Kavango is a region in northern Namibia that is home to the Kavango people. The Kavangos are a river people who until today secured their survival mostly with fishing from the Okavango and, to a lesser extent, agriculture. The river is the lifeline for the region.
- 1 Divundu — close to Bwabwata National Park, the Ndhovu Safari Lodge, Popa Falls, and the local Kamutjonga village
- 2 Mpungu — a former mission station of the Finnish Missionary Society
- 3 Nkurenkuru — a town of 600 people that is capital of Kavango West
- 4 Rundu — the second largest city in Namibia, surrounded by tropical woodlands and river savannas
- 1 Bwabwata National Park — a national park in the Okavango Panhandle, an important migration route from Botswana to Angola for African elephant and some other game species
- 2 Khaudum National Park — a national park in the remote southeast of the region, one of the least visited places in Namibia
Kavango has borders with Angola in the north and Botswana in the southeast, and with the Namibian regions of Otjozondjupa in the southwest, Four-O region in the west, and Caprivi in the east. Administratively it is divided into Kavango East (capital Rundu), and Kavango West (capital Nkurenkuru).
The Kavango is a sparsely populated area. The banks of the Okavango River, however, are lined by villages throughout.
Because of its rather higher rainfall than most other parts of Namibia, this region has agricultural potential for the cultivation of a variety of crops, as well as for organised forestry and agro-forestry, which stimulated furniture making and related industries.
The population lives mainly from retail, fishing and agriculture. Small, local village and street markets ensure a flourishing trade, especially in fish and other foods, throughout the region. Since there is more rain in Kavango than in most areas of Namibia, there is more potential for agriculture, forestry and wood processing than has been used up to now. There is also untapped potential for copper mining at Simanya and oil production at Katwitwi.
Native peoples of the Kavango are the Mbukushu, Mbunzu, Sambuyu, Gciriku and Uukwangali. They speak ThiMbukushu, RuKwangali and RuGciriku. English is widely understood, particularly among the younger people.
Due to the scarcity of other options, most travellers will arrive by car, either from Botswana or from the capital Windhoek. The only highway in the region is the Trans-Caprivi Highway (B8) from Grootfontein to Rundu and Katima Mulilo.
There is no railway infrastructure in Kavango. Many settlements have small airstrips but there are no major airports in the region, and therefore no scheduled flights.
By public transport
The B8 highway is tarred and in very good condition, as is the section of the C45 that is west of Mpungu. All other C-roads are gravel roads and in fair condition, easily passable with an ordinary sedan. Other roads (D-roads and those without letters or numbers) tend to be rough, sandy, heavily corrugated, and will further deteriorate after rainfall. Khaudum National Park is very remote and very inaccessible, without any car infrastructure but all the more deep sand. You will need two vehicles in case one breaks down, and they need to be serious all-terrain cars, not just SUVs with four-wheel drive.
- 3 Popa Falls on the Cubango River
- Street markets and market halls in Rundu, carvings and other African handicrafts.
- Andara is an old mission from 1912 with a Roman Catholic brick church.
- Nkurenkuru is the ancient capital of the Kavango and seat of the Uukwangali kings. On the opposite side of the river is Cuangar (former fort Kuangar of the Portuguese).
- In Rundu and river lodges, river and canoe trips on the Okavango are offered.
- Safaris in the savannah
Kavango is not well developed for tourism. There is accommodation in all towns and villages, but the smaller the place the more basic the facilities.
The Kavango is a Malaria risk zone. Take the necessary precautions.
Kavango shares a border with Angola in the north and Botswana in the southeast. The C48 highway which forks at Divundu provides access to the Okavango Panhandle in Botswana (tarred up to the outskirts of Divundu, good gravel road passing through Mahango Game Reserve, tarred again in Botswana). Domestically, the following regions of Namibia border with Kavango: