  • Kavango River: RiverDance Between Rundu And Divundu
  • Kavango River: Sunset Over The Kavango
  • Kavango River: Painted Reed Frog
  • Kavango River: Deck Overlooking The Kavango
  • Kavango River: Exporing The River
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Divava Okavango Lodge

An upmarket lodge and spa on the banks of the Kavango River. The only traditional luxury lodge on this stretch of river

Hakusembe River Lodge

A well run lodge offering good facilities situated close to the town of Rundu

Kaisosi River Lodge

A few kilometers east of Rundu a nice functional lodge that more than adequately serves as an overnight stop while travelling through the Kavango and Zambezi region. The rooms, bar and restaurant area offer lovely views of the Kavango River.

Kavango River Lodge

Situated on the banks of the river (hence the name) in Rundu

Mahangu Safari Lodge

Situated close to the Mahangu Park in west Caprivi - this is an excellent stop-over between Namibia, Maun (in Botswana) and the Victoria Falls

Ngepi Camp

A rustic river side campsite and lodge offering excellent value for money. A lively bar and restaurant ensures this appeals to the younger or more socially inclined traveller

Nunda Lodge

Close to Popa Falls and the Mahango Reserve this lodge offers stunning river views

Ndhovu Lodge

Refreshingly, and surprisingly for the area, this lodge does not have the word 'River' as part of its name. Do not be misled it is situated on the banks of the river opposite the Caprivi Game Park (Bwabwata National Park)

Popa Falls Rest Camp

Close to the Popa Falls (a series of rapids on the Kavango River), this rest camp was renovated in 2013

Rainbow River Lodge

on the Kavango River banks this lodge offers plenty of water based activities

RiverDance Lodge

Near the village of Divundu, this small but wonderfully managed lodge is a perennial favourite of ours. Lovely wooden chalets, with large decks overlook the river. Those wanting to experience the river can choose from fishing and sunset river cruises

Sarasungu River Lodge

On a beautiful plot of indigenous plants and trees overlooking the river

Shamvura Camp

One of the best lodges for birders visiting Namibia - but also great for fishing, chilling or generally becoming part of the family (the family consists of a host of creatures including goats, otters and guinefowls all lovingly adopted by the owners)

Taranga Safari Lodge

A small lodge a short distance west of Rundu. The rooms have river views and guests can choose from a range of activities

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