Mention the Okavango Delta in Botswana to any keen safari nut, like the team at Safari Guru and watch them go misty-eyed and swoon! This is one of Africa's top wildlife sanctuaries, a truly pristine and pure African wilderness. The watery wonderland offers some of the best wildlife viewing and fantastic birdlife in a myriad of rich and picturesque habitats. Furthermore, Botswana practices a high-value, low-volume tourism strategy to minimise adverse environmental impacts, meaning travellers can enjoy this kaleidoscope of nature without the hustle and bustle some wilderness destinations face.
While the Okavango may not be what you have in your mind's eye when you think of a safari; still, it is home to the big 5, many other predators, plains game and hundreds of species of animals and birds. It also offers the chance to spot creatures seldom seen elsewhere, such as sitatunga, Pels fishing owl, wild dog and the ever so majestic wattled cranes.
The Okavango is the World's largest inland delta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Spanning over 15,000 square kilometres, the Okavango Delta is a sprawling oasis characterised by a labyrinth of channels, lagoons, and islands. It is an inland delta unlike any other, formed by the annual flooding of the Okavango River. This extraordinary phenomenon creates an ever-changing landscape that teems with life. It can take six months or so for the water to flow down from Angola, meaning that the Delta usually receives its water and floods in the dry season, which is high-season for tourism and travellers.
In our opinion, like so many others, the Okavango Delta is on the bucket list of bucket-list destinations. Ask many safari guides and specialists if we could only go to just one more destination – chances are - this would be it.
UNDERSTANDING THE DESTINATION
Within the Delta, a myriad of destinations awaits exploration. Start your adventure in Moremi Game Reserve, one of Africa's most picturesque and wildlife-rich areas. Here, you can witness the fascinating interaction between the delta's aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, observing a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, and the elusive big cats.
For a more secluded and exclusive experience, venture to the private concessions that surround the Okavango Delta. These pristine wilderness areas offer an intimate and personalised safari experience, with fewer vehicles and the opportunity to explore off the beaten path. Immerse yourself in the remote beauty of Khwai, Selinda, or Kwando, where luxury lodges and camps provide a base for thrilling wildlife encounters.
Not only does Safari Guru maintain a presence on the ground in Botswana to keep up to date with natural events and happenings, but through our close network of Botswana-based safari operators, wildlife research teams and local bush-based film crews, we offer up-to-date knowledge and recommendations based upon real-time data. We know and understand the delta better than most!
The famous Delta has a broad offering of authentic safari camps and beautifully adorned exclusive lodges, offering luxury and magnificent views of this animal-studded landscape. Designed to blend seamlessly with the surroundings and with sustainability in mind, adhering to strict legislation to protect the Botswana wilderness, each offers an oasis of comfort amidst the lush greenery and meandering waterways. Botswana offers a range of accommodation options that cater to every traveller's needs. From luxury lodges costing over $4,000 per person per night to rustic mobile tented accommodations and campsites at only a few hundred Dollars.
Let's explore the different levels of Lodges in the Okavango Delta
First, we explore the Luxury Lodges of Botswana: Immerse yourself in opulence and comfort by staying at one of the luxurious lodges scattered throughout the Okavango Delta. These lodges offer unparalleled luxury, with stunning views and personalised service, often with dedicated butlers and private safari vehicles and guides.
Enjoy spacious suites or private villas with modern amenities, en-suite bathrooms, and private decks overlooking the expansive waterways and pristine savannahs. Some high-end safari properties like Xigera Safari Lodge and Joa Villas also include air conditioning. Indulge in gourmet meals prepared by skilled chefs, sip premium brand sundowners by the pool, and relax in the lap of luxury after exciting safari adventures.
Some of Safari Guru's preferred luxury lodges in the Okavango include; Qorokwe Camp, Vumbura Plains Camp, ABU, Duba Plains, which was made famous by its buffalo hunting lion populations and, of course, the famed Mombo Camps, which Safari Guru founder Deon De Villiers managed for several years while living in Botswana.
Mombo and Little Mombo Camp are undoubtedly the most celebrated safari lodges in the Okavango and are considered Botswana's flagship wildlife destination. Mombo Camp was awarded Best Hotel in the World in 2013 by Travel + Leisure magazines' readership.
For those seeking an authentic African safari experience, one of the many classic tented safari camps is a perfect choice, offering stylish tented accommodation in a more rustic and adventurous setting. These classic safari camps of Botswana provide a traditional and intimate close-to-nature setting, allowing you to truly connect with the wilderness.
