Water is life, and a rare luxury in Namibia, one of the most arid countries in the world, but the north east is different. It is riddled with rivers: the Kwando, Linyanti, Chobe, and Zambezi. Each river has its own pattern, power, mystery and history to draw you here.
Life for communities and for wildlife revolves around the water, and so it is for visitors to this lush region. Soak your feet in the spray at Popa Falls. Drive slowly through deep pools and avoid rivers where crocodiles lie in wait. Slip through thick black mud, so soft it is called cotton, and dice with the odds of getting stuck! Drift along channels of the Linyanti River in a mokoro, a traditional wooden boat. Watch as elephants cross the Chobe River, moving from Botswana through protected corridors in Namibia then on to Zambia and Angola and back!
Some species of antelope, including sitatunga and red lechwe, are found here and nowhere else in Namibia. The largest migration of zebra in the world passes through this region. Buffalo roam through the forest and along the edges of the rivers. And, the birds, wow! From the Pel's fishing owl to giant kingfishers to African jacanas that race across lily beds on their broad webbed-feet, and brightly colored carmine bee-eaters that nest in the clay banks along the rivers, there are more than 430 species of birds to discover in the north east.
Many communal conservancies have Joint Venture lodges and campsites in or near national parks, including the lush forest of the Mudumu National Park, the striking wetlands of Nkasa Rupara National Park and the Bwabwata National Park, the first national park in Namibia to be co-managed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, local communities and conservancy members.
Since the establishment of conservancies in the north east, hundreds of animals have been translocated to the region's parks and conservancies. After decades of local extinction, eland, Africa's largest antelope, giraffe and rare sable antelope were reintroduced into national parks, while conservancies surrounding these parks have welcomed these species and also impala, giraffe and buffalo back onto their land.
The north east is also at the heart of KAZA, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Larger than Germany and Austria combined, KAZA encompasses over 50 protected areas in five countries - Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia - and communal conservancies are an important part of this ecological and cultural mosaic.
In traditional villages and at craft markets, you can discover the beauty of music, dance, weaving and art that is an essential part of the north east and you can experience all the wonder and vibrancy that comes with living at this crossroads of African culture.