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Great Reasons to Visit the Okavango Delta

by Cris Puscas

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Located in the north-west part of Botswana, the Okavango Delta is a unique and picturesque delta system.

Comprising permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains, it is one of the few major interior delta systems, which do not flow into the sea or ocean. Instead, the water drains into the desert sand of the Kalahari Basin.

Its uniqueness comes from the fact that it gets flooded by the Okavango River during the dry season (May to September).

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta offers scenery of exceptional rarity and beauty, capable of sustaining a variety of wildlife.

But getting a chance to spot endangered species is not the only reason why you’ll be interested in checking out his incredible delta.

Below, you’ll find more great reasons as to why you should make time to visit the Okavango Delta during your safari in Botswana!

 

First, when is the best time to visit the Okavango Delta?

flying over okavango delta

Thankfully, the Okavango Delta can be visited year-round. However, each season has its special charms.

During the dry season (May to September), the delta reaches its peak water level. There are fewer islands and more canals, which means it’s the perfect time to go on a mokoro safari. The migratory birds left by now, but there are still plenty of other birds left to see. The temperatures are pleasant during the day and cooler at night.

During the wet season (October to April), the Okavango Delta has less water. There are more islands and less water in the canals. The migratory birds are coming back to breed, making this season ideal for birdwatchers. The temperature can be quite hot during the day but gets cooled by the rains.

Kindly note that some lodges and camps are closed down during parts of the wet season.

With that being said, the best time to visit the delta is from June to September. It’s advisable to avoid the periods with the worst weather (October to November, when it’s very hot; January to February, when it’s the peak of the wet season).

 

It’s home to some of the world’s most endangered mammals

leopard in the okavango delta

The Okavango Delta forms a complex and beautiful ecosystem, home to some of the world’s most remarkable wildlife.

Unlike other parks, you won’t see many animals of the same kind huddled together. Instead, you’ll marvel at the diversity of what you may spot.

Throughout the delta, you may get a glimpse of the rare and endangered cheetahs, lions, leopards, and African wild dogs. Sometimes it is also possible to spot the black and white rhinoceros.

Other mammals that thrive in the delta are zebras, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos, wildebeest, hyenas, and various species of antelopes.

 

It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise

forked roller in the okavango delta

Home to over 550 recorded bird species, the Okavango Delta is a twitcher’s paradise. It doesn’t have any endemic species, though.

Still, many migratory birds are present here during the wet season, from October to April. Many resident bird species are now nesting, making this time of the year perfect for birding tours.

Some of the most notable birds to look out for in the delta are the African darter, the African skimmer, the green-winged pytilia, the long-toed lapwing, and Pel’s fishing-owl.

 

It’s the best place to go on a mokoro safari

mokoro safari in the okavango delta

Photo credit: Africa4Us

Few places in the world offer excellent boat-based safaris.

Sightseeing in the Okavango Delta in a mokoro – dugout canoe – is, perhaps, the main reason visitors come to this part of the world. Gliding on the surface of the water, exploring the labyrinth of waterways created by the river, you will be searching for wildlife while surrounded by water lilies and papyrus.

Game viewing from these canoes is simply breathtaking!

 

It’s lovely to explore the delta during a walking safari, too

walking safari in the okavango delta

Photo credit: Enjanga Tours and Safaris

The Okavango Delta is one of the best places in Africa for an off-the-beaten-path walking safari.

Indeed, a good way to explore the delta is on foot. The variety of habitats and terrains to explore ensure that you will have an amazing time during a guided walk. You’ll not only get a chance to get up close and personal with wildlife but also learn how to track the animals and understand their behavioral patterns.

 

It is a luxurious and tranquil experience

luxury accommodation in the okavango delta

Photo credit: Harley's Safaris

The accommodation in the Okavango Delta is part of the experience. While it is very much possible to visit the delta as part of a day trip from Maun, we strongly recommend spending at least an overnight here.

The local government has adopted a low-impact tourism model. For visitors, this means prices are on the higher side, the experience is luxurious, and there aren’t too many tourists in the area. The recipe is perfect to enjoy a tranquil vacation.

The lodges and camps are spread through the delta and offer exclusive comfort. From basic to pure luxury, no matter what you choose, you are going to have a unique experience.

You are usually flown into the camp or lodge, which adds another unique chance: to see the delta from above.

It’s important to note that there are no fences between accommodation and wildlife. So pay attention when the safety instructions are relayed.

 

It offers stunning sunrises and sunsets

sunset in the okavango delta

Watching an African sunset should be on everyone’s bucket list.

And the Okavango Delta is one of the best places in Africa to watch a sunset. There is no better way to watch the sun going down as you explore the delta in a mokoro!

If you don’t mind the early wake-up time, a warm cup of coffee is the perfect accompaniment to a sunrise in the delta.

 

It’s a great place to go stargazing

Did you know that some lodges in Okavango Delta have sleepout decks?

Jao Camp and Abu Camp offer stargazing decks. Perched above the wilderness in a raised deck, you literally sleep under the stars. It’s possible to spot the Southern Cross and Orion’s Belt right from your bed!

But you won’t need a sleepout deck to see the magnificent sky. Just go to the private deck of any accommodation and look up. It will surely leave you mesmerized. 


Ready to explore the Okavango Delta? Experience the best of what Southern Africa has to offer during a Botswana-South Africa multi-country safari!

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