The Okavango Delta, in the midst of the Kalahari sands, is Africa's largest and most beautiful oasis. The River Okavango, which rises in the highlands of Angola, never reaches the sea; instead its mighty waters spread over 16000km² of Kalahari sand in a blue-green fresh water wilderness of lagoons and channels interspersed with emerald reed beds and islands with towering trees.
The delta’s annual floods are fed from the Angolan rains, which fall between October and April. The slow meandering pace of the waters means the floods only reach the west of the delta in December and the lower end of the delta (around Maun) sometime in July, taking almost nine months from the source to the bottom.
During the peak of the flooding the delta’s area can expand to over 16,000 square kilometres, shrinking to less than 9,000 square kilometres in the low period. Wildlife migration to the area coincides with this annual phenomenon – as the areas surrounding the delta begin to dry out, wildlife starts to congregate on the edge of the newly flooded area.
Inhabiting the waters of the Okavango are an estimated 35 million fish of almost 80 species. The countless islands are home to vast concentrations of game and myriad birds.
This pristine wilderness paradise of swamps, forest, and savanna grasslands are home to hippos, large herds of antelope including kudu, sable, roan and impala, as well as elephants, giraffes, buffalo and wildebeest. The greatest concentrations of game are accompanied by the predators – lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and hyena.
The best time for game viewing in the Okavango Delta is between May and October, when large concentrations of wildlife congregate in the flooded areas and the vegetation is drier. August is perhaps the most impressive month, when the crystal clear water is at its deepest. The best time for birding and vegetation is between November and March (during the rainy season). Most of the young are born during this time.
The heart of the Okavango Delta is accessed only by fly-in safaris, and remains relatively unpopulated and wild. Lodges and camps within the Okavango Delta offer luxurious accommodation, with various activities depending on location and time of year. These activities are land based, including 4x4 game drives and guided bush walks; and water based, including mokoro rides (canoes), boating and fishing.
The Moremi Wildlife Reserve occupies a large portion of the Okavango Delta. It contains diverse habitat, ranging from permanent swamp to floodplains, islands and large areas of dry land including 'Chiefs Island' and the 'Mopane Tongue' of dry scrub and Kalahari sands, which results in prolific bird and animal life.
We recommend that visitors to Botswana include a minimum of 3 nights at one or more lodges within the Okavango Delta. Inter camp transfers between Okavango Delta camps and lodges, and other accommodations in Chobe, Savute, and Maun are by scheduled light aircraft. Holiday itineraries combining a safari in the Okavango Delta with other African destinations such as Cape Town, Victoria Falls or Mozambique can be tailor made to suit your needs.
photo copyright: Desert & Delta