Khwai Concession Area
The Khwai Concession Area is situated adjacent to the world renowned Moremi Game Reserve. The Khwai Concession Area is a 1800km (180 000 hectare) area which is situated in the north eastern Okavango next to the Moremi Game Reserve. It was formed by the local Khwai villagers and is managed by the Khwai Development Trust. The area used to be a hunting concession, but is now actively managed as a conservation area.
The villagers took over the area when they moved out of the Moremi region when the Moremi Game Reserve was formed. The local community now runs eco tourism initiatives, actively conserve the environment and manage the wildlife in the concession.
The Khwai River flows through the concession – it is the first major water source that animals migrating down from the Linyanti concession encounter and there is always a high concentration of game along the river.
The area is made up of sweeping grasslands, riparian forests and floodplains. The floodplains are flooded most of the year and there are lagoons covered in blue and white water lilies. The area also has large tracts of Mopane forests. The riverine woodland consists of Camelthorn, Knobthorn, Appleleaf and great stands of Leadwood trees.
The Khwai Concession is a good area to see Roan and Sable Antelope which are relatively rare. On your Botswana safari you might see Kudu, Tsessebe, Wildebeest and Zebra. Huge herds of migrating Elephants enjoy the Mopane woodlands of the interior of the Khwai area. There are fairly stable populations of large predators such as Lion, Spotted Hyena and African Wild Dogs found here and if you are lucky, you may also spot Leopards.
The area has a good mix of habitats and you will see a good mix of wetland and Kalahari species. During the summer months migratory birds also come through. You might see Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Senegal Coucals and Long Toed Lapwings.
The Central Kalahari game Reserve CKGR
The Central Kalahari game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world, encompassing 52 800 sq kms.
During and shortly after good summer rains, the flat grasslands of the reserve’s northern reaches teem with wildlife, which gather at the best grazing areas. These include large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest, eland and giraffe.
At other times of the year, when the animals are more sparsely distributed, the experience of travelling through truly untouched wilderness, of seemingly unending dimensions, is the draw.
The landscape is dominated by silver terminalia sandveldt, Kalahari sand acacias, and Kalahari apple leaf, interspersed with grasslands, and dotted with occasional sand dunes, pans and shallow fossil river valleys.
CKGR is unique in that it was originally established (in 1961) with the intention of serving as a place of sanctuary for the San, in the heart of the Kalahari (and Botswana), where they could live their traditional hunter/ gatherer way of life, without intrusion, or influence, from the outside world.
The reserve was closed for about 30 years, until in the 1980s and 1990s, both self-drive and organised tours were allowed in, albeit in small, tightly controlled numbers.
The Botswana government has initiated plans to develop tourism away from the Okavango and Chobe areas, and has allocated concessions for lodge construction, both at the peripheries of and inside the reserve, allowing for fly-in tourists.
The northern deception valley is one of the highlights, principally because of the dense concentrations of herbivores its sweet grasses attract during and after the rainy season (and of course the accompanying predators). It is also the most travelled area of the reserve, with a number of public campsites, and proximity to the eastern Matswere Gate. The other two gates are completely at the other side of the reserve, at Xade and Tsau, where public campsites are also available.
Other worthwhile areas to drive are Sunday and Leopard Pans, north of Deception Valley, Passarge Valley,and, further south, Piper’s Pan.
Moremi Game Reserve is in northern Botswana, in the Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush animal habitat during seasonal floods. Dugout canoes are used to navigate past birdlife, hippos and crocodiles on waterways like the Xakanaxa Lagoon. On land, wildlife includes lions, leopards and rhinos. Safari camps are common, with several dotted around large Chief’s Island and the forested Mopane Tongue Peninsula.
Did you know: The Basarwa (Bushmen) live in the Moremi Gaming Reserve on the eastern side of the Delta, with up to five tribes frequenting the region for purposes sof fishing, growing crops and hunting.
The Savuti (also spelt Savute) area borders the Delta to the west and Chobe National Park to the east and is one of Africa’s best known big game areas. Savuti is a place of enchantment, of beauty, and boasts one of the greatest concentrations of animals in Southern Africa.
Savuti is famous for its mysterious and fascinating channel. It runs a distance of 100 kilometers from the Chobe River, through a gap in the sand ridge, to the Mababe Depression. Falling only approximately 18 meters, this channel brings water from the Chobe to Mababe, creating a small marsh where it enters the Depression. Flowing in Livingstone’s time, the channel was dry in 1880, and remained dry for about 70 years. It flooded again in 1957. Savuti Marsh has been dry for the past 18 years.
Savuti is famous for its predators, especially its resident lion and spotted hyena populations. Only 38 kilometers northwest of Savuti and off the main tourist track lies Botswana’s best kept secret: Linyanti and the western reaches of the Savuti Channel.
The Linyanti and upper Savuti areas are among the most beautiful in Botswana. The game-viewing can be exceptional, and the wide variety of activities make this an area not be missed. Linyanti hosts large herds of buffalo, zebra and elephant. Because this area is a private game reserve, the vehicle concentrations are very low and the wilderness experience is one of the best in Africa.
Large secretary birds and kori bustards can be sighted strutting around the Savuti marsh and small redbilled francolins is known for its noisiness. Interesting summer migrants and water birds include Abdim’s storks, carmine bee eaters and even fish eagles. Little quelea finches are quite a spectacle as they gather in thousands. They are in abundance in April when a single flock could contain tens of thousands of these small birds.
