By Marita van Rooyen
Although independent from the mother organisation Open Africa, the Kavango Open Africa Route (KOAR) forms part of the larger idea to utilise tourism as an economic platform to create and sustain jobs for rural communities throughout Southern Africa. As main man Mark Paxton explains: “KOAR is all about promoting the Kavango Region and its travel attractions.”
The KOAR route extends from Katwitwi in the west to Mohembo in the east, and incorporates the Mahangu and Khaudum game parks in the south. The route includes communal conservancies and community campsites, accommodation establishments, craft outlets, cultural places, and other essential tourism services. “We want to encourage tourists to use the old gravel road that runs parallel to the Kavango River, as it will give tourists a unique experience with the locals, allowing them a taste of rural life.”
KOAR is built around the concept of self-drive routes that take the traveller off the beaten track, “…connecting you to the real Africa!” KOAR works in close collaboration with the ministries of Environment & Tourism, Fisheries, and Forestry. “It brings everyone together and teaches them to become conscious of the Kavango River.”
KOAR also promotes the five flagship species of the region, namely the African skimmer, grey-headed parrot, hippopotamus, nembwe fish, and kiaat tree. Look out for the Recommended Tourist Route signs when you visit the region.