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The Okavango Delta is an enormous watery oasis and Big 5 safari paradise.
Annual floodwaters from Angola provide nutrient-rich waters that spread out over an area of 6,000-15,000km² (depending on the time of the year) - including Moremi Game Reserve in its centre and Khwai on the eastern fringes.
The resultant seasonal islands and permanent lagoons provide refuge to an impressive concentration of wildlife. The low-density tourism model adopted by the Botswanan authorities means that most safari experiences in the Delta are through luxury camps and lodges, many of which have exclusive access to private concessions.
Scroll past the safari packages below to find out EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW about the Okavango Delta.
The watery paradise that is the Okavango Delta is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to an astonishing variety of wildlife, the Okavango is on most safari bucket lists and a repeat destination for many experienced travellers.
The wildlife sightings are extraordinary, offering anything from the Big 5 to enormous herds of red lechwe plunging through the shallow floodplains, secretive sitatunga, wild dogs, two hyena species and massive herds of buffalo and elephants.
One of the largest inland deltas in the world, the Okavango Delta sees an annual ebb and flow of floodwaters that craft an ever-changing landscape of floodplains, palm-fringed islands, dense riverine forests, deciduous woodland and deep river channels.
The range of safari activities includes day and night game drives, walking safaris, motorboats, helicopter sightseeing and mokoro outings. Add to that a wide variety of camps and lodges, and you can understand why the Okavango is a safari mecca.
The Okavango Delta starts life in the highlands of Angola, where the mighty Okavango River begins as just a trickle before gradually becoming the third largest river in southern Africa that flows for over 1,600km to reach inland Botswana.
Around 60,000 years ago, the river deposited its water into Lake Makgadikgadi, a paleolake believed to have covered over 100,000km² of Botswana’s interior. However, severe earthquakes created a tectonic trough that changed the shape of the earth’s crust and blocked the Okavango’s original path almost entirely. The river water had nowhere to go and poured relentlessly into the Kalahari Desert, creating the endorheic basin of the Okavango Delta – one of the largest inland deltas in the world.
Today, the Okavango River continues to discharge around 11km³ of water every year into the swamps that spread across an area of 6,000km²-15,000km² (depending on the time of the year).
This annual influx of floodwater attracts large numbers of wildlife, with elephants and hippos creating the channels that determine the continually changing path of the floodwaters. The other architect of the water channels is termites - their mounds create high ground that diverts the water and provides a haven for huge trees and wildlife. Chief’s Island is the largest such island.
READ MORE about the Okavango Delta
The peak safari season regarding wildlife is during the months of no rainfall, and once the bushveld has dried out, making it easier to see the wildlife - June to October.
These dry months are when there is little to eat, and the only available water is the annual floodwaters, deep perennial rivers and permanent waterholes - which act as drawcards for high volumes of animals - including predators.
Temperatures are moderate from June to August, but increase in September to very hot in October. This is the ‘prime season’ - when full lodges charge higher prices.
Once the early rains arrive (usually mid-November), things change quickly as the grasses grow and deciduous trees start leafing up.
This is when food and water become more widespread and many species such as buffaloes, elephants, wildebeest and zebras spread out over greater distances - followed by the big cats and other predators. The rainy season is when migratory birds arrive to feast on the sudden deluge of insects, frogs and other delectables.
Temperatures are very hot from November to February, cooling from March onwards. This is the ‘green season’ when lodges are not as full and prices are lower.
An Okavango Delta offers the perfect escape for almost every traveller, from the solo adventurer to families with children and romantic couples. There is a wide range of lodge options, from luxury lodges to rustic camps and mobile safaris.
CHECK OUT our chosen accommodation options here and follow the prompts to make an enquiry with our safari experts. Or choose one of the above packaged safaris that feature the Okavango Delta.
We live here, in Africa, and have been doing this since 1991. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late or a few kilometers off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity?
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