The Okavango Delta comprises more than 15,000 km² of watery paradise – a lush wilderness of papyrus, impenetrable reed beds, grassy floodplains, tree-covered islands and a complex network of water channels of varying depths, which are engineered and maintained by hippos and elephants. Some areas are permanently under water and others only when the rejuvenated annual floodwaters arrive from Angola. This constant ebb and flow of water creates one of the most fascinating and diverse ecosystems on the planet. Unsurprisingly, the Okavango Delta is both a RAMSAR Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Okavango Delta is not a national park, and so there are fewer restrictions on activities – allowing for off-road driving when searching for or following game, night drives and walking safaris. Unlike the national parks, the Okavango is largely unavailable to self-drive/self-cater tourists and so your safari is likely to be private and exclusive. The Moremi Game Reserve section of the Okavango Delta is largely dedicated to self-drive tourists and mobile tented safaris (Video: mobile safaris in Botswana).
A bucket list activity unique to this area is gliding down the myriad of waterways on a mokoro (a traditional dugout canoe). Video: sunset mokoro. Your poler guide will expertly slide the mokoro along channels surrounded by tall papyrus and reeds, giving you a unique perspective and photographic opportunity as you silently sneak up on birds, frogs, otters and possibly even larger animals such as hippos, crocodiles and elephants. A lucky few will see the elusive and wary sitatunga antelope.
Wildlife includes the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), many antelope species, zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and good populations of cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs, as well as a plethora of smaller species such as serval, aardwolf, pangolin, aardvark and bat-eared fox. You will see more wildlife in areas that are not permanently flooded.
Birdwatching can be spectacular, with over 400 species including avian jewels such as Pel’s fishing owl, slaty egret, pygmy goose, crowned and wattled cranes, Western banded snake eagle, coppery-tailed coucal and colonies of incandescent carmine bee-eaters.
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