A guide to the Okavango Delta concessionsRead More
The beating heart of the Okavango.
The Moremi Game Reserve consists of pans, floodplains, lagoons, grasslands, forests of acacia trees, savannahs and dense mopane woodlands. Jutting into the Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve preserves the heart of Africa’s finest game viewing region. Nowhere in southern Africa will better wildlife be found. Established by the BaTwana tribal authorities in 1963, this area protected the traditional hunting areas of the Delta. Well protected, the game reserve provides a refuge for a diverse population of African game.
This unique ecosystem, characteristic of the Okavango Delta, allows for a diverse spectrum of wild life and coupled with effective protective measures results in huge herds of impala and tsessebe and in the dry season large herds of buffalo, wildebeest, elephant and zebra come into the reserve from the dry Kalahari Desert in search of both food and water. The sitatunga and lechwe live in the papyrus banks of the waterways with lions, cheetahs and packs of wild dogs hunting in the open grassland. The Moremi Game Reserve is home to over 400 of the Okavango’s species of birds, including the African fish eagle, crested crane and sacred ibis. This vast array of mammal, bird, insect, plant, fish and reptile species have adapted to the Okavango Delta’s swamp conditions.
A Game Reserve, as opposed to a National Park, the Moremi Game Reserve was declared by the BaTawana people and was the first wildlife sanctuary to be created by an African tribe in their own area. To address the problems of the rise of hunting in the Okavango Delta and the concomitant reduction in game and the increase in cattle farming in the area, the Moremi Game Reserve was officially proclaimed by the BaTawana on 15 March 1963. The reserve was initially run by the Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland. Since then the Moremi Game Reserve has since been extended to include Chief’s Island and in 1979 the park was taken over by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
The Mopane Tongue, as the name suggests, is a vast tract of mopane forest. This tree thrives here in the poorly drained but nutrient rich clay sand and the mopane reaches a good size compared to those in areas such as Maun where they rarely exceed a stunted size. Moremi also has areas of Vachellia (acacia’s reclassified name) such as erioloba and umbrella thorn and Kalahari sand loving terminalia and Kalahari apple leaf.
The northeast tip of Moremi, known as Khwai, is an area where evergreen trees such as mature leadwood line wide floodplains. It boasts excellent density and diversity of both predator and prey species with leopard sightings consistently good. There are also notably large lion prides. From an ornithological perspective, saddle-billed storks, wattled cranes and many species of kingfishers and bee-eaters are common.
In the heart of Moremi, at the tip of the Mopane Tongue, lies the renowned Xakanaxa Lagoon comprising mopane forests and a patchwork of deep waterways and shallow flooded areas, creating a beautiful area packed with game. The bog fern with its fronds of up to a metre in length is a characteristic feature of the Xakanaxa Lagoon. Leopard and cheetah are regularly seen and the density of antelope is notable. The area’s birdlife is exceptional. An hour and a half further (by boat only, driving is impossible) is the famous Godikwe Lagoon with its islands of water fig trees that have become a vast and important nesting place and nursery for huge numbers of the region’s birds such as herons, ibis, egrets and storks. The birds congregate to build their nests in September and the hatching of chicks is at its peak in around November.
Access – Moremi can either be accessed by air (light aircraft fly to the airstrips that service the lodges) or by road via Maun. A self-drive through Moremi is advisable only for experienced 4 x 4 drivers and only in the dry months. The summer rains can make some of the Moremi inaccessible and some lodges close over the December to February period. Chief’s Island won’t be accessible by vehicle as it is cut off by waterways and is anyway a private area (see NG 28).
As the Moremi is a game reserve, park fees must be paid. These are included in the cost of staying at a lodge and the administration will be dealt with by the lodge operator. However, if you are driving in, then you need to organise the paperwork and pay the fees in advance and also to have booked campsites. You cannot just turn up and stay at campsites, nor lodges for that matter. All the paperwork will be checked at a park gate when you enter the Moremi where you will also be given a copy of the reserve’s regulations. The park is open from 6am–6.30pm April to September, 5.30am–7pm October to March. Campers need to note that they are allowed to collect firewood in the reserve but are not allowed to bring wood in nor to take it out. Camping is only allowed in the designated campsites, driving off road is strictly forbidden and the speed limit if 40km/h.
Best Months – There is no single answer to the question of when to visit. The Delta attracts so much wildlife because it has permanent water so there is good wildlife all year round. However, it is the case that animals disperse to the drier areas of the surrounding Kalahari Desert during the rainy season when water and food is available and the desert has turned green, only to migrate back to the Delta in the dry (and hot in September and October) winter months. But in the centre of the Moremi, animals are plentiful all year round because they have everything they need, and the area is perennially green so there is no advantage in game viewing from vegetation die-back. So whilst the game might generally be denser in the dry season, do not discount the green season. In fact, birding is best during the rains because this is breeding season and the birds’ plumage is spectacular. Mammals breed too during the summer and the sight of tiny impala is joyful.
Peeking out from under a lush green woodland canopy sits Camp Moremi, in the Xakanaxa area of Moremi Game Reserve. This luxurious but down to earth and friendly lodge has a fantastic team delivering an excellent safari experience. This is prime game viewing area and Camp Moremi is the perfect place from which to exploring this wonderful corner of the Okavango. Game drives as well as boating is offered from this beautiful lodge.
Xigera Safari Lodge is one of the most luxurious lodges in the Okavango Delta, set in a beautiful location on private concession within the Moremi Game Reserve. After a complete rebuild Xigera has reopened under new ownership as one of the most exclusive and luxurious camps in Botswana, offering the ultimate flexibility for guests to shape the experience exactly as they desire. The philosophy at this stylish lodge says it all “anything, any time”.
Endeavour Safaris is a specialist safari outfit best known for their accessible safaris for persons with disabilities. Endeavour offer a variety of safari options which can be tailored to individual needs. Passionate about inclusive tourism and opening up the wonders of safaris to all guests, they offer a full range of safari altwith services including dialysis machines, wheelchair friendly vehicles, access to boating and medical facilities. Other safaris include Trans-Okavango boating safaris.
The long established Bush Ways Safaris provide a variety of mobile safari adventures across northern Botswana and the Okavango Delta. Bushways offer three mobile safari types, semi participation, fully serviced and accommodated safaris, covering a variety of itineraries and provide a cost effective way of visiting northern Botswana. Bush Ways Safaris also offer private and tailored safaris.
Okuti Camp is a delightful camp set alongside the Maunachira River which flows through Xakanaxa Lagoon within the world renowned Moremi Game Reserve, famous for the year round big game viewing. Okuti has a unique style, with 7 reed rooms set along the riverbank. Land and water activities are offered year-round, with morning and afternoon 4x4 game drives exploring this particularly pretty corner of the Moremi and boating along the peaceful waterways.
Boasting one of the finest locations in the Moremi, Xakanaxa Camp (pronounced Ka-ka-na-ka) lies on a pretty stretch of the reed fringed banks of the Khwai River, in the beating heart of the Okavango. This is prime game viewing area. Set on one of the few permanent channels of the Okavango, this is one of the few camps able to offer boating year round- as well as superb game viewing on 4x4 game drives.
Situated on Chief’s Island in the exclusive Mombo Concession of the Moremi Game Reserve, Chief’s Camp delivers some of the finest game viewing in Africa, and one of the most luxurious safaris. This remarkable camp offers an very spoiling safari experience. With sophisticated accommodation, an extraordinary setting and exceptional wildlife all contributing to the ultimate luxury safari experience. A flagship Okavango property with good reason.
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