Linyanti is a 112,000-hectare private reserve on Chobe National Park's western boundary. Wildlife is plentiful, predators stalk about looking for lunch and birds give it the full 5 stars. What you won’t see is a plethora of tourists. This is a secluded, uncrowded place so forget the pushing, shoving, wildlife panicking holidaymakers, they ain’t here.
The rivers running through are the lifeblood of the whole area. Just above the Okavango Delta, you’ll find the Kwando River. This forms the border between Botswana and Namibia - a stunning panhandle formerly known as the Caprivi Strip, now known as the Zambezi Region. Keep following the Kwando and it becomes the Linyanti River and Linyanti Marshes - a permanent wetland area with small islands surrounded by grassy plains. This is the western boundary of Chobe National Park and the heart of the Linyanti region.
And water is the draw card. Elephants are particularly thirsty and during the dry season huge herds pass through and congregate along the river. Great groups of zebra and buffalo get stuck in too, jostling for a turn at the taps. And you can imagine what the sight of all these juicy beasts is like for lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena. Bat-eared foxes join the party, as do hippo and crocodile. You can even see the rare sable and Sitatunga antelope.
Tree wise Linyanti is characterised by dense mopane woodlands, jackalberry trees and sausage trees with their red flowers and dangling pods. During the wet summers (November to March) migrant birds arrive in droves. In fact birdlife here is fantastic with the Narina Trogon bird species being a highlight.
Being so remote the safari lodges and camps are few and far between. They describe themselves as ‘private, exclusive and luxurious’ and it’s true, they are. They pretty much have the run of the place and thoroughly enjoy their unique access to this bountiful part of northern Botswana. This is a malaria area though, so remember to take the necessary precautions.
So, in a nutshell, with the hunters gone, wildlife has returned in huge numbers to the Linyanti region. It’s a quiet, remote and wild corner of Botswana, which gives the lodges both exclusivity and free-roam of the area. Consequently, you can go on bush walks, take night drives and go off road game viewing - unlike most other national parks and reserves in Botswana.
Photographic safaris, river cruises, fishing and cultural village visits are the order of the day. Or just get all romantic and trundle down the Linyanti River on a sunset cruise, drink in hand, congratulating yourself on this marvellous, marvellous find.