| Moremi Game Reserve
Moremi Game Reserve
A haven for African wildlife, the Moremi Game Reserve one of the best safari areas in Africa
The Moremi Game Reserve
The Okavango River forms part of one of the largest river systems on the
continent, and it drains into the Moremi Game Reserve. This protected part in
the eastern section of the Okavango Delta was established in 1963 when Chief
Moremi III's widow, who was ruler of the BaTawana people at the time, took steps
to conserve the wildlife of this area when concerns grew over the toll that
hunting was taking on the animal population.
Moremi is just under 5000km2 and covers Chief's
Island and much of the eastern section of the delta. Unlike a national park,
designating the area as a game reserve meant that the local Baswara (Bushmen)
were allowed to live on the land. Although it is not very large, the diversity
of wildlife, birdlife and contrast in the landscape makes for an unforgettable
visit. Only 30% of the area is land, and the bulk of it is the Okavango Delta.
Below is a map of the Moremi Game Reserve. To view a larger Google map, click here.
The permanent water of the Okavango Delta attracts large groups of animals,
especially during the dry season. There is a seasonal shift in the game between
the dry areas around the delta and the delta itself. During the rainy season,
the large game moves to the outer areas of the delta where they graze, giving
the internal section time to recover. When the
season is dry, they move into the delta in search of water and the remaining
grazing areas. In the flood period of the delta, they take refuge in the
mainland regions of Matsebi Ridge, Chief's Island, and the Moremi Tongue.
After both black and white rhino were reintroduced into Moremi Game Reserve,
the Okavango Delta has become one of the few safari areas where you can see
Africa's Big 5 in the wild. These are a collection of Africa elephant, rhino,
Cape Buffalo, African lion and African leopard. And apart from the rhino and
lion, the delta is home to other threatened and rare wildlife, including African
painted dogs or African wild dogs, cheetah, and 24 threatened species of birds. Moremi Game Reserve
is home to the largest group of African painted dog in Botswana, and is
important for the survival of the country's 207 000 elephants. You may also spot
hyena, kudu, lechwe, crocodile, giraffe, hippo, wildebeest, plains zebra, sable,
warthog, baboons, and so much more. In total, the delta has over 450 bird
species, 160 different animal species, 155 reptile species, 35 species of
amphibians, and about 1500 plant species.
How to Get to Moremi
Driving to Moremi Game Reserve restricts visitors to the dry land area east of
the reserve - the South Gate, North Gate, Khwai sections. By road, Moremi can be accessed via two main entrance gates - North Gate near
Khwai River which is accessible from Chobe National Park, and South Gate just
90kms from Maun and 30kms from the North Gate. The road from Maun is tarred for
60kms, and then it is gravel road into the reserve. The roads inside Moremi gate
reserve change with each season, being waterlogged during the rainy season and
dry and sandy in the hot summer months. Driving from Maun to the South Gate of Moremi takes less than 2 hours. The
other access point into Moremi is via the North Gate of the reserve en-route
from Chobe National Park. Self-drivers do
require a 4 x 4 vehicle into the delta. To get to the rest of the delta,
will need to fly in.
Moremi Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta are most easily reached by light
aircraft or helicopter transfer from Maun
town and other airstrips/airports. Flights into Maun are via Johannesburg and Cape Town, or locally from
Gaborone and Kasane. Charter flights are another option, and inter-camp air
transfers are available when booking packages with sister camps in Botswana. Flights from
Maun Airport into the delta take no more than 30 and 45 minutes. A stay on
Chief's Island and access to the safari lodges is only possible by flying in.
Moremi Game Reserve has few vehicles and people visiting at any one time, and
this means that you get great game sightings with very few (if at all) other
people in that same spot.
The Best Time to Visit
Botswana's seasons can generally be classified as either dry summer, wet
summer or dry winter, but for most of the year, it is generally hot and sunny.
Although the seasons, landscape, flora and fauna change throughout the year,
you will always find something spectacular during you visit to Moremi, no matter
what time of the year it is. With a
change in the seasons also follows a change in the range and availability of the
activities that you can take part in during your stay.
Generally, the best time to visit is during
the cool dry season of May to August, when daytime temperatures are usually
below 30°C (86°F), but it does get cold after dark, sometimes very close to
freezing - not too hot and not too cold. This is the winter season, and the seasonal flooding
happens when the water from Angola reaches the delta between March and June,
peaking in July. During this time, the plains game migrates from dry outer
lands towards higher ground - areas such as Chief's Island and the tongue
region. This is also the best time for boat cruises and makoro (canoe) trips as
more channels open up from the rise in water levels. However, game drives will
become more confined, particularly within the wet regions of the delta.
The hot and dry months of September to November are still great for game
viewing as the animals still prefer the inner delta because it is where they get
water. At this time, there are huge concentrations of wildlife, particularly
in the Moremi Game Reserve. However, this is the hottest part of the year after
the winter and before the rains, which slowly start in November. The skies get
hazy from the dust, and the predator action gets more intense. Makoro and boat
cruises may become shorter, but game drives will definitely be unforgettable.
