Okavango Delta Facts & Guide

Okavango Delta Facts & Guide

The Okavango Delta  is a large inland delta, formed where the Okavango River reaches  the central part of the basin of the Kalahari. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired, and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water spreads over the 6,000-15,000 km² area. Some flood-waters drain into Lake Ngami and Moremi Game Reserve

It takes the shape of a hand, with the palm permanently filled with water, and the fingertips seasonally flooded with a blue-green wilderness of freshwater, shaping million of islands and a labyrinth of papyrus-lined canals, water-lily lagoons, shady forest glades and rich savanna grasslands – an incredible source of life in a country that is 80% arid.

aerial view of delta

Sometimes dried out with salt, the islands are inhabited by hundreds of species of birds, while hippos, elephants and crocodiles move from one to another in very pure waters. From the smaller tropical fish to the larger animal, there is always something that will catch your eye and admiration, making a safari to the Okavango Delta one of Africa’s top game safari spots

the elephant march

Lions, leopards, elephants and buffalo are regularly seen in the Delta – the White Rhino is more difficult to spot.

The Big Five are in good company with a remarkable number of species:

164 mammals – 400 birds – 157 reptiles – 84 species of fish – 5,000 different insects

The Okavango Delta

Millions of years ago it used to flow into what is now known as the Makgadikgadi Pans. But activity in the earth’s crust causing a break in the layers of rock interrupting the flow of the river, caused it to backup and reform as what is now known as the Okavango Delta. This transformation has created an unparalleled system of waterways and channels, that support a unique kingdom of flora and fauna

It does fluctuate with the seasons, and changes from year to year depending on the rains and flood waters.

The Okavango River drains the summer (January–February) rainfall from the Angola highlands and the surge flows 1,200 kilometres in approximately one month. The waters then spread over the 250 km by 150 km area of the delta over the next four months (March–June)

The high temperature of the delta causes rapid transpiration and evaporation, resulting in a cycle of rising and falling water level, creating one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife

charter flight

When to Travel

Many travellers will prefer the drier season (April to October) to visit the delta, as it normally guarantees the best wildlife viewing activities – animals have to get close to permanent water points. Most of the Okavango progressively dries out, apart from permanent rivers in Moremi Game Reserve and other Northern areas.

But the wet season (December through March) offers spectacular highlights as well, with amazing colors from waters, skies, grass and flowers for the pleasure of photographers, and a fertile animal activity – many mammals have babies during the rainy season, and predators are busy spotting the young families.

The Okavango Delta shapes an immense and amazing oasis in the Kalahari desert, that constitutes one of the very best all-encompassing safari destinations in the world

Moremi Game Reserve – A history of conservation

Beautifully preserved, the Moremi Game Reserve spreads across the eastern side of the delta, offering a patchwork of ecosystems to the visitor.

Adjacent to Northern Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai community area provides a rare experience of a community that lives in harmony with nature and wildlife

Moremi was the first wildlife sanctuary to be set aside by a Southern African community on their own land, when in 1963 the wife of Moremi III decided to protect a third of the Okavango delta for the future, and declared the Moremi Game Reserve in the honor of the late Batawana chief. That was 7 years after a government department had been formed to administer wildlife conservation, making Botswana one of Africa’s leader in this matter. The tribe agreed to vacate the land; the Reserve was later enlarged with the Addition of Chief’s Island in the 1970′s, and further to the Northwest in 1991: the Moremi Game Reserve now covers nearly 5,000 km2, the core of the Okavango Delta.

From this inspiration, the state-run Moremi Game Reserve has been incredibly well-preserved. Together with the natural wonder of the Okavango delta, this exemplary management makes the Moremi Game Reserve one of very best all-encompassing safari destination in the world.

Ecosystem & wildlife in Moremi

The lush and varied ecosystem – a patchwork of lagoons, shallow flooded pans, plains and forests – provides outstanding game viewing activities whether on foot, in game-viewing vehicles or on boat. Among the finest areas are Chief’s Island, that used to be the Batswana tribe’s richest hunting grounds and offers nowadays amazing game viewing opportunities, in particular large herds of buffalos who enjoy grazing the sweet grasses and drinking in the pans. Mobile safaris may also reach the Mopane Tongue, the Khwai River area, Xakanaxa Lagoon and Third Bridge.

Khwai Community Area

Adjacent to the Northern/Eastern parts of Moremi Game Reserve and to the Southern/Western corner of Chobe National Park, Khwaï community area provides the perfect setting of a wilderness area where a community lives in harmony with nature and wildlife, along the Khwaï river

San people

A San village

Khwai village hosts about 400 Babukahwe, a section of San (river Bushmen) who relocated from the reserve area. They nowadays develop eco-tourism activities and participate actively in the conservation of the environment.
The San people of southern Africa are among Africa’s most intriguing people

Wildlife seen

The magnificent Khwai river is the hub for some of the most outstanding wildlife viewing both on the Moremi and in the Khwai area. Species to be viewed include elephant, buffalo, zebra, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, giraffe, eland, sable, hippo, hyena and various other nocturnal species

Maun gateway to the Okavango Safari Camps

Maun means ‘the place of the short reeds and is the operational centre for the safari companies in the Okavango delta

Maun Game Reserve -Go to the Maun Game Reserve and see the ‘Big 5’. Great for kids of all ages. Go visit the Maun Game Reserve and see all the live wildlife inside

Safari Camps and Accommodation

The safari camps in the Okavango cater to small numbers of guests – each one operating in its own private concession area, affording complete privacy and exclusivity on a Botswana safari

The higher than normal prices deter larger budget tour groups and maintain a low density of safari travelers throughout the Okavango.

By Road to Okavango

Traveling direct from Maun (Okavango) to Kasane (Chobe) via Moremi game park is 4×4 dirt road only and takes at least 8 hours during the dry season and normally requires a stop over in The Savuti region. From Maun to Mababe gate (Chobe park-west entrance) is 141 km’s or alternatively sedan cars can travel on a tarred road from Maun via Nata to Kasane [616 km’s]

Climate – Okavango

The Okavango in winter (May to August) is warm during the day and cool in the evenings.

In summer, however, it is hot and humid during the day while the night temperature rarely drops below 18 degrees C.
The “wet” season normally begins late November / December and lasts through early March. with hot sunny days and afternoon thundershowers.
This is a fantastic time to visit and enjoy a quality safari at best rates
“The wet season” ( December – March) enjoys an average of 14 rain days in a 120 day period which makes the chance of being rained on 1 in 9 or 10%.
The rain that Botswana gets is usually in the form of quick thunderstorms, usually in the late afternoon. The thunderstorms disappear almost as quickly as they came.

November – March is a fantastic time to visit and enjoy a quality safari at affordable prices

leopard on lookout

Okavango Delta, one of the very best all-encompassing safari destinations in the world

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