The northern border of Botswana is home to a magical, wild and exclusive enclave, where abundant watercourses and swamps and varying ecosystems support a splendid diversity of Africa’s wild creatures.
The relatively remote Linyanti region is a picturesque but little-known gem that will enchant and captivate you.
North of Savuti where the northwestern corner of Chobe National Park meets the Linyanti River and the Namibian Caprivi border, you will find a remote and glorious safari hot spot. The Linyanti concession is a magical wonderland of channels and waterways lined with papyrus and extensive reedbeds that give way to riparian forest and grass-filled floodplains. This is part of a 900km2 marshland formed where the Kwando River, which flows south from Angola, spills over to slowly fill the Linyanti Swamps. The outflow in turn fills the Linyanti River, which itself flows east into the Chobe River.
Game viewing here is thrilling and productive, and the terrain is strikingly beautiful. With so much permanent water, it is no surprise that this is where wildlife congregates during the dry season (May to October). This is an important dry-season migration point for animals from much of northern Botswana, and thousands of zebra migrate here en masse after the summer rains from Savuti (which is where they birth their young). Expect large concentrations of elephant and buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe and baboon, as well as the inevitable hippo and Nile crocodile in the marshlands – where you can look out for the shy red lechwe and sitatunga. Other antelope include waterbuck, reedbuck, impala, kudu, sable and roan. And then there are the predators that track their food source with keen interest: lion, hyena, leopard, cheetah, jackal, serval, caracal and even African wild dog.
Linyanti falls within a designated Important Bird Area (IBA). Spectacular birding all year round provides additional delight, and the wet season (November to April) welcomes colourful summer migrant species. The host of resident waterbirds includes the rare African skimmer and slaty egret, while resident raptors and birds of prey include such notables as Verreaux’s giant eagle owl and the African scops owl.
As Linyanti falls outside the national parks, the area is open only to visitors to the private concessions – a wonderful side effect is that options for game viewing are wider and visitor numbers are tiny. As well as guided or self-drive 4×4 morning and evening game drives, night game-viewing drives and off-road viewing are both possible.
A Linyanti safari leaves you with a sense of rare privilege: its isolation and very low visitor numbers allow you an extraordinary degree of privacy and seclusion. The camps are small and intimate, and there is nothing between you, the timeless African bush and its myriad wild inhabitants.
Linyanti Wildlife Reserve