The Okavango Delta: A Sacred Eden for a Safari

Sunset Over the Okavango Delta
Sunset Over the Okavango Delta.

The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta comprising a confusing myriad of rivers, channels, lagoons, islands, floodplains, permanent marshlands and wealth of diverse habitats home to big game, rare birds and aquatic animals. A large arid landscape of the Kalahari in the northern regions of Botswana is home to a low-grade alluvial fan fed by the waters of the Angola highlands. This natural world heritage site has a network of both permanent and seasonal river systems flooding the often parched Kalahari landscapes. It is a geographical marvel because it has an intact wetland system which does not flow into the ocean.

Aerial View of the OkavangoDelta
Aerial View of the Okavango Delta.

Because of the diversity of the area, the vegetation is unique. Palm trees, papyrus reeds, sausage trees (mekoro’s were originally carved from the trees), lily pads and grasses hug the waterways. Wildlife harmoniously functions together in this intricate water system and in the dry season the Okavango River floods, bringing with it a change in wildlife behaviour and synchronisation with the environment.

The wildlife in this area is nothing short of phenomenal. The region has one of the highest concentration of game in the world. Endangered African wild dogs, cheetah, leopard, lions all roam freely within in the floodplains. Big cats have adapted their way of life to deal with the water logged swampy areas and can often be spotted crossing channels in shallow areas. Seeing a cat swim is a rare sighting!

Water Lily in the Okavango Delta
Water Lily in the Okavango Delta.
Views of the Okavango Waterways
Views of the Okavango Waterways.
Palm Trees Line the Okavango Delta
Palm Trees Line the Okavango Delta.
Lone Water Lily Floating in the Okavango Delta
Lone Water Lily Floating in the Okavango Delta.

Wildlife unique to the area includes the lechwe, Pel’s fishing owl, the rare sitatunga and plenty more. There are over 400 species of bird within the Delta. In one boat journey you will probably see juvenile birds of prey balancing on overhanging trees and hear the call of the African fish eagle, a sound which is synonymous with Africa.

There is literally a fluttering of colour and an array of birds as you cruise through the channels. Deep beneath the surface dwells the shifty looking Nile crocodiles, bloats of hippo and over 71 species of fish, the most commonly seen being tiger fish, tilapia and catfish.

Saddle-billed Stork in the Moremi Game Reserve.
Saddle-billed Stork in the Moremi Game Reserve.
Okavango Delta Scenes
Scenes from the Okavango Delta.
Red Lechwe
Red Lechwe – a Species of Antelope Found in the Okavango Delta.
Mekoro Trip in the Okavango Delta
Mekoro Trip in the Okavango Delta.
Juvenile Sitatunga
Juvenile Sitatunga – a Rare Swamp Dwelling Antelope.
Juvenile Eagle
Juvenile Eagle.
Crocodile in the Delta Waters
Crocodile in the Delta Waters.
Elephants are a Common Sight in the Okavango Delta.
Dazzle of Zebra
Plains Game are Plentiful in the Okavango Delta.
Hippo in the Delta
Hippo in the Okavango Delta.

But, that’s not all. There are other animals which roam these parts of the African Rift Valley system. Elephant, hippopotamus, topi, blue wildebeest, giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, cheetah, leopard, brown hyena, spotted hyena, kudu, sable, black and white rhino zebra, warthog and baboon are just a handful of other species waiting to be spotted.

The Moremi Game Reserve interrupts and juts into the waterways of the Delta and Chief’s Island is the largest island in the area. Largely pristine and untouched, there are still many areas of the Okavango Delta which remain unexplored. The Moremi offers guests the best of both worlds – the northern regions in particular are perfect for water and land based safaris.

While on safari in the Delta you’ll find a variety of things to do. There are fishing excursions, land based game drives (unless you’re on a water locked piece of land), mekoro safaris, sunset cruises, boat excursions and more.

Getting around the Okavango Delta requires a combination of boat transfers and small charter flights to remote wilderness airstrips. Self-drive guests need a 4×4 vehicle to get to areas such as boat stations which serve the islands.

There are plenty of places to stay in the Okavango Delta, some of which are more untouched and tricky to reach than others.

Xobega Island Camp: Authentic, remote and completely off the map. Rustic.

Afrika Ecco Mobile Safari: A rustic and adventurous way of exploring the delta. A safari on the move.

Oddballs Enclave: On the main island, chief’s island. High end camp.

Stanley’s Camp: High end camp bordering the Moremi Game Reserve.

Delta Camp: A luxurious camp situated on its own island just south of the main island, Chief’s island.