Sankuyo & Starling’s
NG34 covers an area of about 900km˛, and you drive through the eastern side of this when you leave the Moremi Reserve’s South Gate and head towards Maun. It’s an area with good game, and is easily accessibly (by 4WD) from Maun. Thus, and very unusually for the region, it’s a private concession to which you can drive yourself.
NG34 is run for the benefit of the local community, through the Sankuyo Tshwaragano Management Trust – and it’s a reserve which sees more frequent changes than most. Until about 2001 it was the location for Gomoti Camp, run by Crocodile Camp Safaris – but they then lost the rights to run a camp here.
Meanwhile in mid-2002 the rights for photographic safaris here were taken over by a first-rate company from Maun, Capricorn Safaris. They built and are currently running Starling’s Camp. This promises to be a real success, although as I write there’s still one issue outstanding with the Land Board – which needs to be resolved before we can be sure that the camp will remain here.
Meanwhile there’s long been an intermittent presence here of animal researchers, many of whom seem to have subsequently written books! Naturalist and lion researcher Peter Katz has been here conducting lion research for about five years. He had a book, Prides, published in 2000 – and more recently the three children staying with him and his partner have written Lion Children which was published in 2001. They are all still in residence, at the inevitably-named ‘Lion Camp’, which is about 2km from Starling’s Camp.
Before that, John ‘Tiko’ McNutt began a wild dog research unit based here in 1989. The project broadened and developed since then, and in 1996 a book that he co-authored was published: Running Wild: Dispelling the Myths of the African Wild Dog. When to visit
Big game animals are more prolific here during the dry season, as with the rest of the Okavango – although the birdlife is generally better between December and March. Because NG34 is on the southwest side of the Delta, the flood reaches it last. Also note that NG34 contains some of the closest dry-season watering points for the game that spreads out towards Nxai and Makgadikgadi during the rains. Around this, there is a much higher density of game in the dry season than the wet.
That said, quite a lot of the reserve is mopane woodlands, a favourite location for animals during the rains and early dry season – so expect it to have some game around all year.Flora and fauna highlights
Look on a map of the reserve’s vegetation and you might be struck by the amount of mopane woodlands here – which generally isn’t a huge attraction for safari-goers. However, drive on the ground and you’ll realise that most of the area around the Gomoti River, where Starling’s Camp and its safaris are concentrated, is a much prettier combination of big open flood plains with occasional islands.
Like much of the Delta around eastern Moremi, the flood patterns here do seem to have changed recently. When Tico McNutt first came in 1989, the Mogogelo River, near San-Ta-Wani, still had water in it; since then this has dried up. The flood has been generally poor elsewhere in the area, but these indications are mixed – observe the Gomoti River, which flows seasonally, and seems to have been flooding further and better during the last few years.
With something as complex as the changes in water flows and levels in the Delta, everyone has a slightly different opinion. Perhaps one of the most pertinent comments on this was, allegedly, from local wit, Willy Philips, who commented that ‘the only reliable water in the Okavango is the water in the toilets.’
<< Click on the left menu above for more details of the Flora
found in this area.