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.
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
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
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
A leisurely drive through the game reserve watching wildlife.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.