Get to Know The Okavango Delta

The seasonal flooding of the Okavango River spills across the parched Kalahari landscape, producing a gigantic inland sea that is peppered with lush islands and brimming with wildlife

Each year, during Botswana's long dry season, the Okavango River floodwaters arrive from the Angolan highlands and push the permanent Okavango Delta outwards into its seasonal floodplains.

The result is an enormous sprawling inland delta that is characterised by a mosaic of islands, shallow channels and fluctuating wetlands. Wildlife abounds in this verdant landscape. Aside from the Big Five – all of which occur here –visitors also stand an excellent chance of seeing African wild dogs, especially in the drier northern and eastern regions of the delta.


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Why The Okavango Delta?

  • Boasting some of the best wildlife viewing to be found anywhere in Africa
  • Home to the Big Five as well as African wild dogs and a rich birdlife
  • Scenically spectacular terrain (best appreciated from the air)
  • The water element allows for boat cruises and mokoro [dugout canoe] safaris to explore the delta from a different perspective

Where to Go in Okavango Delta

Chiefs Island in Okavango Delta

Region Explained

Chief’s Island was once the private hunting ground of the local Chief Moremi, but was incorporated into the wider Moremi Game Reserve in 1976. Roughly 60km long and 10km wide, the island is only accessible by boat or, more usually, by light aircraft, to one of the very few high-end luxury lodges and mobile camps that operate on the island itself. Day boat trips and overnight boat safaris can also be arranged from Maun, but in general the island sees very low visitor…

Chiefs Island in Okavango Delta

Region Explained

Chief’s Island was once the private hunting ground of the local Chief Moremi, but was incorporated into the wider Moremi Game Reserve in 1976. Roughly 60km long and 10km wide, the island is only accessible by boat or, more usually, by light aircraft, to one of the very few high-end luxury lodges and mobile camps that operate on the island itself. Day boat trips and overnight boat safaris can also be arranged from Maun, but in general the island sees very low visitor numbers and is certainly Botswana’s most exclusive wildlife destination.

Chief's Island is a playground for wildlife - from bird species to predators

Highlights

Rhino in the wild: Besides the small Khama Rhino Sanctuary in western Botswana, Chief’s Island is the only place in the country where you have a good chance of seeing rhino in the wild. Once common across Botswana they were completely wiped out by poaching, but were successfully reintroduced to central Moremi in the early 2000s.

Exclusive game viewing: Moremi is arguably Botswana’s best wildlife-viewing region, and Chief’s Island is undoubtedly the reserve’s most game-rich and exclusive area. It’s the only place in Botswana which supports all of the Big Five and excellent predator sightings are virtually guaranteed.

A leopard lounges lazily on a log in Chief's Camp

Practical Advice

Chief’s Island’s two main lodges are among the most luxurious in Africa, offering all-inclusive, fly-in safaris, usually transferring through Maun. Day or overnight boat trips from Maun are the more affordable option, but however you visit you’ll need to book well in advance. The island can be visited at any time of year, but May to August sees extensive flooding in some areas. This can be a wonderful time to visit Chief’s Island, but the focus shifts to boat and mokoro excursions instead of game vehicles and walking safaris.

Try a mokoro boat ride for an alternative look at Chief's Island

Maun in Okavango Delta

Region Explained

On the south-eastern edge of the Okavango Delta, straddling the banks of the Thamalakane River, the bustling frontier town of Maun serves as the gateway to northern Botswana. If you’re on a fly-in safari, you’ll likely not leave the airport, instead making a quick change of planes before winging off into the central Delta. Those arriving by vehicle, however, usually stay a night or two, replenishing supplies, making repairs, getting laundry done and so on. Maun has…

Maun in Okavango Delta

Region Explained

On the south-eastern edge of the Okavango Delta, straddling the banks of the Thamalakane River, the bustling frontier town of Maun serves as the gateway to northern Botswana. If you’re on a fly-in safari, you’ll likely not leave the airport, instead making a quick change of planes before winging off into the central Delta. Those arriving by vehicle, however, usually stay a night or two, replenishing supplies, making repairs, getting laundry done and so on. Maun has large shopping centres, garages, banks, bars and camping supply stores, serving not just the steady stream of 4x4 visitors, but the hundreds of lodges, hotels, campsites and safari tour operators that ply their trade in the region.

On the south-eastern edge of the Okavango Delta, straddling the banks of the Thamalakane River, the bustling frontier town of Maun serves as the gateway to northern Botswana  Credit: Ride Botswana

Highlights

Flights over the Delta: The Okavango Delta is spectacular from above, and a flight over the Delta is highly recommended. A number of companies offer light aircraft and helicopter tours – with minimum flight time of 45 minutes. As is takes some minutes to get over the Delta properly, booking at least an hour is a good idea. Helicopters are more expensive, but the visibility – and photo opportunities – are much better.

Gunns Camp overlooks the legendary Moremi Game Reserve.

Mokoro trips: Mekoro (plural) are the Delta’s traditional dugout canoes and multi-day excursions can be arranged from Maun. If the water is high enough you’ll start with a speedboat transfer from Maun itself, otherwise a vehicle will drive you north of town to the launch site. Once into the Delta, local guides will pole you along, stopping at deserted, wild islands for a few unforgettable nights under the stars. Day trips can also be arranged, but it’s usually more practical to stick to the Thamalakane River – most river lodges have small motorboats for birding and sunset cruises.

Practical Advice

Maun is a great place to head it you’re travelling solo – everyone passes through the town on their way north or south. It’s much more affordable booking group activities into the Delta and in Maun you’ll be able to join bigger tours and meet new people. All of Botswana’s major campsite and tour operators have offices in Maun and although it’s always a good idea to book in advance, last minute itinerary changes can be made in Maun in person (which is often much easier than by email or over the phone!). There’s not much safari-related that you can’t get done in Maun, from buying a new tent or camping chair to welding or major mechanical repairs. It’s also the last place to get fuel before the long drive north to Kasane.

Moremi Game Reserve in Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve covers the central and eastern edges of the Okavango Delta and is one of Botswana’s most famous parks. In the central region, dominated by Chief’s Island, a couple of beautiful luxury lodges provide fly-in safaris to one of the most pristine wildlife havens in the world. East of Chief’s Island, a roughly triangular wedge incorporates expansive mopani and riverine hardwood forests, open swamp grasslands, reed beds and waterways. This wedge of land provides the…

Moremi Game Reserve in Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve covers the central and eastern edges of the Okavango Delta and is one of Botswana’s most famous parks. In the central region, dominated by Chief’s Island, a couple of beautiful luxury lodges provide fly-in safaris to one of the most pristine wildlife havens in the world. East of Chief’s Island, a roughly triangular wedge incorporates expansive mopani and riverine hardwood forests, open swamp grasslands, reed beds and waterways. This wedge of land provides the only public vehicle access into the Delta, with four main camping areas and a handful of private campsites and lodges.

This wedge of land provides the only public vehicle access into the Delta, with four main camping areas and a handful of private campsites and lodges.

Highlights

Fantastic fauna and flora: Moremi is arguably Botswana’s best wildlife region, with permanent water that attracts big game year-round. Over 1000 species of plants grow along the waterways and in the surrounding plains, which in turn are home to over 400 species of birds. All of Africa’s iconic megafauna can be found here, although rhino are concentrated on Chief’s Island where they can be more easily monitored and protected from poaching.

An Oxpecker sits atop a kudu

Boat trips into the Delta: Boat excursions can be arranged from the two main waterway campsites, Third Bridge and Xakanaxa, and there’s also a small boat station on the Mboma peninsular near Third Bridge. Both motorboat and mokoro trips are available – do both if you can, they’re equally special for different reasons. While mekoro are silent and peaceful (and with a knowledgeable guide a great way to learn about the waterways’ small plants and animals), the faster boats will get you out into the more distant lagoons, with the chance of seeing big game and large nesting bird colonies from the water.

Practical Advice

Most visitors to Moremi’s eastern section arrive in their own 4x4 – and soon realised that the park’s roads are something of a challenge. In the dry season (roughly April to November), thick sand can make the going very slow, especially between Third Bridge and Xakanaxa. In July and August, however, is the Delta itself is at its fullest and roads along the waterways can flood completely. Once the rains begin in November/December many tracks clog up with mud. Some 4x4 experience is certainly a good idea and travelling in convoy is also highly recommended. Note that there’s no fuel at all between Maun and Kasane, and no shops either (although there’s a new small camp shop at Third Bridge). You need to be completely self-sufficient when visiting Moremi, and that includes your own supply of fresh drinking water. None of the public campsites are fenced and visitors are expected to be careful of wild animals at all times, and never to leave their campsite after dark.

