MOREMI GAME RESERVE
Moremi Game Reserve is considered by many as one of Africa's most outstanding wildlife areas, covering 4,871 km², including a considerable section of the Okavango Delta. Mopane trees dominate the dry lands of the Moremi and the remainder of the reserve is a combination of floodplain grasses, sandveld, riverine woodland, and areas of permanent delta. As well as the usual larger mammals and plains game, Moremi is excellent for Red Lechwe and Sitatungu, both water-loving antelope.
Named after Chief Moremi, the local BaTawana people set aside one third of the Delta to protect it for future generations in 1963. It consists of a wide variety of habitats and support large concentrations of wildlife, including one of the largest populations of the endangered African wild dog (Cape hunting dog / Painted dog).
This region is where land meets the Okavango's permanent waters and includes Khwai River, Xakanaxa Lagoon and Third Bridge; these destinations can be reached by 4x4 vehicle, but is not to be attempted by standard vehicle. However, the road conditions may become difficult during a heavy rainy season and the park may be closed due to this. Access by land is from either the North or the South Gate roads.
Part of any adventure in Botswana is the journey itself. Most of Moremi is only accessible by fly-in and transfer by boat, either on the fringes of the reserve or on Chief's Island, though it is possible to self-drive in a 4x4 in the fringes of Moremi. Self-driving here requires good 4x4 skills though, as there is always sand to negotiate, often water, and sometimes thick mud and is not recommended for novice off-road drivers, this is not a place to learn, self-drivers get stuck regularly, sometimes mid water crossing, resulting in a ruined engine and a very hefty bill from the rental company. Also, wildlife is, well, wild and whilst encounters with the many elephants in the area are generally peaceful, you are much safer when being driven by a skilled and qualified guide. Bearing all this in mind, we do not organise self-drive itineraries in Botswana.
When to visit
The dry season and in particular from June to October is the best time to visit Moremi Game Reserve, as game viewing is at its peak. At this time seasonal pans dry up and the wildlife concentrates on the permanent water. The winter months of May to August can be cold at night, but pleasantly warm during the day. From October until the rains come in late November or early December, the weather can be extremely hot - both day and night and is best avoided.
Like in the private game reserves and concessions of the Okavango Delta, great deals can be made in green season from January to March, when the usually high lodge rates drop considerably.
The principal areas of Moremi Game Reserve
Many areas of the Okavango Delta are largely dry including Chief's Island, arguably the Okavango's most famous isle. It was once the royal hunting reserve of Chief Moremi, the traditional leader of the local tribes and he donated it as a supplement to the Moremi Game Reserve and it was included in 1976. It is now one of the region's best locations for spectacular wildlife viewing. There are a number of Botswana's top safari camps located here though the Department of Wildlife and Tourism's rules on walking mean that walks take place outside the reserve and there are no night drives.
At the top end, the Mombo Concession is the first part of dry land that the flood waters reach in the greater Okavango region. Most of the nutrients carried by the water are deposited here and this results in vegetation for rich grazing and browsing for wildlife. These nutritious grass plains support herbivores in large numbers and associated high population of predators.
The Xakanaxa Lagoon lies at the tip of the Mopane Tongue, where substantial mopane forests and a system of deep waterways and shallow flooded areas come together. It is where desert meets the Delta. The striking scenery is packed with game and leopard are seen frequently, even though they are well-camouflaged, solitary and shy. This lagoon is also a place to head to find the African wild dog and the sheer density of antelope is staggering. Exceptional and varied birdlife is the order of the day at Xakanaxa Lagoon, renowned for the breeding colonies of birds that congregate on its tree islands. Seasonal sightings include innumerable herons, egrets and storks and other waders, to the many species of sparrow hawks, buzzards and kites.
where to stay
From our many visits to Moremi, we have first-hand knowledge of the lodges and below you can find the ones we most commonly use. Those lodges include mainly our favourites sorted from low-key to deluxe, which are usually smaller lodges with very personalised service, but also some bigger places, if they are the best or only option available.