The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert, irrigating 15,000 km² of the desert, making it the largest inland delta in the world. Each year some 11 cubic kilometres of water reach the delta. Some of this water reaches further south to create Lake Ngami.
The water entering the delta is unusually pure, due to the lack of agriculture and industry along the Okavango River. It passes through the sand aquifers of the numerous delta islands and evaporates by leaving enormous quantities of salt behind. These precipitation processes are so strong that the vegetation disappears in the centre of the islands and thick salt crusts are formed.
The waters of the Okavango Delta are subject to seasonal flooding, which begins about mid-summer in the north and six months later in the south (May/June). The water from the delta is evaporated relatively rapidly by the high temperatures, resulting in a cycle of cresting and dropping water in the south. Islands can disappear completely during the peak flood and then reappear at the end of the season. The Okavango Delta is home to a wealth of wildlife and attracts thousands of visitors a year. There are a number of camps within the delta region that cater to these visitors.
The delta provides a seasonal habitat to numerous different species. Among these are African elephants, the African Buffalo, the Hippopotamus, the Lechwe, the Topi, the Blue Wildebeest, the Giraffe, the Nile crocodile, the Lion, the Cheetah, the Leopard, hyenas, wild dogs, the Greater Kudu, the Sable Antelope, both the Black and the White Rhinoceros, the water monitor, zebras, the Warthog, and then chacma baboon. The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including the African Fish Eagle, the Crested Crane, and the Sacred Ibis.
The optional Okavango Delta Excursion takes the group from Maun into the Okavango Delta region. Clients spend 2 nights and 3 days at a bush camp in the wilderness accompanied by local guides & crew. From Maun, clients are transferred by 4×4 for approximately 2-3 hours to the edge of the water at the mokoro station. Here they meet up with the local guides and transfer to the local dug-out canoes (Mokoro’s). 2 Persons share a mokoro along with their luggage for the excursion. As space is limited, we ask that clients pack a small daypack with the necessary items for the 3 days. After a 1-2 hour mokoro trip along the channels of the Delta, they reach an area where they make their bush camp. Please note there is only a ‘bush’ toilet at the camp (no showers, electricity, flushing toilets etc). After setting up the camp and having lunch, clients have some time at leisure before going on a game walk in the cooler hours of the afternoon. The evening is spent in the company of the guides around the campfire, enjoying the sounds of the surrounding wilderness. The following day clients take part in game walks, have the opportunity to swim in one of the channels (if water levels allow) and may go on another mokoro ride. On the last morning clients enjoy a final game walk, before returning to camp to pack up, and head back to the mokoro station and later to Maun.
Clients will partake in game walks in the cooler hours of the day to explore the surrounding area and look for wildlife. They need not be afraid as the local guides will give them a full briefing with regard to safety and ensure that clients are at ease and enjoying their experience. After the 2nd night, clients are transferred back to the mokoro station in the morning and back into Maun.
What is the Chobe National Park Overnight Excursion? The excursion starts with a briefing from your local guide after which we board our open 4 WD vehicles head for our game drive into Chobe National Park. Our overnight safari gives us ample opportunity to savour the fantastic wildlife within the park, known throughout the world as Africa’s greatest elephant sanctuary. Chobe is also home to a wide variety of other animals including Lion, Leopard, Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, giraffe, zebra, and many of the antelope species. Chobe riverfront is also one of the best bird-watching sites in Botswana. Your local guides have a wealth of information on the wildlife and birdlife found in the Park and there will be ample opportunity to test their knowledge.
We set up our camp inside the park before sunset and after settling in, we enjoy a magical sunset over the Chobe bushveld. Camping amidst the wildlife, we have the opportunity to see many different animals as they roam through the park on their way to the river to drink, or as they forage for food. We enjoy our dinner around the campfire before retiring for the night surrounded by the sounds of the African bush. Please Note: The campsites used in Chobe National Park are not fenced and wild animals can and sometimes do venture into and through our camp. This is natural for the wildlife and part of the Chobe experience and a highlight of the trip. Your guide will brief you on camp safety when you arrive at camp so please do not be alarmed.
On the following morning, we arise before dawn to tea and coffee, before starting our morning game drive. With some luck, we’ll catch a few of the nocturnal animals before they rest up for the day as well glimpsing some of the rest of Africa’s wildlife waking up. We return to our camp for breakfast, before transferring out of the park to Thebe River Safaris camp in the late morning.
**Should the Chobe National Park not be available due to availability of bush campsites in Chobe, this excursion will be replaced with an overnight trip in the bushveld of the Lesoma Valley which is situated in the Kasane Forest Reserve adjacent to the Chobe NP and the Matsetsi Game area of Zimbabwe. Lesoma is equally rich in wildlife and affords a similar experience to the above.