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Book the Adventure of a Lifetime with an Okavango Delta Safari
Discover the secrets of this world-famous wildlife destination, when you experience the ultimate Okavango Delta safari when you book one of our Okavango Delta, Botswana tour packages.
Visitors from all over the world flock to Africa each year to see the wildlife and immerse themselves in an atmosphere which is unlike any other. The Okavango Delta is one such wildlife destination and it is often referred to as one of Nature’s Masterpieces. The delta is a world heritage site and one of Africa’s greatest wilderness locations. The picturesque stretch of land is untouched by man. The delta sits in the heart of the Kalahari Desert, in Botswana, and it is home to an abundance of wildlife.
Known to the locals as the “River that Never Finds the Sea”, the delta’s crystal clear waters are spread out in channels across the dry and unforgiving Kalahari Desert. Between the channels lie fertile islands upon which both animals and birds have made their homes. Life has adapted perfectly, both in the water and out of it. While exploring the Okavango Delta, travelers spot herds of elephant and buffalo sharing the wide open flood plains with African wild dog, cheetah, and lion. The delta is one of the best places in the world to see predators living in their natural habitats, while birding enthusiasts can look forward to spotting bee-eaters, kingfishers and Pel’s fishing owls. The delta also has a fantastic reputation for being home to some of Africa’s most unique antelope, such as puku, red lechwe, and sitatunga.
Okavango Tours and Safaris provide visitors with the best way to see the delta. Packages include accommodation and you can expect to see the most popular attractions. Contact us today for our affordable 2019/2020 packages and prices.
The Okavango Delta: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The delta is in every way an oasis in an otherwise dry landscape. The legendary Namib Desert is less than a stone’s throw away from the delta and often the Okavango has been referred to as Africa’s last Eden. The animals, the land and the people living here all come together to give the Okavango it’s alluring and vibrant, if somewhat solitary, nature.
Seated in the Northern part of Botswana, in the Moremi Game Reserve, the delta covers an area of about 15 000 square kilometers. The Okavango River, also known as the Kavango River, gives life to the delta. It flows down from the Angolan highlands and out across the Namibia Caprivi Strip, ending in the Kalahari Desert.
Although the delta is in an otherwise dry region, the river discharges about 11 cubic kilometers of water into the delta each year. Much of the water is absorbed by the plants with another large portion being lost to evaporation. Only 2% water seeps into the aquifer beneath the flood plain and the remaining water flows into Lake Ngami.
The layout of the delta is mostly flat, as it is spread out over a flood plain. The height variation is less than two meters across the plain. The dry parts of the area consist of tiny islands, often formed when plants have grown out of termite mounds. The largest island, Chief’s Island, has formed on a tectonic line.
The delta was listed as the 1000th site for 2014’s UNESCO World Heritage List. It is an immensely important wildlife area and it is protected by the Moremi Game Reserve as well as the wildlife concessions located in the Ngamiland.
The preservation of the Okavango Delta means more guests have the opportunity to explore the area, especially when booking an Okavango Delta tour. View our rates and prices for an Okavango Delta tour.
The best ways to experience the Okavango Delta
The sheer diversity of the area, topped with its natural wonder, make the delta a place with plenty of things to see and do, and a variety of ways to see each of the many attractions. Here are just a few of the ways that guests can get around.
- Local Canoe
Not all Okavango safaris can be done on the back of a safari vehicle, that goes without saying when you are visiting a wetland. The Mokoro is a type of canoe used by those living in the area to move around the swampy terrain without getting caught up in the marshy plants. They also happen to be a great way to explore the delta. This unique mode of transport is maneuvered along using a really long pole and it also happens to be the easiest and one of the safer ways to glide along the kilometer upon kilometer of the river. The other water-based way to explore the delta is on a comfortable cruise boat.
- Use your feet
Only to be done with an armed guide as a companion, walking the delta can be an invigorating experience. On foot, you will certainly be closer to nature, but you will have to make peace with the fact that you won’t be able to get everywhere on foot.
- The Safari Vehicle
For those wanting to see the wildlife, and who want to cover a bit more ground than the other means of transport, there is the safari vehicle. Okavango Delta safari tours are a little different to those you’ll find elsewhere, with both water, sand and “normal” terrain being navigated along the way. You will also be literally the only guests out there. The vastness of the wilderness means you can drive for kilometers without seeing a soul.
Top Okavango Delta FAQs
What is so unique about the Okavango Delta?
It is one of the world’s largest inland deltas. Most rivers run into the ocean but the Okavango empties onto the open land and floods the savannah.
When are the best times of the year to visit the Delta?
The best time of the year to visit the Okavango Delta is from May to September, which is the dry, winter season. The delta floods from June to October.
In which country is the delta located?
You’ll find the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
If you are still on the fence about participating in our Okavango Delta Safari trips, have a look at our 2019/2020 rates and prices for our best Botswana tours. You’ll find the tour to fit your budget and your needs.
