The Moremi Game Reserve

The Moremi Game Reserve

The Moremi Game Reserve is huge and protects 5,500 Km² of the Okavango Delta. It is surrounded on all sides by national parks and conservation areas, making the wildlife and birdlife simply the best!

Moremi is a game reserve, not a national park, which means that the indigenous people, the San Bushmen, are allowed to continue living here in their traditional homelands, which contrasts with other parts of Botswana where this has become a contentious topic.

Moremi has it all: permanent and seasonal water; dry land and savannah areas; woodland (some of it dense) and open grassland. There are two large tracts of dry land, Chief’s Island and the Moremi Tongue; about 1/3 of the reserve is dry land, the rest floodplain or permanent water. This variety of habitats means that the animal and bird species (about 500 bird species) are varied and numerous. There are several distinct areas:

Giraffe

Giraffe from 500 feet

Xakanaxa

Contains a maze of tracks that take you by 4X4 through ever-changing habitats from riverine forest to Mopane woodland, lagoon systems, floodplains and river channels to open grasslands: no two game drives are the same. Excellent concentrations of grazers and browsers support high predator concentrations. There are boat trips on the Xakanaxa lagoon and the Maunachira River, as well as more peaceful mokoro trips. There are literally thousands of islands within Xakanaxa.

The Khwai River

On the eastern side of Moremi the Khwai River finally runs out of puff and soaks away into the sand.

But by doing so, it brings life to an otherwise dry area: water attracts game and permanent water particularly so. And where the grazers go to drink, the predators set up camp: this is prime lion real-estate! In this respect, it is reminiscent of the Mara Triangle in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. The hunting is consistent and reliable, which means lions work hard to retain their territories, and the area supports more lions than you’d expect. There are three thriving prides in this small area, which makes for excellent game viewing.

Elephants come from miles around to drink; pods of Hippos are around every bend in the river and the semi aquatic Red Lechwe thrive along the river’s floodplain. The star of the show is probably the African Wild Dog packs and there are numerous sightings.

Boat

A traditional “mokoro” dug-out canoe.

Bodumatau

Between Xini Lagoon (see below) and Xakanaxa is remote Bodumatau; tricky to get to which means it’s rare to see other people. It consists of large open grasslands, Mopane forest and lagoons: brilliant bird watching. There are several mature groves of the yellow-barked Fever Berry Trees. Some of the largest crocs in the Delta live here, so grazers are cautious when they come down to drink!

Xini Lagoon

Consists of seasonal floodplains and lagoons and is another quiet part of the Delta. It is particularly good for elephant and one of the few places to see cheetah. Giraffe are prolific as well as herds of Zebra, Wildebeest and Impala.

Moremi Map

Moremi is outlined in green, with Chief’s Island in the centre.