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Page History: Linyanti and Kwando Rivers

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Page Revision: 2008/10/06 10:33

The Kwando and Linyanti Rivers are situated mid-way between the town of Kasane and the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. The Kwando River has its headwaters in central Africa and flows south before it changes course by ninety degrees to flow towards the northeast. At this point it changes its name to the Linyanti River. The river changed course dramatically because of "river capture" caused by faulting. The Linyanti River follows the fault line representing the extreme south-western extension of east Africa's great Rift Valley. The Rift Valley faulting is relatively recent and cuts across the older Kwando / Savuti Channel, causing the river to change direction - and stops the water from flowing down into the Savuti Channel.

Wildlife viewing in this region is superb. It is renowned for large concentrations of elephant, lion, sable, roan, hippos, wild dog etc, building to a peak in the dry winter months. The area offers superb birding year round. Over 450 species of birds have been recorded in the area. A minimum 2 to 3 day stay is recommended.


Swamp Boubou, Brown Firefinch, Pel's Fishing-Owl, Schalow's Turaco, Bat Hawk, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Hartlaub's Babbler, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Slaty Egret, Black Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Chirping Cisticola, Luapula Cisticola, Long-toed Lapwing, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Arnot's Chat.


Habitats can be divided into; Riverine woodlands along the Kwando and Linyanti Rivers; The rivers themselves and surrounding lagoons and waterways; Open grasslands bordering onto the rivers and down the Savuti Channel; The dryer woodlands inland from the waterways.


Access to this area is often restricted and is always very tough to get to by vehicle. Only 4x4 vehicles are able to negotiate the thick sand and rough roads. There is no backup and no fuel stops, so come fully prepared for the every eventuality. Most visitors travel into this area by light aircraft into the remote airfields. Accommodation is limited to a number of superb, small intimate tented camps or at one very basic campsite within Chobe National Park. Drivers need to be warned that private "concessions" or private reserves that have been leased out to private companies by the authorities dominate this area. Access to these private reserves is restricted to guests staying at the various lodges or camps detailed later in this report. These camps and lodges must be pre-booked. The only place self drive visitors can stay is at the national park campsite, which also needs to be pre-booked through the park's department (details below).


As a result of the varying vegetation types, birding is varied and interesting.

a) Riverine Woodlands Despite heavy pressure from elephants, there are still good thickets of riverine woodlands all along the Linyanti and Kwando Rivers. Diospyros mespilformis and Garcinia Livingstonei are two of the more common trees in these thickets. Specials: African Wood-Owl, Swamp Boubou, Brown Firefinch, Pel's Fishing-Owl, Narina Trogon (summer only), Schalow's Turaco, Bat Hawk, Thick-billed Cuckoo (summer only), Hartlaub's Babbler, Western Banded Snake-Eagle, African Fish-Eagle, Collared Sunbird.

b) The Waterways The area has a combination of gently flowing rivers (the gradient is very shallow), large lagoons and secluded marshes, which all provide excellent birding opportunities. Besides the two main rivers - the Linyanti and Kwando, there are a host of large and small lagoons that provide excellent birding. Some well-known lagoons, like Zibadianja at the source of the Savuti Channel provide some of Botswana's best wildlife and birdlife. Specials include Skimmers (nesting in September on the lagoon opposite DumaTau Camp - as well as at Zibadianja), Slaty Egret and Black Heron, Rufous-bellied Heron, Greater Painted-snipe, Chirping Cisticola and Luapula Cisticola African Pygmy-Goose, Long-toed Lapwing and the colourful waterway birds like White-fronted Bee-eater, Malachite Kingfisher and Pied Kingfisher, African Rail, African Jacana and Lesser Jacana, Water Thick-knee and Wattled Crane.

c) Open Grasslands The area has wonderful open grasslands - the best known being the now dry Savuti Channel. About two thirds of the Savuti Channel is outside of the Chobe National Park in a private reserve. These grasslands host many of the grassland species in the region. Kori Bustard (carrying Southern Carmine Bee-eater from late January to early March), korhaan, sandgrouse and quail are all part of the grassland species to be found in this habitat. Abdim's Stork and White Stork can congregate in large numbers during the summer months, Coursers, Common Ostrich, Secretarybird, Tawny Eagle and Bateleur - the latter being found in very high concentrations in this region.

d) The Woodlands of the Interior The woodlands are dominated by Mopane, interspersed with acacia, Baobab and Terminalia. The main "special" found in mature Mopane woodland is Arnot's Chat. Others to look out for are Dickinson's Kestrel and most of the smaller raptors - and especially acipiters. Again Bateleur are very common.


The only accommodation in the National Park area is in the campsite along the Linyanti. There are no facilities and you must be 100% self-sufficient. Bookings must be made through the park's department. Contact Tel (267) 353024, Fax: (267) 308675,

Accommodation is also available in the following private reserves, which require booking in advance. Kings Pool - 10 rooms along the Linyanti River. DumaTau - 8 rooms close to the source of the Savuti. Savuti Camp - 5 rooms in the Savuti Channel, 17km from the source of the Savuti. Linyanti Tented Camp 5 rooms just to the west of Chobe's western boundary Zibadianja - 3 rooms overlooking Zibadianja lagoon Selinda - 6 rooms along the Selinda Channel, a waterway (often dry) which connects the Okavango to the Kwando / Linyanti in peak flood years. Lagoon Camp - 6 rooms along the Kwando. Lebala Camp - 8 rooms along the Kwando.

Contact details: Kings Pool, DumaTau, Linyanti Tented Camp and Savuti Camp: Wilderness Safaris, P O Box 78573, Sandton, 2146, south Africa Tel (27-11) 883 0747, Fax (27-11) 883 0911 Zibadianja and Selinda : Linyanti Explorations: P O Box 22, Kasane, Botswana, Tel (267) 6250505, Fax (267) 6250352, Lagoon and Lebala: Kwando: P O Box 1264, Parklands, 2121, south Africa. Tel (27-11) 880 6138 / 880 6059, Fax (27-11) 880 1393 / 880 3161

Colin Bell 1997. Wilderness Safaris

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