Okavango Delta

An oasis in the Kalahari desert

Photos

Africa’s most beautiful oasis of lush water-wilderness

The Okavango is the largest inland delta on the planet, and rightly considered one of the most incredible wildlife and wilderness sanctuaries in Africa. This Eden of wildlife lies north-west of the country and won’t fail to take your breath away while on safari in Botswana. Known as the “river that never finds the sea”, it lies like a jewel amid the sandy thorn-scrub of the Kalahari Desert. A maze of glistening lagoons, meandering papyrus-lined waterways and rich savanna grasslands that are teaming with wildlife, this natural wonder is best experienced in a traditional mokoro (dugout canoe). Gently glide alongside the delicate waterlilies in complete serenity and observe the aquatic creatures in their natural habitat.

The delta itself takes the shape of a hand; the palm is permanently filled with water and the fingertips seasonally flood to form canals. In a country that is 80% arid, the Okavango is an incredible source of life. Many travellers prefer to visit the delta in the drier season, from May to October, when the best wildlife encounters are almost always guaranteed. The green season, from December through to March, also offers spectacular highlights, from the lush vegetation and fauna that springs up, to the pleasure of so many mammals giving birth during this time.

Wildlife

A myriad of species are found within the delta including African Bush Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Nile crocodile, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Brown Hyena, Spotted Hyena, Greater Kudu, Sable Antelope, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, Plains Zebra, Warthog and Chacma Baboon. Notably, the endangered African Wild Dog still survives within the Okavango Delta and exhibits one of the richest pack densities in Africa.

  • Moremi Game Reserve Botswana Leopard in Tree
  • Moremi Game Reserve Botswana Antelope Topi
  • Moremi Game Reserve Botswana Hippo
  • Moremi Game Reserve Botswana Lioness
  • Moremi Game Reserve Botswana Lioness
  • Two antelope at sunrise in Botswana

Seasonal Information

Find out the best times to visit the Okavango Delta.