Boat trips along the river are a favourite past time in Botswana

Northern Okavango Delta

Region Explained

Outside of Moremi Game Reserve the Okavango Delta is divided into a number of unfenced concession areas, each managed by a local community or private safari operator. In north-western Botswana, the concessions are designated ‘NG’ – an acronym for the broader municipal area, known as Ngamiland. Along the Delta’s northern edge, you’ll find NG12, NG18, NG19, NG20, NG21, NG22 and NG23, each with their own lodges and tented camps, and offering a range of…

Northern Okavango Delta

Region Explained

Outside of Moremi Game Reserve the Okavango Delta is divided into a number of unfenced concession areas, each managed by a local community or private safari operator. In north-western Botswana, the concessions are designated ‘NG’ – an acronym for the broader municipal area, known as Ngamiland. Along the Delta’s northern edge, you’ll find NG12, NG18, NG19, NG20, NG21, NG22 and NG23, each with their own lodges and tented camps, and offering a range of activities depending on their specific location, access to water, etc. NG19 is the most easterly and covered separately as the Khwai Community Concession – the rest run westwards, all the way to the Panhandle. On the whole, the concessions closer to the Panhandle receive more flood water and so have more opportunities for boat safaris, but each camp is uniquely situated, with those further back from the main channels focussing on walking safaris and game drives instead. This area offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the Delta, with more variety and greater numbers than in the south and west.

Outside of Moremi Game Reserve the Okavango Delta is divided into a number of unfenced concession areas, each managed by a local community or private safari operator. In north-western Botswana, the concessions are designated NG

Highlights

Walking safaris: The Okavango Delta is not especially well-known for walking safaris, but good walking conditions are possible, particularly in the Delta’s northern concessions. Here you’ll find a beautiful mix of lush floodplains and open woodland, and plenty of plains game as you explore back from the waterways.

Get up close and personal on a walking safari

Boat safaris: Most camps in the northern concessions have good access to deep water, with fantastic opportunities to discover the Delta by motorboat. Mokoro (canoe) safaris are also usually possible, but motorboats allow quick access to a number of wonderful open lagoons. The north’s reed beds, twisting channels and scattered palm tree islands offer some of the most spectacular landscapes anywhere in the Delta.

Boat safaris allow quick access to a number of wonderful open lagoons

Practical Advice

All the camps and lodges in the Delta’s northern concessions are extremely luxurious, with high season rates usually in excess of $1000 a person a night. Discounts of up to 50% are standard during the low season (December to March), but although there can still be some very fine days, rain and overcast conditions are the norm. Each camp offers its own specialist activities according to its location so be sure to check what’s available before you make your pick. May to August is the peak flood season and the best time to visit if you want to explore the Delta by boat. And April and May are best for photography, when the atmosphere is clearer after the end of the summer rains.

Okavango Delta Panhandle

Region Explained

The Okavango Delta is fed by the Okavango River, which flows southeast from Angola, through Namibia’s Zambezi Region, and enters Botswana at the small border village of Mohembo. Here it spreads out into a strip roughly 11km wide, a thick green mass of twisting channels, dense papyrus and reed beds. This long, green ‘Panhandle’ continues for roughly 100km before fanning out into the Okavango Delta proper. Along its western edge you’ll find a number of self-drive…

Okavango Delta Panhandle

Region Explained

The Okavango Delta is fed by the Okavango River, which flows southeast from Angola, through Namibia’s Zambezi Region, and enters Botswana at the small border village of Mohembo. Here it spreads out into a strip roughly 11km wide, a thick green mass of twisting channels, dense papyrus and reed beds. This long, green ‘Panhandle’ continues for roughly 100km before fanning out into the Okavango Delta proper. Along its western edge you’ll find a number of self-drive safari and fishing camps and the area is, on the whole, much more low key and affordable than elsewhere in the Delta. Although there’s excellent fishing, good birding and plenty of crocs and hippos, the Panhandle is not known for big game and traditional wildlife safaris are not an option. However, unique to the area, are a selection of fully-crewed houseboats, ideal for larger groups looking to kick back on the water.

Highlights

Fishing: Angling is undoubtedly the Panhandle’s biggest attraction and there’s good fishing to be had throughout the year. Catfish and bream are common in the area, but tigerfish are the main prize, especially between August and November. Tigers up to 10kg have been caught in the northern channels and just about every lodge and camp offers guided fishing trips to find them.

Cat fish are common during August-November, but Tiger fish are the main prize

The annual catfish run: This part of the Okavango sees the annual catfish run when thousands of predatory catfish, some up to 1.5m in length, swarm up the channels as the water levels start to drop (roughly August to November). As they go they hunt smaller fish and are in turn hunted by birds and tigerfish – an incredible feeding frenzy that’s a sight to behold!

Practical Advice

Unlike much of the Delta, the Panhandle is easily accessible, with a generally good, although in places badly potholed, tarmac road running along its western edge. Reaching some of the camps and lodges will still require a 4x4, however, as many of the access tracks are either extremely sandy or seasonally waterlogged. The eastern edge of the Panhandle is high-clearance only, with a single sandy track running south from Mohembo to Seronga. If you’re visiting the region a detour to the nearby Tsodilo Hills is recommended. It’s one of the world’s oldest inhabited sites, with archaeological evidence dating back 60,000 years.

Tsodilo Hills is one of the world’s oldest inhabited sites, with archaeological evidence dating back 60,000 years.

Southern Okavango Delta

Region Explained

The southern Delta can be divided into six main concessions, three smaller regions to the north and three larger areas further south. To the north, NG27A, NG27B and NG31 are so far north they’re practically central, sitting just off Chief’s Island along Moremi Game Reserve’s fenced southern border. When the floodwaters arrive much of this area is underwater and the lodges and camps here are especially well known for their mokoro safaris. Beautiful riverine forest…

Southern Okavango Delta

Region Explained

The southern Delta can be divided into six main concessions, three smaller regions to the north and three larger areas further south. To the north, NG27A, NG27B and NG31 are so far north they’re practically central, sitting just off Chief’s Island along Moremi Game Reserve’s fenced southern border. When the floodwaters arrive much of this area is underwater and the lodges and camps here are especially well known for their mokoro safaris. Beautiful riverine forest characterises the region, including giant water berry, fever berry, fig, sausage and baobab trees. Further south, the three larger concessions are NG29, NG30 and NG32. Although their northern sections can see good floodwaters, these sprawling reserves are on the whole far drier and the camps specialise in game drives and horseback safaris.

Mokoro rides are a highlight in the southern concessions of the Okavango Delta

Highlights

Horseback safaris: A multi-day horseback safari is a wonderful experience and a great way to get up close to plains game ‘on their terms’. For the most part wild antelope don’t see horses (and their riders) as a threat and it’s often possible to get much closer than on foot. Only very experienced riders are allowed, however, and you’ll need to be comfortable galloping out of any trouble!

Horseback safaris are a truly unique experience that offers a unique viewpoint of the wildlife

Mokoro trips: The Delta’s southern regions are best known for mokoro safaris, especially the three smaller concessions just south of Chief’s Island. Day trips are often combined with short island walks and while wildlife tends to be elusive in these wetter areas, the birdlife is excellent and the soft reflections and stunning, riverine landscapes make for some spectacular photo opportunities.

Practical Advice

The annual flood usually arrives in April/May, rising first in the northwest, and lingering longest in the southeast. April to November is the best time to visit the area when the skies are clear and the floodwaters optimal for mokoro safaris. Although most of the southern lodges are extremely luxurious and exclusive, unlike the north there’s also a handful of more affordable mid-range camps. Significant discounts are available during the wet summer months (up to 50% off from December to March), but rain and overcast conditions are common during this period and despite the excellent birdlife it can be a bit miserable in a waterlogged mokoro.

Western Okavango Delta

Along the western edge of the Okavango, just below the Panhandle, the deep-water channels and surrounding floodplains are some of the most beautiful to be found anywhere in the Delta. Three main concession areas cover this stunning region and there are only a handful of exclusive camps and lodges. Concession NG24 is the most northerly and currently has no safari operation at all, while NG25 has half a dozen luxury camps and NG26, the most southerly, a couple more. Although the wildlife…

Western Okavango Delta

Along the western edge of the Okavango, just below the Panhandle, the deep-water channels and surrounding floodplains are some of the most beautiful to be found anywhere in the Delta. Three main concession areas cover this stunning region and there are only a handful of exclusive camps and lodges. Concession NG24 is the most northerly and currently has no safari operation at all, while NG25 has half a dozen luxury camps and NG26, the most southerly, a couple more. Although the wildlife is not as diverse as in the concessions further east and north, elephant and lion are fairly common, as well as other smaller predators and antelope, including lechwe and sitatunga which are regularly seen. This is also an excellent area for water birds, and in the southwest, slightly back from the waterways, horseback safaris are also possible.

Along the western edge of the Okavango, just below the Panhandle, the deep-water channels and surrounding floodplains are some of the most beautiful.

Highlights

Water-based activities: The more northerly camps have excellent access to the deep-water channels and motorboat and mokoro excursions are the norm. Boat-based bird-watching is popular and ‘catch and release’ fishing trips can also be arranged – look out for the annual catfish run which occurs between August and November.

