‘Tiger Country’, formally known as the Eastern Caprivi Floodplain (also known as the Southern Barotse Floodplain), is a small part of the upper Zambezi River that stretches approximately 100km from Katima Mulilo to Impalila Island (where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe all meet). Shackletons is located half-way between these two points, right in the heart of ‘Tiger Country’.
This very special part of the upper Zambezi is ‘Tiger Country’ because of the floodplains. The river rises for 6 months of the year (December – May) to form the floodplains and recedes for the other 6 months of the year (June to November). The annual floods rejuvenate the river system around Shackletons. The river re-stocks itself with everything from crustaceans, to insects, to fish that go to the flood plains to feed and breed.
The annual variation in water level is up to 7-8 m in Caprivi, with an annual average of 5 m. The water level usually rises sharply in January, with one or more peaks in February-April, before a decline in May-June. Thus, the floodplains are annually inundated from February to June.
The flood plains are vast expanses of water that prevent humans from building permanent structures and damaging the environment. This is what makes the upper Zambezi such a pristine part of the mighty Zambezi River.
The tigerfish stay in the upper Zambezi River all year around. They do not go into the flood plains. The upper Zambezi tigerfish have to adapt their feeding habits according to ever-changing river levels, water clarity, water temperature, and food sources. This means that Shackletons changes its preferred tiger fishing methods and tackle throughout the year.
Despite the upper Zambezi River flooding for 6 months of the year, Shackletons does not get flooded (unlike other lodges) mainly because the lodge is located in the Matoya Channel (a small oxbow river off the main Zambezi River).