This 280 mile long panhandle of Namibia stretches improbably eastward towards Zimbabwe and is perhaps one of the weirdest African borders caused directly by the colonial land carve up in the 19th century.
Did you know it only exists because someone apparently forgot about the largest waterfall in the world? Heres how the politics played out
Mr Leon von Caprivi, the German politician succeeded Otto von Bismarck as chancellor in 1890. His administration warmed toward Great Britain and months later, he signed a trade agreement that saw the islands of Zanzibar become British in exchange for Heligoland, an archipelago just northwest of Hamburg, Germany.
Bundled into the deal to Germany came a bonus, the little strip of the then Bechuanaland, no wider than 20 miles across in some places.
Well, the Germans wanted this random stretch of British Africa because it ended at the Zambezi River which would, or so they thought, be a direct route to the Indian Ocean and Germany’s East African territories (the modern day Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi).
If only they checked the map.
Not only is the Zambezi difficult to navigate along the Caprivi Strip due to rapids, it becomes non navigable due to the 355 foot drop known as Victoria Falls.
So the stunning Caprivi Strip turned out useless for trade and Bismarck scoffed that the Heligoland trade had been a bush and he said Germany had ‘traded away its entire trousers for a button.’
So the Caprivi for years has been isolated from the region, left to its own devices almost. In 1976 when South Africa controlled it, they tried to make it a segregated ‘bantustan’ for blacks with its own flag and national anthem. As recent as the 1990s, a local rebel group the Caprivi Liberation Army tried to secede from Namibia.
Whilst Count von Caprivi died in 1899, the issues caused by his accidental slip up on the strip live on.
It’s seldomly visited yet hugely rewarding for those that venture there.
A serene river paradise with sand bars ideal for romantic picnics and awesome fishing, we like 2 or 3 nights there to simply relax and fall under the spell of the Zambezi.