Spotlight on the Okavango Delta in Botswana

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a huge and unique inland river delta. The Okavango River flows into a low-lying and very flat area which has gradually silted up with sand from the Kalahari Desert.  The Okavango River originates in Angola but it never reaches the sea. Due to the large, flat and shallow area it drains into it ends up being held far away from the ocean. Some of the water drains into the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans creating a home for thousands of flamingos but most of it evaporates. There are larger river deltas in Africa on the Nile and the Niger but they feed into the sea unlike the Okavango. This makes the Delta a totally unique place with awe-inspiring scenery unlike anywhere else on earth.

The place is also very distinctive in that it changes dramatically from season to season, from one extreme to another. Every year in the spring the delta fills up with over 11cubic kms of water which spreads across an area of approx 10 square kms. The water comes from the rainfall over the Angolan highlands and peaks from June through to August during Botswana‘s dry months when the rainfall has dispersed across the delta into lakes, rivers and marshlands.

This huge amount water over a huge area creates a unique environment for both flora and fauna in this southern African nation. As the waters recede the landscape changes dramatically as it dries out and the animals and plants have to adapt to fit the changing environment. When the water levels are at their peak, the grazing is lush and the Delta provides one of the biggest concentrations of wildlife in Africa.

The Moremi National Game Reserve was set up to protect the area and its wildlife and it provides a fantastic wildlife experience for visiting tourists. Most visitors stay in the small, privately owned game lodges spread throughout the area. These tend to be small and exclusive with low environmental impact and only a handful of guests at a time.

One of the best ways of seeing the Okavango is from the air in a small airplane. The views are spectacular and this unique geographical attraction is mind-blowing in its scale. The delta itself is an anomaly as the surrounding landscape of Botswana is dry and arid.

The other great way of exploring the Delta is by mokoro the traditional dug-out canoe used by local for getting around. This way you are right down in on the surface of the water and you get up close and personal to the animals at this level.