Despite the worldwide lockdown (and a distinct lack of guests to enjoy it) we’re thrilled to have Botswana’s rivers return in such abundance.
In May 2019, President Mokgweetsi Masisi officially declared drought across Botswana. Thankfully, excellent rains have fallen and our lodges across the Okavango Delta are surrounded by floodwaters once again.
In a double dose of good news, many camps and lodges are also open again! Where’s the first place you want to go?
Here’s an update on the rivers and re-openings in Botswana’s best addresses.
Chobe Safari Lodge and Chobe Bush Lodge Update
Botswana’s National Parks have been open for 14 days already following the national lockdown, which lasted for seven weeks to help contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The elephants of Chobe National Park are still going about their merry munching business and the Chobe River floodplains are positively brimming.
This video taken from Chobe Safari Lodge shows how high the Chobe River has risen. In fact! Our favourite sundowner spot, Sedudu Bar, was even underwater in May 2020.
However, Chobe River water levels are already starting to subside again.
Safari operators across Botswana are working towards recommencement of travel for international guests around October. However, tourism is likely to only be open for selected destinations as global governments and tourism bodies monitor the global pandemic and subsequent border controls.
The Botswana Tourism Organisation has issued strict Tourism Industry Covid-19 Guidelines for reopening.
We are incredibly pleased to help pioneer resumption of travel with the announcement that Chobe Safari Lodge and Chobe Bush Lodge are open for local travel from today, 10 June 2020.
Chat to us about planning your future safari in charming Chobe National Park.
Okavango Delta Water Levels 2020
The rain in Angola falls between November to April before slowly meandering south into Botswana. Usually, the Okavango Delta fills by late May or June and floods peak during July and August.
Contradicting the most water-laden plains, this is actually Botswana’s dry season.
There are water stations at various points of the Okavango River system. Data from Hydrology Services in Namibia showed water levels rising steadily and 2020 waters at their highest in past five years. On 24 February 2020 water levels measured 7.06m at Rundu compared to 2019 measurements of 5.14m and well above the annual average of 5.59m.
After entering Botswana at Mohembo, the Okavango River then spreads near Seronga where it starts to form Botswana’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta. There are then three main channels that develop, namely Thaoge, Jao and Nqoga. Jao is the central channel and seems to be carrying the most water this year. This middle channel later becomes the Boro River.
After 18 months since the last floods and having travelled 2000km from the Angolan highlands, these are the first waters of the 2020 Okavango flood. On 12 May, the Boro River brought water to the safari base town of Maun, passing it into the Thamalakane River.
As rivers start to reform again it is tradition for Batswana to fetch water from these fresh floodwaters. Many believe it is the beginning of new life for everything.
On 20 May 2020, floodwaters travelled a further 13km since passing below the Matlapaneng Old Bridge and continue to hit the Boteti River on 28 May 2020.
Moremi Crossing and Gunns Camp Report
Last year we introduced game drive safaris to Moremi Crossing and Gunns Camp due to dry conditions. However, both camps are now back to being water-based stays again as floods have completely islanded the lodges!
Camp managers report that the boats are back on the water and walking safaris will take place on Chiefs Island (via a mokoro crossing over the Boro River) until the Okavango Delta swamp waters recede again. You’ve gotta love the rhythms of nature!
Mma Dinare and Rra Dinare Lodge Report
Although we have had no guests for the past two months, our camps have still been busy. A skeleton staff remained on call to ensure lodge upkeep, and they have also enjoyed some fabulous sightings.
Both Rra Dinare and Mma Dinare lodges are located to make the most of glorious views and game across the Gomoti River. Floodplains are full again and at much higher water levels than last year. These lodges share the same concession, which borders Moremi Game Reserve.
If you’re confused about concessions, read this guide to the Okavango Delta, which lays it out simply for travellers.
Mokoro excursions are all in action and expose visitors to the soothing tranquillity of the floodwaters up close.
Nata Bird Sanctuary Report
Sadly, the blessing of floodwaters has not extended as far as Sua Pan in the Nata Bird Sanctuary. The Nata River received water twice this year but with very shallow flows. At the moment, the Makgadikgadi Pans here are bone dry, but that doesn’t make it any less magical.
Nata Lodge is also open for business!
Keen to see Botswana in all its glory? Contact us about staying at one of our lodges or camps for local deals.