Private Concession or Moremi Game Reserve?

Protecting the heart of the Okavango Delta is the Moremi Game Reserve, controlled by the Department of Wildlife and National Park. Surrounding this is a network of private concessions. Both offer excellent but different safari experiences.

Concerned by the rise of hunting in the Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve was officially proclaimed by the BaTawana in 1963 and in 1979 the park was taken over by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.  Today the Moremi Game reserve covers almost a third of the Okavango and includes several safari camps, most of which are found on Chief’s Island (the largest land mass in the Okavango Delta) and the Mopane Tongue – a large, dry forested peninsular fringed with waterways. This includes the beautiful Xakanaxa region where a number of good camps such as Camp Moremi, Camp Xakanaxa and Okuti Camp are based.

The Moremi Game Reserve is surrounded by an arrangement of private concessions, or reserves. Most of the camps in the Okavango are set on private concessions. These concessions are granted by lease from the local communities and are managed by safari outfitters with strict visitor number restrictions. Strict environmental standards form part of these leases, creating an pristine safari environment. Some concessions are managed by the community, such as Khwai, which borders the Moremi and offers the same excellent game viewing but with more flexibility. It is however busy.

Here are the major factors to consider when looking at staying on a private concession or in the Moremi Game Reserve:

Game ViewingExcellent game viewing opportunities are offered both in the Moremi Game Reserve and on private concession- but not all the private concessions will offer consistently good game viewing which the Moremi generally does. Some private concessions do, some do not.

The Moremi Game Reserve was chosen for its beauty and prolific wildlife. It has provided a safe sanctuary for wildlife for generations, and this has resulted in consistently good game viewing year round. The animals are particularly relaxed around visitors here, as a result of nearly 60 years of  protection, allowing for excellent sightings and photo opportunities.

ActivitiesActivities in the Moremi Game Reserve and National Parks such as Chobe are restricted. Only game drives are permitted and these must always be on the designated tracks, no off-roading is permitted and no night-drives are allowed either. Limited walking is available and guides cannot use firearms.

Private concessions on the other hand offer a great deal more flexibility. Off-roading and night drives are permitted as well as walking safaris with armed guides. Specialist activities such as riding safaris, hot air ballooning and elephant interaction safaris are also offered within these concessions.

Exclusivity – By its very nature the Moremi and Chobe receive more visitors, both staying in permanent camps, on organised mobile safaris and self-drivers. (Chobe is much busier than the Moremi due to its proximity to Vic Falls.) These areas are busier and you can expect to see other 4×4 vehicles at sightings. Though Chief’s island is the exception. The camps in the Xakanaxaa area manage this well but you should still expect to see other vehicles during your stay.

The alternative is to stay on a private concession which is the more exclusive safari, some of the most exclusive in Africa. The number of people and vehicles which can be on each concession and allocated to each camp is strictly limited to protect the environment. (The high yield low impact model of tourism). This explains the high cost in the camp rates.  Camps in the Okavango are generally smaller than elsewhere and have between 3-10 tents each. The camps are well spaced out on large concessions and it is unusual to see any other vehicles other than those from the same camp.

Style of Safari – For those adventurous souls who are looking to self-drive or join a mobile, the national parks are the only option. Only a handful of mobile outfits operate on private concessions most operate in the Moremi, community concession and national parks. This offers an authentic safari experience and plenty of adventure. The mobile operators have access to more exclusive sites than self-drivers and can offer a quieter camping experience on private secluded sites.

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