  • Green Season
  • Mid Season
  • High Season
January is traditionally the rainy season in the Okavango Delta. At this time of the year the vegetation is beautiful and green and the air crisp and clear making it one of the best times for photography. The large herds of animals usually found in the dry season have dissipated, but the resident animals like lion, leopard, wild dog and the older buffalo and elephant bulls remain. There are a lot of young plains game around which can make for some exciting predator/ prey interaction. January is one of the best months for birding as the migrants are in full breeding plumage. The days are fairly hot and humid with the occasional afternoon thunderstorm which usually passes to reveal bright blue skies. When it does rain the temperatures can drop making it fairly cool. Daily temperatures can range from low 20°C to low 30°C. A light fleece or rain jacket is advisable for when the temperatures do drop.
Plan your Safari
February is traditionally the rainy season in the Okavango Delta. At this time of the year the vegetation is beautiful and green and the air crisp and clear making it one of the best times for photography. The large herds of animals usually found in the dry season have dissipated, but the resident animals like lion, leopard, wild dog and the older buffalo and elephant bulls remain. There are a lot of young plains game around which can make for some exciting predator/ prey interaction. February is one of the best months for birding as they start to build nests and breed. The days are fairly hot and humid with the occasional afternoon thunderstorm which usually passes to reveal bright blue skies. When it does rain the temperatures can drop making it fairly cool. Daily temperatures can range from low 20°C to low 30°C. A light fleece or rain jacket is advisable for when the temperatures do drop.
Plan your Safari
March is moving towards the dry season and so the rainfall starts to decrease, especially towards the end of the month. Temperatures remain similar to previous months, so a fleece and light jacket are advisable for when the sun starts to go down or for those early morning game drives. The vegetation is still green and air crisp making it ideal for photography. The youngsters have found their feet and generally keep up with the adults, which makes the predators’ jobs a little harder! Birding is still great as the birds rear their young. Khwai and Moremi are mixed habitats and so attract an array of stunning birds making it an ideal spot for twitchers.
Plan your Safari
As we move into April we get closer to the dry season and so rainy days and thunderstorms become few and far between. Temperatures range from mid-teens to around 30°C, so make sure to bring a light fleece for those early mornings and evenings when out on an open game drive vehicle. The vegetation is still green and there is still a lot of surface water around, which means the herds of elephant and buffalo are still spread out in the thicker Mopane woodlands. The resident wildlife like lion, leopard, wild dog and the general plains game are still around. This is still a good time for photography as the vegetation is still green, the sky bright blue and the air clear of dust.
Plan your Safari
May is considered the start of the dry season as the rains are almost non-existent. Temperatures start to drop, especially in the early mornings and evenings when warm clothes are required especially when out on game drives. Blankets and hot water bottles are great treats supplied by the camp in the cold mornings when you head out on early game drives. The flood waters of the Okavango Delta push further south through the Kalahari sands. The vegetation is still green and the air is clear of dust. Towards the end of the month the animals may start to form larger herds as the surface water in the thicker Mopane areas starts to dry up. This movement is dependent on how late the rains were. This is also when the wild dogs start to den which confines them to one area as they have to return to feed the pups. As the pups are still very young at this stage they stay in the den, making it trickier to see them. It is also dangerous to go to the den site as the dogs can get nervous and decide to move the pups which would put their lives in danger from other predators.
Plan your Safari
Towards the start of June, things have already started to dry up and animals start to form larger herds as the surface water dries up. Family herds of elephant and buffalo will start to be seen as they move from the drying Mopane woodlands and start their migration north towards Linyanti and Chobe. The wild dogs are still confined to their dens as the adults return to feed the pups. In general this makes seeing these endangered animals more likely as they stick to the same areas. It is not a good idea to visit the den as it makes the adults nervous, causing them to move the pups. This can be dangerous as they may encounter other predators. The vegetation is still green, but this will start to change towards the end of the month. The skies are bright and blue and the air still clear of dust. This is the start of the peak season in the Okavango Delta. The rains have completely stopped in June and temperatures range from below 10°C to maximum mid-twenties! Bring warm clothes as it will be cold in the early morning game drives and when sitting around the campfire in the evenings. As the floods from the Okavango Delta continue to push south, waters in the Khwai are at their fullest.
Plan your Safari
July sees the vegetation and water sources start to dry up and therefore the animal numbers increase. Family herds of elephants continue to move through towards the waters of the Okavango Delta. Predator action is good with leopards and lions the main the cats in the area. The dogs are still denning, although the pups will start to emerge as they get bigger. They will still be dependent at the den site, but would have started exploring the area around it as they get to know their surroundings. As the waters of the Okavango Delta push through the sands of the Kalahari Desert, water levels in the Khwai area will be at their fullest. As the month goes on so the waters start to recede. In general the birding and game viewing in the Okavango Delta area is excellent due to the mixed habitats of woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. Temperatures are very similar to those in June with cold mornings and evenings and comfortable days as the sun rises. Bring warm clothes for those early morning game drives. Hot water bottles and blankets are provided by the camps for those chilly drives.
Plan your Safari
We are now well and truly in the dry season. The vegetation and surface water have dried up and the animal numbers are good. Family herds of elephant continue to move through the Okavango Delta as they migrate north to Linyanti and Chobe. Larger herds of plains game can be seen on the grasslands and near the water sources. The wild dogs start to leave the den as the pups are old enough to accompany the adults, although they won’t wander very far. The Okavango Delta is considered some of the best places to see wild dogs as prey species are plentiful. The skies are still blue, but the air will start to become hazy with dust as things dry up, but this makes for some spectacular sunsets. Temperatures start to rise again, especially during the day and especially towards the end of the month. The temperatures range from about 10° up to about 30°C, so layered clothing is essential. August is probably one of the most popular and therefore busiest times of the year in the Khwai and Moremi Reserves. The waters of the Khwai and Moremi start to recede as the sands of the Kalahari start to absorb.
Plan your Safari
Temperatures start to rise and can become quite hot, especially towards the end of the month. Temperatures range from high teens to over 30°C, so layered clothing is essential, especially at the start of the month. There is little to no chance of rain and the air is generally quite dusty, which makes for some incredible sunsets. Most of the surface water has dried up and so the animals congregate along the main water channels of the Okavango Delta. Larger herds of buffalo and plains game can be seen and family herds and lone bull elephants can be seen through the area. The wild dogs are more mobile making it harder to locate them as they move huge distances every day in search of prey. Khwai and Moremi Reserves are considered some of the best areas for wild dogs. Leopard and lion are resident and so can be seen throughout the year. September is one of the best months in the Khwai and Moremi Reserves as this is now the peak of the dry season and game viewing can be spectacular.
Plan your Safari
It is extremely hot with little to no wind to cool things down. Temperatures range from late teens to over 40°C by the end of the month. There may be a sprinkle of rain towards the end of the month. This cools things down very slightly and can help clear the air. The air is generally hazy with dust, but this means some of the best African sunsets! The vegetation is generally dry except around the rivers and marshes. The surface water is almost non-existent and so this is one of the best times of the year for wildlife. Large herds of wildlife congregate around the main water sources making it easier to find them. The wild dogs are constantly moving around their home range making it hard to keep track of them. Lion and leopard are resident and so guests have a good chance of seeing these large predators. Only the deepest channels of the rivers retain water as the sands of the Kalahari soak up the shallow pools and streams. If you can stand the heat then October can be a very rewarding wildlife viewing time of the year.
Plan your Safari
November is a mixed month as the dry season gives way to partial rains. Thunderstorms start to develop around the middle of the month as clusters of clouds move across the different regions of Botswana. If it does rain then it is usually an afternoon thunderstorm that lasts half an hour or so before revealing blue skies. This can be a dramatic time of the year to be in the Okavango Delta and can make for some spectacular photographic opportunities. The beginning of the month can be very rewarding when it comes to wildlife as the herds of elephant and buffalo are still around before the main onset of the rains. Once the rains start the herds will disperse into the thicker Mopane woodlands. Resident game remains and this can be a very rewarding time for those who are prepared to work a little harder to find the animals. Depending on the timing of the rains, the end of November is often when the impala start to give birth to their young. This can be a very exciting time as the predators take advantage of the plentiful and easy prey species. It is surprising as to how quickly the vegetation greens up after the first rains. Temperatures can vary in November, although it is generally hot (35°C). If it does rain it can cool things down quite considerably and so it is wise to have a light fleece or rain jacket for these occasions. November is considered by many top guides and safari connoisseurs as one of the best times for a safari as the seasons change and the area transforms from the dry arid region to a lush green haven.
Plan your Safari
As we head into December we start to see more frequent afternoon storms. As with November these usually last half an hour or so and then clear to crisp blue skies. Migrant birds start to arrive and start their courtship displays as they try and attract a mate for the season. The baby impala continue to provide easy meals for the wild dogs, lion, leopard, hyena and other resident predators. The larger herds of elephant and buffalo have moved off by now, but the plains game remains and take advantage of the good food and plenty surface water. If you are prepared to work a little harder to find the animals, this can be a very rewarding time of the year for a safari to the Okavango Delta. The day time temperatures have dropped from previous months due to the rains which cools things down and makes it slightly more pleasant although the maximum can hit 35°C.
Plan your Safari