In their blog titled Destination Delta: How to Visit Botswana’s Okavango, South African-based online travel agency Travelstart helpfully answers the question that many first-time visitors to the Okavango Delta ask “Where do I begin?” Below are some snippets from their guide to holidaying in Botswana’s world-famous wilderness.
What is the Okavango Delta?
The Okavango Delta is a sprawling wilderness area in Botswana that remained inaccessible to human development thanks to mud, water and tsetse fly. It’s always been a mission to get there, which is why nature has been left to thrive. Technically, this is still the Kalahari Desert, but it has been totally transformed by this addition of water. Filled by water that floods down from the highlands of Angola every year the Kalahari becomes a swampy wetland.
How do I visit the Okavango Delta?
The Okavango Delta is one of the best places in the world to go on safari. An unofficial tourism capital, Maun is the turnstile to the Okavango. A dusty little town with a busy airport, flying is the most common way to travel here. There is a wide variety of upmarket lodges dotted around the Delta.
Most commonly, they offer full board, including food, drinks and activities such as game drives or water-based adventures in a safari boat or in a traditional dugout canoe, named the mokoro. There are no fences in this wilderness area of Botswana. Moremi is surrounded by vast concessions. This is where the vast majority of the luxury lodges lie. Here is a good thorough summary of stays in the Okavango Delta concession areas.
If you don’t fly, a fully equipped 4WD vehicle is essential. However, you can also join an overland adventure and bush camp along the way.
Another option for this wonderful wetland, is of course, by boat. Base yourself in the town of Maun and join a guided mokoro trip or day drive into the Moremi Game Reserve. If you’re set on self-drive, there’s also the Okavango Panhandle on the far western reaches of the Okavango Delta that is slightly more accessible.
Park fees and tourism levies tend to make this is a pricier holiday, but they help the world’s last great wilderness and contribute to its survival.
Where can I stay in the Okavango Delta?
Walk on Chiefs Island: A more traditional camp of thatched and tented units, lodges like Moremi Crossing are a more affordable option for South Africans. Moremi Crossing is a real-deal Delta destination. Set on an island surrounded by high water, the more typical game drive is not operational. However, island activities include year-round mokoro trips on the waters of the Boro River and bush walks onto Chief’s Island.
Do an overnight mokoro trip from Maun: Gliding across the waters of the Okavango Delta is what sets this destination apart from every other safari. Enjoy the sweet silence when poled through these wilds. See beautiful waterlilies, tiny painted reed frogs, dazzling dragonflies and lap up the opportunities to meet elephants and hippo in their own habitats. Maun-based operators such as Delta Rain African Safaris offer one- and two-night mokoro adventures working with the Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust and using only local guides.
Contribute to the community: Another example of community concessions at work is at Mma Dinare Camp. Citizen owned too, this camp employs more than 60 people from nearby Sankuyo Village. Previously a hunting area, the community now relies solely on tourism. Help contribute financially to a community trust (and fund projects chosen by locals) when staying here
Travel tips for visiting the Okavango Delta
Download any travel apps you want to use beforehand. A birding app or wildlife guide will heighten your safari. There is no Wi-Fi or cellular reception at many lodges.
Bring biodegradable toiletries. By virtue of its remote location, many lodges and camps in the Okavango Delta are eco-friendly.
Travel between lodges is via small aircraft. If you’re susceptible to nausea, bring supplies.
Pack lightly. The aforementioned small aircraft have small holds, and there are luggage restrictions. Many lodges do provide free laundry services.
Pack baby clothes. Ask your safari stay what initiatives they support. For example, Kwando Safaris has teamed up with Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travellers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. Bring supplies for the Mummy’s Angels project to help make a difference in the lives of local children and families.
Bring cash for tips. Tipping is not obligatory, but it is commonplace. If service was excellent, then consider between $5 and $10 per day.
Considering visiting Botswana’s Okavango Delta? Contact us to chat about which part of the delta you would prefer to stay and to book your safari experience at one of our delta camps or lodges.