Accommodation is usually under canvas, offering a unique blend of comfort and adventure. Fall asleep to the sounds of the Delta, and wake up to the sight of wildlife right outside your tent. Enjoy communal dining areas, cozy campfires, and knowledgeable guides who will take you on thrilling game drives, bush walks, boat safaris and mokoro (traditional canoe) excursions. Some of Safari Guru's favourite Okavango Delta camps include Little Vumbura Camp, Tubu Tree, Seba Camp and Duba Explorers Camp.
For the ultimate explorer, mobile safaris in Botswana offer a unique way to experience the Okavango Delta. These safaris involve moving from one campsite to another, allowing you to explore different areas of the Delta, then moving onto the Khwai Private Reserve and Chobe National Park to explore diverse ecosystems.
Accommodation is in spacious, fully-equipped tents that are set up and dismantled as the safari progresses by a team of ground personnel. Expert guides accompany you on your journey, sharing their knowledge of the region's flora and fauna. Wake up to the sounds of nature, enjoy delicious meals prepared by camp staff, and create unforgettable memories as you traverse the untamed wilderness.
Safari Guru often recommends completing a mobile safari with some luxury added at the end. There are many easily accessible camps to choose from, and we will ensure the logistics are seamless, allowing you a little indulgence in a complementary setting.
No matter which level of accommodation you choose, a visit to the Okavango Delta promises an unforgettable experience. Each option offers its unique charm and allows you to connect with the natural wonders of this pristine wilderness. Get ready for close encounters with wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and tranquillity only the Okavango Delta can provide.
Camps in the Okavango connect well with other camps in Zimbabwe, Zambia and other wildlife-rich areas of Botswana, including the private Linyanti and Selinda Concessions, Chobe National Park, Khwai Private Reserve and the Makgadikgadi Pans.
Wildlife of the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is not just a destination; it is an opportunity to connect with nature on a profound level. It allows you to immerse yourself in the wonders of its precious environment, guided by expert naturalists who will share their knowledge and passion for conservation. An opportunity to learn about the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem and the continuous efforts to preserve it for future generations.
The Okavango is a wildlife enthusiast's dream come true, boasting an incredible variety of animals that call this pristine wilderness their home. From lanky giraffes to stealthy predators and vibrant birdlife to aquatic wonders, the Delta offers an unrivalled opportunity to witness the diversity of African wildlife.
As you explore the Delta's vast floodplains and winding waterways, be prepared to encounter elephants in all their glory. With their immense size and captivating presence, these gentle giants create an awe-inspiring sight as they traverse the landscape or playfully bathe in the Delta's crystal-clear waters.
It is also renowned for its population of big cats, including lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Catch a glimpse of lions lounging under the shade of acacia trees, witness the elusive grace of leopards as they stealthily navigate the wilderness, or be amazed by the speed and agility of cheetahs on the hunt.
The Delta's avian population is equally impressive, with over 500 species of birds to delight birdwatchers. From the regal African fish eagle to the colourful malachite kingfisher, the skies come alive with vibrant feathers and melodic calls. Keep your eyes peeled for herons, storks, and numerous other avian wonders as they gracefully navigate the Delta's waterways.
As you glide through the channels, you'll encounter the aquatic wonders of the Okavango Delta. Hippos, with their massive bodies and powerful jaws, can be seen wallowing in the water or lazing on the riverbanks. And don't forget about the mighty Nile crocodiles lurking beneath the surface with their prehistoric presence.
The Delta's plains are also home to an array of herbivores, adding to the richness of the wildlife experience. Giraffes gracefully stretch their long necks to reach the leaves, while zebras create a mesmerising spectacle with their striped coats. Antelopes such as impalas, kudus, and lechwes roam freely, showcasing their agility, beauty and speed when sensing the presence of the critically endangered African wild dog.
In the Okavango Delta, every moment is an opportunity to witness the wonders of nature. The variety of wildlife is a testament to the Delta's pristine environment and its role as a vital habitat for numerous species. Prepare to be captivated by the sights and sounds of this remarkable ecosystem as you immerse yourself in the incredible diversity of wildlife that makes the Okavango Delta a true African gem.
Understanding Dry Land Camps and Water Camps
The Okavango Delta showcases a remarkable diversity of biomes, creating a tapestry of ecosystems that support an abundance of flora and fauna. From the lush, palm-fringed islands to the open floodplains and the mopane woodlands, each biome harbours unique species and offers a distinct safari experience.
