The Linyanti, Selinda and Kwando reserves lie between Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta. Linyanti is bordered on the west by the Linyanti river, which runs south-west into northern Botswana, Kwando on its eastern flank by the Kwando river, which runs south-east into the country, and Selinda lies immediately south of where the 2 rivers meet and form a delta similar – but smaller – to that of the Okavango river.
Traditionally, the dry season begins in April, and ends in November, whereupon the wet season begins with the December rains, which continue through to the end of February. Temperatures and levels of humidity drop during the dry season (winter months); rainfall is virtually non-existent June to August, while September and October see an increase in temperature in preparation for the rains. Yearly levels of rainfall average out at around 500 mm. April and May are the most beautiful months, January and February the wettest, the muggiest, and October uncomfortably hot.
However, since 2008, when flood and local rainfall levels were above average, the area, like Chobe, appears to have entered a new wet cycle, with 2010 being dubbed a ‘super year.’ The rains have lasted into April, flood levels have been high, the delta’s land mass reduced and two major and – until recently – dormant waterways, the Selinda Spillway and the Savuti Channel, have once again begun to flow, the former linking Linyanti Swamp with the Okavango Delta, the latter Zibadianja Lagoon with Savuti Swamp in Chobe National Park.
The effects of this new wet cycle are significant. Traditionally, resident game numbers are swelled in June – along the permanent waterfronts – by great swathes of migrating animals, including wildebeest, elephant, zebra and buffalo. Here, and through to October, the cover progressively thins, lion, leopard and spotted hyena flourish and the game viewing is excellent. However, with the rains now lasting into April, and previously dry areas inundated, this pattern is set to change. The game is dispersed for longer than is usual, the flooding of both Selinda Spillway and Savuti Channel offer alternatives to Zibadianja Lagoon and to the riverfronts, and the habitat’s transformation – from dry to wet, with resultant changes in flora species – will see a rise in the number of water specialists (lechwe, waterbuck, hippo and crocodile, for example), as well as in the numbers of insects, fish, amphibians and birds. With the extra cover and more sources of permanent water, predators will have their work cut out, and safaris will be water based for longer periods of the year.