The Ultimate Guide to the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is watery oasis – a natural phenomenon amongst the dry grasslands of north-west Botswana. Known as the ‘Jewel of the Kalahari’, this vast ecosystem is created by annual flooding, when the Okavango River drains the Summer rainfall from the surrounding highlands, usually around May each year. The flooding continues into June and August and the delta area increases in size, and animals come from all over the area to feast.
Okavango Delta – A Unique Eco-System
It is one of very few delta systems in the whole world that do not flow into the ocean, creating an intact wetland system that consists of seasonally flooded plains as well as permanent marshlands. The annual flooding that occurs is during the dry season, which has created a specialised eco system that the indigenous plants and animals have adjusted to within their biological cycles. It is an incredible combination of climate, water and biological processes that have come together to create a perfect ‘Eden’ of biology.
This creates an amazing ecosystem of around 8600 square miles and becomes the meeting point for over 200 000 large mammals, around 400 species of birds, a plethora of plant life and some 80 species of fish. This wetland wilderness becomes a colourful kaleidoscope of lush green vegetation and azure blue water. Birds flash their jewel-like splendour, and the tawny hues of the big cats, deep grey of elephant, stark stripes of zebra and complicated patterns of cheetah make this a visual feast that cannot be experienced anywhere else.
This becomes a destination with a difference, a wildlife enthusiast and photographer’s dream. It’s also an exclusive destination, because visitor numbers are regulated in order to preserve the area, that has been proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a definite ‘bucket list’ destination, and home to some of the world’s most endangered species, such as black and white rhinoceros, cheetah, lion and African wild dog.
Visiting the Okavango Delta
The vast, flat landscape has many small islands with waterways oozing around them, dotted with reserves, kept down in number to preserve the site. While this does make visiting the Okavango Delta one of the more exclusive safari destinations in Africa, it does not mean that visiting the Okavango Delta on a budget is not possible. Instead of the traditional 4 x 4 safari experience in a vehicle on land, the Okavango Delta safari is best experienced from the waterways, offering an entirely unique and very effective way to immerse yourself in nature and spot wildlife from the water. However, this unique water-based safari experience can be combined with more traditional ‘dry’ overland safari experiences nearby in Botswana, giving the best of both worlds.
Okavango Delta Mokoro Tours
The unbelievable silence and the majesty of unspoilt wilderness in the Okavango Delta can be experienced in a magical way by going on mokoro tours along the waterways. A mokoro is a traditional boat vessel, much like a canoe. They were initially used for fishing or transporting goods and people around the waterways and have become synonymous with the delta. Now they are used mainly for game safaris and a mokoro (plural mekoro) safari is a definite ‘must’ when visiting the Okavango Delta and going on safari in Botswana.
They are usually around 6 metres long, and were traditionally crafted from tree trunks, painstakingly hollowed out by hand. The mokoro is quite narrow, to navigate the waterways easily, and comes to a point at the bow and the stern. Wood rots in the water, and trees are protected now, so current mokoros are made from fibreglass in order to remain durable and kind to the environment.
A serene glide through the eerily quiet waterways and gently waving and bending papyrus reeds is a life-changing wildlife experience. The mokoro is steered from the back with a long pole by a local and knowledgeable boat man, called ‘ngashi’. The ngashi is skilled and experienced and can move in silence with great speed and accuracy, having spent their lifetime on the waterways and perfecting the skill, often handed down from the generation before. The mokoro boatman and guide is highly knowledgeable about the flora and fauna along the way. This knowledge also means he will ‘read’ the environment and keep guests safe on the trip. A mokoro usually only has 2 or 3 passengers at a time beside the ngashi.
The mokoro tour provides the surreal experience of being ‘in’ nature and part of it, as opposed to ‘separated’ in a game vehicle or car. What’s more, there is no noisy motor and animals are not scared off by noise. It’s also the perfect excursion for photographers wanting those perfect, close-up shots of large animals, colourful frogs and surreally beautiful landscapes.
Okavango Delta Boat Tours
In areas that are riskier, such as hippo colonies in the water, a boating safari is the best way to be on the delta water. These take place where the waterways are wider and deeper and make for excellent safari viewing of hippos drinking and bathing, as well as majestic elephants wading into the water for a drink or a good roll in the mud.
Accommodation in the Okavango Delta
There is a wide variety of Okavango Delta and Botswana Safari accommodation to suit all types of groups, families and budgets. From bush camping and caravanning, tented camps and backpackers, self-catering accommodation, guest houses, bed and breakfast establishments to cosy lodges and exclusive and luxurious accommodation in private game reserves. There is no reason to believe that a bucket list safari trip to Botswana, the Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta is out of reach.
There are ‘wet safari camps’, ‘dry safari camps’ and ‘mixed safari camps’ to stay in next to the delta.
Wet safari camps revolve around the water, as the name suggests and are close to the main channels. They are breathtakingly gorgeous and perfect for photography, birding and learning about the water eco-system. The wetlands are not a favourite stomping ground for big mammals and the ‘Big 5’ however.
