The world's largest inland water system is also the cradle of unmatched diversity in wildlife and ecology. Also known as the Okavango Swamp, the Delta is one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world.
The Okavango Delta is formed by the Okavango River emptying in the great Kalahari Desert. Here lay an ancient lake, forming an oasis in the dry landscape of Botswana's surrounding deserts. The river begins its journey in Angola, after which it flows through Namibia before entering Botswana and becoming the Okavango.
The delta's composition includes lagoons, lakes and islands, most of which disappear or change shape every year with the annual floods. The water of the Delta is surprisingly clean, even crystal in certain places where animals do not graze. Covering an area of 17 000 square kilometer, wildlife are attracted to the waters. Expect to see large herd of elephants playing in the water to escape the heat of the sun, and hippos lazing on the network of green islands.
Attractions & Activities
A closer look at what your holiday could be.
Early morning and late nights are busiest time in the bush. Lions prefer to hunt before the worst heat of day sets in, followed closely by hyena, while the more elusive leopard tend to hunt at night. Enormous herds of zebra, wildebeest and buffalo roam the plains freely. Over 400 species of birds can be seen in the Delta, including the fish eagle.
Game viewing from the air is incredible (via light aircraft), and mokoro trips on the water are a fantastic experience. The Mokoro is a wooden canoe that floats barely above the water level. The canoe is then “poled” through the water by your guide, bringing you close to hippos and crocodiles. Please note that mokoro trips have a small element of danger, and it is not advisable to take children. Fishing is not the major attraction of Okavango, but there is a fair amount of fish to be caught, including the stubborn tiger fish. Fishing can be done anywhere, but if you are after the big boys, it is best to hire a boat and head towards the deeper waters in the north, known as the Panhandle.
There is a massive variety of activities to participate in; safari activities being the highlight of any trip to the Delta. Safari vehicles provide game viewing on the main land, including night drives, while walking safaris are conducted with trained guides and trackers. Bush walks are exciting and intimate means by which to discover the landscape and smaller wildlife of Botswana.
Okavango Delta is home to many safari camps and luxury lodges. However, most of them cannot be reached by road but via a chartered plane from Maun. Be forewarned, Okavango does not cater for the budget traveler, deliberately. The Botswana government wants to keep the area as wild and unspoiled as possible, keeping it free from pollution and mass population. The only way to enforce this is by making the trip as expensive as reasonably possible. Air Botswana is the only carrier to fly to Maun, which in turn is the only gateway into the Delta, and the fares are extravagant. However, this is a policy that works well. The Delta remains an unspoiled by human contact paradise of indescribable beauty.
When to Visit
The best time to view wildlife is between May and October. These dry months cause wildlife to congregate in flooded areas, making them easier to spot.
In contrast, birders should travel during the rainy season (November to April) when migrant birds return to the Delta.