Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is one of Africa's prime safari destinations. Its seasonal flooding brings a cycle of life and growth, and a bounty of wildlife and birds. Take a Mokoro (dugout canoe) trip, game drive,walking safari or scenic flight - stay in luxury or go camping - the Okavango can be experienced in a range of ways, and on a range of budgets.

The Okavango Delta is an amazing safari destination. The seasonal flooding of her waterways brings life and growth and change to the Delta. Fed by the rains in Angola pouring into the Okavango river, the water levels in the Delta don't reach their peak until well into the dry season. Eventually, the waters of the Okavango are evaporated by the sun, or absorbed into the salt pans; the water of the Okavango never reaches the sea. This seasonal ebb and flow brings a rich diversity of wildlife to the ever-changing landscape, including the big five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard), hippos, crocodiles, various species of antelope, and a wide variety of birds.

One of the greatest attractions of the Okavango Delta is the ability to view wildlife up-close in their natural habitat, with little competing foot-traffic from other tourists. The Okavango is very large and sparsely populated, so a trip here can really make you feel like you've left the world behind to get close to the Earth. There are some areas of the delta which are permanently dry (such as Chief's Island and the Mopane Tongue in Moremi Game Reserve), and other areas that are part of the permanent swamp, with its deep lagoons and papyrus beds. The remainder of the delta is a seasonal swamp which is fed by the floods and eventually dries up, only to be flooded again the following year.

The types of activities that different lodges can offer are sometimes dependent on where they are located - whether they have access to permanent waterways, to what extent the area around the lodge floods, and how deep the water gets. It's a good idea to have in mind whether you'd prefer to explore the Okavango by boat or mokoro (dugout canoe), or whether you'd prefer walking safaris or game drives. All of these are possibilities, but many lodges tend to offer one or the other, based on their location in the Delta. Talk to your travel consultant, as we can organise a range of activities for you that your lodge may not offer.
Home to the big five (the rhino has been recently reintroduced), an amazing array of herbivores including the rare situtanga antelope, the red lechwe, hippopotamus, impala and giraffe, and carnivore species including lions, leopards, hyena and African wild dog, the Delta provides wonderful opportunities to glimpse the daily struggle for life in the wild.

The Okavango Delta is home to 30 percent of the remaining population of the rare African wild dog, which is a major draw to the region for many people. Other predators including lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena are regularly spotted - very lucky travelers may even see a pride of lions take down their prey.

Home to over 400 different bird species, the Okavango Delta is a bird watcher's paradise. While none of the bird species are endemic to the Okavango, it is a place where myriad species gather, lay eggs and are almost assured of a decent meal.
Driving Safari
A leisurely drive through the game reserve watching wildlife.
Mokoro Safari
Mokoro is the Tswana word for a traditional dugout canoe. These have been the mode of transport for traversing the Okavango Delta for centuries and they are a really great way to see the Delta in a relaxed way and not scare of wildlife. The Bayei tribe has been using Mokoro to traverse the Delta for centuries and your guide on your Mokoro trip will likely be Bayei.
Walking Safari
Walking through the game reserve and game viewing
Air Plane Safari
Go for game viewing in a small aeroplane or glider, you can cover a lot of ground really fast and see a lot.
Peak season in the Okavango Delta is the dry season (June to September), when the water levels of the Delta are at their peak (as the water comes mainly from the rains in Angola, not from Botswana's rainy season). As the water from the rains dries up in other parts of the countryside, wildlife converges on the Okavango Delta, so the dry season is generally considered the best time for game viewing. The weather is pleasant during the day, reaching up to 25 degrees Celsius, though it can get cold at night (down to 2 degrees, and occasionally dipping below zero). Prices at this time are also at their highest.

The wet, rainy season (November to March) is also the low season, as the weather gets uncomfortably hot and the population of beasts thins out. But this is the best time for bird watchers, and the antelope drop their young during the rains, which can make for some very interesting game viewing.

An excellent time to visit is during April, May and June, before the heavy tourist traffic begins, and after the rains finish and the weather starts to cool again. Beware, however, that many seasonal tracks will still be unpassable from the rains, even by four-wheel drive. October can also be a good month to visit if you can handle the heat; days can be HOT (30 - 40+° C) with no rains to cool them down.
Coming Soon
In 1962 the local Batawana people, under the leadership of the late Chief Moremi III's widow, set aside a third of the Okavango Delta as a national reserve, the Moremi Game Reserve. This is heralded as one of the first times in Africa's history that the indigenous people set aside land for the protection of ecosystems and wildlife. This commitment of the local people to preserving the natural habitat of the Delta has paved the way for an important shift on tourism; this area of Botswana has gone from being largely big-game hunting based to being photographic-safari based.

Many of the people you'll meet in the Delta will be local Batawana people. Most people you encounter will speak at least some English, though it is not uncommon to meet people who speak only the local languages. You may also meet some of the many expats living and working in the safari industry. If you take a canoe/mokoro trip, likely the man poling the boat will be a Bayei man - the Bayei have been fishing and boating in the Delta, alongside the Banoka for 250 years. Don't be afraid to ask the people you encounter about their local history and ancestral background; most people will be happy to talk about themselves, and a mokoro trip with an experienced poler/guide provides you with a unique opportunity to meet, engage with, and learn about another culture and way of life in a quiet and intimate setting, with one of the most beautiful backdrops you can imagine!

In the more northern parts of the Okavango, where the water is swifter and deeper, you may meet some Hambushuku people, who traditionally have traveled by mekoro using a paddle, rather than a pole, and who are famous for their beautiful hand-woven baskets.
The Okavango Delta is a prime safari destination year-round. In the dry, winter months (June-August), temperatures range from mild to warm during the day, but can drop to near freezing at night. During these months, the wildlife from surrounding areas concentrate in this huge oasis. By October, the weather has become very hot, but remains mostly dry, further increasing the game concentrations, but making some travelers uncomfortable. The hot, wet, summer months run from November to March, and while the concentrations of game in the delta are still good, the true draw of these months is the spectacular bird viewing, as migratory birds congregate and heronries fill with water birds for the mating season. Also the lush green of the Okavango as the rains fall, and the spectacular thunder-filled skies provide excellent opportunities for stunning photography. As the rains slow toward mid-march, wildlife again begins to congregate in the delta; April and May can provide slightly warmer weather, with lower foot-traffic and excellent opportunities for viewing game.
Coming soon