By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Caprivi has become the second region in the country to establish a tourism route that aims at attracting more tourists to the area. The Caprivi Wetlands Paradise Route is the second tourism route in Namibia and the 61st in Africa to be launched. Open Africa, a non-profit organization that promotes tourist routes, together with Caprivi community members, private lodge owners and non-governmental organizations pooled their resources to establish the route that is based on the concept of the wine routes of the Western Cape in South Africa. Francois Viljoen, Operations Manager of Open Africa, told New Era at the weekend the route would now provide tourists with more information for them to plan their trip before visiting the Caprivi. “It makes it a lot easier for them to come now,” he said. Namibia is the sixth country in Africa to have such routes with other countries being South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia. Twenty-three participants in the Caprivi joined hands to establish the route, providing facilities from community campsites to up-market lodges. The emphasis is on community involvement with six conservancies and four of the best rustic campsites catering for prospective travellers, complemented by the services available from five of the more established luxury lodges. The route covers an extensive area of the Caprivi, links the N//Goabaca community campsite, with its wonderful views of the Popa Falls on the Kavango River, then takes in Katima Mulilo the region’s capital on the Zambezi river, continues to the Chobe river and also includes Impalila Island, from where a high view offers sights of the four African countries, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The link for these attractions is the new Trans-Caprivi Highway, a broad tar-surfaced road, which has replaced the dusty gravel tracks of the past, and sweeps right across the Caprivi for about 500 km. The route was launched last week. Keith Rooke-Smith, chairperson of the Caprivi Wetlands Paradise Forum, said this initiative would make everyone in the Caprivi be a part of the tourism industry. “As people of the Caprivi we owe the region something and we need to do something to get moving and pushed along,” Smith said. With the routes available to tourists, travellers can now choose where they want to go, which people they want to visit and which kind of activities they want to undertake. Although the experience is that most private lodges fly in tourists to stay for four days or so, Rooke-Smith said there was much more to see in the region. “There are other tourist attractions that should keep the tourists busy for much longer,” he said, adding that the route would also persuade tourists that drive through the region to the Etosha to stay in the region. The route forms part of Open Africa’s broader vision, which is to link the splendours of Africa in a network of community-based tourism routes from Cape to Cairo, optimizing synergies between tourism, job creation and conservation. The Caprivi has three state-protected game reserves, it is at the heart of the Kavango Zambezi Trans Frontier Conservation Area which is being set up through international cooperation and has an abundance of wildlife including the largest remaining concentration of elephants in Africa, vast herds of migrating buffalo, water-loving antelope and about 400 species of birds.
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