The Okavango Delta is a vast ecosystem created as the Okavango River flows into the parched Kalahari Desert. The land underpins the wonder of the Okavango Delta.
Associations between people and the Delta started long before it came to the attention of the wider outside world during the second half of the 19th century.
The Okavango Delta supports large concentrations of birds and animals and is perhaps one of the best places to see animals and birds in Africa.
The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. More correctly an alluvial fan, the delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometres of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and into the harsh Kalahari Desert.
Each year the Okavango River discharges approximately 11 cubic kilometres (1.1 × 10¹³ litres) of water into the Okavango Delta. Most of this water is lost to transpiration by plants (60%) and by evaporation (36%) with only 2% percolating into the aquifer system with the remainder finally flowing into Lake Ngami.
The Okavango Delta is affected by seasonal flooding with flood water from Angola reaching the Delta between March and June, peaking in July. This peak coincides with Botswana’s dry season resulting in great migrations of plains game from the dry hinterland.
Generally flat, with a height variation of less than two meters across its area, dry land in the Okavango Delta is predominantly comprised of numerous small islands, formed when vegetation takes root on termite mounds, however larger islands exist with Chief’s Island, the largest, having been formed on a tectonic fault line.
The 1000th site to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, the Okavango Delta is an important wildlife area protected by both the Moremi Game Reserve, on its eastern edge, and the numerous wildlife concessions within Ngamiland.
An oasis in an otherwise dry environment the Okavango Delta is known for its superb wildlife, with large populations of mammals and excellent birding particularly in the breeding season.
Very much at the centre of Botswana’s safari industry, the Okavango Delta features some of Africa’s premier camps and lodges including Mombo Camp, operated by Wilderness Safaris and Kanana, operated by Ker & Downey Botswana.
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The Okavango Delta offers a wide variety of accommodation in three broad categories. Water camps focus on the delta itself, its unique waterways, birds and aquatic creatures. Land based camps focus on the extraordinary game which is attracted to this oasis in the desert and mix use camps provide both. Visitors generally combine a water and land or mixed use camp.
Water Focused Camps
Normally situated on permanent waters of the delta these camps offer walking safaris, mokoro exursions and motorboat excursions.
Land Focused Camps
Activities at land focused camps and lodges are primarily vehicle borne, with some walking permitted in the private concessions.
Land and Water
Located in the Okavango Delta’s vast concessions which surround the Moremi Game Reserve, these camps offer first class safari experiences
Split into two main camps, North and South, Vumbura Plains Camp has a total of fourteen rooms, all raised on wooden platforms and connected by a raised wooden walkways.
This spectacular concession provides the full suite of Okavango Delta Safaris with Vumbura Plains offers both day and night game drives as well as walking safaris on land. The waters of the concession allow for boat and mokoro safaris.
Desert & Delta Safaris – Nxaragha Island, Shinde Concession
Rebuilt this year Camp Okavango is situated on the remote Nxaragha Island at the heart of the permanent Okavango Delta.
This camp assures an unparalleled year-round water wilderness experience. Activities focus on the delta with walking and mokoro safaris complementing the motorboats.
Wilderness Safaris – Chief’s Island, Moremi Game Reserve
Little Mombo is situated in Africa’s premier game viewing area, Chief’s Island in the Moremi Game Reserve. This area is known for its huge concentrations of both general game and predators. The camp is perfect for small groups with only three rooms and allows guests to explore this prolific wildlife area in considerable comfort.
The Okavango Delta provides some of the best safari experiences in Africa with first rate wildlife, accommodation and guiding. The private concessions which surround the Moremi Game Reserve allow a variety of activities, including walking and riding safaris.
PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARISThis great wilderness area is now the exclusive preserve of the photographic safari. These safaris serve to protect this unique ecosystem and ensure its continuance. With accessibility and government policy limiting the number of establishments within the delta there are now number of well established safari operators offering a comprehensive safari experience. The Okavango Delta is often combined with other destinations in the region particularly Savute, Chobe and the Victoria Falls.
WALKING SAFARISThe islands and flood plains of the Okavango Delta provide an excellent environment for first class walking safaris. These allow guests to get a much fuller experience of the delta, closer to the natural world. Participants develop an understanding of the scale and majesty of the African bush. Whilst most water based camps offer walking safaris as an activity, specialist walking safaris tailored for the African aficionado provide an authentic safari experience.
RIDING SAFARISExploring some of the most remote areas of the Okavango Delta, riding safaris allow you to really understand the scope of the delta. Catering for the competent rider the Okavango Delta’s three outfitters place a real emphasis on the safari experience with daily expeditions as well as the innovative use of fly camps even deeper in the delta. These are some of the best riding safaris in Africa and guests return year after year.
These suggested itineraries provide a flavour of the possibilities of the Okavango Delta. Depending on the time available they can be used as a complete safari or form the basis of an extended safari to southern Africa.
Wilderness Safaris is widely acclaimed as the continent’s foremost ecotourism operator. Founded in Botswana in 1983, Wilderness Safaris has grown to be the largest ecotourism operator in Africa.