Okavango Delta Travel and Vacations

The Okavango Delta is one of Africa's most breathtaking and celebrated wilderness areas. It is a costly vacation destination - but one that is well worth the expenditure. Travelers can only reach most of the safari camps in the Okavango via light charter flight. African Sky includes the Okavango Delta in several of our pre-designed luxury tours, safari, and honeymoon itineraries.

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Okavango Delta

Top Travel Activities in the Okavango Delta

One of the reasons the Okavango Delta is such a popular African safari destination is the wealth of safari activities available. These activities are enjoyed in one of the world's genuinely remote and untouched wilderness areas. Most of the camps in the Okavango are only accessible via light charter aircraft.

Water-based game viewing can consist of either motorized excursions on the lakes and channels of the Delta or game viewing from a mokoro. Relax as you are propelled through the Delta's shallow waters by a guide standing in the stern and pushing forward with a pole.

The most popular safari activity remains the traditional game drive in an open 4x4 vehicle, which provides visitors with an elevated vantage point over the vast stretches of the delta and the opportunity to spot wildlife from afar.

Walking safaris on the many islands in the Delta accompanied by resident rangers and trackers offer a wonderfully personal way of viewing the wildlife without the interference of artificial sound.

Okavango Delta Travel Overview

The Okavango is a unique ecosystem of lagoons and channels which covers, on average, some 17 000 square kilometers. It is one of the world's largest inland deltas, once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, which dried up many years ago.

Surrounded by the arid Kalahari Desert, the Okavango is a lush oasis that attracts vast animal concentrations during the dry season. It is a natural spectacle that leaves a lasting impression on all fortunate enough to have witnessed its grandeur.

Size during dry periods
15 000 km²
Size during wet periods
22 000 km²
Length
Roughly 175km (110 miles)
Closest major town
Maun
UNESCO
World Heritage Site
Estimated Elephant Population
18000

Reasons to Visit the Okavango Delta

1

Wilderness

Regarded as one of nature's most spectacular masterpieces, the Okavango Delta offers its visitors the opportunity to explore one of Africa's supreme wilderness areas. A World Heritage Site, this boundless and unspoiled freshwater oasis stretches across the heart of Botswana's Kalahari Desert. The delta sustains incredible numbers of wildlife within a dramatic natural setting.

2

Luxurious Safari Camps

Despite its wild nature, the Okavango Delta remains accessible to safari enthusiasts. Guided game drives, bush walks, Mokoro, and boat safaris add to the wild appeal of an Okavango Delta safari. This African safari destination offers the widest range of safari activities available in Botswana and features some of Africa's most luxurious safari lodges.

3

Spotting the Wild Dog

Safeguarded by the Moremi Game Reserve and various private wildlife concessions, the Okavango Delta is an untouched haven to impressive numbers of elephants, buffalo, lions, hippos, giraffes, and zebra. A predator paradise, the Delta is a world-renowned stronghold for leopards, wild dogs, and many rare and unusual mammal and bird species.

4

Spiritual Experience

Few places in the world offer a greater sense of remoteness and isolation, a place where man can reconnect with nature and leave behind the worries and frustrations of the modern world, even if only for a short period.

Okavango Delta Vacation Options and Travel Tips

Okavango Delta vacations range from specific packages to this unique wilderness to being included in a longer itinerary with multiple other safari destinations.

Transport

The modes of transportation utilized on your safari in the Okavango Delta consist of specially fitted open 4x4 vehicles for game drives. Unlike in private game reserves in South Africa, these vehicles are covered by a canvas roof to protect against the harsh African sun.

The waterways are explored in specially adapted motorized game viewing boats and "mokoro's," traditional canoes that have been utilized in the area for hundreds, even thousands of years. These canoes are traditionally carved from a single tree's trunk and propelled forward by a pole bearer standing in the back of the Mokoro.

Experiences to be Savored when traveling to the Okavango Delta

When visiting the Okavango Delta, the goal of your experience is mainly to maximize your game viewing. It is also essential to savor the small things, however - those fleeting moments where you truly realize the privilege of witnessing a particular sighting.

Channel Crossings

All animals are forced to cross the crystal-clear channels that separate the multitude of islands from one another. Even predators like lions, who usually avoid swimming, are forced to make these crossings in search of prey.