Tiger fishing is excellent between August and November

Walking with elephants: Until recently elephant-backed safaris were still possible in this part of the Delta, but these have been phased out in favour of bush walks alongside the elephants and interacting with them from the ground.

Practical Advice

The floodwaters arrive earlier here than further east in the Delta, and tend to subside earlier too so timing is important. April to November is broadly the best period to visit, but come later in the season (from September, when the water levels are lower) for horseback safaris and general wildlife viewing. That said, the camps and lodges nearer the Panhandle have good water access and offer water-based activities year-round. A few are among the most luxurious in the Okavango, but there are one or two midrange options as well and, as is common practice throughout the Delta, there are substantial discounts during the rainy summer months (January to March).

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When is the best time to travel to The Okavango Delta?

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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Okavango Delta in January

Climate January is the Okavango Delta’s wettest month, with regular spectacular thunderstorms that usually arrive in the late afternoon. Mornings in January often begin bright and clear, turn suddenly violent and then clear again overnight. It’s rare in the Okavango to see consecutive days of persistent rain, but in January and February there’s always that chance. In general, however, you can expect brief, heavy downpours with a few days of partly-cloudy weather mixed in between.…

Okavango Delta in January

Climate

January is the Okavango Delta’s wettest month, with regular spectacular thunderstorms that usually arrive in the late afternoon. Mornings in January often begin bright and clear, turn suddenly violent and then clear again overnight. It’s rare in the Okavango to see consecutive days of persistent rain, but in January and February there’s always that chance. In general, however, you can expect brief, heavy downpours with a few days of partly-cloudy weather mixed in between. The northern concessions and Panhandle tend to see the biggest storms, but it’s impossible to be precise except to say that some rain will fall. Daytime temperatures in January average over 30°C (86°F), and can climb above 36°C (97°F) when the sun comes out. Night-time minimums are seldom below 20°C (68°F) and humidity is high all across the Delta.

Xaranna in Okavango Delta is located in the heart of the bush

Best Regions in January

Although the rains are at their peak, the Delta floodwaters have yet to arrive and January sees some of the lowest water levels across the Okavango. Motorboat and, especially, mokoro trips may not be possible in certain areas and only lodges with deep-water access are able to offer water-based activities. In fact, most Okavango Delta lodges used to close completely during January, but many now stay open year-round, offering motorboat transfers to the deeper channels or more traditional land-based activities such as walking safaris and game drives. Driving, however, can be difficult at this time of year as the heavy rains turn the dirt tracks to mud. Moremi Game Reserve is especially notorious and although off-roading in the mud can be fun, some experience is required and it’s essential to travel with more than one vehicle.

Highlights: Because of the rain, January is seldom recommended as the best month in the Okavango, but nevertheless it is a beautiful time to visit. The birdlife is excellent and the Delta comes alive with their song – it seems there’s always something calling out, throughout the day and deep into the night. As so few people visit during January the camps and lodges also tend to be very quiet. Guests are treated to an even more intimate experience than usual, with the added benefit of significant discounts – as much as 50% off the standard rates.

Disadvantages: The major disadvantage in January is the rain. Some rain will almost certainly fall, but if you get unlucky a whole week may be drowned out. January is also not the best time for water-based activities – not just because of the weather, but for the low water levels too. If you visit in January, then keep your expectations realistic. If you go for the overall ambiance you won’t be disappointed.

Okavango Delta in February

February is another wet month in the Okavango Delta, but like January, the rain and clouds are usually interspersed with a few fine, bright days. These summer months are always highly unpredictable however – there may be sunshine for over a week and then four or five days straight of cloud and afternoon storms. A thunderstorm over the Delta is one of Southern Africa’s most awe-inspiring sights: incredible towering clouds and sudden jagged lightning; reflections bouncing off the…

Okavango Delta in February

February is another wet month in the Okavango Delta, but like January, the rain and clouds are usually interspersed with a few fine, bright days. These summer months are always highly unpredictable however – there may be sunshine for over a week and then four or five days straight of cloud and afternoon storms. A thunderstorm over the Delta is one of Southern Africa’s most awe-inspiring sights: incredible towering clouds and sudden jagged lightning; reflections bouncing off the water towards the wild, distant horizon. It’s almost worth the risk of a rained-out safari, which is always a possibility, even though persistent rain is unusual. When the clouds do clear, the temperature can easily hit 36°C (97°F), though it’s typically closer to 30°C (86°F), and around 20°C (68°F) at night.

An aerial view of the Okavango Delta

Where to Go

In Moremi Game Reserve, and all around the Delta, the frequent heavy downpours take their toll on the dirt roads. February is perhaps the muddiest month in Moremi and you’ll need two or more vehicles in case one gets stuck. If the rains have come early, the Panhandle may already be filling as the first surge of floodwater pours down from Angola. The rest of the Okavango will still be very low, however, and water-based activities may not yet be available further east. Lodges on the deeper channels – in the central Delta and northwest – can be great for birding at this time of year. Many species will be in their breeding plumage and the reed beds and vegetation in general is at its verdant best.

Travel Tips

Highlights: February is not known as a great time to see predators, but just because it’s raining they don’t disappear. The thicker vegetation tends to make animals harder to spot, but when you do see them the lush bush and stormy backdrops can make for some wonderful and unusual photographs. Like January, February is usually fairly quiet in terms of visitors, despite many lodges offering up to 50% off their usual rates.

Disadvantages: Although the vegetation is at its greenest and most beautiful, the birdlife at its best, and the herbivores well-grazed and in excellent condition, the risk of rain still keeps many people away. With water levels still at their lowest across most of the Okavango, water-based activities are also not always possible and the dirt roads everywhere are at their muddiest at this time of year.

Okavango Delta in March

March is a transition period in the Okavango Delta and although it can still see some heavy rain, the change in seasons is usually apparent by the end of the month. This is most obvious in the gradual drop in night-time temperatures, down to 15°C (59°F) on the coldest mornings. Daily highs, however, are slower to move – 30°C (86°F) to 35°C (95°F) remains the norm until well into April. Although the chance of rain is still high, the risk of consecutive overcast days is much lower…

Okavango Delta in March

March is a transition period in the Okavango Delta and although it can still see some heavy rain, the change in seasons is usually apparent by the end of the month. This is most obvious in the gradual drop in night-time temperatures, down to 15°C (59°F) on the coldest mornings. Daily highs, however, are slower to move – 30°C (86°F) to 35°C (95°F) remains the norm until well into April. Although the chance of rain is still high, the risk of consecutive overcast days is much lower than in January and February. It’s still a risky period to visit the Okavango, but as the humidity drops so does the threat of a rained-out safari and late March can see some of the year’s clearest, most pleasant nights around the campfire.

A Wild dog stares intently at potential prey

Where to Go

By March, the floodwaters are usually in full flow down the Panhandle and it’s not a great time for fishing while the channels are turbulent and muddy. Further south and east the flood can take another month to reach the central Delta, but the lodges in the northwest can be excellent at this time of year. Exploring the northwest Delta by motorboat or mokoro is wonderful in any season, but March can be particularly special. It’s the last month before many migrant birds return north, the vegetation is lush and green, and the channels are slowly rising and changing with the coming of the flood. Across the rest of the Okavango, conditions are rather more hit and miss. Water-based activities will still be hampered by low water levels further east, but the increasingly sunny days and clear, rain-washed atmosphere produces some beautiful landscapes, dotted with well-fed, healthy animals.

Travel Tips

Highlights: Although there’ll still be some rain, the weather in March can be gorgeous. And with many lodges still offering up to 50% off, it’s not a bad time to take a gamble. Those who do visit in March will find the Delta lush and vibrant, full of migrant birds and fat antelope, under steadily clearing, deep blue skies.

Disadvantages: March is the last month until November that sees significant rain, and water-based activities in the eastern Delta won’t be at their best until the flood arrives in May/June. Driving off road remains a challenge until the rains abate in April, and the roads through Moremi are still little more than a succession of muddy pools.

Okavango Delta in April

Throughout April the autumn gradually sets in, and cooler, drier weather steadily creeps across the Delta. As with March it’s the nights that cool more rapidly than the days. The coldest evenings can drop to around 12°C (54°F), but daytime highs are usually still over 30°C (86°F). Although the first few weeks of April may see some scattered showers, clearer skies are more and more common and the clouds all but vanish by the end of the month. April is a wonderful time to be in the…

Okavango Delta in April

Throughout April the autumn gradually sets in, and cooler, drier weather steadily creeps across the Delta. As with March it’s the nights that cool more rapidly than the days. The coldest evenings can drop to around 12°C (54°F), but daytime highs are usually still over 30°C (86°F). Although the first few weeks of April may see some scattered showers, clearer skies are more and more common and the clouds all but vanish by the end of the month. April is a wonderful time to be in the Okavango Delta, with moderate to warm temperatures, little chance of rain, and the opportunity to see the flood work its magic as the waters fan out into the central and northern regions.

