Undoubtedly the most striking region in the country the Okavango Delta is situated in the Kalahari Desert and is the greatest inland delta system in the world. A natural wonderland of a thousand islands in a thousand streams, born of a great river’s determination top meet the sea which it never will, as its strengths are captured by the desert sands which surround the delta.
The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta on Earth. Instead of flowing into the sea, the annual flood of fresh water flows inland, spreading over 15 000km² of the Kalahari sand in a maze of lagoons and channels. The delta ranks amongst the finest of wetlands in the world and from above it is a vast, fan shaped, emerald wilderness of waterways, lakes, lagoons and lush forests.
Over 1000 species of plant can be found in the delta and the rivers are teeming with fish, 80 species overall which in turn draws many birds to the area, the Delta is in fact one of the most celebrated bird watching and angling regions in Africa. The few people who in fact permanently live here are mainly fishermen. Undoubtedly the best way to view this natural wonder is by means of a mokoro which is a dug-out canoe that manoeuvres swiftly through the waters near impenetrable areas. The waters are crystal clear and crocodiles, hippos and hundreds of fabulous birds can be seen as well as elephants, zebras and giraffes. The only area in the Okavango that is protected is the Moremi National Park; the rest of the delta is carved up into giant private concessions, sprinkled with luxury lodges.
The countless islands that emerge from its waterways give rise to several diverse ecosystems, which in turn are home to vast numbers of game and a myriad of bird species. The crystal clear waters support many kinds of fish. The area is a birder’s paradise.
The delta is at its most impressive in August when the champagne-coloured water is at its deepest. Most of the animals’ young are born between November and March when the vegetation is lush. The heart of the delta can be accessed only by air. Since it is an exclusive destination, it remains wild and relatively unpopulated.
The Okavango Delta has three main areas, the Panhandle which a 15km wide fault in the northwest offers superb fishing but less spectacular game viewing; the central permanent swamp, with its maze of pans and water meadows and the arid seasonal swamps to the south and east. In the months of August to November the Okavango is hot and dry which makes for magnificent game viewing but low waters which often prevent mokoro trips. From December to March the region is hot and wet prompting game to disappear into the undergrowth but this is when bird and plant life is at its best.
As independent travel is very difficult in the delta region the majority of visitors get to experience these amazing swamplands with the help of tour operators who offer package deals to the region.