The Okavango Delta covers over 15,000 square kilometres, making it the world’s largest oasis. Located in northern Botswana, the Okavango River is a unique natural phenomenon – flowing more than 1 000 km (620 miles) from its source in Angola, this river disappears beneath the sands of Botswana, creating a lush inland delta in the midst of this otherwise arid country. The Okavango Delta is in a constant state of flux, expanding and contracting according to the rainy season. While some parts of the Delta remain permanently flooded, others only experience high water levels from May to September, when rainwaters from Angola reach the outer stretches of the Okavango.
Permanent swamp areas are lush and green, with groves of wild date palm, papyrus and water lilies growing around deep lagoons lined with riverine forest. Seasonal swamps, on the other hand, contain a network of small channels cutting their way through papyrus and reed beds to create islands of all shapes and sizes. The Okavango Delta is home to a large number of species, including many predators, as well as a number of species adapted to the semi-aquatic lifestyle, such as the red lechwe and sitatunga antelopes. Lion, cheetah, leopard and African wild dog may be encountered and the area supports the continent’s largest surviving concentration of elephant and buffalo. Hippos hide in the deeper channels and lagoons. The area is also known as a birder’s paradise.
Some lodges in the Okavango Delta (known as the “wet” lodges) offer mainly water-based safari activities, such as game viewing in mokoro dug-out canoes. The wet lodges are usually closed when the floodwaters are at their height. Other lodges (known as the “dry” lodges) offer both water-based and land-based safari activities. Some of the dry lodges are open all year round.
Moremi Game Reserve is situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango Delta, and includes permanent dry land such as Chief’s Island and the peninsula known as Mopane Tongue. This means that areas of dry woodland and savannah lie next to picturesque floodplains and lagoons. This makes for spectacular game viewing and bird watching. Over 400 species of birds, many migratory and some endangered, have been recorded in the Reserve. Both Black and White Rhino have recently been re-introduced and elephant herds numbering in their thousands take refuge in the beautiful Mopane forests in the dry winter months. Moremi is also home to a range of other wildlife species, such as buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, hyaena, jackal, giraffe and many species of antelope, including the red lechwe. Regular sightings of packs of African wild dog occur in the Moremi.
Moremi is the first reserve in Africa that was established by local tribespeople. Concerned about the rapid depletion of wildlife in their ancestral lands – due to uncontrolled hunting and cattle encroachment – the Batawana people took the bold initiative to proclaim Moremi a game reserve in 1963. It is the only officially protected area of the Okavango Delta, and as such holds tremendous scientific, environmental and conservation importance.
The lodges of Moremi offer a combination of water-based and land-based activities.
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