Where to Go

April is a beautiful month to be anywhere in the Okavango, with fresh, rain-washed skies dotted here and there with fluffy clouds. It’s a magnificent time to be out on the water, and motorboat and mokoro trips are at their best in the north and west. It will take another month or two before the waters filter east, but lodges on the deeper channels should have good boating conditions. In the Panhandle, anglers can start casting for bream (tilapia), but the best fishing is usually later in the year. April marks the start of the antelope breeding season and the shallow floodplains on the Delta’s fringes come alive with competing males. Across the Okavango all life seems to thrive, with tall, green grass and fruit-laden trees as far as the eye can see.

Travel Tips

Highlights: April is a magnificent month for photography and an idyllic time for mokoro trips under crisp, white clouds. The Okavango is glorious as the floodwaters rise, full of life and energy before the dry season begins.

Disadvantages: The eastern concessions still have low water in April and water-based activities may be limited away from the deep channels. In Moremi the roads usually dry out quite quickly, but it can still be very muddy at the beginning of the month. On the whole, there are few disadvantages of visiting the Okavango in April, although predator sightings tend to be better later in the year once the vegetation thins out.

Okavango Delta in May

As May unfolds, the Okavango Delta gets cooler and the bright, cloudless days begin to dip below 30°C (86°F). Along the rapidly filling waterways the nights tend to be milder, but on the open plains away from the channels it may drop as low as 5°C (50°F). It’s safe to say that no rain ever falls in May and you’ll seldom see more than the odd wisp of cloud. The deep blue sky remains crisp and clear, not yet as dusty as it can get later in the year. Where to Go As surface…

Okavango Delta in May

As May unfolds, the Okavango Delta gets cooler and the bright, cloudless days begin to dip below 30°C (86°F). Along the rapidly filling waterways the nights tend to be milder, but on the open plains away from the channels it may drop as low as 5°C (50°F). It’s safe to say that no rain ever falls in May and you’ll seldom see more than the odd wisp of cloud. The deep blue sky remains crisp and clear, not yet as dusty as it can get later in the year.

A lioness and her cub are seldom parted

Where to Go

As surface water evaporates on the surrounding Kalahari plains, more and more animals are drawn to the Okavango’s rising floodwaters. This is especially true along the Delta’s northern concessions which attract elephant and plains game from the increasingly dry Chobe and Linyanti regions. If your primary goal is wildlife – especially lion and other predators – then the northern concessions and Khwai region are a good choice this early in the season, as is Chief’s Island which has excellent game year-round. In general, however, May is prime time across the Okavango, an excellent mix of rising water levels and drying grasslands, when the wildlife gathers along the Delta’s deepening pools, and there’s still plenty to eat around the floodplains. By late May the elevated water levels allow extensive motorboat and mokoro activities and the early mornings aren’t yet as cold as they can get in June and July.

 

Travel Tips

Highlights: Those who visit the Okavango Delta regularly often cite May as their favourite month. It’s true that predator sightings are not as prolific as later in the season (September and October are usually best), but May brings its own rewards. Moderate temperatures, clear blue skies, rising floodwaters and an abundance of well-fed, healthy herbivores all combine to make the Okavango particularly special in May.

Disadvantages: If you’re desperate to see predators, then your chances are slightly better later in the year, when the vegetation is drier and thinner and the animals easier to spot. That said, most lodges and camps have very experienced trackers and guides and although wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, they’re usually able to find animals for their guests in just about any season.

Okavango Delta in June

Climate June is mid-winter in the Okavango Delta and one of the coldest, driest months of the year. Daily average temperatures are around 25°C (77°F), although some hot days will still get up to 30°C (86°F). It’s the nights, however, that can get particularly cold – close to freezing at times, but more usually around 5°C (41°F). Early morning excursions can be very chilly in the wind, especially on motorboats and open game drive vehicles. June marks the start of the hard, dry…

Okavango Delta in June

Climate

June is mid-winter in the Okavango Delta and one of the coldest, driest months of the year. Daily average temperatures are around 25°C (77°F), although some hot days will still get up to 30°C (86°F). It’s the nights, however, that can get particularly cold – close to freezing at times, but more usually around 5°C (41°F). Early morning excursions can be very chilly in the wind, especially on motorboats and open game drive vehicles. June marks the start of the hard, dry winter season – after two months without rain, the Kalahari vegetation is thinning fast. There’s more pressure on the animals as they cluster closer to the waterways, which are now nearing maximum levels as the flood moves further east.

The Kalahari vegetation starts thinning out this time of the year

Best Regions

The Delta’s south-eastern fringes are the last to see floodwaters, but by the middle of June they have usually arrived. By now there’s good, deep water across the Okavango, a magnet for wildlife from all over the Kalahari. It’s hard to single out any one region in June – it’s a very special time to be anywhere on the Delta. Those looking for predators and large plains game should perhaps still head to the northern concessions, but wildlife concentrations are increasing everywhere. The central Delta is always excellent, but with the floodwaters now at their highest, mokoro and motorboat excursions can depart directly from many of the lodges, which raised up on stilts seem to hover magically over the water.

Highlights: By June the thinning vegetation makes predator spotting easier and all manner of activities are possible across the Delta. June is an excellent time to visit the Okavango, especially if you want to try a mix of water and land-based activities.

Disadvantages: June is a popular month in the Okavango Delta and you’ll need to book your safari fairly far in advance. Most lodges and camps are small and intimate, however, and are spaced well enough apart that it never feels crowded.

Okavango Delta in July

Climate July is the coldest month in the Okavango Delta, with daytime highs around 25°C (77°F). Although the days are mild, the nights cool quickly, dropping close to freezing on a few mornings each year. By now the annual flood has percolated across the Delta, and water levels usually reach their peak around the end of the month. Even lodges quite far from the main central channels can now offer mokoro trips through the submerged floodplains. July is another clear, dry month in the…

Okavango Delta in July

Climate

July is the coldest month in the Okavango Delta, with daytime highs around 25°C (77°F). Although the days are mild, the nights cool quickly, dropping close to freezing on a few mornings each year. By now the annual flood has percolated across the Delta, and water levels usually reach their peak around the end of the month. Even lodges quite far from the main central channels can now offer mokoro trips through the submerged floodplains. July is another clear, dry month in the northern Kalahari, the third straight month without a drop of rain. The Delta is therefore an increasingly important source of water and attracts thousands of animals from the surrounding plains.

The African wild dogs are highly endangered species, with fewer than 5000 left in the wild

Best Regions

The Okavango’s peak season begins in July and there’s no one region that stands out from another. Water-based activities are possible nearly everywhere and the thinning vegetation makes wildlife spotting ever easier. Along the Delta’s northern fringe, elephant and buffalo gather in numbers, but large herds can also be found to the east and south. If this is your first and perhaps only visit to the Okavango, then July and August are perhaps the best months to arrive. Although September and October are arguably even better for game viewing, July’s high floodwaters are particularly special and the surrounding forests and grasslands still retain some of their summer green.

Highlights: July to October is a good time to see African wild dogs, especially in the northern concessions and along the Khwai River. Now is the time to see the Delta at its fullest as it spills its main channels into the Kalahari sand.

Disadvantages: July to October is the Delta’s busiest period and the camps and lodges charge peak season rates. Mornings in the Delta can get very chilly in July so be sure to pack warm clothes for early morning boat trips and game drives.

Okavango Delta in August

Climate Temperatures climb steadily through August and daytime highs once again top 30°C (86°F). At the beginning of the month the mornings can still be close to freezing, but lows of 10°C (50°F) are more common as September approaches. By August no rain has fallen in the northern Kalahari for at least four months and the only fresh grazing is along the Delta’s flooded waterways. Predator and prey alike are forced to gather along the fringes and wildlife viewing is excellent all…

Okavango Delta in August

Climate

Temperatures climb steadily through August and daytime highs once again top 30°C (86°F). At the beginning of the month the mornings can still be close to freezing, but lows of 10°C (50°F) are more common as September approaches. By August no rain has fallen in the northern Kalahari for at least four months and the only fresh grazing is along the Delta’s flooded waterways. Predator and prey alike are forced to gather along the fringes and wildlife viewing is excellent all over the Okavango.

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Best Regions

August is an ideal month to be anywhere on the Delta, so pick your region based on what you’d most like to see or do. In the Panhandle and western concessions, the floodwaters begin their slow withdrawal, sparking the annual catfish run and heralding the start of prime tigerfish angling season. Along the northern Okavango, the game viewing is excellent as large numbers of herbivores gather along the waterways. Predators, especially lion, leopard and African wild dog are regularly sighted during this period. In Moremi Game Reserve, the wildlife viewing is also superb and boating trips are at their best with the high floodwaters. These have now reached as far southeast as Maun, allowing motorboat excursions up the Thamalakane River and into the Delta. In the southern concessions, horseback safaris are ideal in August, while the weather is still relatively cool and the vegetation thin and easier to negotiate.

