The Okavango Delta is a unique ecosystem of papyrus-lined waterways, knee-deep floodplains, water-lily lagoons, shady forest glades and rich savannah grasslands.
An Okavango Delta safari is an experience of a lifetime. It must be ranked in the top 5 safari destinations in Africa, if not in the top 2 (along with the Serengeti). The scenery, wildlife, untouched wilderness and variety of safari experiences, make the Okavango unique.
The Okavango Delta is a fragile ecosystem and it remains one of Africa's most unspoilt and authentic wilderness areas. It consists of a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering an area of over 17,000 square km and the largest inland delta in the world. It is surrounded by the parched Kalahari sands so is a magnet for the wildlife that depends on the permanent waters of the delta.
NEW - Safari Routes in the Okavango Delta
Find a safari route that incorporates the Okavango Delta. Here are a few sample safari route maps:
Botswana Migration safari route
Okavango and Victoria Falls safari route
Pans and Okavango safari route
...more Okavango Safari Routes
More about the Okavango Delta
The Okavango river is southern Africa's third largest watercourse (after the Zambezi and the Orange). It originates in the uplands of Angola and flows across the Namibia's Caprivi strip into Botswana. It is here that it spreads out over the Kalahari sandveld in an immense, fan-shaped inland delta. This delta, it is in fact an alluvial fan of sediment and debris, which filled a trough formed by the sinking of the earth's crust, between a series of parallel faults across the Okavango River.
The fan-shape of the delta resembles the shape of a hand. The palm is a permanent delta of constant water, and the fingertips are seasonally flooded swamps and lush floodplains. The water of the Okavango literally floats on a saturated sea of sand. Outside of this area there are sandy ridge-like areas covered by scrub mopane and patches of acacia and numerous pans.
Here there are wide, mysterious waterways, tranquil lagoons and palm-graced islands, narrow labyrinthine channels choked by reed and papyrus and by dense mantles of water lilies that bloom gloriously in their season. Fringed with stands of palms and thick forest, this vast and pristine wilderness is yours to explore. With 12,000sq kms of waterways, it is truly one of the natural wonders of the world.
The Delta has three fairly distinct regions. In the north-west, around and along the Panhandle - the 'stem' of the fan - are the Okavango's permanent waters, the deep and languidly moving streams, the ox-bow lakes and wooded islands of a pristine wilderness that remains much the same throughout the year. Then there's the lower Delta, whose channels are filled for much of but not all the time, its tree-girded floodplains often covered by grassland that attracts and sustains a great number of buffalo and other herbivores. Finally you have the Delta's outer fringes, sandy ridge-like areas covered by scrub mopane and patches of acacia and blessed by numerous pans. Here, too, the wildlife congregates, especially at the end of the seasonal rains.
Unique as one of the world's few inland deltas, the water wilderness of the Okavango Delta offers a safe haven for innumerable bird and wildlife species. The elusive sitatunga antelope has found refuge in this pristine wetland ecosystem, while birds such as the African fish eagle, Pel's fishing owl and many others thrive on its rich and diverse habitat, making it rank as one of Africa's most sought after safari destinations.
Within the Okavango Delta lies the Moremi Game Reserve. It is state-run reserve surrounded by a number of strictly controlled, privately managed wildlife concessions. The game viewing in all of these safari areas is no less than outstanding and activities can either be undertaken on foot, in a game-viewing vehicle or in a mokoro (dug-out canoe) or motorised boat. Such varied opportunities in a beautiful and diverse range of habitats, makes the Okavango one the best all-encompassing safari destination in the world.
Moremi Game Reserve
Moremi falls within the tribal land of the Batswana and is named after the late Chief Moremi III. It was clear to his wife, who reigned after his death, that the game in their traditional hunting grounds was fast disappearing. With encouragement from conservationists, she proclaimed the Moremi Game Reserve in March 1963 and the tribe agreed to vacate the land. It lies on the northeast side of the Okavango Delta. Chief's Island is the largest landmass within Moremi and was the Batswana tribe's richest hunting grounds with a vast array of animals. The dry sandy interior of this 100,000 hectare (1,000 square kilometer) island is full of mopane woodland and acacia thornscrub interspersed with clay pans.
