The Moremi Game Reserve serves a different purpose as compared to other wildlife sanctuaries. Built, in 1963, the Moremi Game Reserve aimed at protecting important habitats in the eastern Okavango Delta. Located in Botswana, it was named after the Chief of BaTawana tribe, Chief Moremi.
This reflects the fact that Moremi was amongst the first reserves that was built by the locals rather than colonial authorities. Initially it was designed to be a game reserve rather than a national park. With so much to offer, let us explore the game reserve in detail and see what keeps people visiting each year.
Setting & Location
The Moremi Game Reserve is a 5,000 square kilometer area, much smaller as compared to other wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. It includes a majority area of the eastern Okavango Delta side with a combination of water that is permanent and dried areas. This as a result creates an amazing contrast and features quite a bit of beauty in itself.
If you were to visit the Moremi game reserve, you shall come across popular geographical features such as the Moremi Tongue and Chiefs Island. Each area has its own specific habitats, resident herds and familiar predators, and night drives in the private reserves, (also soon to be permitted in Moremi), often reveal secretive animals like porcupine, pangolin, aardwolf and genet.
Furthermore, tourists could catch a glimpse of different types of birds and animals while drinking water and relaxing. The thickly wooded areas are home to Cape wild hog and leopards. However, since the camouflage game is excellent with these animals, you will have to keep an eye out for predators hiding in the bushes.
Flora & Fauna
Since the Moremi game reserve is much smaller as compared to other sanctuaries, it does not have much to offer but features splendid safari experience with several insights for most experienced travelers. Considering its size, the habitat of the Moremi game reserve is diverse, highlighting floodplains, acacia forests, lagoons, and mopane woodland. Great herd of antelopes, zebra, buffalo and elephants roam the pastures, and lions, leopards, cheetahs and all the other carnivores prosper.
Moreover, you will come across nearly 500 bird species along with many other wildlife species such as black rhinos, Angolan giraffe, lion, elephant, zebra, cheetah, hyena, and many other animals. Cape wild dogs are the most popular sight here. You will often observe several wearing collars put on by researchers. Since 1989, researchers have been carrying out a project and continue to study these animals. Although they are found in hundreds, there is no need to be concerned about your safety.
What to expect?
The Moremi game reserve is not only accessible by 4X4 vehicles but offers a safari on foot as well. A personal guide shall make you visit a dug-out canoe made from ebony or sausage tree. If you wish to experience game viewing, it is suggested that you visit from July to October. Reason being that the pans dry up after seasonal rains and wildlife animals gather at permanent water locations. Then, from October to late November and early December, the weather could become unbearably hot.
Furthermore, the Moremi game reserve area is notorious for malaria. Therefore, visitors are recommended to take extreme care both before and after visiting the game reserve. Another important factor that needs to be mentioned is that Botswana unlike other African countries did not require urgent revenues to build this reserve. An eco-tourism policy was designed and implemented, which took its time to settle but produced high yields.
As a result, tourists in Africa will get to experience it in its most unspoiled, raw, and natural condition. There are only four areas designated for camping. Moreover, if you were to transfer from one camp to another, helicopters are available as most lodges consist of their own airstrips.
When to visit?
Although the Moremi Game reserve is a year-round travel destination but it experiences dramatic changes due to seasons. January and February tend to be the rainiest seasons while the hot season lasts from May to November. Furthermore, the annual Okavango flood will take place as well that pushes wildlife to particular areas. However, as the water level recedes, the wildlife gathers around surviving water pools.
Due to such conditions, the reserve might close some lodges and ban activities until the situation calms down. By June or July every year, the water levels are at their maximum. The temptation of the Okavango and its astonishingvariety of surroundings provide the perfect atmosphere for African animals to flourish and people to watch them.
It is recommended that tourists visit during the summer season when the flowers and plants along with butterflies are at peak production. The Moremi game reserve welcomes migrant birds as well, therefore, you will get a chance to witness more bird species
Wet Season: November to March is the rainy season and the infrastructures can be quite bad. Onebenefit of this time of year is that almost all of the animals give birth, providing an amazing game watching experience. The scenery is lush green and there is an abundance of flowers.
Dry season: April to October is the dry season and the drier it gets, the easier it becomes to spot animals close to stable water holes. At this time much of the Okavango dries out, apart from permanent rivers in Moremi Game Reserve and the northern reaches of the Okavango. The heat starts to build in earnest from October onwards.
An unfortunate thing that has taken place since April 2019 at the reserve is poaching. In this year alone, organized poaching rings had slaughtered and poached 46 rhinos in 10 months that represented 10% of 500 rhinos existing in Botswana. This as a result brought huge fear to the locals and authorities regarding their wipeout. The rhinos are killed for their horns that fetch up to $60,000 per kg.
The Moremi game reserve differentiates itself from other reserves and sanctuaries by providing authentic wildlife experience. Although it does not have many other features offered by popular reserves but still manages to display a splendid combination of both wildlife, wooded and plain areas. Make sure that you visit when wildlife is prominent and keep yourself protected from malarial mosquitoes at all times.