Though the small village of Nxamaseri is not a stop for most visitors, I've included a section here because the area around Nxamaseri Camp is a very interesting one, and capable of providing a deep-water Delta experience which is as interesting as most of the reserves further east.
Specifically, the Nxamaseri Channel here is a side-channel of the main Okavango River. Like Guma Lagoon, further south, it's fairly easily accessible due to the presence of a lodge. If you want a real Delta experience in the Panhandle, then this should be high on your list of places to visit – though getting here either requires your own vehicle or a flight.
Flora and fauna highlights
The Nxamaseri Channel is north of the point where the main Okavango River divides at the base of the Panhandle, and is a stretch of open, clear water up to about 30m wide in places. Beside the edges you'll find stands of papyrus and common reeds, whilst its quieter edges are lined by patches of waterlilies, including many night lilies, Nymphaea lotus
(aka lotus lilies) as well as the more common day lilies, Nymphaea nouchali caerulea
. Look out also for the heart-shaped floating leaves, and star-shaped white or yellow flowers of the water gentian, Nymphoides indica
As with the rest of the Panhandle, this isn't a prime area for game viewing. You may catch glimpses of sitatunga or the odd lechwe, and you're almost bound to see hippo and crocodile, but big game is scarce.
However, the channel is a super waterway for birdwatching; home to a tremendous variety of waterbirds. Without trying too hard, my sightings have included many pygmy geese, greater and lesser jacanas, lesser galinules, colonies of reed cormorants, darters, numerous species of bee-eaters and king-fishers, green-backed herons, a relaxed black crake, numerous red-shouldered widows and even (on a cloudy morning in February) a pair of Pel's fishing owls. Beside the channel are pockets of tall riverine trees and various real fan and wild date palms, whose overhanging branches house several colonies of weavers (masked, spotted-backed and brown-throated).
Upstream of the lodge, on the main Okavango River, there's a colony of carmine bee-eaters at a location known locally as 'the red cliffs'. This is occupied from around early September to the end of December, but is probably at its best in late-September/early-October (the best time for most migrant species here).
Getting there and getting away
About 19km north of Sepupa (over 37km south of Shakawe) there's an unmarked turning (GPS: NXTURN) onto a vague track through the bush which leads northeast, about 5.5km from the main road, to Nxamaseri Lodge (GPS: NXAMAS). This is little more than a number of confusing tracks in the deep sand which initially head slightly left of the straight-line direction to the lodge, before finally bending right.
If you're approaching from the north this is about 21.5km south of the Somachima Veterinary Fence (GPS: VET-SA). After 10km you'll pass a slight rise marked by a sign as 'Tsodilo View' (GPS: TSVIEW). From here, on a clear day, you can see the hills to the southwest. Less than 3km south of this viewpoint you'll pass a sign to Nxamaseri, which leads to the village of the same name. The camp's unmarked turning is almost 9km south of this.
Nxamaseri will only accept advanced bookings, and it is surrounded by water for most of the year. So you always
need to make advance arrangements to stay here. You'll usually be met if you're arriving by vehicle, and a boat and mokoro are often needed to ferry you the final few kilometres – so this is not a lodge to try and drop into unannounced.
What to see and do
As mentioned, this isn't a lodge for big-game safaris, but the boat trips for birdwatching are first class, and whilst there tends to be less emphasis on mokoro excursions, these are also possible when the water levels are high and there are suitable areas of shallow water nearby.
Fishing is another major activity here, and is possible throughout the year. For enthusiastic anglers, the very best tiger-fishing months are from August to November, and the best times for bream are between March to June. During the first three months of the year the rain and new floodwaters are said to disturb the fish, which move out to the floodplains – and so fishing in the channels can be more difficult.
The record tiger-fish catch here is about 6.7kg, though in a normal season they'd expect to have 10–15 catches over the 6kg mark. Fly-fishing and lure/spinning fishing are done here, and Nxamaseri pride themselves in keeping their equipment in good condition. Like most Okavango lodges, Nxamaseri operates a 'catch-and-release' system with fishing, except for the occasional bream taken for the table. They have two large, flat, barge-like boats which provide a very stable platform for several people fishing, and is also ideal for photography.