Cry of the Fish Eagle

There is something special about gazing out over the wilderness at sunset, with the cry of the fish eagle providing the ambiance for this experience. The sound embodies Africa and her wild places and is one of the most beautiful sounds of the bush.

Mokoro Rides

Gliding silently through the reed-lined channels of the Okavango in a traditional canoe provides one of the best opportunities for spotting the rare sitatunga. It is normally very skittish and would disappear at the first sound of an approaching vehicle.

Best Private Tours and Safari Packages

21 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Luxury 5-Star Code: S08

This comprehensive luxury safari combines regional highlights with a safari in the Okavango Delta. An adventure to be remembered.

12 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Exclusive Top-End Code: S03

An ultra-luxurious exploration of the best safari areas in Botswana in combination with a visit to Victoria Falls from Zambia.

4 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Luxury Code: S21

The Okavango Delta Safari is a short but memorable excursion to Botswana's most famous wilderness area. It departs from and returns to Johannesburg in South Africa.

Foods to try when visiting the Okavango

Morogo

Morogo is a type of spinach that forms an integral part of the diet of locals in Botswana. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and quite healthy. The plants grow wild and are harvested regularly.

Lerotse

Lerotse is a type of wild melon thought to have originated in Botswana. It has a distinctive taste and must be cooked before being eaten. Several local dishes use lerotse as an ingredient.

Tswii

Tswii is a vegetable that resembles a potato in many ways. It is usually cooked in a stew with beef or goat meat to enhance its flavor. It can also be cooked and enjoyed with butter and salt.

Dikgobe

Dikgobe is a dish created with beans, sorghum, and or maize. The ingredients are cooked together in salted water, adding a little animal fat or vegetable oil. It is traditionally served with meat or milk products.

FAQ

Would you recommend the Okavango to First-time safari travelers?
Yes. If you are comfortable flying in light aircraft, the Okavango is a wonderful introduction to safaris in Africa.
What are the rarest animals that can be seen in the Okavango?
The elusive sitatunga, with its specially adapted hooves, is at home in swamp areas, though rarely spotted. The rarest carnivore spotted in the Okavango is the African wild dog.
Will Mobile Phone  and WiFi coverage be available?
Blissfully, this is one of the last parts of the world where one can relax without the constant need to "be in contact."
Is it true that all camps in the Okavango are tented?
Yes, Botswana's government has wisely restricted the use of concrete, cement, and brick in this sensitive ecological area. The camps are, however, still very luxurious with all modern amenities.
Are there luggage restrictions on the light charger flights?
Yes, you may only carry a maximum weight of 20kg. In addition, you should pack your luggage in soft canvas bags that can stow easily in light aircraft.
Is it possible to go to local shops while staying in the Okavango?
No towns or shops are even close to the areas where the Okavango's camps are located. The last opportunity for last-minute shopping will be in Maun before your charter flight to the safari camp.
What is the ideal duration for a visit to the Okavango?
The basic rule of thumb is that longer is always better than shorter. If time and resources allow, you should consider a stay of four nights. It will mean three full days to enjoy the rich natural diversity of the Okavango Delta.
What if I have a fear of flying in light aircraft?
A handful of the Okavango's lodges can be reached overland, typically only in the dry season. If you fear flying in light aircraft, booking your safari in one of South Africa's private game reserves would be better served.
Should I pick a lodge with only water-based game viewing?
A lodge that offers both land- and water-based game viewing will better serve you. Generally speaking, the land-based game drives are much more productive regarding the variety and number of animals seen.

Useful Travel Info

Getting There

By Air

Daily scheduled flights are operated between Johannesburg and Maun, the gateway to the Okavango. These flights are just under an hour and a half in duration.

Upon reaching Maun, light charter flights bring guests to gravel airstrips close to the lodge where they will be staying.

Weather & Best Time To Visit

December to February is hot, wet months with daytime temperatures as high as 40°C. Humidity levels fluctuate between 50% and 80%. From March to May, the temperatures become far more comfortable, with a maximum of 30°C during the day and mild to cool evenings. The rain dries up quickly, leading into the dry, cooler winter months of June to August.