Chobe National Park is in northern Botswana near the vast, inland Okavango Delta. It’s known for its large herds of elephants and Cape buffalo, which converge along the Chobe Riverfront in the dry months.
Lions, antelopes and hippos inhabit the woods and lagoons around Linyanti Marsh. The floodable grasslands of the Savuti Marsh attract numerous bird species, plus migrating zebras.
Area: 11,700 km²
Did you know: Chobe is probably best known for its impressive Elephant herds.
The Chobe National Park is located in the Northern part of Botswana and lies along the Chobe River, which borders Botswana and Namibia. The Park is the second largest in Botswana and is known for its superb game viewing all year round, as it has one of the largest populations of game on the African continent.
Chobe is probably best known for its impressive Elephant herds. The Chobe River supports the largest concentration of Elephant found anywhere in Africa and it is not uncommon to encounter herds in excess of a hundred animals.
Chobe National Park encompasses four distinct ecosystems:
- Serondela area (or Chobe riverfront) in the north-east has lush plains and dense forests which attract huge numbers of Elephants and Buffalo. The Serondela area is the most visited part of the Park.
- Savuti Marsh is situated in the west of the park. The Savuti Channel bisects the Chobe National Park and empties into the Savuti Marsh. The Savuti Marsh area has become well known through its coverage in a number of popular wildlife documentaries. Savuti has rich grasslands, savannah woodland and a large variety of trees and other vegetation.
- Linyanti Swamps are situated in the western section of Chobe. The Linyanti River and marshes are complemented by the contrasting dry woodlands. The Linyanti Wildlife Reserve area is renowned for predators and large concentrations of game, particularly Elephant and Buffalo, which move down to the Linyanti River at the start of the winter months.
- The Nogatsaa and Tchinga, a hot and dry hinterland – this area is for the adventurous traveller. It holds water well into the dry season and attracts a profusion of game between August and October.
Habitats found in the Park range from floodplains, mopane woodland, baobab trees and acacia woodlands, to verdant flood grasslands and thickets bordering the Chobe River.
The most remarkable feature of the Chobe National Park is its huge concentration of Elephants. This Park supports the largest surviving Elephant populations in the world, currently estimated to exceed 120,000. This population is dispersed throughout much of northern Botswana, as well as parts of north-western Zimbabwe.
The Chobe Elephants are migratory, making seasonal movements of up to 200 kilometres in a circuit from the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, where they concentrate in the dry season, to the pans in the south-eastern region of the park, where they gather during the rainy season.
Chobe National Park is home to huge herds of Elephant, Buffalo, and Zebra. There are high densities of predators such as Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyena and Cheetah.
The park also hosts more unusual antelope species such as Roan and Sable, Puku, Tsessebe, Eland, Red Lechwe, Waterbuck, and the rare Chobe Bushbuck. The better-known species such as Giraffe, Kudu, Warthog, Wildebeest and Impala also abound in the park.
The Okavango Delta gives entrance to the spectacle of wild Africa such as dreams are made of – the heart-stopping excitement of big game viewing, the supreme tranquility and serenity of an untouched delta, and evocative scenes of extraordinary natural beauty.
A journey to the Okavango Delta – deep into Africa’s untouched interior – is like no other. Moving from wetland to dryland – traversing the meandering palm and papyrus fringed waterways, passing palm-fringed islands, and thick woodland, resplendent with lush vegetation, and rich in wildlife – reveals the many facets of this unique ecosystem, the largest intact inland delta in the world.
The Okavango Delta is situated deep within the Kalahari Basin, and is often referred to as the ‘jewel’ of the Kalahari.
That the Okavango exists at all – deep within this thirstland – seems remarkable. Shaped like a fan, the Delta is fed by the Okavango River, the third largest in southern Africa. It has been steadily developed over the millennia by millions of tonnes of sand carried down the river from Angola.
Swollen with floodwaters from the summer rains, the Okavango River travels from the Angolan highlands, crosses into Botswana at Mohembo in the Caprivi, then later spills over the vast, fan-shaped Delta. The timing of the floods is uncanny. Just as the waters from Botswana’s summer rains disappear (April, May), so the floodwaters begin their journey – 1300 kilometres of which is through Kalahari sands – revitalising a vast and remarkably diverse ecosystem of plant and animal life.
The water’s flow, distribution and drainage patterns are continually changing, principally due to tectonic activity underground. As an extension of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, the Okavango is set within a geographi-cally unstable area of faults, and regularly experiences land movements, tremors and minor quakes. By the time the water reaches Maun, at the Delta’s southern fringes, its volume is a fraction of what it was. As little as two to three percent of the water reaches the Thamalakane River in Maun, over 95 percent lost to evapo-transpiration.
But the flow doesn’t stop in Maun. It may continue east to the Boteti River, to fill Lake Xau or the Makgadikgadi Pans, or drain west to Lake River to fill Lake Ngami.
Major tourist attractions in the Delta and the dryland areas are game viewing, birding and boating, often in the traditional mokoro. The diversity and numbers of animals and birds can be staggering. A recent overview of the Okavango records 122 species of mammals, 71 species of fish, 444 species of birds, 64 species of reptiles and 1300 species of flowering plants. A successful rhino reintroduction programme in the Okavango now puts the population of White Rhino at approximately 35, and Black Rhino at 4.