The Okavango Delta is the biggest inland delta in the world, located in Botswana, Africa. The delta is situated in an extremely dry area, attracts a large population of wildlife and consists of a massive network of water channels that do not reach any oceans. The Okavango Delta is fed by the Kavango River, originating in the Angola highlands which receives a summer rainfall (December to February), flooding the Okavango Delta in the winter months (June to August). The delta is unable to flush out minerals carried by the river and liable to become increasingly salty, collecting around the root of plants.
During the floods, water will run into Lake Ngami, and on the eastern side of the delta is the fantastic Moremi Game Reserve. This spectacular region was officially declared as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa on February 11th, 2013.
The Delta is home to a high population of wildlife, and has become one of the finest areas in the continent to observe different bird and animal species. Throughout the wet season, majority of the big animals depart from the delta in search of the dense, green grass that encircles it. When the grass gets thinner and winter approaches, the animals make their way back into the delta. Some of the magnificent animals that can be seen in the delta include African Bush Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Lechwe, Topi, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, Nile crocodile, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Brown Hyena, Spotted Hyena, Greater Kudu, Sable Antelope, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, Plains Zebra, Warthog and Chacma Baboon. The threatened African Wild Dog still manages to survive in the Delta and boasts one of the largest pack densities in the continent. In addition to all of this game and big animals, the Okavango Delta is also home to more than four hundred bird species and 71 recorded fish species that include the Tigerfish, Tilapia and Catfish.
The Okavango Delta is truly an unforgettable destination, with thrilling game viewing, an abundance of peace and pristine delta, and incredible natural scenery. You can travel from wet to dry land by means of mokoros (dugout canoes) where you are ‘poled’ through the waterways, lined with woodlands, dense plant life and plenty of diverse wildlife. The Delta is fed by the Okavango River, which is the third biggest in all of southern Africa. It was formed over millions of years by sand that was carried downriver from Angola. The flow of the water and its drainage paths are ever-changing, mostly due to underground tectonic activity. A paradise for predators, the Delta is renowned world-wide for its large populations of leopard, as well as its wide variety of rare and uncommon animal and bird species. Explore the region by bush walks, guided game drives or even boat trips.
Aside from its wonderful diversity of animals and birds, the Okavango also offers prolific plant life, with papyrus and reed rafts forming the majority of the Delta’s vegetation. A must-see when visiting this area is the Makgadikgadi Pan (a huge salt pan that lies in the centre of the arid plains of north-eastern Botswana). This pan is one of the biggest in the world, and is all that is left from the previously massive Lake Makgadikgadi which at one point stretched over an area bigger than the country of Switzerland, but has since completely dried up. If you would like more guided tours of the region visit the Moremi Game Reserve which has an extensive range of wildlife. Although not one of the biggest Parks in the country, the Moremi Game Reserve contains up to five hundred bird species that can be spotted during boat tours on the lagoons. The Park also offers spectacular vistas of the plains and resident game. With so much to see and do in this natural wonderland, the Okavango Delta is most definitely an area to pay a visit to during any vacation in Botswana.
Local farmers used to call the Okavango Delta a ‘useless swamp’, and wanted it to be drained so they could use it as farmland. Fortunately, the delta has been recognised for its significance in conservation, and today this mysterious, placid and beautiful area is a sanctuary for a huge elephant population, as well as lion, antelope, cheetah, giraffe, wild dog, leopard, crocodile, hippo, buffalo, a big number of bird species, and over 80 species of fish. Needless to say, the African Fish Eagle finds this place to be paradise.
Bear in mind that the Okavango Delta is incredibly big, which makes spotting wildlife a little more challenging than your average game park. This is not for the impatient traveller, but rather for the traveller who wants to experience Africa for what it is, and not only for the Big Five.
If you fancy yourself a patient and laid-back traveller, then jump on a plane or 4×4, and let it drop you off at the Okavango Delta for a few days. Here you’ll drift around on a mokoro (dug-out canoe) and go on african walking safaris – the best ways to explore the delta. Don’t despair, you will have a poler with you, who will steer your mokoro for you and will find safe spots for you to swim. You’ll also get a chance to go on a walking safari with an experienced delta guide, and track some spoor. Your guide will fill you in on everything you need to know about the wildlife, birdlife, plant life and all the intricate ways of the delta.
– Mokoro trips (traditional wooden dug-out canoes)
– Boat rides
– Game drives
– Walking safaris
– Indigenous forest walks
– Horse back safaris
– Elephant back safaris
– Helicopter flights