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Okavango Delta


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Welcome to Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta in northwest Botswana is unique. The annual flood of fresh water that gathers here from Angola's western highlands slowly spreads for more than 5,800 square miles (15,000 sq km) over the Kalahari Desert forming a maze of lagoons and channels. The thousands of islands that arise sustain several diverse ecosystems, which are home to vast numbers of game and a myriad of birds, while the champagne-coloured waters support a varied array of aquatic life.

The height of the flood occurs in August each year, and as it recedes in its constant cycle, the delta shrinks. At its lowest level the delta covers about 2,300 square miles (6,000 sq km).

As the flood increases, so does the wildlife that congregates in huge numbers between May and October each year. The delta draws large numbers of animal populations that are rare, such as crocodile, red lechwe, sitatunga, wild dogs, buffalo and wattled crane. The familiar favourites are there in force too - various antelope, elephant, giraffe, hippo, lion, leopard and the like.

Numerous game camps and lodges are located in the Delta catering to the range of visitors who come to enjoy the teeming flora and fauna and admire the lush green beauty of the waterways. The favoured way to travel through the Delta's channels is on a makoro, a dugout canoe, poled by a local guide.

The town of Maun is the administrative centre of the Delta region and has an airstrip which serves as landing point for most incoming visitors to the Okavango. Countless safari and air charter companies operate in the town, which has been transformed from a rural outpost by the advent of tourism, although it is still a little rough around the edges. It extends along the Thamalakane River, and now boasts good shopping centres, hotels, banks and lodges.

Information & Facts


The Okavango Delta experiences heavy afternoon thunderstorms during the months between December and March, accounting for most of the annual rainfall. The hottest months are December to February where average daytime temperatures can soar as high as 104°F (40°C) and humidity is high. March to June are the most pleasant months to visit as the temperature cools down and average temperatures reach around 86°F (30°C) and nights are cooler. The winter months of June to September are dry and cold with night-time temperate dropping to close to freezing.

English is the official language but Setswana is widely spoken.

The unit of currency is the Botswana Pula (BWP), which is divided into 100 Thebe. The word 'Pula' means rain and 'Thebe' means shield. The shield appears on the national coat of arms. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and travellers cheques and foreign currency are accepted at most large hotels and lodges. There are banks and exchange bureaux in all the main towns, as well as ATM machines. Surcharges are often high on travellers cheques, and it is best to carry cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

GMT +2.

The second largest game park in Botswana, Chobe, is situated in the far north of the country and its 4,517 square miles (11,700 sq km) is divided into four distinct regions. These comprise the river frontage with floodplains and teak forest; the Savute marshes in the west; the Linyanti swamp in the north-west; and the hot, dry hinterland in between. Chobe is especially well known for its immense elephant population, counting more than 70,000, and it is not uncommon to encounter herds in excess of a hundred members at a time. The park's north and northwest border is delineated by the Chobe River, and the river's popularity as a water source has made game viewing by boat a particularly worthwhile attraction. There are a number of game lodges, hotels and camps in the Chobe area and at Kasane, the main town in northern Botswana, which has an airport and good road network. An added advantage at Chobe is that neighbouring Zimbabwe's main attraction, the Victoria Falls, lies just over the northern border with Botswana, merely an hour's drive away.

The Makgadikgadi Pans are located in the north-east of the country and are among the largest salt flats on earth, covering 6,200 square miles (16,000km²) of the Kalahari basin. During the annual rains, the pans become a source of fresh water and grass for migratory wildlife, especially the massive wildebeest and zebra herds that move through the area. Self-drive visitors are advised to use 4WD vehicles, a good map and a GPS system. Also, drive in the tracks of other vehicles and keep to the edge of the pan.

Moremi, about 37 miles (60km) from Maun, is a 1,160 square mile (3,000 sq km) reserve set in the middle of the Okavango Delta in one of the world's most pristine wilderness areas. It consists of a network of waterways surrounding two main islands; Chief's Island in the west and Mopane Tongue in the east. The reserve can be reached by air or road via Maun. Self-driving in the reserve is recommended only for experienced four-wheel-drive enthusiasts and only during the dry months. It is otherwise suggested that visitors arrange to be transported from Maun or make use of the vehicle safaris and boat trips offered from the reserve's luxury lodges. A wonderful way to see the delights of the Delta is on a mokoro (a dug-out canoe), which is poled through the waterways by experienced guides. The adventurous can opt to stay in one of three serviced campsites in the reserve. These are unfenced and therefore provide an opportunity to experience nature at its purest form in the heart of Africa. The reserve itself is fenced, and therefore, with a diversity of habitats, it guarantees game sightings throughout the year.

To the west of the Okavango Delta area, about 33 miles (53km) from the town of Shakawe, is a mysterious site shrouded in myth, legend and spiritual significance for the local San people, who have inhabited the area for 35,000 years or more. The Tsodilo Hills are believed by the San to be the site of first Creation. The area is festooned with thousands of rock paintings representing a variety of scenes, some of which date back to 1,300 AD. Several trails lead to more than 350 rock painting sites. The area is remote, with no shops or accommodation facilities, but it is possible to camp and draw from borehole water.

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