The Central Okavango Delta is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt places in Africa, and is highly recommended. It consists of deep water channels, palm tree islands and stretches of dryland and floodplain that brim with wildlife.
In the middle of the arid Kalahari Desert, Africa’s most beautiful oasis, the Okavango Delta, forms a startling contrast amidst a harsh, desolate area and creates one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. Absolute natural beauty and tranquillity sets the scene for countless magnificent sights. Visitors can spot game grazing on open grasslands, sleeping under towering trees and quenching their thirst in floodplains.
It all starts in Angola’s western highlands. The water flows down through Namibia and finally enters Botswana where it is known as the Okavango. The Okavango River never reaches the sea but empties over the sand of the Kalahari Desert. Forming over five million years through atmospheric change and the movement of the Earth’s crust, the Okavango Delta is today a flat, dry sheet of Kalahari sand intersected by a shallow rift valley. The Okavango River flows into this channel along a major fault line known as the “panhandle”.
The annual flood, dependent on rains and the ever-changing flow of the waters through the delta, can take up to nine months to reach the delta. It is a slow process as the water flows gently down with the total fall in height only 62 meters. This slow movement and the delta’s dynamic nature, results in the water having a low sediment load and thus the Okavango’s water is incredibly pure and clear. There is also a great diversity of water depths, soils, vegetation and wildlife.
The delta’s fresh, nutritious water attracts a multitude of animal and bird species. The vegetation is also interesting. Nature’s remarkable way to adapt in merciless conditions is showcased here where the lack of mud could cause plants to die, but instead the plants capture the sand of the delta and act like a glue, also creating further islands on which more plants can take root.
The delta is a permanent and seasonal home to a wide variety of wildlife. An abundance of antelope and smaller mammals attract hungry predators. The area is well known for its herds of elephant and buffalo. Other game includes hippo, wildebeest, giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, kudu, sable antelope, rhino, zebra, warthog, baboon and one of the richest pack densities of wild dog in Africa. Rare antelope include red lechwe, sitatunga and topi. The delta has almost 500 bird species, including the African fish eagle, crested crane, lilac-breasted roller, hammerkop, ostrich, sacred ibis and the wattled crane.
Visitors can explore the numerous waterways on a dug out canoe known as a mokoro or on a sunset cruise, track wildlife on a walk safari, enjoy a game drive, view game from above on a light aircraft or helicopter, or even on the back of an elephant.
There is a variety of accommodation to choose from in the Okavango Delta (all of superior quality):
Camps that offer a combination of both land and water based activities:
Kwara Main Camp, Little Kwara Camp, Shinde Island Camp, Kanana Camp, Little Vumbura Camp, Duba Plains Camp, Nxabega Okavango Safari Camp, Sandibe Safari Lodge, Stanley’s Camp, Baine’s Camp, Pom Pom Camp, Kwetsani Camp, Tubu Tree Lodge, Jacana Camp, Jao Camp.
Camps that offer water based activities only:
Xugana Island Lodge, Camp Okavango, Gunn’s Main Camp, Eagle Island Camp, Delta Camp.
There is one camp in the Delta where one can do elephant rides – Abu Camp.