A diverse and intriguing landscape, Botswana's Moremi and Okavango Region starts in the northern parts of Botswana, bordering Namibia. It offers a watery web filled to the brim with exciting game-viewing opportunities and is a wildlife-rich pocket of biodiversity.
Land and Okavango Delta meet on Chief's Island, where the locally established Moremi Game Reserve has its base. Home to the Big 5 and several camps and lodges, this is the spot for the real adventurer. The eastern edge of the Delta hugs the shoreline of the Khwai Concession, abundant in mopane forest, floodplains, riverine forest and savannas.
Here, visitors will find game-viewing aplenty and will be left in awe of the Delta's rich birdlife. Embark on safari adventures by vehicle, foot, traditional mokoro, or horseback and immerse yourself in this wildlife world of wonder.
We've taken the liberty to answer everything you may need to know about visiting Moremi and Okavango Region
Well, for starters, the Moremi Game Reserve is situated in the Okavango Delta. Or, to be more specific, it covers most of its eastern sector. The reason why Moremi was elected as a game reserve instead of a national park was to still allow the native Bushmen and Batswana people (native to the land) to stay within the Moremi area in 1963, which made the Moremi the first protected reserve of the Okavango Delta.
In the 1970s, the royal hunting grounds, known as Chief's Island, was added to the reserve, which increased its capacity by 70 x 15 kilometres (44 x 10 miles) and became a protected area for wildlife.
The Okavango Delta encompasses approximately 15,000 km² (over 9000 miles²) of reeded waterways when most dry and can spread its width out to 22,000km² (over 13,000 miles²) when in high-water season. The low-water season can be experienced between November and April, and the high-water season can be enjoyed between June to October, during Botswana’s dry winter months. This is a guideline based on previous years; however, the water levels solely depend on the annual rains which flow from the elevated Angolan highlands funnelled through the Cubango and Cuito rivers.
As the powerful flow subsides, a palm-shaped bloom of green emerges as the Okavango Delta, home to a plethora of unique and interesting nature, including mokolwane palms, acacia, sycamore fig, sausage trees, raintrees, and African mangosteen. Not to mention the wildlife, including African elephant, African buffalo, hippopotamus, lechwe, topi, blue wildebeest, giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, cheetah, leopard, brown hyena, spotted hyena, greater kudu, sable antelope, to name a few.
Whether you travel in the low season to skip the crowds and take advantage of the lower rates or travel over peak season where your wildlife chances are increased and water levels are higher – you can still have a memorable experience. It all depends on what type of experience you are looking for.
If you want to focus on water-based activities like boating or lazy mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) rides, you should visit in the high-water season between June and August. This time of year is known to be most popular as Botswana's winter is dry, and the climate is pleasant. Not to mention that the animals tend to congregate around this region for the abundant water sources.
Between September and October, the weather starts becoming warmer, but the water levels can be quite high, and the wildlife are still drawn to this area. This could be regarded as the best time to visit Moremi Game Reserve due to its location.
On the other hand, the low season between November and April can also have its perks of travelling at a time where not many people choose to travel. The water has subsided, and the animals are more dispersed, yet the terrain blooms into a lush green following the rains and becomes a birder’s paradise. Around this time of year, some lodges tend to close their doors due to inaccessibility from the summer rains – so check with your travel consultant!
Well, if you're lucky, you might spot a lechwe! This graceful antelope is native to Africa, and you can find it in marshy areas where water is prominent – cue the Okavango Delta region!
The Moremi and Okavango region is an ecosystem supporting diverse and abundant fish and wildlife, including the renowned Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and the rare rhino). You can also see hippo, blue wildebeest, giraffe, cheetah, brown hyena, spotted hyena, greater kudu, sable antelope, plains zebra, warthog, and the Africa wild dog. Birders will be delighted to hear that there are over 400 recorded species of birds in the area. This area is also known for its large crocodile, so best you stay inside your boat.
All of this aside, visiting the world's largest inland delta which doubles up as a World Heritage Site is unique enough already. Bucket List: Check!
Botswana is a very safe and politically stable country, and you should not worry about your safety while on an organised safari itinerary! Your travel consultant would never send you anywhere they might feel you would be unsafe or at any risk. As far as safety on safari is concerned, it’s always good to listen and follow your guide's instructions when you are out on a game drive.
There is, however, the risk of malaria, which is the only threat you need to worry about before travelling to Botswana. Malaria, to briefly explain, is a disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. If a nearly invisible, blood-thirsty insect wasn’t annoying enough, the risk of contracting malaria while on holiday is the cherry on top.
We, therefore, strongly advise that you consult your local doctor or travel clinic about your own situation and health conditions before travelling. Anti-Malaria medication can be as easy and non-invasive as taking a vitamin supplement each day, and your doctor will know more about these options and what to recommend.
The risk of malaria does add another risk when travelling with children, but the risk is ultimately up to the parents. More information on travelling with children in the next question!
Travelling with your family is always a wonderful memory and travelling to Botswana is definitely possible! Parents know their children best and know what works with their family in terms of how remote you can be and how adventurous the holiday can be. This being said, there are a variety of different lodges that welcome children – the majority of which only accept children from the ages of six and up or even older than 12 years. Confirm their ages with your travel consultant when planning your holiday.
The reason for this is the location of some of these lodges. Many of the safari lodges within Moremi and the Okavango region are only accessible by a light aircraft flight followed by a 4x4 vehicle drive to the lodge. Most of the lodges are completely unfenced, which means the animals are able to walk through the camps freely. Some are also surrounded by water, all of which can be red flags for parents. As long as you know what to expect on the trip, you will have an amazing family holiday.
The lodges which do welcome families travelling with young children have put in place exceptional children’s programmes and many of which are top lodges represented by the Relais & Châteaux hotel brand. Some of these lodges, to name a few, include Camp Okavango, Shinde, Vumbura, Joa, Abu, Jacana, Duba Plains and Chief's Camp, which is within the Moremi Game Reserve.
Yes, absolutely! Besides being in the middle of one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world, the Moremi and Okavango Delta should be on every honeymooner, anniversary-traveller, and love-loving explorer’s list. Thanks to its mystical tectonic plates, it seems to magically ‘shift’ lovers closer. Plus, it’s the best photo opportunity for the perfect proposal (not giving anyone ideas, not at all).
It is often said that the most exceptional moments can never be explained, only felt, and this statement rings true when you speak of spending a romantic holiday within the magical scenes of the Okavango Delta. Whether you are enjoying dinner on your private deck overlooking the waterways while the sun sets into the marshland in front of you or adventuring down a winding reeded pathway of water while sipping your favourite drink in search of the next wildlife surprise – this place is for lovers of all kinds!
Imagine sleeping out under a moonless sky, stars flooding the atmosphere above you while you are raised high above the grasslands beneath you, or indulging in an African oil massage while birds sing you into a trance. Everyone has got to eat, and why not do it by candlelight with nature as your backdrop and the sun, the moon and the stars as the show.
Most of the lodges within the Moremi and Okavango region are only accessible by means of light aircraft, followed by a short road transfer to the lodge. Seeing the Okavango Delta from the air is an experience in itself. Being at a height and able to witness the vast plains beneath you, with green patches of land merging into tall reeds which line the meandering waterways which this region so famous for. If you’re lucky, you might spot some game below – particularly easy to spot, the mighty African elephant.
Depending on the order of your Botswana itinerary, you can either fly into Kasane Airport or Maun International Airport. Maun makes for an easy access point to enter the Delta, and from here, travellers can either self-drive or be road transferred to lodges situated on the outskirts of the region or jump on a light aircraft and soar through the skies.
The flights between the lodges and nearest commercial airports are operated by professional pilots in smaller aircraft.
Note to heavy packers: You might need to reconsider what you bring, as these flights only allow for soft-sided luggage or duffel bags not weighing more than 15kgs (33lbs) per person. The flights are kept short and sweet to the name ‘lodge hops’ ring true when the flight is over in less than an hour – the perfect amount of time for some snaps and perhaps a quick nap.