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The KAZA TFCA is home to Africa’s charismatic “Big Five”; elephant, leopard, rhino, buffalo and lion.
The continent’s largest contiguous elephant population in northern Botswana and western Zimbabwe is an attraction in its own right.
Other rare, vulnerable and endangered wildlife species to be seen in the area include the cheetah, black rhino, African wild dog, sable and roan antelope, puku, oribi, honey badger, wattled crane and Cape vulture.
Bwabwata National Park
Namibia recently proclaimed this a National Park and it is special in that it supports a large wildlife population and a large human population. Co-management agreements between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, resident community and conservancies govern this protected area.
Soak your feet in the spray at Popa Falls on the Okavango River, take unaccompanied or guided game drives across dramatic flood plains, through mature Kalahari woodland and along the shorts of the temporary pans (omurambas).
Excellent for birdwatching, this is also boasted to be the best place in Namibia to see buffalo. The campsites are run by the local communities who also protect the wildlife and craft some of the most exquisite basketry and woodcarvings in the country. www.met.gov.na
Chizarira National Park
This park offers the visitor a truly rugged 4x4 tracking experience through the African bush, magnificent hiking trails along the Zambezi escarpment, big game viewing, and camping at the very edge of gorges.
Most plains game is present, along with bigger species such as elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo.
Chizarira offers abundant and unique bird life including the African Broadbill, Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Yellowspotted Nicator, Taita Falcon and the elusive Angola Pitta. www.zimbabwetourism.co.zw
Chobe National Park
This is Botswana’s second largest park (10,566km2) with habitats including riverfront thickets along the Chobe River, rich grasslands, floodplains and forests of acacia, baobab and mopane trees.
The Savuti Marsh, made famous by numerous wildlife documentaries, is a popular destination for tourists and the scene of dense wildlife concentrations and large zebra and wildebeest migrations.
A prime feature of the park is its elephant population which covers most of northern Botswana and nortwestern Zimbabwe. www.botswanatourism.co.bw
Hwange National Park
This 14600km2 area became the royal hunting ground to the Zulu warrior King Mzilikazi in the early 19th century and was set aside as a National Park in 1929.
Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 species of birds recorded.
The Park is home to a significant population of elephant which moves between Zimbabwe and Botswana, the endangered cheetah, sable antelope and oribi.
Accommodation ranges from five star lodges to self catering chalets and campsites. www.zimbabwetourism.co.zw
Kafue National Park
Kafue is Zambia’s oldest and largest park, spreading over 22,400km2 – roughly the size of Wales. Although the park has suffered from severe bouts of poaching and limited funding, it still offers excellent game viewing, birdwatching and fishing opportunities.
The Basunga Plains in the north are Zambia’s most significant wetland resource. This vast watery wilderness is flooded in the wet season by several rivers and streams covering up to 750 km2, reaching their height between March and May each year.
In the south, the Kafue runs into Itezhi Tezhi Dam which is surrounded by grassy plains, rocky bays and stretches of submerged trees. www.zambiatourism.com
Moremi Game Reserve
Was initiated by the Batawana tribe of Botswana and covers approximately 4,800km2 as the eastern section of the Okavango Delta.
It combines mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons playing host to a great diversity of plant and animal life. Peak game viewing season is from July to October when seasonal pans dry up and the wildlife concentrates on the permanent water.
Birdlife is prolific and varied, elephants are numerous especially during the dry season. Buffalo, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, lion, hyaena, red lechwe, and other large and small antelope may be found. www.botswanatourism.co.bw
Sioma Ngwezi National Park
In the south western corner of Zambia, this 5000km2 is relatively undeveloped and rarely visited. It is surrounded by a 35,000km2 Game Management Area.
The park is yet unfenced, allowing free movement of animals between the park, the GMA and the Zambezi River. This forms part of the migratory route of elephants from the bordering national parks of Botswana and Namibia.
Currently, there are no permanent facilities and few roads in the park. The tourism potential of this park however will be significantly developed through the establishment of the KAZA TFCA. www.zambiatourism.com
Water-based tourism attractions are popular in KAZA, ranging from sport fishing for the world famous ‘Tiger fish’, to kayaking and rafting in the rapids around Victoria Falls.
Game viewing can occur in mokoros in the Delta, or during boat cruises on the Chobe and Zambezi rivers, via overland 4x4 vehicles, walking trails or horseback riding.
Elephant back safaris, micro-lighting and ballooning are also offered.
Those who enjoy an adrenalin rush can access a range of adventure sports in Victoria Falls including bungee jumping from the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe, gorge swinging, abseiling, river boarding and jet boating.
Given the rich diversity of ethnic groupings that form a mosaic across the landscape, cultural tourism is on the rise in the region.
One of the more famous cultural events is the annual ‘kumbuka’ ceremony in western Zambia in which the local ‘King’ or paramount chief is transported from his summer residence to his winter residence in a super-large canoe style boat paddled by over 70 specially chosen oarsmen.
Full of pomp and ceremony, this colourful occasion is increasingly becoming a flagship cultural attraction.
Lake Kariba offers spectacular views, stunning sunsets, great fishing, boating and water sporting opportunities to tourists.
Kariba Dam constructed in the late 1950’s, created Africa’s largest man made lake being 226km long and in places up to 40km wide, it provides considerable electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Accommodation ranges from houseboats on the lake to established lodges on the banks to self catering chalets and campsites. www.zimbabwetourism.co.zw
These large salt pans in the middle of the dry savanna of north eastern Botswana are one of the country’s most unique landscapes.
They cover an area of approximately 16,000km2 in the Kalahari basin and form the bed of the ancient Lake Makgadikgadi that began evaporating thousands of years ago.
The pans are salty desert whose only plant life is a thin layer of blue-green algae. The fringes of the pans are however salt marshes, and further afield are grassland and shrubby savanna.
The pans fill with water and attract thousands of flamingoes, and a diversity of migratory birds. The fresh grasses also attract southern Africa’s last remaining migration of zebras and wildebeests.
Near the village of Sioma in Zambia on the Zambezi River lies the Ngonye Falls. Although only 12m high, the volume of water pounding over the rocks is second only to the Victoria Falls. In the winter “dry” season, the Falls provide an idyllic picnic spot.
The local communities surrounding these Falls have initiated the development of a Community Partnership Park with the government and facilitated by the NGO sector.
Lodges and campsites are being built, small amounts of game being restocked and the area being fenced to provide tourists with a peaceful, yet memorable alternative to the more renowned tourist sites.
One of the world’s largest inland water systems, a Ramsar site – the headwaters of the delta begin in Angola’s western highlands with tributaries that join to form the Cubango river.
This then flows into Namibia (called the Kavango River) and finally enters Botswana as the Okavango. During the peak of the flooding season, the delta can spread over 16,000km2 and is a magical paradise for visitors.
Excellent for wildlife viewing, and spectacular scenic viewing, the Delta’s tourism industry is characterised by high cost, low volume.
The Zambezi is Africa’s fourth largest river system after the Nile, Zaire and Niger Rivers. It runs through six countries on its journey from central Africa to the Indian Ocean. Its unique value is that it is less developed than others in terms of human settlement and many areas along its banks enjoy protected status.
Known also as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or the Smoke that Thunders, Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as 546 million cubic metres of water per minute plummet over the edge, at the peak of the flood season, over a width of nearly two kilometers into a deep gorge over 100 meters below.
The wide basalt cliff, over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a placid river to a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges.
The Victoria Falls lie at the heart of the KAZA TFCA, easily accessible to tourists by air or road from Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For more information go to www.zambiatourism.com and www.zimbabwetourism.co.zw