The Okavango Delta is the crown jewel of the country and every Botswana safari should include some time here. It is a massive fan-shaped wetland which provides its inhabitants with one of the most pristine habitats on the planet. The Okavango River system which feeds it begins its journey in the highlands of Angola before it is swallowed up by the sands of the Kalahari. The area generally experiences two flood periods – the early floods (January-March) and the main floods (April-June). The first is caused by local rainfall and the second is brought on when the floodwaters arrive from Angola.
The scale and magnificence of the Delta helped it to secure a position as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. Although not a reserve as such, the wetland is surrounded by massive private concessions which are each home to very few camps indeed. Because of the nature of the terrain the area is accessed almost exclusively by fly-in safaris. This all equates to one of the most private and exclusive safari experiences available in Africa today.
Through our experience, we have found that it is very important to carefully select which areas you visit here. In general, the more water there is within an area, the less big game there will be. These wet areas are incredibly beautiful and will give you a taste of the classic Okavango but they must be combined with a drier area elsewhere in the Delta or even in the Linyanti region for an injection of big game.
We especially love the area around the northern side of the Delta (Duba, Vumbura, Kwara, Shinde) because the concessions here allow for a perfect combination of wet and dry activities (approx 30/70% mix). This also equates to an exceptionally diverse habitat which plays host to an incredible array of species. Further east, the Khwai concession still offers phenomenal game viewing with a much more affordable price tag due to the fact that it is not a private area. To the south-east the drier Chitabe/Sandibe concession offers possibly the richest big game viewing of all. Moving south and west, the concessions become more heavily inundated by the flood and the game viewing here becomes less reliable.
The classic Okavango activity is a makoro safari. The locals have for centuries used these traditional dug-out canoes to travel around the Delta and they will allow you to slide quietly through the lilies in search of some of the smaller creatures which inhabit the area. You should definitely try at least one whilst you are there! The walking safaris here also tend to focus on the finer details of the ecosystem whilst game drives will allow you to cover more ground and see more big game. Finally, boating safaris will allow you to get around and explore more of the pristine waterways and channels in the shortest time possible.