At the confluence of the Zambezi and the Chobe rivers, over 100km southeast of Katima, sits Impalila Island, which marks the easternmost tip of Namibia. Its unique and enviable position, overlooking both scenic waterways, and within easy striking distance of Chobe National Park, across in Botswana, and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia, makes it the perfect spot for high-end wilderness lodges. Captivating scenery and sunsets abound, and superlative wildlife safaris can be conducted on water as well as on land – in a motorboat or a mokoro (the traditional dugout canoe), or even from the deck of a houseboat.

The island’s location, within sight of three of Namibia’s neighbouring countries, also justified the island’s former strategic importance as a military base for the SADF during the 1980s. Though the base has long gone and the barracks now house a school, the tarred airstrip remains to bring in lodge visitors to Impalila – the only way to access the island without going into Botswana.

The eastern wetlands

Whereas the larger Zambezi flows inevitably eastwards towards Victoria Falls and ultimately the Indian Ocean, the Chobe River occasionally exhibits a curious phenomenon: on the rare occasions when the upper Zambezi floods, you can witness the Chobe River’s flow being temporarily reversed, as it is forced to run westwards until the floodwaters recede and it resumes its usual course once more, sliding into the Zambezi.

Between the two rivers, west of Impalila, their swampy floodplains extend, laced with deep channels of water lined with high reeds and clumps of papyrus. The area is more populated than you might imagine, with over two thousand Lozi making a living from subsistence farming, hunting and fishing, leading a semi-nomadic existence as they move with the rise and fall of the river levels, seeking higher land when the floodwaters swell (generally from March onwards). Significant quantities of large mammals are returning to the region, and the prolific birdlife is a further draw.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Namibia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

Namibia has some of the world's most astonishing landscapes. It's home to the world's oldest desert, a long and undeveloped coastline and national parks that te…

31 May 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

National parks are some of the world's most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one…

02 Jul 2015 • Rebecca Hallett help Quiz
In pictures: traditional dress around the world

In pictures: traditional dress around the world

The Sari, India Ostensibly the simplest item of clothing possible – a single length of fabric, up to nine metres long – the sari is also one of the world…

02 Feb 2015 • Alice Park camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month