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 Wildlife of Moremi
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.
Safari Areas Within Moremi
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.
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.