Explore Africa’s Great Attractions: Okavango Delta
“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?” — Brian Jackman
How do you indeed begin to describe a continent of such great contrasts, mesmerising natural beauty, and rich cultural diversity? With 54 sovereign countries and almost three times the size of the United States, Africa stretches over 30,370,000 square kilometres from Cape Angela in Tunisia to its southernmost point, Cape Agulhas, in South Africa.
We traipsed the continent in search of Africa’s most significant and greatest attractions to help you navigate its diverse and fascinating landscapes and inhabitants. We start our expedition in the Okavango Delta where you’ll get a glimpse of its diverse wildlife and wetlands stretching for miles on end. We hope you enjoy the journey.
8 Interesting Facts About Africa
- Africa is home to over 1 billion people who speak over 1,500 different languages. One in every four of the world’s languages are spoken only in Africa.
- World civilization began in Africa. The Pharaonic civilization of Ancient Egypt is the oldest literate civilization. According to historical records, the Egyptian state dates back to about 3300 B.C.
- Africa’s Nile River is the world’s longest river. It has a total length of 6,650 kilometres (4,132 miles) and cuts across 11 countries. It drains into the Mediterranean Sea from Africa’s Northeastern edge.
- The highest point in Africa is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It rises 5895 meters (19,340 feet) above sea level.
- Africa’s Sahara desert is the world’s largest desert covering 9.1 million km2.
- Both the world’s tallest, the giraffe, and largest, the African Elephant, land animals come from Africa.
- The hippopotamus is Africa’s deadliest animal. It kills more people in Africa than crocodiles and lions combined.
- The Victoria Falls, located along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The Okavango Delta in Botswana
Southern Africa’s largest wetland covering between 6 and 15 000 square kilometres of the Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana owes its existence to the Okavango River, which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and into the harsh Kalahari Desert.
An oasis in an otherwise dry environment, the Okavango Delta is known for its vast wildlife, with large populations of mammals and excellent birding, particularly in the breeding season. This landscape of contrasts deep within the African interior is a product of millions of tons of sand deposited there by the majestic Okavango River.
With more than 150 000 islands, the Okavango Delta became the 1,000th place to be enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 and was voted one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2013.
Flights from Johannesburg or Cape Town will take you to Maun, the third-largest town in Botswana and the gateway to the Delta. From Maun, a 30 to 45-minute chartered flight will take you into the heart of the Okavango Delta, followed by road and/or boat transfers to camp.
The best time to visit is from May to September, during the dry season and winter, resulting in more moderate temperatures. There is little to no rain during the entire winter and humidity is low, typically 20 to 40%. Animals will concentrate around waterholes and rivers when other water sources dry up.
Why You Should Visit
With 530 bird species, 160 mammal species, 155 species of reptiles, 35 species of amphibians, 85 recorded species of fish, and 1 500 plant species, the Delta presents a throbbing ecosystem of flora and fauna that create some of the most evocative sights of extraordinary natural beauty and majesty.
What to Do
The Delta offers a vast variety of attractions from outstanding safari excursions, to excellent fishing and magnificent wildlife photographic opportunities.
Chobe National Park is Botswana’s most biologically diverse. Located in the north of the country, it is Botswana’s third-largest park, after Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Gemsbok National Park, and has one of the greatest concentrations of game in all of Africa.
The Cuando River in south-central Africa flows through Angola and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and into the Linyanti Swamp on the northern border of Botswana. Below the swamp, the river is called the Linyanti River and, further east, the Chobe River, before it flows into the Zambezi River. The river is a source of food and water for vast herds of elephants and hippos, crocodiles and thousands of red lechwe.
Within the larger UNESCO listed Okavango Delta Game Reserve, Moremi Wildlife Reserve covers about 40% of the Okavango.
Proclaimed a reserve in 1963, and named after Chief Moremi III of the local Batawana tribe from Ngamiland, Moremi lies on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta and is home to nearly 500 bird species and a vast array of wildlife including Cape buffalo, Angolan giraffe, black rhinoceros, lion, elephant, hippopotamus, zebra, cheetah, hyena, jackal, impala, and red lechwe.
Moremi is a low-impact park which means that there are few vehicles and people around leaving only a small footprint, and therefore unspoiled and perfect for game-viewing.
At the third bridge from the southern entrance to Moremi, is a campsite which is unfenced. Here, you can truly immerse yourself in nature with wild animals walking past your tent during the day, and a good chance of a sneaky hyena or two visiting the camp at night.
The mokoro non-motorised dugout canoe is synonymous with the Delta and is a wonderful way to quietly navigate past hippos, elephants, and crocodiles without running the risk of frightening the animals. Mokoro guides are extremely knowledgeable about the environment, and these trips are considered safe and perfect water-based expeditions for photographers.
The Delta is one of Africa’s top fishing destinations. Catch-and-release fishing excursions take place in the Panhandle region, where the Okavango River feeds into the labyrinth of channels and lagoons that make up the heart of the Delta. Notable fish species include the African pike and the sleek catfish. The African tigerfish, known as the fastest fresh-water fish in Africa, is abundant in the Chobe and Zambezi rivers and is one of the most sought-after game fish in Africa.
Observe the Birds
One of the major highlights of the Okavango Delta is not only the teeming amounts of big game but also the variety of bird species that are unique to Botswana. A total of 444 species make the Okavango a birdwatcher’s paradise. The red-billed oxpecker can be found foraging for ticks and mites on top of hippos that are semi-submerged, while the red-billed hornbill alert mongoose when a predator is nearby. You will spot the African Jacana with its long feet walking atop floating vegetation in the Delta, and you are sure to hear the distinct cry of the African fish eagle perched in trees along the waterways.
Government policy, coupled with the geography of the Okavango Delta, has ensured that the Delta experience has remained exclusive. Camps and lodges throughout the Delta include some of the most luxurious found in Africa. Whether you charter a houseboat on the Chobe river or prefer to limit the impact on the environment in the traditional, explorer style Meru tents, the Delta caters for any kind of traveller.
If you enjoyed our expedition through the glorious Okavango Delta, continue with us on our next trip as we explore The Great Rift Valley where you will be drawn to the origins of mankind.