Highlights: August is known as a great month for wildlife and the game viewing only improves as the dry season continues. Like July, August is ideal for first-time visitors, when both water and land-based activities are possible nearly everywhere. Keen birders should head to Moremi’s Gcodikwe Lagoon as thousands of herons, storks and egrets arrive and start building their nests. And, even if you’re not interested in fishing, the catfish run is impressive – a roiling feeding frenzy that whips up the main channels and attracts a number of opportunistic predators and fishing birds.

Disadvantages: The only disadvantage of visiting the Okavango in August is that it’s peak season and the camps and lodges charge their highest rates. It’s also one of the most popular times to visit the Delta and bookings need to be made far in advance.

Okavango Delta in September

Climate The long, dry winter continues into September and by now there’s been no rain for about five straight months. The Okavango Delta is now an essential source of grazing and water, and as the annual flood gradually recedes, the pressure builds and competition increases along its drying waterways. Both night and daytime temperatures rapidly increase, averaging 15°C (59°F) to 35°C (95°F), with some hot days up to 40°C (104°F). The shallow pools and floodplains evaporate…

Okavango Delta in September

Climate

The long, dry winter continues into September and by now there’s been no rain for about five straight months. The Okavango Delta is now an essential source of grazing and water, and as the annual flood gradually recedes, the pressure builds and competition increases along its drying waterways. Both night and daytime temperatures rapidly increase, averaging 15°C (59°F) to 35°C (95°F), with some hot days up to 40°C (104°F). The shallow pools and floodplains evaporate quickly in the heat and the surrounding vegetation thins out even further, with the only strips of greenery sitting tight against the channels.

Hippos wading in the water are a common sight

Best Regions

The floodwaters recede in the northern and western regions first, triggering the annual catfish run which starts in the Panhandle and spreads southeast. It’s a wild feeding frenzy that’s a sight to behold and well worth a visit even if you’re not interested in fishing. For those who are keen anglers it’s an ideal time for tigerfish and many come to the Panhandle specifically for this reason. Elsewhere in the Delta, September is one of the best months for wildlife viewing and a good time for walks in the northern concessions and horseback safaris in the south. As the month progresses, the ebbing flood can have an impact on mokoro trips. The southwestern regions tend to dry up first so head north and east for the best conditions.

Highlights: As the shallower waterways slowly dry up, they strand thousands of fish in ever decreasing pools. These attract hundreds of storks, herons and birds of prey, who squabble among themselves over the easy meal. September and October are traditionally the best months for predators, which are much easier to spot through the now very dry vegetation. Both predators and prey congregate on the channels, the only source of water for miles in any direction.

Disadvantages: September is still peak season, which means peak rates across the Okavango, and bookings need to be secured up to a year in advance. It also gets quite hot and dusty by the end of the month and boating and mokoro safaris may not be optimal along the Delta’s fringes.

Okavango Delta in November

Early November is usually hot and stifling as the Okavango holds its breath for the coming of the rains. The exact start date varies considerably from year to year, but when the clouds do break the relief is palpable. Although daily highs of over 40°C (104°F) are the norm at the beginning of the month, the temperature gradually drops as the rains become more frequent. Localised showers evolve quickly into massive afternoon storms, with thunder and lightning flashing across the…

Okavango Delta in November

Early November is usually hot and stifling as the Okavango holds its breath for the coming of the rains. The exact start date varies considerably from year to year, but when the clouds do break the relief is palpable. Although daily highs of over 40°C (104°F) are the norm at the beginning of the month, the temperature gradually drops as the rains become more frequent. Localised showers evolve quickly into massive afternoon storms, with thunder and lightning flashing across the Delta.

The zebra migration begins when the rains fall - usually around Nov-Dec

Where to Go

It’s impossible to say where the rains will fall first, or whether they’ll even arrive at all. Some years some areas may not see significant rainfall until December and until that happens game viewing continues to be excellent. The Khwai River, in the northeast, has good water year-round, and wildlife, especially elephants, tend to congregate along its banks late into the dry season. Chief’s Island has permanent game and good, deep-water access as well, as does the rest of the central Delta and the north-western concessions. When the rains do arrive, the pressure is released and the animals start to move back into the surrounding bush. November is an interesting time to be anywhere in the Delta as the animals and plants begin to recover from more than half a year without rainfall.

Travel Tips

Highlights: Once the rains arrive, the antelope birthing season begins, and all over the Delta there are new signs of life. Many lodges and camps offer shoulder season prices, and it’s an excellent time to get a good deal before the rainy season starts in earnest in December.

Disadvantages: November is an unpredictable month weather-wise and if the rains arrive early your safari may be washed out. The wildlife may also begin to disperse, although sightings – especially of newborns – are usually still very good until the end of the month.

Okavango Delta in December

December marks the start of the rainy season proper. It’s the second wettest month of the year and afternoon thunderstorms become increasingly regular and violent. As the rains intensify the dusty atmosphere clears and between the storms the skies are bright and fresh. The usual pattern is a few days of cloud and rain, followed by another few days of hot, sunny weather. This builds and builds until the next storm breaks and as the month progresses the gaps between storms lessen.…

Okavango Delta in December

December marks the start of the rainy season proper. It’s the second wettest month of the year and afternoon thunderstorms become increasingly regular and violent. As the rains intensify the dusty atmosphere clears and between the storms the skies are bright and fresh. The usual pattern is a few days of cloud and rain, followed by another few days of hot, sunny weather. This builds and builds until the next storm breaks and as the month progresses the gaps between storms lessen. It’s unusual to have more than two or three days without sunshine, but if two storm systems run into each other there may be persistent cloud cover for over week. When the sun does come out, temperatures can rise to 40°C (104°F), although the rains cool things somewhat and the December average across the Delta is around 33°C (91°F).

enter image description here

Where to Go

As the rains fill the Kalahari’s seasonal pans and pools, the herbivores begin to disperse from the Delta. With surface water now more readily available they can roam further afield in search of fresh grazing. New buds and shoots are appearing everywhere and the riverine forests and surrounding plains teem with life. Although still a good time of year for game viewing, the early rainy season is not ideal for motorboat and mokoro trips. You may get lucky with a few bright days, but it could just as likely be overcast and raining, and the Okavango water levels are also very low. The central, northern and north-western lodges will have the best access to deep water, but if you’re especially interested in water-based activities, it’s best to visit the Okavango between May and August.

Travel Tips

Highlights: December is all about the rejuvenation of the bush, a brief, stormy springtime after months of heat and dust. All around the Delta, and across the Kalahari, new grass is sprouting and young lambs and calves take their first tentative steps. December also means low season rates and it’s a great time for discounts while the game viewing is still good.

Disadvantages: There’s always the risk of heavy rain in December and if you’re unlucky you may not see much sunshine at all. Though wildlife viewing is usually still good until the vegetation thickens in January, it’s still not at the same level as September/October. December is also not the best time for mokoro and motorboat trips, with low water levels all across the Delta.

Okavango Delta in October

Climate January is the Okavango Delta’s wettest month, with regular spectacular thunderstorms that usually arrive in the late afternoon. Mornings in January often begin bright and clear, turn suddenly violent and then clear again overnight. It’s rare in the Okavango to see consecutive days of persistent rain, but in January and February there’s always that chance. In general, however, you can expect brief, heavy downpours with a few days of partly-cloudy weather mixed in between.…

Okavango Delta in October

Climate

January is the Okavango Delta’s wettest month, with regular spectacular thunderstorms that usually arrive in the late afternoon. Mornings in January often begin bright and clear, turn suddenly violent and then clear again overnight. It’s rare in the Okavango to see consecutive days of persistent rain, but in January and February there’s always that chance. In general, however, you can expect brief, heavy downpours with a few days of partly-cloudy weather mixed in between. The northern concessions and Panhandle tend to see the biggest storms, but it’s impossible to be precise except to say that some rain will fall. Daytime temperatures in January average over 30°C (86°F), and can climb above 36°C (97°F) when the sun comes out. Night-time minimums are seldom below 20°C (68°F) and humidity is high all across the Delta.

enter image description here

Best Regions

October is an excellent month for fishing along the Panhandle, especially for tigerfish as they hunt the deeper channels. Along the Delta’s northern waterways, and especially around Khwai, the waters tend to linger longer, attracting thousands of thirsty elephants. Wildlife viewing is at its best in October and it’s the perfect time of the year for spotting predators all over the Delta. For water-based activities, however, conditions vary from year to year, depending on the strength and timing of the floods. On the whole the eastern and north-eastern Delta tends to have good deep water throughout October and the heron rookeries of Gcodikwe Lagoon are teeming with birdlife. That said, any lodge or camp that lies near the deeper channels will offer boating activities even if a vehicle transfer is required.

Highlights: Predator spotting is undoubtedly the main highlight in October and the birdlife is also excellent around the deeper lagoons. Hot, exciting wildlife-filled days become long, warm nights, chatting around the campfire. Visit in October for the best chance of unforgettable encounters, and plenty of stores to tell when you get back home.