Land camps, such as Duba Plains, Qorokwe Camp or Chitabe and Chitabe Lediba, sometimes referred to as dry camps, allow for simply awesome and world-famous game viewing by open 4x4 safari vehicles and by foot on a walking safari with a professional guide. The vast tracts of dry areas are made up of varied woodlands, grasslands, and seasonal floodplains, attracting many plains game and predators such as lions, leopards, wild dogs, and cheetahs.
The Delta's premier land-based camps are generally unfenced and focus on early morning, late afternoon, and night game drives in wildlife-rich regions known for consistently good predator sightings, sometimes within the camps themselves.
Water camps or wet camps such as Vumbura Plains or Setari Camp allow you to fully immerse yourself in the Delta's waterways. Water camps allow guests to explore the Delta ecosystem and offer unique views of abundant aquatic life and spectacular birdlife.
Set on the edge of papyrus-lined channels and permanent lagoons and rivers, which provide sanctuary to a wealth of aquatic life, including waders, amphibians and crocodiles.
These camps and lodges offer water activities, such as motorboat trips or gliding silently in a traditional mokoro canoe, guided by expert polers, and witnessing the vibrant birdlife, from African fish eagles to colourful kingfishers. You can watch wildlife at eye level from this vantage point and explore the ever-changing network of channels; carved by Africa's mega-herbivores, elephants, and hippos.
The Flooding of the Okavango Delta
The flood in the Okavango Delta varies from year to year – but follows a broad(ish) pattern. The variances in annual and ad-hoc geographical circumstances can significantly impact wildlife viewing! As depicted in this short National Geographic documentary, The Buffalo Hunters, wet years versus dry years will impact local game movements and the ultimate success of various species, therefore, the outcome of every safari per region. A great itinerary may mix contrasting areas to ensure travellers experience the Delta's vastness in wildlife, experiences and scenery, considering any particular interests a visitor might have.
Geography and Destinations
Within the delta, a myriad of destinations awaits exploration. Start your adventure in Moremi Game Reserve, one of Africa's most picturesque and wildlife-rich areas. The Moremi, named after Chief Moremi, who once protected it as his private hunting area, is situated on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta and offers a safe and protected refuge for all species found in this unique delta environment, creating one of Africa's most sought after, and best wildlife reserves.
The Moremi is considered the heart of the delta and offers some of Botswana's most sought-after safari lodges, such as Little Mombo and Mombo Camp. Other camps worth mentioning in the Moremi are Chiefs Camp and Xigera Camp, which once only offered water activities but, due to environmental changes, now offer excellent land-based activities at the right time of the year.
Around the Moremi is a network of excellent public and private safari reserves and concessions, most of which contain just a couple of small and intimate safari camps where guests arrive by light aircraft and offer various safari activities. Typically, in the private concessions, the guides are allowed to drive off-road, conduct night drives enabling you to see the nocturnal animals and offer walking safaris; but most valuable of all for this destination is the privacy - you'll see few other people on safari here; real luxury in such a pristine area!
Benefits of Visiting the Okavango Delta
Visiting the Okavango Delta is an experience that goes beyond the ordinary. It is a journey of discovery, an opportunity to reconnect with nature, and a chance to witness the intricate web of life in one of Africa's last pristine wilderness areas.
By choosing to explore the Okavango Delta, you contribute to the conservation efforts that protect this fragile ecosystem and its incredible inhabitants. Many camps and lodges are committed to sustainable tourism practices, ensuring that the delicate balance of the delta is preserved for generations to come.
Additionally, the Okavango Delta offers a level of exclusivity and remoteness that is truly unmatched. With low visitor numbers and vast expanses of unspoiled wilderness, you can immerse yourself in the tranquillity of nature and enjoy a sense of seclusion that is increasingly rare in today's World.
Whether you embark on thrilling game drives, venture into the waterways on a mokoro canoe, or simply absorb the breathtaking landscapes, a journey to the Okavango Delta promises an experience of a lifetime. Prepare to be captivated by the sheer beauty and wonder of this extraordinary natural gem.
Begin your adventure to the Okavango Delta today, and let the magic of this awe-inspiring destination unfold before your eyes. It's time to discover the remarkable secrets of the Okavango Delta and create memories that will forever remain etched in your heart.
For further reading, visit Botswana’s Best Safaris or Botswana Safari Requirements if you want to know more about the travel requirements for this top Southern Africa wildlife destination.
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