Bucket List Destination 1
His description could be written today, for the same sight greets those travelers lucky enough to visit this enchanting water wonderland. The Okavango River system is the fourth largest in Africa. From its origins in the highlands of Angola, the river delivers an unimaginable volume of water to the massive floodplains we know collectively as the Okavango Delta.
The Okavango Delta is comprised of the centrally located Moremi Game Reserve (a national park) and a number of private concessions. Red lechwe, impala, kudu, reedbuck and tsessebe are the most numerous of the antelope species. Wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, bushbuck, warthog, steenbok and elephants are most often seen on game drives. All of the large predators are here – lions, cheetahs and leopards – and wild dogs are frequently found. The predominance of water also makes this one of the best places in Africa to find hippos.
The boundaries of the national park and the private concessions are only lines on a map, so the wildlife roams wherever they wish. While each camp portrays itself as uniquely positioned to view the most wildlife, any difference in game viewing is generally due to the seemingly random movement of the animals throughout the area.
The activity that stands out as the most unique experience the Okavango Delta has to offer is a ride in a traditional mokoro – a type of local canoe that is propelled through the shallow waters by a boatman standing in the stern and pushing with a pole. Traditionally, carved from local trees, today’s mokoros are made of fiberglass, while they retain the shape that has proven to work so well over hundreds of years.
Sitting just inches from the waterline, your guide steers you through the reeds and papyrus beds as you float through this peaceful aquatic world, the quiet broken only by the calls of countless birds, the rustling of wildlife on the shores and the boatman’s pole as it enters and leaves the water. Approaching the various islands, you’ll search the drier landscapes, paying special attention to the trees in the hopes of finding a sleeping leopard.
The lush beds of reeds provide the perfect habitat for one of the most elusive antelopes in Africa – the sitatunga. A relative of the bushbuck, this large antelope thrives in swamps and permanent marshes. Its large size, long legs and splayed hooves are perfectly adapted for survival in this highly productive environment. While it often browses in shoulder deep water, it may also be found grazing along the shores. Sitatungas are rarely seen but the Okavango provides one of the best places in Africa to spot this aquatic antelope.
The amount of water is subject to a number of factors and, as with many safari destinations, that variability gives us some fascinating seasonal differences. As you consider including the Okavango Delta in your safari, we will guide you with detailed information regarding the seasonal highlights to be found throughout this vast water world.