The Okavango Delta, the jewel of the Kalahari Desert, is Africa’s largest and most beautiful oasis – an isolated, lush green paradise with some of the richest wildlife in the world. This exceedingly beautiful maze of waterways, lagoons, vast grassy plains and palm-fringed and wooded islands is home to hippo, elephant, lion, leopard, hyena, giraffe, wild dog, rare antelope and around 400 bird species.
But superb wildlife is just one of many elements that combine to make the Okavango delta such a special place. It is the brooding quietness of the waterways, the plaintive cry of the fish eagle, the malachite kingfisher reflected in the waters and the scent of the water lilies that stays with you forever.
The Okavango Delta is a conundrum – with its crystal clear channels, serene lagoons and palm-lined islands – it’s a unique wetland system surviving on the sands of the vast Kalahari Desert. (See our blog post on why the Okavango Delta floods if you want to know more.)
The source of the Okavango Delta lies in the extremely wet highlands of Angola. From here the river flows south, away from the sea, gathering ever more water until it reaches Botswana. Here the Okavango Delta fans out into a vast, astonishingly luxuriant wilderness of flood plain and forest, stream and lagoon, with the occasional large expanse of open water – the ideal breeding ground for an incredible diversity of wildlife. With the influx of the annual flood, the delta’s water levels rise steadily from May onwards, with its peak level reached in August. Gradually as the spring temperatures heat the land, the waters recede again.
We have divided the Okavango Delta into four ‘areas’:
- The Moremi Game Reserve camps focus mainly on game drives
- The permanent waters of the Okavango Delta lend themselves to camps with water-based safari activities year round as well as walking.
- Seasonal Water Okavango camps are in areas which are flooded annually and dry up gradually with the onset of summer. These offer a range of safari activities in season but mainly land-based activities at other times.
- Finally we have some ‘mixed activity’ camps with access to permanent water channels which are able to offer some form of land and water safari activities throughout the year.
What I like about a safari at one of the Okavango camps is that you can experience the wildlife in so many ways – on a 4×4 game drive, on foot, game-viewing by boat and of course the evocative mokoro trips. Typically, we recommend that you stay at two contrasting camps in the Okavango Delta allowing you to enjoy a range of activities and experience the contrasting beauty of the Okavango Delta.
Outside of the Moremi Game Reserve, most of the Okavango delta is divided up into private concession areas, each with only one or two safari camps, thus ensuring exclusivity and tranquillity. These private areas have three other advantages: they allow driving off road (when following big game), night drives and game walks.
If you only have three nights, we recommend choosing an Okavango camp which offers a range of activities – a so-called multi-activity camp – to get a mix of everything.