Disadvantages: Although October is perhaps the best month for wildlife (and especially predators), the receding flood waters do change the Delta’s ambiance. Many lodges will now be quite far back from the water, and miss that special magic that comes with floating above the flood.

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Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

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Megan is an Africa Concierge Expert at Discover Africa, she is responsible for compiling travel programs for people in search of their dream safari in Africa.

About Megan

What does Megan love about African travel?

There is always a new adventure around the next corner.

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Tanzania.

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Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard

Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

What is Alice’s favourite place in Africa?

Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

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You have not lived if you have not experienced an African Safari - the early morning safari drives with the African sun rising in the distance, the smell of morning freshness, coffee in the Bush. You have got to experience a morning in Africa!

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Adventure combined leisure travel makes for the best trip!

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South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

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See Okavango Delta in Your Comfort

Okavango Delta on a Budget

enter image description here Credit: Unfamiliar Destinations

Most of the lodges in the Okavango Delta fall somewhere between mid-range and ultra-high-end luxury. It’s a deliberate strategy by the Botswanan authorities to maximise conservation revenue while keeping visitor numbers low. It’s easy to be cynical about this kind of approach, but funds do seem to go where they’re needed and local communities get to see the value of their resource. The results have been impressive, with very low poaching levels…

Okavango Delta on a Budget

enter image description here Credit: Unfamiliar Destinations

Most of the lodges in the Okavango Delta fall somewhere between mid-range and ultra-high-end luxury. It’s a deliberate strategy by the Botswanan authorities to maximise conservation revenue while keeping visitor numbers low. It’s easy to be cynical about this kind of approach, but funds do seem to go where they’re needed and local communities get to see the value of their resource. The results have been impressive, with very low poaching levels and issues around human-wildlife conflict are far more manageable than in other parts of the continent. All this is to say that a safari to the Okavango is not cheap, but there is some comfort knowing that funds are being used wisely. And while the central Delta is largely off limits to budget travellers, there are still wonderful, affordable campsites in Moremi Game Reserve, along the Khwai River and the Panhandle.

Highlights

Most of the lodges in the Okavango Delta fall somewhere between mid-range and ultra-high-end luxury. It’s a deliberate strategy by the Botswanan authorities to maximise conservation revenue while keeping visitor numbers low. It’s easy to be cynical about this kind of approach, but funds do seem to go where they’re needed and local communities get to see the value of their resource. The results have been impressive, with very low poaching levels and issues around human-wildlife conflict are far more manageable than in other parts of the continent. All this is to say that a safari to the Okavango is not cheap, but there is some comfort knowing that funds are being used wisely. And while the central Delta is largely off limits to budget travellers, there are still wonderful, affordable campsites in Moremi Game Reserve, along the Khwai River and the Panhandle.

Travel Tips

If you don’t have a 4x4 then hiring can be expensive, but it’s often still the most affordable route if you can share with a few people. For solos, a budget group tour is another reasonable option and these can be booked with a reputable company in advance, or head to Maun, and play it by ear. Maun has a couple of low-key camps and a backpackers, a good place to meet fellow travellers and make plans together. Even the tightest budget should find space for a flight over the Delta and these are much more affordable if you can find other people to share costs.

Affordable Okavango Delta Safari

enter image description here

Between the self-drive camping and ultra-luxury lodges, there are two main routes for a more affordable Okavango holiday. The first is to find a ‘mobile safari’ operator – a mid-range adventure package that suits your budget. ‘Mobile safaris’ are essentially organised, guided camping trips and range from group budget ‘pitch your own tent’ tours all the way up to full service luxury. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find an affordable, comfortable option, usually heading…

Affordable Okavango Delta Safari

enter image description here

Between the self-drive camping and ultra-luxury lodges, there are two main routes for a more affordable Okavango holiday. The first is to find a ‘mobile safari’ operator – a mid-range adventure package that suits your budget. ‘Mobile safaris’ are essentially organised, guided camping trips and range from group budget ‘pitch your own tent’ tours all the way up to full service luxury. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find an affordable, comfortable option, usually heading into Moremi Game Reserve and sometimes, Chief’s Island. Often the tours involve mekoro or perhaps some walking, and a willingness for adventure is generally required. The other main option is to seek out a mid-range tented camp; there are a handful of these scattered throughout the Delta. Most, however, lie on the Delta’s forested fringes, while the central Okavango lodges tend to be more exclusive.

Highlights

Mobile safaris can be land or water-based, however, multi day mokoro trips are one of the Delta’s top attractions. Although boats and mekoro aren’t the best for spotting wildlife, exploring the Okavango’s stunning waterways is a unique experience that you’ll never forget. Depending on the tour you may camp wild on small islands or sleep more comfortably in fixed, pre-made tents. It’s often also possible to explore some areas on foot, so there’s the chance to combine a mokoro adventure with a short walking safari too. For boating and mokoro safaris it’s important to visit during flood season, which runs, more or less, from mid-April to late August. Camps and lodges that are able to offer boat excursions from their doorsteps tend to be more high-end and set their rates accordingly.

Travel Tips

Most lodges and mobile safaris are quoted as all-inclusive packages, with mid-range options ranging from around $300 to $600 a day. Be sure to check what is and isn’t included – flight transfers and ‘extra’ activities can very quickly drive up the cost. Note that off season rates are usually much lower than normal, with both mid and high-end lodges knocking as much 50% off. January to March are considered the main low season months, so visit during this period for the best discounts and deals. The downside, of course, is the real threat of rain, and the low flood levels which hamper water-based activities. For the best balance between good weather and lower prices, try the late April to May shoulder season for mokoro safaris, and November to early December for wildlife viewing.

Okavango Delta Luxury Safari | A Luxury Holiday In The Delta

Okavango Delta Luxury Safarienter image description here andBeyond Xudum Lodge

Botswana sets the standard for low density, low impact tourism in Southern Africa and Okavango’s luxury lodges are some of the very best in the world.

There are wonderful tented camps and lodges in every corner of the Delta, many so elaborate and beautifully constructed that it’s hard to imagine how they were built at all. Situated in some of the Okavango’s most remote, secluded regions they often seem to grow organically, directly from the earth.

Okavango Delta Luxury Safari | A Luxury Holiday In The Delta

Okavango Delta Luxury Safarienter image description here andBeyond Xudum Lodge

Botswana sets the standard for low density, low impact tourism in Southern Africa and Okavango’s luxury lodges are some of the very best in the world.

There are wonderful tented camps and lodges in every corner of the Delta, many so elaborate and beautifully constructed that it’s hard to imagine how they were built at all. Situated in some of the Okavango’s most remote, secluded regions they often seem to grow organically, directly from the earth.

Ecological construction and management practices are a hallmark of many lodges and most use timber and other natural materials to blend in as much as possible.

Depending on the lodge and the time of year, you may gaze out onto vast, open, game-rich plains, or sit high on stilts over an endless, lapping lagoon.

Highlights

Every part of a luxury Okavango safari is a highlight in itself. From the moment you fly in over the lush, elephant-dotted floodplain, to the lodge’s stunning tented suites, the tranquil mokoro trips, the food.

Days are spent exploring the Delta, often by boat which adds an extra special twist. And at night the lodges come alive with the soft light of glowing lanterns for an evening of fine dining under the African stars.

The Okavango’s lodges are known for exceptional service, and private guides and bespoke activities are the norm.

June to August is usually the best time to visit the Okavango Delta for water-based activities and September and October are more suited to wildlife viewing.

Travel Tips

Most of Okavango’s luxury camps are small and intimate, which also means that space is limited and the popular camps tend to fill up fast.

If you’re looking to visit during peak season especially (June to October), then consider making enquiries about a year in advance.

If you’re undecided where to go, then try splitting your time between two different camps – perhaps three or four days near deep water for motorboat and mokoro trips and another few days in a drier area for game drives.

Moving between camps involves planning and some precision, but there are plenty of established tour companies that have the logistics well in hand.

It’s usually best, both in terms of practicalities and price, to book everything through a single operator rather than try to arrange your itinerary yourself.

Fly-in safaris can vary in price considerably, from $600 a night for a luxury mobile safari, all the way up to over $3000 a night at a top luxury lodge.

April, May and November are more affordable times to travel, while there’s still good weather across the Delta, but substantial discounts are available.


Holiday Styles and Options in Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta Honeymoon

The Okavango Delta is probably the world’s premier safari destination for honeymoon couples, with stunningly designed, intimate lodges and some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa.

Okavango delta lodges have a reputation for exceptional, personal service and many cater specifically for romantic holidays and honeymoons. Here you’ll find tented suites like villas, with sparkling plunge pools, outdoor showers and candle-lit baths.

And at night, raised walkways lined with warm,…

Okavango Delta Honeymoon

The Okavango Delta is probably the world’s premier safari destination for honeymoon couples, with stunningly designed, intimate lodges and some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa.

