The Okavango River, one of the 7 natural wonders of Africa, flows from Angola to Botswana, spreading like a fertile hand across the arid Kalahari Desert and delivering vital water to the dry sands. Its delta creates one of the most spectacular wildlife viewing regions in Africa, an oasis in the desert where streams, lagoons and palm islands create many contrasting habitats that support a variety of animal life.
The landlocked delta appears every year after the summer rains from the Angolan highlands flood an area of 15,000 square kilometres between fault lines and the hills that rise in the east; it’s only when you fly over the delta from the gateway town of Maun that the enormity of the oasis becomes apparent. Although the flooding that inspires so many photographs is seasonal, many of the river channels are accessible by riverboat or mokoro all year-round. Okavango Delta holidays are at their most visually stunning during the dry season, when the experiences on offer enhance safari activities with a variety of ways to enjoy game drives.
One of the best ways to enjoy Okavango Delta holidays is by mokoro. These traditional wooden dug-out canoes are like the gondolas of the delta, poled along by an African gondolier through the reed beds and water lilies of the crystal-clear channels. Gliding effortlessly through the delta there’s no traffic or engine noise to contend with, so you can enjoy the serene silence and spot frogs and birds, and occasionally larger animals coming down to the water’s edge. Keen anglers will enjoy watching the barbel run, as shoals of barbel and tiger fish pour into the delta. Spotting the resident wildlife can be done in several ways, from a quiet mokoro, or on board a larger motorised vessel for the best views across the wetlands. Those who prefer four legs to four wheels (or fancy a change from the waters) can try horse riding for an ideal way to get up close to the animal population. One of the most relaxed ways to view the elephants, buffalo and birds is on board a sunset cruiser, watching the sun sink below the watery horizon with a glass of something refreshing in hand; Botswana’s sunsets truly are some of the finest in the world.