Botswana: Wildlife Destinations
Okavango's star species: Red lechwe • African wild dog • African elephant • African fish eagle
Reaching like a green-fingered hand into the Kalahari, the Okavango is a water-wilderness of floodplains, reedbeds, papyrus swamps and wooded islands – a unique inland delta laced with a vein-like network of channels. Expanding and shrinking with the seasonal ebb and flow of floodwaters from Angola, the Okavango is one of Africa’s most enigmatic wildlife destinations. From tiny frogs perched on reed stems to herds of lechwe splashing through the shallows, the delta supports a plethora of species. You’ll find abundant birdlife, the big five (rhino were reintroduced in 2001) and one of the continent’s largest surviving populations of African wild dog.
Moremi Game Reserve protects the core of the delta. A wonderfully diverse area, it has a little bit of everything that the delta can offer, from permanent lagoons to a dry peninsula covered in mopane trees. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded here, including the secretive Pel’s fishing owl. Moremi is also excellent for sightings of wild dog, lion, elephant and buffalo. Two of the reserve’s most rewarding areas are the floodplain of the Khwai River and the Xakanaxa Lagoon, where the dry Mopane Tongue meets a beautiful mosaic of pools and channels.
The Okavango also has a patchwork of private reserves – exclusive concessions that promise just as good wildlife as Moremi, but with the added bonus of walking safaris and night drives.
Although accommodation in the delta tends to be expensive, many private reserves are part-owned by local communities. By staying in Vumbura or Duba Plains Reserves, for example, a large part of your fee goes towards wages for local staff, supplies from the communities and the development of projects like medical clinics and schools.
Getting there Moremi Game Reserve is around 95km north of Maun. Many camps in the delta are reached by light aircraft.
Getting around 4WD vehicles essential.
When to go Dry season (May to November) is best for game viewing. Floodwaters arrive in June.
Things to do Mokoro (dugout canoe) rides, game drives, walking safaris, elephant back safaris.
Places to stay Numerous camps and lodges. Key operators include Wilderness Safaris.
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wildlife travel essentials: Botswana
The easiest way to reach Botswana is to fly to Maun or Livingstone via Johannesburg.
WHEN TO GO
Dry season (May to November) best for game viewing, except in the Central Kalahari.
WHERE TO STAY
Safari camps and lodges tend to be remote, exclusive and expensive.