Okavango delta lodges have a reputation for exceptional, personal service and many cater specifically for romantic holidays and honeymoons. Here you’ll find tented suites like villas, with sparkling plunge pools, outdoor showers and candle-lit baths.

And at night, raised walkways lined with warm, glowing lamps as you make your way down to dinner under the stars. Not all Okavango camps offer the same level of luxury, but standards are high just about everywhere you look. The focus is firmly on small-scale, personal experiences. Quality not quantity is the emphasis here for your Okavango Delta honeymoon.

Intimate is the operative word when it comes to romance in the African bush

There’s no one region that’s especially good for an Okavango Delta honeymoon, it’ll depend entirely on your budget and what you want to do.

There are beautiful, intimate camps and lodges scattered throughout the Okavango, but keep in mind that local conditions vary widely and the same camp can be very different at different times of year. Arrive from late April to the end of August and you’ll find the Delta flooded and green.

Many camps and lodges will be surrounded by open water, perched high on wooden stilts over an endless magical lagoon. But a few months later and the same area may be dry and bare, great for game viewing and a more traditional safari, but very different from earlier in the year.

That said, many lodges will offer a range of activities regardless of the season, even if transfers or other arrangements may need to be made. Make sure you’re aware of what’s available when you visit. You may need to pick your season carefully to fit your preferred activities in for your Okavango Delta honeymoon.

Highlights

Mokoro excursions are one of Okavango’s most special experiences and they can be incredibly romantic, especially with a private guide. When the floodwaters are high enough it may be possible to start right from camp – a real sense of exploration for more adventurous couples.

Many central Okavango lodges can only be reached by air and just flying in to camp is an adventure in itself. Longer sightseeing flights can also be arranged – in light aircraft, helicopters or hot-air balloons. But perhaps the most romantic experience is just to be in the Delta together. A honeymoon safari to the Okavango is the holiday of a lifetime and one neither of you will ever forget.

One of many camps in the Okavango Delta

Travel Tips

The Okavango’s top lodges are all excellent for an Okavango Delta honeymoon, but if you prefer a holiday without children then look out for those with strict minimum age rules. There are a number of camps that don’t allow kids under 12 so there’s plenty of choice if you prefer adults only.

That said, most camps are well-designed and well-spaced out, and some have the added feature of private sundecks and plunge pools. April and May tend to have good weather, while being less busy, although early April may still see some late rainy season showers. Late May into June/July is also the best time for mokoro trips, although the Okavango’s camps and lodges do get busier as the flood season progresses.

Okavango Delta Safari

Imagine a vast wilderness of reeds and channels, of towering jackleberry and giant sausage trees. A place where bulrushes hide huge herds of buffalo, where elephants wallow and lions roam. This is the oasis of the Okavango Delta, the jewel in Botswana’s magnificent crown. A wildlife wonderland, it’s been called the last Eden of Africa – both a tribute to its splendour, and an indictment on the decline elsewhere. Its maze of swamps and lagoons form a unique refuge for vulnerable…

Okavango Delta Safari

Imagine a vast wilderness of reeds and channels, of towering jackleberry and giant sausage trees. A place where bulrushes hide huge herds of buffalo, where elephants wallow and lions roam. This is the oasis of the Okavango Delta, the jewel in Botswana’s magnificent crown. A wildlife wonderland, it’s been called the last Eden of Africa – both a tribute to its splendour, and an indictment on the decline elsewhere. Its maze of swamps and lagoons form a unique refuge for vulnerable species, with hidden regions so remote that even the acutely threatened rhino can thrive. In the Okavango, you’ll find one of the richest and most bio diverse ecosystems on the continent, a conservation success story and arguably the best wildlife destination in the world…

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2014, the Okavango Delta is recognised for its unique annual flood. 11 trillion litres of water pour south down the Okavango River each year, a deluge from Angola that never reaches the sea. Instead it spreads southeast into the Kalahari interior saturating some 20,000km2 of sand. This is the last vestige of what was once an enormous inland lake, which over millennia has dried and gradually retreated, until only the immense Makgadikgadi Salt Pans remain. The Okavango’s waters may no longer feed a lake, but they’re still critical to wildlife across the region. Central Botswana is the heart of the Kalahari, a semi-arid desert that sees very little rain. What makes the Delta particularly special is that its flooding coincides with the bone-dry winter months. As the summer rains fade in March and April, the waters begin their surge down the north-western ‘Panhandle’. As they hit the Delta, they gently fan out, and can take up to four months to percolate south to Maun. This seasonal flow provides a year-round source of water, a life-bringing reservoir for thousands of species of animals and plants.

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s best wildlife regions, not just for its great game viewing, but as a general triumph in conservation. Much of its success is down to tireless, careful management and an overriding conviction that successes must be shared. Botswana has long operated a low-density tourism model, allowing a limited number of camps and lodges who then operate at a premium. This can quickly ramp up the cost of a safari to Botswana, but local communities are included and significant revenue is shared. In the Delta, you’ll find some of the world’s wildest and most spectacular game lodges and although prices can be high, it is the price of success. When you visit the Delta, the surrounding communities see value, which keeps poaching low and general encroachment at a minimum.

There are also ways to see the Delta which don’t involve luxury lodges – from houseboats on the Panhandle to Moremi and Khwai’s simple campsites. But wherever you go, park fees and tourism levies ensure that when you touch one of the world’s last great wilderness areas you know that in some small way you’re helping it survive.


Who is Travelling to Okavango Delta with you?

Solo Travel in Okavango Delta

Solo travel is unusual in the Okavango Delta, largely because experiences like this beg to be shared. Solo 4x4’ing also carries some risk, especially in the wet summer season from December to March. That said, there’s no reason not to explore the Delta on your own. Most lodges are more than happy to welcome solo guests. During the shoulder and off-seasons you may have the entire camp to yourself and it’s often possible to get a private, dedicated guide and customise your…

Solo Travel in Okavango Delta

Solo travel is unusual in the Okavango Delta, largely because experiences like this beg to be shared. Solo 4x4’ing also carries some risk, especially in the wet summer season from December to March. That said, there’s no reason not to explore the Delta on your own. Most lodges are more than happy to welcome solo guests. During the shoulder and off-seasons you may have the entire camp to yourself and it’s often possible to get a private, dedicated guide and customise your experience as much as you like. This presents some wonderful opportunities for photographers, and also for keen ornithologists in search of specific birds.

African fish eagle

The Okavango Delta’s lodges are generally small, intimate affairs, and many offer communal dining and shared campfires in the evenings. There’s usually the chance to meet fellow travellers over dinner, but in many cases activities are organised privately per booking. This is obviously ideal if you’re after peace and solitude, but if you’d like to meet and travel with other people then your best option is to head for Maun. In Maun, you’ll find a vibrant nightlife in the handful of campsite bars and pubs. Here you’ll be able to join group game drives and mokoro tours and split the costs on otherwise fairly pricey sightseeing flights over the Delta.

Boat safaris are common in the Okavango Delta

Highlights

Having your own private guide is an incredible experience, especially out on the waterways in a motorboat or mokoro. The opportunities for photography are unmatched when travelling solo and keen birders and anglers can also request specialist guides. Generally speaking if you arrive alone at a lodge, you’ll quickly be made to feel completely at home. The lodges in Okavango specialise in a bespoke, personal service and will tailor activities to the interests of their guests.

Travel Tips

Most Okavango lodges charge a single supplement of at least 20% but this can go up to as much as 50% during peak season. Shoulder season (April/May and November/December) is far more affordable for solo travellers and those looking for solitude will also find the camps much quieter during these periods. Be sure to let your lodge know if you have any special interests, such as birding or fishing, and they’ll usually be able to pair you up with a specialist guide. If you’re on a tighter budget and looking to share costs, then head to one of the busier campsites or laid-back safari lodges in Maun. Here you’ll usually be able to join group activities, including mokoro safaris into the Delta, and sightseeing flights and game drives are much more affordable when shared. If you’re planning to drive alone in this region, then a word of caution before you set out. You should have some prior 4x4 experience and be carrying a satellite phone. Moremi Game Reserve is the only part of the Delta open to self-drive vehicles and although it’s quite close to Maun and not especially remote, it’s easy to get stranded there at any time of year.

A lion eyes his prospective prey

Family Safari in the Okavango Delta

An African safari is an unforgettable experience for kids, but long transfers and hours in the car can be a real challenge, especially for younger children. One solution is to pick a single camp or more manageable area and avoid daily travel as much as possible. In the Okavango Delta, this approach is ideal because there’s such a high concentration of wildlife and activities in such a small area. From a lodge in the Okavango you can arrange boat rides and mokoro trips, as well as game…

Family Safari in the Okavango Delta

An African safari is an unforgettable experience for kids, but long transfers and hours in the car can be a real challenge, especially for younger children. One solution is to pick a single camp or more manageable area and avoid daily travel as much as possible. In the Okavango Delta, this approach is ideal because there’s such a high concentration of wildlife and activities in such a small area. From a lodge in the Okavango you can arrange boat rides and mokoro trips, as well as game drives and bush walks with specially trained guides. There’s a minimum age limit for all safari activities in the Delta, and although it varies from lodge to lodge, it’s usually set between eight and 12. A handful of lodges also offer camp-based activities for kids, such as basic bush craft, animal identification and fishing.

