Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve | Botswana
The Okavango Delta consists of six thousand square miles of blue-green wilderness with fresh water and emerald papyrus supporting a vast population of wildlife. It is one of Africa's finest safari destinations, attracting birding, fishing and safari enthusiasts.
Botswana's Okavango Delta
Moremi Game Reserve
Luxury Safari Lodges and Camps
The region hosts a number of small luxury fly-in lodges and camps, providing a unique, unspoiled and uncrowded safari experience. Wetlands are surrounded by savanna, providing a natural refuge for a vast and diverse population of wildlife. Each year, the cool crystal clear waters rise as floodwaters from Angola seep into the delta, providing a new dimension to the Okavango Experience.
The Delta offers land and water based safaris, with the opportunity to view wildlife from a mekoro (dug out canoe) or boat. Even elephant-back safaris are available. Off-road tracking of wildlife by day (and availability of night safaris) provides the ultimate safari experience.
Private Safari Concessions
Botswana’s supports only low density tourism to ensure conservation of its wilderness and wildlife resources. Large private concessions within the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve pursue their own passion for conservation, hosting small intimate safari camps for tourists. They offer a private and pristine wildlife safari experience. Guests can spend an entire day out in the bush with their safari guide and tracker and hardly encounter another soul.
The Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta and is one of the most pristine wilderness regions in Africa. The Delta is renowned for its water-based safari activities.
Wildlife and Safaris
Beaches and Islands
Highlights of the Okavango Delta
The Delta is created by seasonal flooding. The Okavango River drains the summer rains from the Angolan highlands down to the panhandle of the Delta in January and February. Combined with Botswana's summer rains, the river overflows its banks and very gradually spreads across the enormous Delta. The flood progresses gradually over the flat landscape between March and June. Most of the water will evaporate or seep away into the Kalahari Desert sand, but the waters will rise high enough to triple the Delta’s size by July and August. This abundance of water will attract a multitude of wildlife.
January - March
A Botswana safari in January and February is hot and wet, but by March the rains have subsided and the air is less humid. Water is plentiful and wildlife disperses across the vast savannas, actively breeding and feeding in anticipation of the dry season ahead. Day time temperatures from December to February can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) but will fall to around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in March through May.
April - May
By May the rains have stopped and the herds of elephant, buffalo and other wildlife congregate closer to sources of permanent water. Predators blend well with the golds and browns of the now-dry grasses of the savanna and lie in ambush.
June - August
The flood waters finally arrive at the outer reaches of the Okavango Delta. Grasses are lower, providing excellent conditions for viewing wildlife. Nights are mild and days are pleasant and warm but by sunset the temperatures drop and winter evenings can be rather chilly. More and more animals start to congregate around permanent sources of water and mekoro canoe and boat safaris provide an exciting experience.
September - October
Around September, the water levels start to drop. This marks the start of nesting season for herrings, storks and other birdlife. In this dry season, vegetation is sparse and game viewing is excellent. Temperatures will begin to rise once again from September onwards.
November - December
Much needed rain will quench the thirsty landscape. Mothers eat their fill of the new grassy shoots to gain strength to feed their young. It is a busy time too for the predators.
How to get there
Many travelers will start their safari from Maun and travel to the lodges and camps by light aircraft. Most lodges and camps have their own airstrips. Visitors can also fly in from Kasane, convenient for itineraries that include Chobe National Park or Victoria Falls.
Baggage weight and size restrictions apply on all the light aircraft transfers within the Delta. Baggage stowage bays are small - talk with your safari booking agent to find out exactly what you will be allowed to take. Generally speaking you will be required to pack in a soft sided or duffel bag with no rigid sides or wheels.
Flight times vary from 20 minutes between camps in the Delta to 2 hours from outside the Delta.