The wet season begins in November, although the days are generally still hot
and nights are only slightly cooler. Rain comes in the form of dramatic
afternoon thunderstorms which give way to clear blue skies. You can expect high
humidity during this season - between 50 and 80%. For birding, this is the
best time of the year to be in the Okavango Delta. The migrant species
arrive and breed in the delta. This is also the time when the animals drop their
young, and the landscape changes from dry and flooded to lush green, thick and
colourful as the flowers are in bloom.
The temperatures start to get more comfortable in March to around May when
the land gets drier and nights get cooler (though not as cold as in the winter
months). In March, the rains start to decrease, April has much fewer rain days
and daily temperatures range from about 12°C and 28°C, and May is the start of
the dry season where temperatures (especially night time) really start to drop.
Safari Areas within Moremi Game Reserve
Chief's Island is the largest of the islands in Moremi Game Reserve
and the Okavango Delta, with a length of 70kms and a width of up to 15kms. It was
formed when a fault line lifted up land of almost 1000km2, and is the only area
in the Okavango that does not flood, and so provides a sanctuary for animals during the
flooding months. In the 1970's, Chief Moremi's Royal Hunting Grounds were
included into the reserve - the island now known as Chief's Island. Although
part of the Moremi Game Reserve, Chief's Island is actually private, and not
accessible to self drivers for exploration. There are a few private camps on the
island that are allowed to do daytime and evening drives on the island, and
these are only accessible by light aircraft. Chief's
Island is where you are most likely to spot the Big 5.
The Khwai River area in the north-east near the border with
National Park, is one of the more popular areas, especially with self-drivers.
It is a lovely area where tall evergreen trees line the floodplains. Here, some of the best game viewing in the Okavango can be seen - lion, buffalo,
elephant, leopard sightings are good. There is a network of seasonal and
permanent roads which run in and out of the reserve, allowing drivers to explore
the area along the
Khwai River. In the Khwai area there are campsites as well as private luxury
The Xakanaka Lagoon is located in the western end of the Moremi
Tongue, and here, Mopani woodland meets deep waterways and floodplains. It is
absolutely beautiful and the game here is amazing. Leopard
and cheetah are regularly seen. The antelope density here is amazing, and
birdlife includes egrets, herons, storks, buzzards, and kites. Xakanaka also has
public campsites as well as a few private safari camps. Self drivers can access
this part of the game reserve.
Just south of Xakanaka is Third Bridge, which is actually on an island
and characterised by plenty of thickets and several large open plains. The area
is well suited for
mobile camping and boasts fantastic game. Boat trips and camping trips to the surrounding islands can be arranged. The road network
has both seasonal and permanent roads, with wood bridges linking the area to
The nearest entrance into Moremi Game Reserve from Maun is at South Gate.
This section of Moremi is used by the public and mobile safari operators. It is
characterised by forest area, acacia and open area which attract quite a bit of
Moremi/Mopani Tongue is a triangle of Mopani forest lining a riverine ridge in the
south eastern section of the Moremi Game Reserve.
There is a wide range of accommodation available to suite every taste and
budget from luxury lodges on and around Chief's Island to public campsites on
the dry land region of Moremi.
The small luxury camps are typically on private concessions and offer fully
inclusive accommodation, pampering guests with delicious food and drinks, and a
range of activities with safari guides. The luxury lodges are located on Chief's
Island, the ridge to the north of the island, and on Xakanaka Concession.
There are four public campsites for self-drive visitors at South Gate which
has nine campsites, Third Bridge on the edge of the delta with nine camps and
six safari tents, Xakanaka at the edge of the Xakanaka Lagoon with ten shaded
campsites, and Khwai Camp near the Khwai Gate on the banks of the Khwai River,
which has ten campsites. These campsites provide only the basic facilities,
i.e., braai stands and ablution blocks. There are activities available near the
camps including game drives, boat and makoro trips, bush walks and more. For
game reserve rules and regulations, visit our
Botswana Information page.
Interesting Facts About the Moremi Game Reserve
• The Moremi Game Reserve is the only protected area of the Okavango
• Moremi Game Reserve has the most diverse habitat and animal populations in Botswana.
• Only about 30% of the Reserve is mainland, with the bulk being within the Okavango Delta itself.
• Approximately 70% of the islands in the Moremi Game Reserve began as termite
• Chief's Island was the area chosen for the reintroduction of rhino in the wild because it is a suitable habitat and it is remote. Cross-boarder poaching is very
unlikely in this area.
• Moremi is the first game reserve in Africa that was established by local residents.
• 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
• Although just under 5,000 square kilometres (1,900 sq mi) in extent, it is a surprisingly diverse Reserve, combining
Mopani woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons.
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