Botswana’s Okavango Delta is described as Africa’s Last Eden. A safari in the lagoons, waterways and grasslands of the Okavango is one of the most special wildlife experiences in Africa.
Our final highlight was going out into the waters of the Delta. Wow! We were watched by a family of hippos just a few feet away! It was so peaceful and so stunning there and the birds and water plants were just beautiful . . . I’ve run out of superlatives.
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is one of the most unique and special wilderness areas in Africa. From May to October floodwaters arrive from Angola to fill up rivers, channels and lagoons and make it a watery wilderness unlike anywhere else in Africa. And it’s full of amazing wildlife. For nature and wildlife lovers it has to be one of the most unmissable sights of Africa.
The Delta is split up into different private concession areas and the national game reserve of Moremi.
You can enjoy a safari in the Okavango on a mobile camping safari or you can choose to stay at luxury lodges and tented camps on a fly-in safari. We tailor-make whatever safari is right for the wildlife holiday you’re hoping for.
Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta, so most travellers fly into here, usually from South Africa. While some people only visit the Delta on their visit, most combine it with other areas in Botswana such as Chobe and the Kalahari.
- The Okavango River: The Okavango River begins its life in Angola’s highlands and visits Namibia before it enters Botswana in what’s known as the Panhandle, in the northwest of the country. It then fans out into the wetlands of the Okavango Delta before succumbing to the heat and the sands of the Kalahari Desert. Sometimes it reaches past Maun and as far as the Boteti River (next to the Makgadikgadi Pans) before it disappears. Angola’s rains mainly fall around January, but it takes until about June until the floods reach the Delta.
- Okavango Panhandle and the Tsodilo Hills: The Panhandle area of the Okavango is different to the rest of the Delta as the river has not yet fanned out at this point. Therefore it’s about the deep main river channel, where you can get some amazing fishing, take a houseboat cruise, and where there is superb birdwatching too. We love staying at Nxamaseri Lodge here.
The Tsodilo Hills are a really important part of this area (and Botswana) too. Few people visit these four huge rocks, which are not only the only significant rocks in the country, but also a spiritually important place for the San Bushmen. Here you will find a stunning collection of ancient rock art thought to be between 100 and 20,000 years old.
- Moremi Game Reserve: This is the heart of the Delta’s protected area and was the first wildlife sanctuary to be declared by an African tribe (1963). Read more about the area in our separate page.
- Okavango Delta wildlife: The rich Delta ecosystem is home to over 500 bird species, including the ubiquitous and handsome fish eagle, jacanas, hamerkops and saddle-billed storks, plus many mammal species. You could spot lions, leopards, hyenas, thousands of elephants, buffalos and hippos, red lechwe, sitatunga, impala, wildebeest, warthogs, giraffes and zebras . . . and even a few rhinos (though they’re still not commonly seen) and wild dogs.
- When to visit the Okavango Delta: See our When to Go page for detail, but in essence, although you can visit the Okavango all year, the best months are from about May to October as the floods have reached the Delta, and being dry season the wildlife is drawn to the main water sources. July to October is peak season. November to March/April is green season.
- Safari activities in the Okavango: Top-class wildlife safaris by jeep, water-based safaris in boats or mokoros, horseback safaris, walking safaris, walking with elephants, scenic flights over the Delta, camping in the wild, photography safaris, and great fishing in the Panhandle.
- Places to stay in the Okavango: We generally recommend staying in a couple of different areas of the Delta. Importantly, choose both a dry camp and a wet camp (ie camp that offers mainly game drives and walks, and another which offers boat and mokoro safaris), or one camp that offers both types of activities. Most lodges are quite remote, which is part of the attraction, and most are quite or very expensive due to the logistics of running camps in such remote wilderness. However, there is a great choice of luxury camps and lodges, and you’ll find some of our favourites on this website.
A mobile camping safari is also definitely worth considering. They’re great fun and the semi-participatory ones are very good value.