The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta and a miracle of nature. The water, coming from the Angolan highlands spreads out over 16 000 km² (6 180 square miles). The Okavango River fills up the Okavango Delta usually between April and Mai and transforms arid grassland areas of the Kalahari Desert into a magical oasis of islands and waterways.
This remarkable region is a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR site) due to its unique ecosystem the Okavango Delta is often considered as a highlight of every Botswana safari and it is not hard to see why - in terms of pristine beauty, remote location and rich diversity of animal and birdlife the Okavango Delta is unparalleled and offers a great variety of safari activities.
The Okavango Delta is made up of complex networks of rivers and eco systems, which all have something different to offer at different times of the year. Hence, it is very important to chose the right area and camp for when you wish to travel and if time allows, a combination of two different areas is highly recommended to guarantee a complete delta experience. The probably most well-known area for safari within the Okavango Delta is the Moremi Game Reserve, an area protecting the Okavango Delta's incredible delta environment. Around that you will find a network of excellent private reserves and concessions.
Pro's and con's of the different Okavango Delta areas
Whilst the Moremi Game Reserve is most well-known for its high game density and ease of access, it comes with the disadvantage of finding quite a few lodges close to each other, mixed with public and private camp sites for mobile camping tours and also self-drive safaris. This means that you will have to share your experience with more people than you would have to if you stay in one of the private reserves or concessions. Another advantage of the private reserves and concessions over Moremi Game Reserve is that the guides are allowed to drive off-road and that you will have an even wider choice of activities. In the Moremi Game Reserve only morning and afternoon game drives, boating and mokoro (dug-out canoe) safaris are allowed. In the private reserves you can also go on safari walks and night game drives, which gives you the opportunity to also experience some of the nocturnal wildlife.
The Delta hosts a number of camps and lodges, some around its fringes, and some deep in its heart. Access to these camps is via light aircraft and flights provide an excellent way of taking in the vastness and the remoteness of the area. The camps on the fringes provide boat, vehicle, and if located in one of the private reserves or concessions, also walking safari opportunities, a good mix if you are short of time. The camps in the heart of the Delta allow for water-based game viewing plus walking. Most camps have motor boats to cover larger distances on water, and mokoros for slow and peaceful punting.
We also have some budget camping options on Chiefs' Island, also in the heart of the Delta, available from July to September, when the water is high enough to get in with a motorboat.
When to go
The prime time for wildlife viewing is in the dry season from July to October, when the migratory game can be found in the Okavango Delta, as this is the time when the water levels are high. The high water levels also guarantee your water experiences, which most visitors of the Okavango Delta are after. And, because the bush is less thick in dry season, it makes it easy to spot animals. By the end of the dry season, in October, the temperatures start soaring and the humidity goes up, because the first rains are about to arrive in November, which is important to know, if you want to avoid the hottest months.
December to March is the rainy season, also called the green season. The rainy season in southern Africa is less dramatic than it sounds though, as the rains are usually limited to an hour or two of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. This time is when the non-resident game migrates into other areas, like the Nxai and Makgadikgadi Pans. BUT, it is also the time when the lodge prices drop a lot and some of the top lodges become affordable to those who do not usually travel top end. Considering that many places have great resident game and some are also located in permanent water areas, you can pick up some fantastic deals in green season and combined with the Pan areas or the Kalahari, which also has its high season between December and March, you will be guaranteed a fantastic safari, if you are ok with a few afternoon showers.
April and May is when the floods come back in from Angola and the water levels start rising again and with it the migratory game returns. June is the transition season between the delta 'filling up' and the high season and when you get some of the best value for money deals, as you might already encounter prime conditions to shoulder season prices.
- Guided mokoro (dugout canoe) excursions take you into the heart of the Delta
- Extraordinary game viewing, especially of rare species such as red lechwe and sitatunga
- Remarkable birdwatching, with 450 bird species
where to stay
From our many visits to the Okavango Delta, we have first-hand knowledge of the lodges and below you can find the ones we most commonly use. Those lodges include mainly our favourites sorted from low-key to deluxe, which are usually smaller lodges with very personalised service.
gomoti plains camp
nxabega tented camp
sandibe safari lodge