These moremi flood plains fill with rain and attract large herds of buffalo, as well as lechwe, zebra, waterbuck, loin, cheetah, wilddog and hyena. As the mopane bush gives way to floodplains and riverine forests, other animals become abundantly visible and the whole spectrum of Africa's game can be seen. The mosaic of grasslands, floodplains, palm-tree islets, forests, lily lagoons and winding water channels combine to form a perfectly constructed puzzle, in which animals wander as they please. The use of boats for game-viewing and fishing is permitted. Access to the reserve is from Maun. Roads are not good and it is advisable to use 4x4 vehicle. The South Gate is at Maqwe, just over 100 km north of Maun; the North Gate is on the Khwai River about 170 km from Maun. At times the reserve closes during the rains.
Private Safari Reserves of the Okavango
Chitabe in the south of the delta has classic Okavango scenery of rivers, waterways and marshlands with season flood plains contrasting with dry acacia woodland and open grasslands. Safari activities are more land than water based and provide exceptional opportunities for photography. Wild Dog sightings are the special treat of this area.
The Duba Plains in the furthermost reaches of the delta are famous for high concentration of lions. They are sleek fit and well fed from the huge herds of buffalo that graze these seasonal flood plains. Floodwaters provide the opportunity for mokoro (dugout canoe) trips from May to September, which is the most romantic way to experience a safari.
The Jao Reserve in the western delta is a water wonderland where you float through a fairytale of water lily lagoons. It is here that you will find the rarely seen sitatunga - an aquatic antelope that may submerge under water if disturbed. There is a variety of terrain and almost all the big game is here plus a bewildering selection of birds.
Featured Okavango Delta safari lodge maps
Baines Camp map
: Baines Camp overlooks the Boro River, a permanent water source in the Delta.
Camp Moremi map
: Camp Moremi is overlooks the Xakanaxa Lagoon in the heart of the Delta.
Camp Okavango map
: Situated on the remote Nxaragha Island, which has permanent water.
Chitabe Trails Camp map
: Ideal for small parties who are looking for their own private camp, as well as those individuals who prefer a more intimate experience
Duba Plains Tented Camp map
: Duba Plains is one of the Okavango Delta's most remote camps
Eagle Island Camp map
: Eagle Island is situated in a remote part of the Delta.
Jacana Camp map
: Jacana Camp is situated outside the Moremi Game reserve on the Jao flats
Jao Camp map
: Built in a private reserve bordering on the Moremi Game Reserve, on a densely wooded, oval~shaped island
Kanana Camp map
: Kanana Camp is in the heart of the Okavango Delta set amongst the spectacular delta islands
Khwai River Lodge map
: Luxurious private lodge with superb game viewing.
Kwara Camp map
: Kwara lies within the private Kwara concession.
Kwetsani Camp map
: Kwetsani Island is a large, elongated island surrounded by enormous open plains
Little Mombo map
: Little Mombo is situated on Mombo Island, adjoining the northern tip of Chiefs Island.
Little Vumbura Safari Camp map
: This camp is closer to the permanent waters of the big, fast~flowing rivers than its sister Vumbura Plains
Nguma Island Lodge map
: Nguma Island Lodge is on Guma lagoon in the panhandle of the Okavango Delta
Nxabega Safari Lodge map
: Located on the edge of the Okavango Delta in an exclusive wildlife concession
Pom Pom Camp map
: Pom Pom is located in a private concession to the west of the Moremi Game Reserve
Sandibe Safari Lodge map
: Set on a permanent channel of the magnificent Okavango Delta, adjacent to the game-rich Moremi Wildlife Reserve.
Stanleys Camp map
: Stanleys Camp is situated on a 260,000 acre private concession, bordering the southern section of the famous Moremi Game Reserve, thus affording guests absolute exclusivity.
Tubu Tree Camp map
: This safari camp is built on the western side of a large island called Hunda
Vumbura Plains Camp map
: The Vumbura Reserve offers both land and water activities
Xakanaxa Lodge map
: Xakanaxa Camp is one of the few Okavango lodges which can offer year-round boating trips
Xigera Camp map
: In an area which has permanent water all year round, which makes it the perfect water and land activity camp
Xugana Island Lodge map
: Xugana Lodge is on Xugana Lagoon, one of the most spectacular permanent water sites in the Okavango Delta