Read more about the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve:
Land and water-based Activities and Safaris
Moremi Game Reserve | Mombo Private Concession
Acknowledgements for use of Okavango Delta images (from top):
Image 1: Justin Hall from Culver City, USA
Image 2: Dr Thomas Wagner
Image 4: JackyR
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Land and Water Based Safari Activities
Mokoro Trips - Glide along channels and across the lagoons in a Mokoro (aka Mekoro, a traditional dug-out canoe), poled along by an experienced guide. This is a great way to experience the Delta and the birdlife from close at hand.
Above left: Traditional mokoro dug-out canoes used by the local fishermen. The tourist version of a mokoro is often made from moulded fibreglass.
Walking Trails and Safaris– Walking safaris from a day trip arranged by your camp to multi day hikes are possible in selected areas of the Delta. You will be accompanied by an armed ranger/guide who will be able to educate you on all the finer details of your surroundings that are easily missed when on a safari vehicle. Group sizes are small with typically around six hikers plus a guide. Medicinal uses of plants, spoor identification, discovering insects and learning how they impact the environment are just some of the treasures to uncover on a walking safari. Overnights are either in tents or on elevated hides, sleeping under mosquito nets but still being able to clearly see the stars. Make sure that you are being led by a licensed and accredited guide when on this type of safari.
Acknowledgements - above images: Wilderness Safaris
Exploring the Delta channels by Boat- The water based classic tented camps typically provide the opportunity to explore the waterways by boat - a great way to view and photograph wildlife from close at hand. Some safari operators also provide multi-day safaris by open boat, mainly for photographic safari experiences.
Game Drives and Photographic Safaris - The Delta is a natural paradise for the wildlife photographer. The intense contrasts between seasons provide endless year-round photographic opportunities. If this is your main reason for travelling to the Delta, it is a good idea to arrange a private vehicle and guide with the camp management, so that you have more control over the time spent at each wildlife sighting and the routing of your drive.
Mobile camping – Mobile camping safaris are for the adventurer, not the faint hearted, and are a wonderful way to experience the wilds of Botswana as closely as possible. Mobile camping itineraries range from rugged (where you pitch your own tent) to luxury Hemingway style walk in tents with hot and cold running showers. You can help with the cooking and cleaning or be waited on in luxury as your camp crew and chef prepare a restaurant quality meal by candle light. Whichever experience you choose, camp fire stories will still include the incredible sights and new found facts learned from your expert guide that day.
Birding – For birding enthusiasts, the Okavango Delta is a paradise with 580 species resident in the area. It is probably best seen by boat, by mokoro or on foot. It is the best place in Africa to see the Pel’s Fishing Owl and one of the last safe havens for the endangered Wattled Cranes. The Slaty Egret is very common here. Some of the best times for bird watching will be in the spring and summer months, i.e. from October to March, when migratory birds from other parts of Africa and Europe are in the Delta.
Acknowledgements - above images (1) and (3): Jean-Louis Vandevivère
Scenic Flights –To gain a very different and rewarding perspective of the Delta and its wildlife, you can charter a ascenic flight either as a day trip from Maun or Kasane or as a 90 minute flip from your lodge. Of course transfers from one camp to another offer the opportunity to see at least some of the Delta from the air. Aircraft vary from helicopters, to one or two engine aircraft.
Horseback Safaris – Horesback riding on an Okavango trail is exhilarating. You can be walking one moment, quietly approaching game the next or galloping across wetlands for the sheer thrill of feeling the wind in your hair. Horseback safaris give the rider a totally different vantage point to view wildlife. Run with giraffe or zebra or get incredibly close to bigger game such as elephant, all while your guide shares expert knowledge of the bush with you. Typically you will have a choice of English or Trail saddles and horses will be paired with riders based on experience. If travelling with non-riders, then an array of alternative safari activities are offered, including game drives, mokoro and boating (seasonally dependent) - and even a little fishing in selected areas.
Fishing Safaris –
The Okavango River is rich with a variety of fish species, including Tiger fish, Tilapia, Bream, Nembwe and African Pike. Fishing is equally good in the lagoons or in the Okavango panhandle. Wildlife abounds everywhere with ample opportunity to spot any one of 580 bird species. Meandering along waterways in search of the perfect ‘spot’ is possible by boat or mokoro, provided by fishing lodges - or from a house boat. Enquire when booking if you can hire equipment at the lodge. Most house boats will be outfitted with everthing you need.
