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Linyanti Wildlife Reserve

Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in northern Botswana is a 1,113 km2 parcel of land south of the Linyanti River and part of the greater Chobe National Park. The Linyanti’s remote location is one of its major benefits and the land surrounding the Linyanti River, Kwando River and other water bodies is a mixture of lagoons and marshes, meandering waterways, open grassland and riverine forest.

The annual zebra migration is a significant attraction of the reserve. The zebra spend the dry season at the water’s edge in the Linyanti and then head south to the vast grasslands around Nxai Pan during the wet months.  It takes the herd on average 20 days to cover the 300 km, making it the longest land migration in Africa for a straight line return journey.

History of Linyanti Wildlife Reserve

Basarwa, a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe, originally inhabited the Savuti region where the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve stands.

  • Beginning of the 20th century: The region was divided into several land tenure systems, a large portion of the land declared as the Crown Land.
  • 1931: The idea to turn the land into a national park first took root. Tourism was a driving force behind this idea.
  • 1932: A 24,000 km2 area near the Chobe district was officially declared as a non-hunting area.
  • 1935: The non-hunting area was extended to 31, 600 km2.
  • 1943: The creation of the Chobe National Park was delayed due to a tsetse fly outbreak.
  • 1953: The project was picked up by the government and again the decision to set aside an area of 21,000 km2 for a game reserve was brought forward.
  • 1960: A year later, Chobe Game Reserve came into being, albeit with a smaller area of 11,700 km2.
  • 1967: Chobe Game Reserve was converted into Chobe National Park but that didn’t entirely get the people to move out of the region. The park still had several industrial settlements.
  • 1975: The last of the settlements were moved out of the park, making it a protected area exempt from human activities, apart from tourism.

Wildlife in Linyanti Wildlife Reserve

The Linyanti is one of the best places in Africa to view wild dog and the best time to do so is between July and August when they are denning and the young pups start to emerge from the dens. It is home to a good population of large mammals – herds of buffalo, elephant and zebras – as well as several species of predators including cheetah, leopards, lion and wild dog. Linyanti also has its share of other herbivores such as giraffes, eland, sable and hippos.

The park’s resident carmine bee-eaters are a great draw for birders and are often seen nesting on the river banks. During the green season, the park is full of thousands of birds that migrate to the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve.

Camps in Linyanti Wildlife Reserve

This is a premium and remote safari area and only accessible by light aircraft and there are only a handful of camps offering an exclusive and intimate bush experience.

  • Linyanti Tented Camp: Overlooking the Linyanti Marsh and floodplains, this camp has ample opportunities for elephant, lion, roan antelope and wild dog sightings.
  • King’s Pool: A solar power camp with a clear view of an oxbow lagoon, the lodge offers frequent bird and elephant sightings.
  • Duma Tau: Duma Tau provides a spectacular view of the Osprey Lagoon while large elephant herds roam near the camp.
  • Savuti Camp: Located along the Savute Channel, the camp attracts thirsty wildlife. The woodlands surrounding the Savuti Camp also provide opportunities for game viewing.

When to visit Linyanti Wildlife Reserve

For game viewing, the months between May to October are ideal. These dry months bring the thirsty herds to the rivers and lagoons. To witness the zebra migration, head here November to April. Zebras give birth to their young in November and gather around Linyanti between February and April.

January to March is an ideal time for bird watchers to visit Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. These months are known as the green season, during which the park is full of numerous migratory birds.

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