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Botswana Safari

Botswana's Linyanti Wildlife Reserve - Safari Information

Return to Map of Linyanti

The Linyanti Wildlife Reserve consists of 125,000 hectares of pristine wildlife area. It is bordered by the Linyanti River in the north and the Chobe National Park in the east. Across the Linyanti River northwards lies Namibia's Caprivi strip. Two thirds of the Savute channel is situated within the reserve. This area is very different from the Okavango Delta and should be included in every Botswana safari itinerary so that travellers have a more complete and varied experience of the country's different wildlife areas. This private reserve is enormous and in one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Botswana. The region is one of the least visited and most pristine corners of Botswana and the concession owners intend to keep it this way. The Linyanti region is shared between a very small number of private camps, ensuring that guests are able to view the abundant wildlife privately and exclusively.

Renowned Wildlife Area
Elephants in the Linyanti ReserveThe Linyanti region is the dry season (June through October) range of much of Chobe's wildlife, and huge concentrations of migratory species such as Zebra and Elephant can be seen. The Linyanti area is also renowned for its predators, particularly lions and hyenas. Derek and Beverly Joubert made this region famous in their National Geographic films ("Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas", "Zebras: Patterns in the Grass", "Lions of Darkness", "Wildlife Warriors" and others). The Linyanti has a wonderful diversity of habitat that makes it a haven for wildlife. There are open grasslands and waterholes along the Savute channel and along the Linyanti river. Inland are spectacular mature woodlands - towering mopane and leadwood forests which is where one will find the massive herds of elephant in the winter months.

The Linyanti's waters weave and meander as they make their way eastward towards Chobe and along its way form a myriad of pools and lagoons which are favored by Hippos, Crocodiles and incredible birdlife. These pools also attract game from the dry lands to the east, for out of the rainy season they hold the first permanent waters to be found. In the early evening, with youngsters in tow, several breeding herds of Elephant usually gather to the pools along the Linyanti to enjoy a drink and to wallow and frolic in the mudholes.

As mentioned, this area abounds with Lion and Elephant, but there are large concentrations of Buffalo and the antelopes such as Red Lechwe, Tsessebe, Impala and Kudu. The less seen species such as Sable Antelope and Roan Antelope are also regularly encountered in this area. The Linyanti also has high concentrations of Giraffe, which love to feed on the abundant acacia trees along the floodplains, while Cheetahs find the open areas of the Savute channel perfect for running down their prey.

The Savute Channel
Aerial view of the Savuti ChannelThe Savute channel, which until 2008 was a dry "waterway" that connects the Linyanti River (from the Zibadianja lagoon) with the interior of the Chobe National Park, ending at the Savute marsh, is now flowing once again. The Savute has only ever flowed intermittently; before its current flow, it last flowed from 1967 to 1981, and this cycle of wet and dry is a phenomenon that has occurred on and off over the centuries. During dry periods the channel is an open grassland and is home to numerous animals including large herds of Zebra, Impala and Wildebeests, as well as abundant predators such as Lion, Cheetah and Wild Dog. During the wet periods when the channle is in flow, it supports hippos, crocodiles, myriad water birds, fish and other aquatic life.  The bush and areas along the banks support impalas, giraffes, baboon troops, wild dogs, leopards, lions and all the usual riparian species.  Gaunt skeletons of the trees, now long-dead, that grew in some earlier dry period line both the channel and the marsh. These trees would have had at least 50 years of dry conditions in which to grow and mature into the size they reached before drowning during the subsequent flood.

Records show that the Savute channel and the marsh dried out during the 1880's, probably completely by 1888. The channel then remained dry until summer 1957-58 when heavy rains in the catchment area of the Angolan highlands reflooded the Chobe river system and the channel flowed once again. The channel continued to flow until 1966 when it again dried up, temporarily though, as it flowed again the next year. This wet cycle lasted until 1981, when the channel stopped flowing and began to dry up again completely. This occurrence (including the fate of the animals which lived in and depended on the channels waters) is chronicled in Derek and Beverly Joubert's documentary film, "The Stolen River".  At present, the flow has reached almost all the way to the Savute marsh and it is anyone's guess how long the channel will "flow" this time!

This cyclical and changing feature of wet and dry in the channel is not completely understood, but it is generally believed that tectonic activity deep below the Kalahari's sandbed, is responsible. Others argue that its flow is primarily dependent upon the rainfall in the Angolan highlands which feeds the Okavango and Chobe river basins and the channel.

The Selinda Spillway
The Selinda (or Magweqana) Spillway is a shallow channel connecting the Panhandle region of the Okavango Delta with the Chobe River system. The Spillway flows only in years of high waters. Contrary to popular belief, the spillway flows only in one direction, from the Okavango to the Chobe. Legend has it that it flows in either direction depending upon water levels in the two systems, but this is not likely as the Okavango side is 30 metres higher than on the Chobe/Linyanti side.

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Water / Land Activity Table for Botswana camps:  Water/Land Botswana
Flying Times between Botswana camps:  Fly Times Botswana

For further information about Botswana, click More Botswana
For further information about the Chobe National Park, click More Chobe

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