Experience the stunning beauty, the unimaginable vastness, the isolation and worldliness, the astoundingly profilic wildlife of the best kept African secret - Botswana
One of the most sought after wilderness destinations in the world, the Okavango Delta gives entrance to the spectacle of wild Africa such as dreams are made of – the heart-stopping excitement of big game viewing, the supreme tranquillity and serenity of an untouched delta, and evocative scenes of extraordinary natural beauty.
A journey to the Okavango Delta – deep into Africa’s untouched interior – is like no other. Moving from wetland to dryland – traversing the meandering palm and papyrus fringed waterways, passing palm-fringed islands, and thick woodland, resplendent with lush vegetation, and rich in wildlife – reveals the many facets of this unique ecosystem, the largest intact inland delta in the world.
The Okavango Delta is situated deep within the Kalahari Basin, and is often referred to as the ‘jewel’ of the Kalahari.
That the Okavango exists at all – deep within this thirstland – seems remarkable. Shaped like a fan, the Delta is fed by the Okavango River, the third largest in southern Africa. It has been steadily developed over the millennia by millions of tonnes of sand carried down the river from Ango
There are three main geographical areas:
The Panhandle begins at the Okavango’s northern reaches, at Mohembo, extending down for approximately 80 kilometres. Its corridor-like shape is contained within two parallel faults in the Earth’s crust. Here the river runs deep and wide and the swamps are perennially flooded. The dominant vegetation is vast papyrus beds and large stands of phoenix palms. The main tourist attractions of the Panhandle are fishing, birding and visiting the colourful villages that line its western fringes.
At Seronga, the fan-shaped Delta emerges, and the waters spill over the Delta, rejuvenating the landscape and creating stunning mosaics of channels, lagoons, ox-bow lakes, flooded grasslands and thousands upon thousands of islands of an endless variety of shapes and sizes. Many of the smaller islands are grandiose termitaria built by fungus-growing termites, one of 400 termite species in Africa, whose fantastic structures are a source of refuge and food for many animals.
The Delta region of the Okavango can vary in size from 15 000 square kilometres during drier periods to a staggering 22 000 square kilometres during wetter periods. Its dominant plant species are reeds, mokolwane palms, acacia, sycamore fig, sausage trees, rain trees and African mangosteen.
At the Delta’s lower reaches, the perennial swamps give way to seasonal swamps and flooded grasslands. To the southeast the third vegetation region becomes evident, as it changes to true dryland. There are three major land masses here: the Matsebi Ridge, Chief’s Island and the Moremi tongue. Here the vegetation is predominantly mophane, acacia and scrub bush and the land is dotted with pans. It is to this region that large numbers of mammals retreat during the dry winter months.
Major tourist attractions in the Delta and the dryland areas are game viewing, birding and boating, often in the traditional mokoro. The diversity and numbers of animals and birds can be staggering. A recent overview of the Okavango records 122 species of mammals, 71 species of fish, 444 species of birds, 64 species of reptiles and 1300 species of flowering plants. A successful rhino reintroduction programme in the Okavango now puts the population of White Rhino at approximately 35, and Black Rhino at 4.
Major species to be seen include:
elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, hippo, crocodile, rhino, red lechwe, waterbuck, reedbuck, duiker, impala, kudu, steenbok, wildebeest, hartebeest, sable, roan, tsessebe, lion, leopard, cheetah, genet, serval and caracal along with an immense variety of birds – land and water, resident and migratory, some of which are rare and endangered.
It should be noted, however, that game viewing very much depends on season, and water and food availability.
The Okavango is a proposed World Heritage Site. Its long-term conservation is ensured through government policy and regulations (though only Moremi Game Reserve has an official protected status), the efforts and initiatives of camps and lodges in its concessions, the recently launched Okavango Development Management Plan (ODMP) and its status as a Ramsar site, under IUCN, an agreement that limits its utilisation and development.
Things to do in Okavango Delta
Mokoro Safaris (Traditional Canoeing)
Enjoy a day of traditional canoeing and blending with the wildlife in the Delta. Relax and appreciate the scenery as your guide silently navigates your mokoro exploring the magnificence and ecological intricacy of the Okavango Delta. You will witness the flourishing flora lining the edges of the waterways and the lush vegetation encompassed by diversity of African fauna from birdlife, aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. You can explore the delta channels with a mokoro canoe under the guidance of native and experienced mokoro guides and polers.
Game Driving And Boating Safaris:
Guests can explore the abundant animals surrounding Okavango Delta on morning and afternoon game drives in open 4 X 4 vehicles or on motorized boats. The landscape traversed on game viewing includes open floodplains, dense mopane bushveld, swamps, lakes, lagoon with numerous islands offering spectacular game viewing and birding opportunities all year round.
Okavango Nightlife: Sleeping in the wilderness can be an exhilarating experience. You will be treated to sounds of the night in the wilderness of the delta and a watching spree of the nocturnal game that roams the delta. A game drive into the wilderness of the Delta at night is a rare experience as you are welcomed into the backwoods with different nocturnal sounds and enveloped in total darkness only with the guidance of your guide’s spotlight. You can observe the life of night game in your own comfort zone. Share your day’s safari experience with people around or your friends as you sit by the campfire. You will also have the chance to listen to other people’s accounts of their day around the delta.
Nature Walks / Walking Safaris: Nature walks and walking safaris with a guide within the Delta is one experience that you will surely treasure. You can walk the grassy and luxuriant grounds of the Delta with varied flora species surrounding you. Guests can observe plants and insect life they have never seen before. Also, there is wildlife roaming around the arid land that you could encounter on foot while in the delta maze thus embracing all sights including tracks, smells and sounds around you.
Fishing Excursions: The Okavango Delta offers excellent tiger-fishing, bream, pike, catfish and other species. The standard policy is “catch and release” with an option of having a single catch for dinner or lunch. When staying at a water-based camp, guests can enjoy fishing while basked in the spectacular scenery. Roll into the still waters and feel the morning or evening breeze on your skin. An experienced guide stays with you during the fishing trip and can also train you to cast.
Okavango Life And Culture :Have a first-hand experience of the culture and tradition of the people of Okavango. Although this is not a standard tourist attraction or activity, sometimes guests get invited to village homes when visiting concessions close to the villages e.g. Khwai. You may want to interact with the locals and be exposed to traditional lives of the people of Okavango.
Helicopter Safaris - Aerial Viewing The aerial view of the Delta is fantastic. As the copter rises, you are treated to the vast green of flourishing flora that covers the arid land of the Delta. You can see the remotest portions that cannot be easily toured when you are on the ground and spot wildlife from a bird eye view. The fan shape delta with its many islands, ornamented maze of water channels and waterways will definitely catch your eye.
Okavango Heavenly Watching :Another interesting activity to do while in the Okavango Delta is to experience watching the changing of the color of the skies as the sun sets and rises. The sky color is majestic especially towards the evening after a sunny day. Also, in the comfort of your lodge or camp, you can gain enlightenment from your guide who can circumnavigate you through the swarming heavens and theme out the most remarkable sights.