Daytime temperatures at this time of year are mild to warm, but the temperatures begin to fall after sunset. September to November sees the heat and atmospheric pressure build up once more as the dry season slides into the rainy season. October is the most challenging month for visitors - daytime temperatures often push past 40°C, and a sudden cloudburst only occasionally breaks the dryness.

It is best to visit the Okavango Delta between June and September. Having said this, each season in this ecosystem has its wonders to offer visitors.

Medical Considerations

Malaria is prevalent in the area, and it would be wise to consider anti-malarial prophylactics. If you take any chronic medication or require allergy medication from time to time, we recommend that you pack an ample supply of both, for there are no chemists or shops where these can be bought or supplemented.

Health & Safety

Adhere to the rules and recommendations of your ranger as far as wildlife interactions are concerned to ensure a safe and hassle-free safari in Botswana's Okavango Delta.

History

The Okavango Delta has not always been the reserve it is today. Towards the end of the 19th century, the animal population in the Southern Delta had been practically wiped out by the rinderpest epidemic. It took many years for numbers to recover, simply to come under new pressure from uncontrolled hunting and encroaching cattle farms.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of the wife of Chief Moremi III, the tribe agreed to set aside the area between the Khwai and Mogogelo Rivers as a wildlife reserve. On 15 March 1963, the reserve was officially proclaimed and named in honor of Chief Moremi. This reserve protects a large part of the Okavango Delta and now covers an area of 4872 square kilometers (1856 sq miles).

Animal numbers have recovered very well, thanks in large part to the vision of these early conservationists and the commitment of the Botswana government to preserve its wilderness areas and animal life.

Terrain and Vegetation

The Okavango Delta is produced by seasonal flooding. The Okavango River drains the summer rainfall from the Angola highlands, and the surge flows 1 200km in one month. The waters then spread over the delta's 250km by 150m area over the next four months.

The flood peaks during Botswana's dry winter months, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size - attracting animals from miles around and creating one of Africa's most significant concentrations of wildlife. The delta's profuse greenery is not the result of a tropical climate - it is rather like an oasis in an arid country.

Wildlife

The Okavango Delta is both a permanent and seasonal home to a wide variety of wildlife, which makes it a popular tourist attraction. The delta is known for its abundance of predator species, which include big cats like lions, leopards, and cheetahs.

The Okavango Delta is also home to one of the largest pack densities of the endangered African wild dog on the African continent. Both brown and spotted hyenas occur. Herbivores range from behemoths like elephants, hippos, and Cape buffalo to large antelope and plains game species such as tsessebe, sitatunga, kudu, sable antelope, giraffe, and zebra.

The area is home to over 400 species of birds, including the African fish eagle, Pel's fishing owl, crested crane, lilac-breasted roller, hamerkop, ostrich, and sacred ibis. The most populous large mammal is the lechwe antelope, with more than 60 000 of these water-loving creatures gracing the wetlands. The lechwe is slightly larger than an impala, with elongated hooves and a water-repellent substance on its legs that enable rapid movement through knee-deep water. They graze on aquatic plants and take to water when threatened by predators.

Most of the estimated 200 000 large mammals in and around the delta are not year-round residents. They leave with the summer rains to find renewed fields of grass to graze on and trees to browse, then make their way back as winter approaches.

Activities

One of the reasons that the Okavango Delta is such a popular African safari destination is the wealth of safari activities available. Naturally, the most popular activity remains the traditional game drive in an open 4x4 vehicle, which provides visitors with an elevated vantage point over the vast delta and the opportunity to spot wildlife from afar. The alternative option of bush walks is the chance to get intimate with this unique wilderness area.

An African safari activity that remains inherent to an Okavango Delta safari is a water-based game-viewing adventure from a mokoro. Relax as you are propelled through the delta's shallow waters by a guide standing in the stern and pushing forward with a pole. Mokoros are traditionally made by digging out the trunk of a large straight tree, such as an ebony or Kigelia tree. Modern mokoros, however, are increasingly made of fiberglass.

Countries

View of the Drakensberg in South Africa. South Africa
Elephants in the sunset in Botswana. Botswana
A desert landscape in Namibia. Namibia
People swimming in the clear waters of Mozambique. Mozambique
View of the Victoria Falls in Zambia. Zambia
Antelope standing on a river bank in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe