A guide to planning your safari to the Okavango DeltaRead More
When planning your safari you will want to take into account the seasonal effects on certain activities and experiences. Some areas are affected more than others within the region. This guide outlines the areas most significantly affected by the seasons however this is not set in stone and it should always be remembered that the weather is innately unpredictable, increasingly so in recent years.
This guide covers the Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and Victoria Falls. Low water levels may affect the possibility of enjoying mokoro or boating safaris at some camps while high water levels will mean some camps can offer limited game drives. Beyond the Okavango, when the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are wet, quad biking and sleepouts are not possible. If Victoria Falls is also included in your itinerary you will want to take water levels into account too.
The Okavango Delta is constantly changing with water levels varying by several metres throughout the year. The arrival of the annual flood waters from Angola around April/May sees the Okavango begin to expand up to three times in size. As the waters recede- with transpiration by plants and evaporation, the Okavango begins to shrink usually in September.
The Okavango can be generally explained to have two distinct areas, the permanent swamp which is inundated with water all year round and the seasonal swamp which is flooded annually and dries up gradually with the onset of summer.
Those camps in the permanent swamp will offer year round activities. Those set in the seasonal swamp areas may only offer water activities when the water levels permit, usually from May-September. This is for reasons of safety- while the water may be there it may be too shallow or too densely populated with hippos to run activities safely.
Conversely, those camps which are surrounded by floodplains which are inundated with the arrival of the flood can only offer limited game drives on shorter routes.
Importantly, there are a number of camps set in areas with permanent deep flowing channels as well as on higher ground and these camps are therefore able to offer year- round water activities as well as game drives.
In order to understand which camps offer the best chance of conducting your preferred mix of activities at any particular time of year ,please speak to us for more information.
Trans-Okavango Safaris- One of the most special and unique safari experiences is a boating safari from the Okavango Panhandle to Maun, camping along the way in simple fly camps. This safari can only be conducted in years of very high water levels to ensure safe passage through the river systems and will vary from year to year. These safaris can only be 100% confirmed closer to the time of departure.
Hot air Balloon safaris – Due to weather conditions, hot air balloon safaris are only conducted from mid-April to the end of August.
Walking safaris – Whether a short bush walk or longer walking safari – these activities will only be conducted when the conditions allow the walks to be conducted as safely as possible. For this reason the best time for walking is in the dry season (from May-October) when the grass is low and general vegetation thin allowing for better visibility. In area of large elephant populations walking may still not be possible during this season.
Lying just south of the Okavango Delta, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans offers superb diversity to your safari itinerary and really showcases the amazingly varied landscapes of Northern Botswana. The salt pans offer an array of unique safari experiences including quad biking and sleep-outs on the salt pans. These activities cease with the arrival of the rains, usually around November as the pans become unreachable, and will only resume when the pans dry out around April/May. During this time vehicles cannot drive on the pans and will instead focus on the rich grasslands which surround the pans. This is a fantastic time to experience the zebra migration, the longest in Africa, which transforms the pans with tens of thousands of Zebra. The meerkat and bushman activities will be offered year round.
As the Zambezi River tumbles down 100 metres from a vertical chasm, the Victoria Falls is formed. The Zambezi River marks the natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, so visitors have the option of staying either in Livingstone (on the Zambian side) or Victoria Falls (on the Zimbabwe side).
When to visit Victoria Falls? The experience at the falls will all depend on the amount of rain received in the areas upstream and this rainfall fluctuates.
The Zambezi River is fed by the rains which fall from November-March, with the flood season from February to May, peaking around March/April. The spray at this time is immense, rising almost 1km into the sky and visible from 45 kms away. It is worth noting that at its peak the spray is so strong that visibility is restricted though the power of the falls is hugely impressive. During the drier months, from September to January, the rocky face of the falls begins to show again and the formation of the falls can be better appreciated in terms of the length and breadth of the falls. October is traditionally the driest month. The experience varies greatly across the seasons but certainly each month will offer something very different for everyone.
When the water levels are lowest the falls are best seen from the Zimbabwean side of the falls, while visits to Livingstone Island, on the Zambian side, are only possible during the low water periods.
One of the best holidays we have been on, from the initial inquiry, the organisation, suggestions and safari its self. Worth every pound and would recommend Okavango Delta Explorations to anyone.
Simon Tunstall - travelled Nov 2019
If you’re anything like me, you may be overwhelmed when beginning your Safari planning. Look no further than Okavango Explorations. They were an enormous help, patiently answering my litany of questions and putting together an incredible itinerary within our parameters. She was always available by email and phone and spent the time to get to know our needs.
Drew Simon 2019
Okavango Delta Explorations was an excellent choice. They heard in long telefon calls my wishes and expectations very well and gave me perfect advice on tours and camps/lodges. They are very experienced experts of the region, who know exactly where to send you according to your expectations . The organzation was absolutly perfect. There is nothing to improve. We had a very special and wonderful time.
Kerstin Schonherr – travelled Nov 2019
The whole trip was perfect! Louise made recommendations to us that were all spot on perfect. The recommendations provided were detailed and really brought things to life for us so that we could make the best choices - the guidance we received was first rate. We thoroughly enjoyed the three places we visited and the whole experience was very smooth. Thank you so much! We will be back and would highly recommend.
Kathryn Dyer - travelled 2019
An absolutely superb trip, and this is entirely down to Okavango Delta Explorations.
Louise carefully listened to what we wanted to get from the trip, and despite my work schedule patiently kept me informed of all developments in our honeymoon and planned everything. I can't fault Louise or the company's approach to organising this trip. No question or request was too much and everything was planned perfectly. We will definitely be returning and using the company again.
Johnathan Manners -July 2019
I have received excellent recommendations for the two camps selected at Okavanko Delta and Moreni Reserve. Outstanding locations, camps and wildlife. Very professional and knowledgeable guides. Very professional and friendly staff attentive to specific needs of guests. Excellent food and organization for meals either at the camps or in the wild. Thank you.
Charles Morin 2019
We were looking for an authentic family safari, something special for our children to remember forever- without breaking the bank! They listened to what we were looking for and patiently worked with us to plan the perfect trip, attentive to every little detail and answering all our anxious questions! And we had the holiday of a lifetime! Their expert knowledge and passion for Botswana is clear. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to visit Botswana. Thank you!!
Marie Gabrille Arnim
Great service from ODE, the team worked hard to deliver a holiday of a life time!!!
Specifically valued the efficiency, attention to detail and understanding when circumstances changed. Would definitely recommend Okavango Delta Explorations to anybody who wants a hassle free holiday organised by experts.
Carla Peek 2019
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