Families are bound to enjoy travelling to the Okavango Delta

In the past the Okavango has been a difficult place for families, but more and more lodges are now welcoming children. You’ll now find family-friendly lodges scattered throughout the Delta, although facilities vary considerably so it’s worth looking around. Some camps have been exceptionally well setup for kids, with private suites and family units, set to one side with their own lounge and play areas. Others simply have larger family-sized tents or interconnecting tents/rooms that can be booked as a unit so the whole family can sleep together. Additional perks may include specially trained guides for children, separate dining areas and staggered meal times – note, however, that child-minding services are rarely available and very few lodges cater for infants and very young children.

Highlights

Child-friendly safari activities depend on the lodge and the time of year. Well-equipped lodges can offer an incredible experience and the chance not just to see wild animals in their natural habitat, but to learn about their behaviour and the general environment as well. That said, there’s little point visiting during the peak floods if the lodge has an age limit on boat trips, for example. And families with children younger than eight (sometimes seven or nine) need to be especially aware of any restrictions. Between eight and 12, various junior safari options are more readily available, including motorboat trips, bush craft and basic animal tracking, fishing and game drives. Some camps and lodges have stricter policies than others and a few will assess kids on a case by case basis rather than apply blanket age restrictions to all. Above 12 years old the Delta opens up completely, although this also often means being charged a full adult rate.

An African sunset is hard to beat

Travel Tips

Age limits and child policies vary from lodge to lodge so be sure to check all the details very carefully before you book. Most lodges will insist that kids under eight years old have private game vehicles and guides, which is a great way for younger children to get the most out of the experience, but may also incur significant extra costs. For slightly older kids, mobile camps can be an exciting option. The outdoor camping element is always a thrill and there’s less chance of boredom as you move to a new campsite each night. On the whole it’s a good idea to bring everything you need with you, including bird and animal identification books and any other entertainment – such as board games – to keep them occupied between activities. Malaria is also an issue in northern Botswana and although many lodges are so remote that the risk is minimal, you will likely still need to transit through potentially infected areas. Some antimalarial medication is not suitable for young children so be sure to consult your doctor before you travel. Finally, local law now requires all parents travelling through South Africa and Botswana to carry an unabridged birth certificate for each of their children. The certificate must state the names of both parents and if one parent is absent you must also have an affidavit from them granting consent. The measures are in place to prevent child trafficking in Southern Africa and without the correct documents you will be denied travel.

Age limits and child policies vary from lodge to lodge so be sure to check all the details very carefully before you book.


What You Need To Know

Wildlife in Okavango Delta

Official counts vary, but it’s generally thought that the Okavango Delta supports at least 2000 major species. Over half of these are plants, from giant hardwoods to waterlilies, with huge reed beds and grasslands and thick riverine forests. In the midst of the Delta you’ll find wild date and fan palms, clustering on low islands between the fig and waterberry trees. Take a look at a satellite image and you’ll see just what an anomaly this is – a lush hand of vegetation reaching…

Wildlife in Okavango Delta

Official counts vary, but it’s generally thought that the Okavango Delta supports at least 2000 major species. Over half of these are plants, from giant hardwoods to waterlilies, with huge reed beds and grasslands and thick riverine forests. In the midst of the Delta you’ll find wild date and fan palms, clustering on low islands between the fig and waterberry trees. Take a look at a satellite image and you’ll see just what an anomaly this is – a lush hand of vegetation reaching south into the sand.

Okavango Delta supports at least 2000 species flora and fauna

Up close in the channels, beneath the waving papyrus, painted reed frogs can be seen clinging to the stems. Around 30 amphibians have been recorded in the Delta plus 60-odd reptiles and around 70 species of fish. In fact, many visitors come especially for the fishing and ‘catch and release’ fishing lodges are popular along the Panhandle. The ferocious-looking tigerfish is the most sought after prize, plus bream and huge catfish, up to a metre-and-a-half in length.

The Okavango Delta never drains completely and the best way to experience it is by boat. Whether you’re fishing or not, a boat excursion is essential, either by flat bottomed motorboat or local dugout canoe. Called ‘mekoro’, these canoes are polled through the narrow waterways – an ideal way to discover the Delta’s 400-plus species of birds. Expert guides will skirt around the pods of hippos, as you silently soak in one of the world’s last great open-air aviaries.

Up close in the channels, beneath the waving papyrus, painted reed frogs can be seen clinging to the stems.

On the islands and floodplains Africa’s iconic megafauna awaits – over a third of the continent’s elephants move through the Delta each year. All of the Big Five are found here in good numbers, including black and white rhino which have been recently reintroduced. While predator sightings are never guaranteed, there are few places left where so many come together. Lion, leopard and cheetah are relatively common, as well as wild dog, hyena, jackal and the smaller wild cats. These prey on the many thousands of herbivores who are drawn to the Delta’s water and abundant food. The rare sitatunga and red lechwe are both adapted to the swamplands and you’ll also find the stunning roan and sable antelope with their scimitar-curved horns.

Why Should you Come Back to Okavango Delta?

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s best wildlife regions, not just for its great game viewing, but as a general triumph in conservation. Much of its success is down to tireless, careful management and an overriding conviction that successes must be shared. Botswana has long operated a low-density tourism model, allowing a limited number of camps and lodges who then operate at a premium. This can quickly ramp up the cost of a safari to Botswana, but local communities are included…

Why Should you Come Back to Okavango Delta?

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s best wildlife regions, not just for its great game viewing, but as a general triumph in conservation. Much of its success is down to tireless, careful management and an overriding conviction that successes must be shared. Botswana has long operated a low-density tourism model, allowing a limited number of camps and lodges who then operate at a premium. This can quickly ramp up the cost of a safari to Botswana, but local communities are included and significant revenue is shared. In the Delta, you’ll find some of the world’s wildest and most spectacular game lodges and although prices can be high, it is the price of success. When you visit the Delta, the surrounding communities see value, which keeps poaching low and general encroachment at a minimum.

In the Delta, you’ll find some of the world’s wildest and most spectacular game lodges and although prices can be high, it is the price of success.

There are also ways to see the Delta which don’t involve luxury lodges – from houseboats on the Panhandle to Moremi and Khwai’s simple campsites. But wherever you go, park fees and tourism levies ensure that when you touch one of the world’s last great wilderness areas you know that in some small way you’re helping it survive.

Khwai Community Concessions

Barely touching the Delta’s north-eastern edge, the Khwai Community Concession runs along the Khwai River, just beyond Moremi Game Reserve’s North Gate. This small concession (number NG19) is owned and run by the community in nearby Khwai Village. About half a dozen midrange to luxury lodges operate here, as well as a couple of very basic campsites, all along the north bank of the narrow Khwai River. The river itself very rarely runs dry and is a magnet for game passing between…

Khwai Community Concessions

Barely touching the Delta’s north-eastern edge, the Khwai Community Concession runs along the Khwai River, just beyond Moremi Game Reserve’s North Gate. This small concession (number NG19) is owned and run by the community in nearby Khwai Village. About half a dozen midrange to luxury lodges operate here, as well as a couple of very basic campsites, all along the north bank of the narrow Khwai River. The river itself very rarely runs dry and is a magnet for game passing between Moremi and Chobe National Park to the north. It’s a beautiful, low key area that has the advantage of being easily accessible by 4x4 from Maun and also makes an excellent stopover between Moremi and Chobe.

About half a dozen midrange to luxury lodges operate here, as well as a couple of very basic campsites, all along the north bank of the narrow Khwai River.

Highlights

Excellent wildlife, especially close elephant encounters: The Okavango Delta is well-known for its phenomenal wildlife, largely because of its abundant water. The Khwai River is the nearest source for thousands of animals that forage and hunt in the mopani forests between Moremi and Chobe. As such, the river attracts plentiful wildlife, especially in the dry winter months when hot, thirsty elephants gather along its banks.

Rhino along the banks of the Khwai River

Cultural village tours: Tours of Khwai Village can also be arranged with the community directly or through one of the lodges that operate along the river. They’re a great way to see first-hand how the concessions benefit the community and speak to villagers about their traditional way of life.

Travel Tips

The Khwai region can be reached in a few hours’ drive from Maun, but you’ll need a 4x4 to negotiate some thick sand and a few water crossings. Alternatively, there’s a small airstrip which serves the lodges along the river. The village itself has a small shop, but supplies are very limited – perhaps no more than a few cool drinks and some crisps. If you’re not staying in a lodge, you’ll need to take everything with you; note that the two community campsites don’t have ablutions.

Elephant are abundant throughout Botswana