The MOREMI GAME RESERVE
At the place where the life-giving waters of the Okavango Delta meet the vast plains of the Kalahari Desert, Mother Nature has created a sanctuary of Mopane forests, open grasslands, seasonal floodplains and riverine habitats, resulting in one of the most magnificent and welcoming animal environments in all of Africa...
Named after Chief Moremi of the BaTawana tribe, the Moremi Game Reserve covers much of the eastern side of the Okavango Delta and combines permanent water with drier areas, which create some startling and unexpected contrasts. Some prominent geographical features of the Reserve are Chiefs Island and the Moremi Tongue. In the Moremi Reserve one can experience excellent views of Savannah game as well as bird-watching on the lagoons. There are also thickly wooded areas, which are home to the rare leopard. To the northeast lies the Chobe National Park which borders the Moremi Game Reserve.
The idea to create a game reserve first originated in 1961 and was approved by the Batawana at a kgotla in 1963. The area was then officially designated as a game reserve in April 1965 and was initially run by the Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland. Moremi was then extended to include Chiefs Island in 1976. In August 1979 the reserve was taken over by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. A further extension was added as recently as 1992 and now the reserve contains within its boundaries approximately twenty percent of the Okavango Delta.
Moremi, hunted by the Bushman as long as 10,000 years ago, was initiated by the Batawana tribe and covers some 4,871 sq. km, as the eastern section of the Okavango Delta. Moremi is mostly described as one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Africa. It combines Mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons. It is the great diversity of plant and animal life that makes Moremi so well known.Only about 30% of the Reserve is mainland, with the bulk being within the Okavango Delta itself.
The Moremi Game Reserve, although not one of the largest Parks, presents insights and views even for the most experienced of travelers. Home to nearly 500 species of bird (from water birds to forest dwellers), and a vast array of other species of wildlife, including buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyaena, jackal, impala, and red lechwe. African Wild dog, Lycaon pictus, is resident and has been the subject of a project run in the area since 1989; thus this species is often seen wearing collars emplaced by researchers.The sitatunga and lechwe live in the papyrus banks of the waterways with lions, cheetahs and packs of wild dogs hunting in the open grassland. The Moremi Game Reserve is home to over 400 of the Okavango’s species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle, Crested Crane and Sacred Ibis. This vast array of mammal, bird, insect, plant, fish and reptile species have adapted to the Okavango Delta’s swamp conditions.
The northeast tip of Moremi, Khwai is an area where evergreen trees line wide floodplains. It boasts excellent density and diversity of both predator and prey species with leopard sightings consistently good. From an ontological perspective, Saddle-billed storks, wattled cranes and many species of kingfishers and bee-eaters are common. In the heart of Moremi, at the tip of the Mopane Tongue, lies the renowned Xakanaxa Lagoon comprising mopane forests and a patchwork of deep waterways and shallow flooded areas, creating a beautiful area packed with game. Leopard and cheetah are regularly seen and the density of antelope is notable. The area’s birdlife is exceptional.
The Reserve offers the opportunity to explore not only in 4x4's but on foot and by mokoro - a dug-out canoe, hewn from either ebony or sausage-tree, and poled by your personal guide..Game viewing is at its peak from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and the wildlife concentrates on the permanent water. From October until the start of the rains in late November or early December, the weather can be extremely hot.
Botswana has been able to develop its tourism without the urgent need for revenues that face many other African countries. An eco-tourism policy of high yield, but low impact, has resulted in visitors being able to experience an Africa at its most natural, unspoilt and stunningly beautiful. Thus the Reserve itself has very few lodges, and only four areas set-aside for camping (at South Gate, Third Bridge, Xakanaxa, and Khwai). There are a number of lodges on the outskirts of the Reserve, whose guests visit on daily game drives.
Travel between lodges is accomplished by light aircraft transfers, as most lodges have their own airstrips. Therefore, you can easily combine a number of lodges in a variety of areas.