Any Botswana safari trip would be incomplete without a stint in the Okavango Delta. The delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful, wildlife-rich and unique places to go on a luxury safari. Here is our guide to this watery wonderland.
What to do
The Okavango Delta offers a special opportunity for water-based safaris, usually in a mokoro, a dug-out canoe. Spend a peaceful, relaxing morning being punted along the waterways, admiring the water lilies and the tiny frogs and birds you’ll spot along the way. You might even come across some elephants quenching their thirst along the river banks.
On a game drive, you’ll be able to admire the delta’s incredible wildlife, stopping en route for sundowners or a morning coffee. You can go on walking safaris or even horseback safaris, each option allowing you to discover the area from a different vantage point.
Hanging out at camp can be just as exhilarating as a game drive, with the possibility of wild dogs chasing their prey right past your deck or elephants ambling by on their way to the water (which might end up being your own plunge pool!).
During your downtime, you can cool off in the pool, spend a couple of hours with that book you’ve been meaning to read, enjoy the expertly prepared meals and chat to your fellow safari-goers over evening drinks by the campfire.
What to see
There is no shortage of animals to see in the delta. From lions and leopards to wild dogs and wattled cranes, the inhabitants of this region of Botswana are well-protected by conservation laws, making it a great place for a responsible safari amongst thriving wildlife.
The lions here are famously fierce, hunting large, dangerous buffalos as prey. Wild dogs run tirelessly across the delta plains, chasing down impalas and warthogs. Hippos wallow in the water, whilst elephants cool off in the shallows.
Leopards skulk elusively and now that rhinos have been reintroduced, it’s possible to see the whole Big Five. Birdlife is prolific, from tiny, vibrant lilac-breasted rollers to the rare slaty egret.
When to go
You can visit the Okavango Delta all year, but the seasons do offer different experiences.
The green season of January and February offers lush vegetation and great birding opportunities.
April and May are perfect months to visit. It’s the end of the rainy season, making for a still-green landscape with animals heading to the water as the temporary waterholes start to dry up.
June, July and August are peak season months, with great wildlife viewing, but more people and higher rates.
September and October are very hot, but the game viewing can still be fantastic.
By the end of the year, the rains come back and, though some lodges close due to inaccessibility, it’s good for low season rates and seeing new-born animals.
Where to stay
Botswana operates a strict low-footfall, high-grossing model when it comes to tourism, which means that the lodges and camps are all small, but high-end. This is to bring in the benefits of tourism, whilst controlling numbers and the impact on the land. As such, luxury lodges here are some of the most special on the continent.
Mombo Camp has just nine tented suites, located on Chief’s Island in the delta, and is widely considered to have some of the best game viewing in the country on its doorstep.
Zarafa is another favourite of the super high-end options, an eco-camp that hits a luxurious high with private plunge pools and copper bathtubs.
For the more adventurous safari-goer, a fly-camping trip is the most immersive way to explore the delta. Uncharted Africa’s mobile camping expedition sees a new camp site every night, as you discover the delta with a highly experienced guide.
There are countless other options. Let us know what you like in a camp or lodge, what kind of trip you’re on (a honeymoon, family vacation, a solo adventure) and what your budget is, and we’ll recommend the best choice for you.