If you’re interested in travelling to Botswana, you will not want to miss spending at least a few days in what has been called the ultimate safari destination – the Okavango Delta. We’ve created this Okavango Delta safari guide to prepare you for what to expect in this amazing location.
What and where is the Okavango Delta?
Above: The Okavango Delta from a bird’s eye view
The Okavango Delta is located in northwestern Botswana and is claimed to be the largest inland delta in the entire world, covering over 15 000 km2. It is a network of connected waterways, swampland and islands that is home to the largest variety of wildlife in Africa.
Okavango Delta Safari Wildlife
Above: A lone hippo breaches at sunset in the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta supports a large concentration of wildlife both permanently and seasonally as they may pass through on their migration patterns. Some wildlife you may see when you’re on an Okavango Delta safari includes the African Big 5, along with many others, which include: African elephant, leopard, lion, rhinoceros, African buffalo, hippopotamus, Plains zebra, Nile crocodile, Spotted hyena, Brown hyena, Blue wildebeest, cheetah, kudu, Sable antelope, African wild dog, warthog, giraffe and Chacma baboon.
Activities on an Okavango Delta Safari
Above: Watching the sunrise on a morning Okavango Delta bush walk
There are plenty of activities to keep you discovering while in the Okavango Delta; but that being said, most people travel to the Okavango Delta for relaxation, solitude and having a sense of ‘getting back to nature’.
Activities start as you enter the Delta – choosing to either have a fly-in where you get a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta below, or reaching your accommodations via makoro (a traditional canoe dug out of a tree, complete with local polers, who help navigate you through the Okavango Delta’s waterways).
Days can be spent taking bush walks or game drives to discover the abundant wildlife that the Okavango Delta has to offer. If you’re enjoying a makoro excursion, ask one of the polers to teach you how to pole a makoro or make a water lily necklace, this if your time to enjoy your beautiful surrounds and the activities it lends.
If you’re on an overland trip in the Okavango Delta you can expect a festive evening around the campfire when the locals perform cultural song and dance for you. A magical evening spent under the stars.
10 Must-haves on a Safari in the Okavango Delta
Apart from all the regular things you should pack on a safari in Africa, here are ten Okavango Delta safari essentials to add to your day pack.
1. Camera & spare batteries
2. Dry bag for valuables & electronics
3. Sun protection (Hat, sunscreen & lip balm)
4. Insect repellent
6. Water bottle
7. Small first aid kit
8. Headlamp or pocket torch
9. Neutral coloured (green/brown) clothing that you don’t mind getting wet
10. Journal for lazy afternoons
Summertime in the Okavango Delta really heats up from December through February, when the area experiences the majority of its rainfall for the year. At this time, temperatures can reach up to 40 °C (104 °F) during the day and stays warm through the night.
March through May is when temperatures become a little more bearable, reaching around 30 °C (86 °F) throughout the day and cools down at night.
Winter in the Okavango Delta is from June through August and at this time of year it is cool and dry – mild daytime temperatures quickly drop when the sun goes down and it can reach close to freezing point at this time of year.
From September through November the temperatures quickly pick right back up. It’s not uncommon to see daytime temperatures hovering around the 40 °C (104 °F) mark at this time of year.
Types of Okavango Delta Safari Tours and Accommodation
The Okavango Delta may ooze a brilliant African ambience, but that doesn’t meant that you have to enjoy it through hardcore bush camping. Difference degrees of tours in the Okavango Delta include camping safaris, accommodated safaris and luxury safaris.
Whether you enjoy roughing it without electricity, whether you crave at least a bed to sleep on, or if you’re looking for all the bells and whistles that come with five-star luxury adventures, the Okavango Delta is more than happy to accommodate you.
Okavango Delta Safari Camping Tips
Above: Bury your trace
1. Be prepared to use the infamous bush toilet – aka a hole dug in the ground.
2. If you need to use the toilet at night, make sure you flash your torch around the campsite first to check for wildlife.
3. It is not uncommon for you to have wildlife encounters at your campsite – remember that even though you may get amazing close up photographs, always use common sense and give wildlife their space.
4. Generally speaking, if you’re camping within the Okavango Delta expect to have no power, no facilities, no running water – consider bringing baby wipes to help yourself freshen up.
5. When you’re packing up camp, your group should always remember to dig a hole and bury the ash and coal that was made from your camp fires. Remember: Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.
How old do you have to be to go on an Okavango Delta safari?
In order to enjoy the thrill of an Okavango Delta safari you need to be 18 years or older.
About the blogger:
Melissa Shearer is a twenty-something Canadian solo-female traveler with a desire to explore the world around her and share her experiences in hopes of inspiring others to go and see what the world has to offer. Recently she has been living abroad in New Zealand, but took the opportunity to take a life-changing trip to Africa where she went overlanding from Cape Town to Victoria Falls and then fed into her passion for animal conservation when she volunteered with lions in Zimbabwe. Melissa’s passions overflow into her brilliant travel blog, The Mellyboo Project.