When you arrive in Maun, it looks like a tiny backwater town, but after a few days in the Okavango Delta, it seems like a thriving metropolis. It takes a two hour boat ride to reach the village where you will transfer to a mokoro to head further into the delta. Traditionally, a mokoro was a hollowed out log that was pushed along by someone standing on the back with a long pole. Today, they are mostly made of fibre glass, but are still quite precarious to balance in. From the mokoro village it takes another three hours to reach the camp. When you arrive, it feels like you are on the set of The Lion King. It is truly idyllic and this is just the beginning. This is Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
The delta is just like any other river delta in the world, except that it doesn’t reach the sea. Thanks to a shifting tectonic plate that blocked the path of the Okavango River, the water spreads out into the Kalahari desert providing an oasis for millions of animals. Even more remarkable is that when it is the rainy season, the delta shrinks down to a fraction of its size, but springs to life during the dry season. It takes months for the life giving rains from the Angolan highlands to reach the delta.
There are lots of accommodation options for your stay in the Okavango Delta. There are luxury safari camps where you will be flown out in a private plane, enjoy beautiful tents with all the mod cons, champagne and caviar at every turn and an experienced guide to show you all of the elephants. If that is out of your price range, you can hire guides to take you camping on one of the islands of the delta. Ensure that you go with a reputable guide who knows the area. You don’t want to accidentally stumble into a hippo’s lair while you are going for a swim.
One of the most magical experiences to have in the delta is to take a walking safari. You have the opportunity to get up close and personal with all sorts of African wild life. You need not fear too much for your safety as most of the animals will take off running as soon as they see you. They have an invisible barrier that surrounds them and if you encroach too close on them, they move off to a safer distance.
The Okavango Delta is a wonderful and unique part of the world. It has also been largely unspoilt due to the Botswana government’s strict protection of this amazing ecosystem. A journey here is a must for any traveler coming to southern Africa.
Written by Joseph Ramsey for The Essential Destination