Kalambesa, Namibia

Photo: Gondwana Collection Namibia

Namibia is the driest country in Africa. The Southern Africa country receives less rainfall than all of the other 53 countries on the continent. It’s not surprising since it sits in between the Kalahari and Namib Deserts. The highest sand dunes in the world line the coast, as well. So the Zambezi Region is truly unique.

The Zambezi Region is the eastern half of the Caprivi Strip. That’s the salient that protrudes from the northeast corner of the country. The nearly 300-mile strip borders Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Its boundaries are formed by some of Africa’s most majestic rivers. Plus it’s the wettest spot in the country. That means it has floodplains, swamps, and wetlands instead of deserts. The moisture attracts diverse wildlife. This is Namibia’s best-kept secret.

Photo: Gondwana Collection Namibia

From Kalambesa, a small village along the Zambezi River, it’s a 20-minute boat ride to the Zambezi Mubala Lodge. You watch mokoro (pole-propelled canoes), hear distant cowbells, and feel a much-needed breeze as you glide toward the riverside lodge. The Zambezi Mubala opened less than two years ago. It’s chic, modern, and, for a safari lodge, surprisingly affordable.

The lodge features freestanding buildings with walls that easily open for views of the river. The big, bright reception area has turquoise walls. The open-air restaurant includes a waterfront terrace and a fire pit. A wooden deck and leaf-printed sun loungers surround the outdoor pool. While stylish rooms offer king-size beds and huge showers.

After traveling all day, you’re happy to stick close to the lodge—and the fire pit—on your first night. Gorgeous southern carmine bee-eaters might be nesting along the riverbank. You’ll search for hippos, vervet monkeys, and African fish eagles tomorrow. You’ll catch (and release) huge tigerfish. And you’ll go for a sunset cruise complete with cool drinks and little snacks. Eventually, you’ll venture across Namibia’s borders to visit Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls during day trips. You quickly understand why this is Namibia’s secret hideaway. It’s yours now, too.

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