There can be no more dramatic place in Africa for self-drive safari than in Moremi. It is a place of indescribable beauty, of varied landscapes and magnificent wildlife and the campsites and lodges are located in pristine areas.
Moremi is a place of floodplains, seasonal and permanent, and beautiful riverine forests that embrace lagoons and streams. To be able to experience this area in your own time and in your own vehicle is truly a privilege that many people do not have the opportunity to do.
4x4 vehicles are essential for a self drive Safari in Moremi as the roads are very sandy in the dry areas and very wet and muddy along the floodplains of the Delta.
The Moremi Game Reserve is open to guests all year round though road conditions may become very difficult during the rainy season (November to March), and the park may then be closed to self-drive visitors. You should phone ahead and check whether the roads are passable before you leave.
Moremi is accessed from Chobe in the north and from Maun in the south via two track roads. From Chobe the road runs to Savute then through the Mababe Depression before reaching the Khwai River which is the northern boundary of the Moremi game reserve.
From Maun the road heads north through subsistence villages before arriving at the veterinary fence which is a checkpoint of the Botswana Department of Parks and Wildlife. Once you have passed the fence, the opportunity exists to view wildlife as there are no more fences to inhibit the movement of animals. The road reaches Moremi Game Reserve at the southern gate of the Park, which is also known as South Gate.
There are four main regions in Moremi that can be accessed on a self-drive safari, with rustic campsites at all four. The areas are South Gate, Third Bridge, Xaxanaka and Khwai North Gate. The ideal self drive route is from Maun to South Gate, before heading on to Third Bridge and Xaxanaka and completing your self-drive in Moremi at Northgate.
If you are travelling up from Maun you need to take the road to Shorobe which is 30km north-east of Maun. The road is tarred up till this point, after which it becomes gravel. You will cross the veterinary control fence, which is locally referred to as the Buffalo Fence. This was constructed to protect the cattle from diseases that are carried by the wildlife.
Once you are on the dirt road you continue for about 2km till you reach a fork in the road. You must take the Left fork which heads to Moremi Game Reserve South Gate. The route takes you through some beautiful Mopane woodland interspersed with patches of open savannah. You need to be vigilant and stick to the speed limit as wild animals such as Elephant could suddenly step into the road out of thick bush.
After you have travelled 99km from Maun you will reach Magwe, the southern entrance of Moremi Game Reserve, which is also called South Gate (SOGATE 19:25.548 S 23:38.733 E). Once you are inside the park you have a choice of different routes for game drives and to go to different areas such as Xakanaxa.
There is a 30km route straight through the park heading towards North Gate where the park headquarters are situated. North Gate (NOGATE 19:10.261 S 23:45.055 E) is the northern most entrance to the park and is where visitors heading down from Chobe will enter the park. Although it's only 30km, this route will take you 45min to an hour to travel. There is a long bridge constructed out of Mopane poles that you cross to enter or leave the reserve through North Gate.
Another route you can take when entering Moremi from the South is to travel 58km to Third Bridge. This route takes you through the diverse scenery within the reserve, crossing First Bridge and Second bridge before arriving at Third Bridge which is right on the edge of the Delta at Mboma Island.
Another scenic route to drive from South Gate is to drive the 42km to Xakanaxa. This route once again takes you through some lovely Mopane woodland to a very picturesque area of the Delta. From Xakanaxa you can drive the 45km to North Gate in the Khwai region. This route takes you past a lovely pan which is known as Hippo Pools, named after the numerous Hippopotami that call it home.
Southgate, Third Bridge, Xaxanaka and Northgate all have rustic campsites with running water and ablutions. These campsites are all set in beautiful locations and game drives can be done in the surrounding areas.
For those who don't want to camp and yet still want to experience a self drive safari, Xaxanaka Camp is an excellent option which enables you to experience the area in your own vehicle, but not have to worry about the logistics of camping.