The Boteti River (also Botletle River) is a natural watercourse in Botswana. It derives flow from the core Okavango Delta through the Thamalakane River in Maun. It flowed year-round before the mid 1990s, after which decreasing flows led to seasonal desiccation in some lower reaches. In the rainy season the Boteti discharges to the Makgadikgadi Pans, bringing that area alive with seasonal activity and high biological productivity. In the dry season the Boteti is particularly important to provide wildlife an area to congregate, since most seasonal ponds and drainages are devoid of water.
The Boteti flows out of the Thamalakane River swamp at Toteng, then flows northestward past Tlkaseoulo, over Ghautsa Falls, and then flows east past the villages of Makalamabedi, Muekekle and Matima, and then at Kwaraga it turns south past the villages of Phukumakaku, Sukwane, Rakops (Jakops), and Xhuma (Khomo). It then flows past Lake Xau (or in a very wet year into and out of Lake Xau) and then heads east past the village of Mopipi (Madista) and into the Ntwetwe Pan.
The Boteti stretches from Ngamiland to the main Boteti District where it is used to fill the Mopipi Dam, which is important to the many diamond mines of the area, particularly the Orapa diamond mine. The diversion of the river has left many residents without an adequate source of fresh water; moreover, they could no longer enjoy fishing and other activities in the river.
In the early and mid 20th century the lower Boteti, below Sukwane, was a major grain producing area, with over 2,000 ha. under cultivation at late as 1980. However, the number and extent of wet years has declined, and the river was channelized below Rakops to increase flow to the Mopipi Dam.
This river stopped flowing in 1993 due to shifting tectonic activity under the Delta. The Boteti River is now reliant on the flooding levels of the Kavango River and the Okavango Delta and therefore ranges from periods of ample water and droughts.
However, its riverbanks are steep and afford excellent views of the riverbed, to which animals flock in the winter months as the pans dry up. Game viewing on the banks of the Boteti River can be very exciting. Roughly three percent of the Okavango Delta’s waters flow away through the Boteti River and two other channels. This outflow sustains the Delta’s fresh water ecosystem as it carries away salts and various minerals, which would settle in the Delta.
Location (from 20° 21′ 57″ S, 22° 57′ 13″ E to 20° 36′ 25″ S, 25° 14′ 11″ E)
View Boteti River in a larger map
Situated on the high southern bank of the Boteti River, Meno a Kwena (Tooth of the Crocodile) is owned and run by David Dugmore, a professional guide and photographer. The camp borders the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The charmingly decorated camp is all about experience. Eight tents offer comfortable accommodation, each with its own bathroom, with authentic safari bucket showers (hot water on demand) under a roof of wide African skies. Camp cuisine is cooked on open wood fires and in tin box ovens in the ground. Fresh baked bread from the coals of a hardwood fire is a perennial favorite. The hide-out provides unequaled opportunities for game- and bird watching.
Game drives are arranged in open 4×4 vehicles into the three Kalahari wildlife sanctuaries – Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pan National Parks, and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The area is home to southern Africa’s largest wildebeest and zebra migrations, and a fascinating resource of pre-historic human relicts on what was once the bed of a vast inland lake.
Leroo La Tau (The Lion’s Paw) is situated on the western bank of the Boteti River, northwest of Khumaga Village and about 140 kilometres southeast of Maun. The eastern bank of the Boteti River forms the boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, which stretches away from the riverbank towards its interior of scrubland and mineral rich grasslands.
With just 12 thatched chalets, each with en-suite bathrooms, a dining room, reading room and bar in the main lodge, expansive wooden decks and a plunge pool, guests can immerse themselves seamlessly into the ultimate wildlife experience in Botswana.