Houseboats – A house boat in Botswana is a very comfortable and even luxurious floating lodge. It is usually a first choice for anglers but for the non fishing members of the party there is plenty to see and do. Houseboats can accommodate any number of guests from 8 -24 on one trip.
You will depart with a licensed boatman and chef as your crew. Activities include fishing (of course), birding, game viewing, excursions by boat to explore the water channels of the Delta - or a mokoro excursion to explore the narrower channels.
Elephant Back Safaris - Abu Camp is an exclusive luxury camp in a secluded location, providing luxurious tented accommodation and ambience, with superb service and food. Princes, presidents,
film stars and international celebrities can all
attest to the magic of Abu Camp.
Acknowledgements - above images: Abu Elephant Camp
Abu Camp provides an extraordinary elephant experience. The Abu experience is not just about the elephant rides - guests interact with the elephants during mud baths, swimming and feeding. The Okavango wilderness can also be explored on bush walks and by mokoro. Boating and catch-and-release fishing is also available.
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Moremi Game Reserve
Within the Okavango Delta thrives an abundance of African wildlife on land, in the air and in the water. The Moremi Game Reserve protects this paradise for future generations, an unspoiled region sustained by a policy of low density safaris and eco tourism. At 5 000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles), it is not a large reserve, but is a favorite with many return visitors.
The Game Reserve is actually a National Park on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta. It is named after Chief Moremi of the BaTwana tribe.
Nature has especially favored a beautiful island lying deep within the Moremi Reserve. The richness and diversity of Chief’s Island supports an incredible variety and density of wildlife. Chiefs Island is the largest island in the Delta and was originally reserved as a hunting area for the chief.
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Mombo Private Concession
Mombo Concession is a conservation success story. The concession is privately leased from Botswana’s Department of Wildlife. The pristine eco system includes acacia woodland, savanna grassland, and mopane forest. Camp staff and professionals assist Botswana’s Department of Wildlife in monitoring research projects and ensure that infrastructure within the concession is maintained. A significant portion of the tourism income raised by the safari camps contributes to the ongoing success and preservation of the area. Sustainable low density eco tourism and photographic safaris ensure that guests leave only their footprints and take only their memories.
With the consistent sightings and variety of wildlife in the area, it is not surprising therefore that this is a favorite destination for wildlife photographers.
Off-road tracking of wildlife is permitted within the concession. However, at this time no night drives are permitted by the wildlife authorities.
Acknowledgements - above images: Wilderness Safaris
Mombo’s Wildlife (the “predator capital of Africa”)
Mombo Concession is so successful in its conservation efforts that it has become one of the top areas in which wildlife documentaries are filmed. National Geographic and BBC have both filmed here.
Elephant, buffalo, and plains game are prevalent, but it’s the predators that make up the areas most exciting inhabitants. According to a recent census, Mombo is said to have Botswana’s highest concentration of lion. Prides of lion as well as cheetah, leopard and African wild dogs (also known as African painted wolves) thrive in the Mombo eco system. An important project since 1989 has been the monitoring of the African wild dog populations. This species is highly endangered in Africa but the Moremi Game Reserve has seen a good number of litters born in recent years and it is encouraging to see their numbers climb, albeit slowly. It is estimated that Moremi Game Reserve is home to around 30% of Africa’s entire wild dog population.
White rhino have been re-introduced back into the concession, the only place in Botswana where they are still to be seen in their natural habitat. Lagoons are home to crocodile, hippo and waterfowl.
Acknowledgements - above image: Wilderness Safaris
The Okavango Delta is considered a malaria region and visitors are advised to take anti-malarial medication. Please always first check with your Doctor to ensure you are taking the right medication. During the winter months of June, July, August and September the risk of malaria is much lower.
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