MOREMI GAME RESERVE
Moremi is the only Game Reserve inside the Okavango Delta. Here land and water meet to create an exceedingly picturesque preserve of floodplains. Either seasonally or perennially wet, waterways, lagoons, pools, pans, grasslands and riparian, riverine and mophane forests. This makes for spectacular game viewing and bird watching. All naturally occurring herbivore and carnivore species in the region occur here, and over 400 species of birds. Black and White Rhino have been re-introduced, now making the reserve a ‘Big Five’ destination.
There are several different habitats in Moremi; ideally we stay for at least 4 nights to experience them all, especially the scenic lagoons that are found deeper within the park. There is the opportunity to take a boat to visit the incredible island heronry at Godikwe. It is full of breeding herons and storks from May to October.The beautiful channels and lagoons encountered along the way in the boat make this worthwhile to anyone.
KHWAI COMMUNITY AREA
Khwai concession is a community-run private reserve adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve, divided from it by the Khwai River. The river attracts high concentrations of thirsty wildlife. Riverine forest lines the wide water lily and papyrus covered floodplains around the Khwai River. A myriad of colourful birdlife is found in this watery habitat that is a breeding area for many species. Away from the river and plains is thick mophane woodland dotted with pans that attract many animal species and where we often spot wild dog.
The Khwai Community is running this area and all fees paid here go into the local Community providing schools, scholarships, water pumps and more. There are two exclusive operator sites, both beautifully situated under large Leadwood tree’s and a third site near the Khwai River. All are well spaced from each other and under the shade of immense Acacia Tree’s. The Khwai community trust allow night drives (not allowed in any National Park in Botswana) and we enjoyed our spot lit drives back to camp after sunset. The game viewing is superb, as good as in Moremi, and in addition to the normal game drives we are allowed out of the vehicle (responsibly of course) and can do limited walking.
The first glimpse of the Chobe River – deep and dazzling in the sandy terrain – is always breathtaking. Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, the Chobe supports a diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalleled anywhere else in the country. The park covers approximately 11700 km², encompassing floodplains, swamps and woodland. The Chobe River forms its northern boundary. The most frequently visited of Botswana’s big game country, the Chobe Riverfront is famous for its large herds of elephants and Cape Buffalo, which during the dry winter months converge upon the river to drink.
The river is host to a stunning array of birdlife, and when here we normally take a 3-hour boat cruise is taken to take advantage of this. If lucky you will see Elephants swimming in close proximity to you, in addition to the numerous other animals. The sites we stay in here are completely undeveloped areas in the ‘bush’. Everything must be taken in to these sites – even water and nothing may be left behind, so they remain pristine. They offer an untouched wilderness experience, all sites are within a few hundred metres from the Chobe River, and in the dry season you can watch stunning sunsets with a backdrop of elephants and buffalo a few minutes away from our tented camp.
The Savuti Channel in northern Botswana is a famous waterway in a thrilling state of flux. For a quarter of a century, the Savuti Channel was dry, creating wide-open grassland, home to both quantities and varieties of wildlife and a legendary predator’s enclave. In 2008, the waters returned, and abundant game has congregated and adapted in its wake. The Savute Channel once more became a deep, clear waterway harbouring hippo and aquatic life with myriad varieties of waterbirds. Wildlife, from plains game to a plethora of predators had to adapt to a new source of water and all the opportunities and menaces it brought with it.
Then in 2015 the Channel dried up again and it became a harsh place to visit in the dry season –there are only 2 pumped waterholes in a vast area. There is a site where ancient San rock art can be seen after a small but steep climb. It is humbling to see and puzzle over and causes one to marvel at the people who previously inhabited the area. A beautiful island of 13 Baobab trees is not so well known but makes a wonderful excursion and is a wonderful site to photograph.
MAKGADIKGADI PANS NATIONAL PARK
The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve incorporates the western end of Ntwetwe Pan, extensive grasslands and acacia woodland. At its northern boundary, it meets the Nxai Pan National Park. During the dry season, the Boteti River in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park thrives with activity as literally thousands of Zebra and Wildebeest vie for water. There is a small public Campsite at Khumaga, and from here we can witness the huge herds and often hear their predators (mainly lions, but occasionally Cheetah, Wild Dogs and Leopard). There is a small group of Hippopotamus that live in the river and some crocodiles that dug caves into the banks of the dry riverbed and are now very relieved that the river is flowing again.
NXAI PAN / BAINES’ BOABABS
Part of the great Makgadikgadi complex, Nxai Pan National Park covers an area of 2,100 km2, and comprises several larger pans which were once ancient salt lakes. These larger pans are now grassed, and are scattered with islands of acacia trees, and smaller pans that fill with water during the rainy season – thus providing rich resources for wildlife. Seven huge, gnarled baobab trees, named after the 19th century explorer Thomas Baines, are situated on an island overlooking and surrounded by the white, crusty Kudiakam Pan. Baines stood here over a hundred years ago and painted this otherworldly scene. It has essentially remained unchanged.
Nxai Pan is at its best for game viewing between December and April when many antelope have their young. The area attracts large numbers of Springbok and Gemsbok drawn to the short sweet grasses that grow on the pan. During the dry season there is often the opportunity to witness a kill as the lions often set up at one of the two pumped waterholes in this small National Park. Nxai Pan has become famous due to the award winning IMAX film by Tim Liversedge, called Roar, mostly filmed at the pumped waterhole during the dry season, where the resident lions set up to kill the Springbok and other animals drawn to the only source of water for miles around. The extremely rare Brown Hyaena and Cheetah are frequently spotted here. A minimum stay of two nights is recommended for this area.
CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE
One of the remotest and most unspoiled parts of Africa, the Northern part of this park is one of the prime game viewing areas in Botswana. Nothing prepares you for the immensity of this reserve, nor its wild, mysterious beauty. There is the immediate impression of unending space, and having the entire reserve to yourself. Waist-high golden grasses seem to stretch interminably, punctuated by dwarfed trees and scrub bushes. Wide and empty pans appear as vast white stretches of saucer-flat earth, meeting a soft, blue-white sky. At night the stars utterly dominate the land; their brilliance and immediacy are totally arresting.
The best time to visit is during or soon after the rains when large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest and eland gather for good grazing. The dry season amazes with seeing what these desert adapted animals can endure- most survive for months with no surface water to drink, getting moisture from vegetation such as tsamma melons, tubers that are dug up and dew. There are many different sites for camping in this park – all undeveloped except for their ablution facilities (waterless!). During the dry season water is non-existent in the park, all water used by us must be bought in by us. Travelling time between campsites is long due to the vast distances covered and the condition of the roads.
Some of my favourite area’s to camp are Pipers’ Pans (where the unusual baobab like Wild Sesame Tree’s grow) and of course Deception Valley – made famous by Mark and Delia Owens book, ‘Cry of the Kalahari’. A minimum of 4 to 6 nights is recommended but if you have the time a safari of two weeks can cover the Kalahari, a Khoisian Community at D’Kar near Ghanzi, and still have time for a few nights in Moremi Game Reserve.
If we stop-over in Maun, I recommend you stay at the beautiful Thamalakane River Lodge, where in addition to luxury accommodation and great food, you can relax by the river, as well as swim in their spacious pool, two nights in the middle of a long safari is an ideal break.
We can help to arrange your stay and activities in Victoria Falls should you wish us to. We recommend Batonka Guest Lodge as it is within easy walking distance of town is modern and tastefully decorated. It’s small and personal and by far the best choice in its price range. This eco friendly lodge is just 2.5 kilometres from the Victoria Falls entrance.