Imagine a sprawling wilderness spanning 520,000 square kilometres, teeming with wildlife, lush landscapes, and breathtaking rivers. This is the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, and we’re here to unveil its wonders.
You may be questioning what KAZA is. Netsai Bollmann, the program manager at the KAZA secretariat, which is driven by key players like the transfrontier areas governing bodies partner countries and their respective stakeholders, clears any confusion that may cloud your mind by painting a picture of a landscape that is truly coexistent in a world that has no fences.
At its core, KAZA is a place where borders are porous, and the movement of wildlife is encouraged. It could only become a reality through the unique collaboration between five African nations: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
What sets KAZA apart is the way people coexist with wildlife. It encourages animals’ ability to move freely between communities, towns, and villages. In this unique coexistent landscape, 2.5 to 3 million people live alongside nature’s wonders, linked to the region’s lifeblood, the Okavango and Zambezi rivers.
It is a patchwork of mesmerising beauty. Two major river basins, the Okavango and Zambezi, thread through the area, shaping its character. This region boasts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the majestic Victoria Falls, the otherworldly Tsodilo Hills, and the iconic Okavango Delta.
Bollmann accentuated the scale of the area, “In the southern African region we have 18 transfrontier conservation areas. So a plethora of countries have signed either treaties that have been signed by heads of state or they’re at different stages of establishment. We have 18 and KAZA is the largest land based transfrontier conservation area in the Southern African region.”
With 36 protected areas across national boundaries, the world’s largest land-based transfrontier conservation area comes to life.
“We’re not only the largest Transfrontier Conservation Area in Southern Africa, but globally, in the world we are the largest land-based or terrestrial Conservation Area and our Geographic scope is almost 520 000 square kilometres so I don’t know if it’s politically correct to say but I think I worked with the bricks on this so it’s twice the size of the UK and larger than Spain and it’s a conservation network of 36 protected areas,” continues Bollmann.
One of KAZA’s greatest claims to fame is its remarkable wildlife. Established in 2011, this extraordinary conservation initiative aims to protect wildlife and preserve natural habitats while fostering regional cooperation. Over 50% of Africa’s African Savannah elephants call KAZA home, with an estimated 220,000 individuals residing here.
But it’s not just elephants; KAZA is also a sanctuary for lions, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and over 600 species of birds. Here, you’ll witness the grandeur of biodiversity on an epic scale.
While conservation and livelihood development have been primary focuses in KAZA, tourism is now emerging as a key driver of the region’s growth. KAZA’s untamed beauty, rich biodiversity, and unforgettable experiences make it a dream destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
As KAZA slowly becomes more accessible, with flight options and road connections, it offers exciting opportunities for travellers to explore lesser-known gems.
If you want to experience the Zambezi odyssey a good place to begin is Kasane in Botswana, and follow the Zambezi River to explore Namibia’s lush Zambezi Region.You will get to explore the untamed beauty of KAZA’s eastern edges, including Chobe and Kasane.
To walk into the jewels of KAZA that are hidden in plain sight, let your journey take you into Zimbabwe to witness the famous majesty of Victoria Falls.
From there, cross into Livingstone, Zambia, and experience the majesty of Victoria Falls from the other side. You’ll be able to experience the KAZA Univisa programme which makes movement easier as a traveller between the two pilot countries. However, it is said that implementation has been slow as there is a need for engagement on the visa implications.
KAZA, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, is a world unto itself—a place where nature reigns supreme, where wildlife roams freely, and where unforgettable adventures await. As this magnificent region opens its doors to travellers, you have been invited to uncover its mysteries, explore its treasures, and experience the magic of KAZA. Are you ready to share its boundless wonders?