Dry safari camps guarantee game drives with excellent big game sightings throughout the year.
A mixed safari camp combines the best of both, and these safari camps offer some of the most luxurious accommodation and activities such as boating safaris, driving safaris and hiking safaris.
There are excellent Okavango Delta package tours available, that include different types of accommodation to suit different budgets, mokoro and boat tours and game drives in neighbouring national parks. One of the best ways to experience the magnitude of the Okavango is by taking a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta in order to get the ‘big picture’ of this unique natural phenomenon.
The Best Times to Visit the Okavango Delta
Between June and August the delta flooding peaks and wildlife is at its most glorious and abundant. It’s also the perfect time to visit the wet camps in Northern Botswana. March to May are excellent months for dry safaris, and game spotting is guaranteed. This is the high season in Northern Botswana. The low season runs between December and April, and has the advantage of being less crowded, more secluded, and possibly much more affordable as rates are generally lower during these months.
January to March are the wet months, and some areas are not accessible, so choosing your destination within the delta during these months must be done carefully. As the flooding peaks in the dry months from June to August, these are the best for mokoro trips.
Weather-wise, April and May are delightful, as temperatures are moderate and there is very little rainfall. October and November can be uncomfortably warm and humid and January and February are very wet.
What to Pack When Visiting the Okavango Delta
Camera and Binoculars
These are an absolute must! Take them everywhere with you. There are amazing animal and landscape opportunities everywhere you go in the delta. From stark tree silhouettes, to skyscape reflections in the water, to bright birds, frogs and insects and the very real possibility of close ups of elephant, hippo, lion and more. You can get truly creative and are guaranteed beautiful snaps that your friends and family will ooh and ah over for years. Amazing scenes are all around so never let your camera leave your side.
If you are visiting the Okavango Delta, a good pair of binoculars are a great investment, as is a tripod. You don’t need to go big – a smaller pair is easily portable and will provide you with amazing scenes as you look through the bush.
Botswana can get very hot and humid during the warmer months, so pack light, loose clothing that allows you to breathe and ideally can wick away some sweat. May – August can get a little cold, especially early morning and in the evenings, so some warmer items like a fleece and beanie need to be packed into your bag. This unique eco system means that anything can happen, so pack lightly, but for all eventualities, including heat, humidity, some chilly evenings and mornings on the waterways and possible rain.
As you will be wanting to blend into nature and not stick out in order to see the wildlife, try to choose neutral and natural coloured clothing is soft shades of camel, khaki, grey or blue instead of stark whites or brights.
Don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellent, sun hat and sunglasses, as well as any necessary medication. The most important thing to take will be your sense of awe and wonder at the outrageously beautiful wilderness.
The Animals of the Okavango Delta
The intense concentration of game and wildlife that the delta attracts means that you are highly likely to see all the animals here:
The iconic animal of the delta, you will undoubtedly see many hippopotami as the flooded plains make this the perfect real estate for hippos. Their loud honking often rips through the air and you can hear them for miles around. Hippos are one of the most aggressive wild animals, so heed any warnings from guides and locals about getting too close and getting in between a hippo and the water. Despite their huge size and lumbering bodies, hippos can travel extremely fast over land, up to 30km per hour!
One of the most endangered and protected animals in the world, rhinos still wonder the plains of Botswana and the Okavango Delta. The Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project is working hard to increase the population of black and white rhino to the delta, and plan to move many more to the area.
Botswana is the proud home to the largest elephant population in the world, with approximately 200 000 elephants in the Okavango region, you are in for a treat.
Lions, leopards and cheetahs
Lions are some of the most awesome creatures to spot in the wild, and with a bit of patience, you are bound to be satisfied with sightings in the Okavango Delta. They are best spotted when on the prowl for prey in the evenings and at night, when stealth offers better returns. During the day, they can be spotted lazing in the shade digesting their last meal. The Okavango has a healthy lion population, and you will regularly be treated to the sounds of their majestic roar at night.
Cheetahs are hard to spot and a rare sight, although your chances increase in Northern Botswana where they are more abundant than other African reserves.
The leopard is a wily beast, and although they are abundant in the Okavango Delta, they make it hard to ‘spot’ them. With a good guide and some patience however, your chances are high.
Then there are the wildebeest, impala, Cape buffalo, giraffe and zebra, amongst the teeming birdlife and other animals. It truly is the wildlife scenery of dreams and storybooks, brought to life in an unforgettable show of our natural world.
Okavango Delta – The Trip of a Lifetime
The Okavango Delta is the trip of a lifetime, and a unique destination that brings the wonder of nature’s finely tuned eco systems and powerful balance and perfection into sharp focus. With so few expanses of true wilderness left on the globe, it is awe inspiring and humbling to experience one of the most unique and exquisite first-hand.
Contact Southern Circle Tours and Safaris for the best Botswana Tours at affordable rates and prices. Have a look at our Botswana holiday packages for 2019/2020.