Nxabega Tented Camp in the Okavango Delta
Nxabega Tented Camp is set in a private concession of 8 000 hectares (19 800 acres) to the southeast of the Moremi Wildlife Reserve in the centre of one of the most unique regions in the world, the Okavango Delta. Renowned for its lush waterways and abundant wildlife, the Okavango is home to a number of aquatic and land species.
Located in northern Botswana, the Okavango River is a unique natural phenomenon – flowing more than 1 000 km (620 miles) from its source in Angola, this river disappears beneath the sands of Botswana, creating a lush inland delta in the midst of this otherwise arid country. The Okavango Delta is in a constant state of flux, expanding and contracting according to the rainy season. While some parts of the Delta remain permanently flooded, others only experience high water levels from May to September, when rainwaters from Angola reach the outer stretches of the Okavango.
Covering approximately one third of the Delta, permanent swamp areas are lush and green, with groves of wild date palm, papyrus and water lilies growing around deep lagoons lined with riverine forest. Seasonal swamps, on the other hand, contain a network of small channels cutting their way through papyrus and reed beds to create islands of all shapes and sizes. Nxabega is located in riverine forest on the channels and lagoons of the southern, seasonal part of the Delta.
From under a canopy of African ebony trees, Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp faces out over expansive lagoons and channels. With expansive Okavango views, nine exclusive tented suites are strung out on either side of the handsome thatched guest areas of the camp. Burnished teak floors and a lofty roof frame the sitting and dining areas. Private bush dinners, breakfasts in bed, lamplit cocktails on a river island or a walking safari with al fresco picnic are provided with pleasure by Nxabega’s warm and friendly staff.
The abundant water in the Okavango’s permanent channels sustains a dense forest of tall trees, which are forced upward in the race for ample sunlight. Little grass survives among the shrubs and creepers in their deep shade. Among the trees in this forest, the sausage tree is notable not only for its pendulous fruit and large, crimson flowers, but also for the fact that traditional mekoro (dugout canoes) are frequently made from its boughs or trunk. The riverine forest is home to prolific birdlife, including the elusive Pel’s fishing owl, and fruit bats are attracted to the abundant fig trees, feeding on the juicy fruit after dark.
Nxabega Tented Camp is situated in an area that boasts a number of permanent river channels that flow throughout the year. The steady water supply creates a distinctive layer of vegetation, with lush beds of tall papyrus, miscanthus grass, evergreen figs and ferns. This is another good birding area. A pair of Pel’s fishing owls are regularly seen near Nxabega, attracted by the large variety of fish found in the channels. Clear lagoons are created where channels open up, dotted with floating rafts of water lilies, water chestnut and other aquatic plants. Families of hippo bask in the open water and Cape clawless otter may be spotted.
Nxabega Tented Camp Game Viewing
Nxabega Tented Camp habitats: Open woodland savanna is dominated by impressive specimens of knob thorn, umbrella thorn, marula and leadwood trees, with occasional monumental baobabs. Evergreen riverine forest grows alongside river channels and on the fringes of islands, with mahogany, jackalberry, sausage tree, sycamore fig and mangosteen prominent. Floodplain grasslands consist of grass species which are able to withstand seasonal inundation. Palm savanna is an open grassy habitat typified by groves of tall palm and fragrant wild sage. Permanent channels and swamps are crowded with papyrus, miscanthus grass and colonies of swamp fig. Lagoons of open water are typically decorated with water lily, water chestnut and other aquatic plants.
Mammals at Nxabega Tented Camp: Larger herbivores – including elephant and buffalo. Lion prides, cheetah, leopard and African wild dog may be encountered. Herds of handsome red lechwe favour the edges of floodplains, often feeding in the company of tsessebe. Hippos reside in deeper channels and lagoons. Honey badgers are observed during daylight hours. Roan and sable antelope favour taller grass in open woodlands while the sitatunga keep to dense papyrus beds. Families of dwarf and banded mongoose occupy large termite mounds. Noisy epauletted fruit bats sip nectar from baobab and sausage tree blooms and feast on ripe figs.
Birds at Nxabega Tented Camp: Almost 350 species are recorded. Slaty egret, lesser jacana, wattled crane, coppery-tailed coucal, Hartlaub’s babbler, greater swamp warbler, chirping cisticola, swamp boubou and brown firefinch are ‘Okavango Specials’. Common in savanna are Dickinson’s kestrel, red-billed spurfowl, Kalahari scrub-robin and violet-eared waxbill. Herons, egrets, storks and other waterfowl abound with flocks following the receding floodwaters. African pygmy goose, white-backed duck and African jacana favour lily-covered lagoons. Abundant African fish-eagle course the waterways in search of prey. After dark, the rare Pel’s fishing-owl (opposite) emerge to sit in wait at clear pools.
Other African wildlife: Predatory tigerfish and African pike flourish in clear waters, where various tilapia, catfish and squeakers also thrive. Dazzling dragonflies pursue prey along waterways. Colourful painted reed-frog, long reed-frog and bubbling kassina are two commonly encountered frogs. Nile crocodile, water monitor and Okavango hinged-terrapin are common aquatic reptiles. Massive termite colonies are the foundations for Okavango islands and these industrious insects form an important component of the diet for many mammals and birds.