The Okavango Delta: Botswana’s Unique Aquatic Paradise

Okavango Delta Lechwe Running

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a mesmerising maze of water channels, lagoons, and islands. As one of the world’s largest inland deltas, it offers travellers a chance to experience a diverse ecosystem teeming with incredible wildlife. In this article, we’ll explore what makes this aquatic paradise so unique, and share some top tips to make the most of your Okavango Delta adventure.

An Inland Delta Like No Other

The Okavango Delta’s striking beauty is a result of its unusual geography. Unlike most deltas that flow into an ocean, the Okavango River spills into the Kalahari Desert, creating an immense oasis that spans up to 15,000 square kilometres during the flood season. This natural wonder has gained international recognition, with UNESCO naming it a World Heritage Site in 2014.

Floods That Bring Life

The delta’s lifeblood comes from the annual floods, which begin in the Angolan highlands and flow into Botswana. As the floodwater arrives between March and June, the delta’s size can triple, transforming the landscape into a vast wetland. This influx of water attracts a myriad of wildlife, making it an ideal time to witness some of Africa’s most iconic species.

A Wildlife Haven

Botswana’s Okavango Delta is a treasure trove of biodiversity. It’s home to an astounding array of flora and fauna, making it one of the continent’s top wildlife destinations. Here are some of the incredible animals you can expect to encounter during your visit.

The Big Five and More

While the delta is famous for its lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino populations, there’s so much more to discover. You’ll also find a host of other mammals like zebras, giraffes, hippos, and several species of antelope, such as the red lechwe and the rare sitatunga.

Birds of the Delta

The Okavango Delta is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 400 recorded bird species. Notable residents include the African fish eagle, lilac-breasted roller, and the elusive Pel’s fishing owl. Migratory birds also flock to the delta from November to March, further enhancing the avian diversity.

Aquatic Creatures

The waterways of the Okavango Delta host an impressive array of aquatic life. You’ll find Nile crocodiles lurking beneath the surface and a variety of fish species, including the sharp-toothed tigerfish and the bream.

Activities and Experiences

Exploring the Okavango Delta is an experience unlike any other. Here are some of the must-try activities to make your visit truly unforgettable.

Mokoro Excursions

A mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) excursion is a quintessential Okavango Delta experience. A skilled poler will guide you through the tranquil waterways, offering unparalleled access to the delta’s stunning scenery and wildlife.

Game Drives

For a closer look at the delta’s impressive array of land-based wildlife, a game drive is the way to go. Many lodges and camps offer morning and evening drives, providing the best opportunities to spot animals when they’re most active.

Walking Safaris

A walking safari allows you to fully immerse yourself in the delta’s unique environment. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, you’ll learn about the flora, fauna, and local conservation efforts.


Don’t miss the opportunity to observe the delta’s diverse birdlife up close. Guided birdwatching walks and boat trips can be arranged, ensuring you get the best sightings possible.

Scenic Flights

To truly appreciate the vastness and beauty of the Okavango Delta, consider a scenic flight. Light aircraft and helicopter tours offer a bird’s-eye view of the stunning landscapes and allow you to spot wildlife from a unique vantage point.

Horseback Safaris

For a truly immersive wildlife experience, saddle up for a horseback safari. Riding through the delta’s diverse landscapes allows you to get up close to the wildlife while minimising disturbance.

Fishing Expeditions

Angling enthusiasts will relish the chance to fish in the Okavango Delta’s waters. The most sought-after catch is the tigerfish, known for its ferocity and impressive leaps.

Choosing the Right Time to Visit

Timing is essential when planning your Okavango Delta adventure. The best time to visit largely depends on your interests and preferences.

High Water Season (June to August)

During the high water season, the delta is at its largest and most striking. It’s the ideal time to witness large numbers of animals congregating around the water. However, keep in mind that some tracks may be flooded and less accessible during this time.

Low Water Season (December to February)

The low water season brings hot, dry weather, and water levels recede. As the delta shrinks, wildlife concentrates around the remaining water sources, making it easier to spot them. Additionally, this period offers excellent birdwatching opportunities as migratory birds arrive.

Travelling Responsibly in the Okavango Delta

Preserving the Okavango Delta’s fragile ecosystem is a top priority for both visitors and locals. As a traveller, you can contribute to its conservation by being a responsible tourist.

Choose Sustainable Accommodations and Operators

When selecting accommodations and tour operators, look for those with a strong commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. These establishments often invest in environmental initiatives, promote local employment, and work towards reducing their carbon footprint.

Minimise Waste

Aim to minimise your waste during your stay. Use refillable water bottles, bring reusable shopping bags, and avoid disposable items whenever possible. Many lodges in the delta provide filtered water stations for guests to reduce the use of plastic bottles.

Respect Wildlife and Their Habitats

Always follow your guide’s instructions and maintain a respectful distance from wildlife. Avoid feeding animals or disturbing their natural behaviour, as it may have severe consequences for both the animals and the ecosystem.

Support Local Communities

Travelling responsibly also involves supporting the local communities you visit. Purchase souvenirs from local artisans and businesses, engage with local guides and staff, and learn about the customs and traditions of the communities you encounter.

The Okavango Delta’s Future

Conservation efforts in the Okavango Delta are crucial in maintaining this unique ecosystem for generations to come. Local and international organisations are working tirelessly to protect the area, but ongoing support from tourists and the wider global community is vital.

When you visit the Okavango Delta, remember that you’re not just experiencing an unforgettable journey—you’re also contributing to the preservation of one of the world’s most extraordinary natural wonders.

Where to Stay

The Okavango Delta boasts a range of luxury lodges and camps to suit all budgets and preferences. Many of these accommodations are located on private concessions, offering a more exclusive and intimate experience. For those seeking a more rustic and authentic stay, consider one of the many mobile tented camps that allow you to explore different areas of the delta.

The Grown-Up Travel Company offers a selection of fully-customisable itinerary ideas including the Delta. Choose from our best-selling Wild Botswana and the Victoria Falls small group tour or let me help you put together a personalised adventure like the one I created for Hilde and Rune: Botswana Mobile Safari, the Victoria Falls and Luxurious Mozambique. I’m here to help you craft your dream African journey.


The Okavango Delta is truly a unique aquatic paradise, where land meets water in a spectacular dance of life. With its astounding wildlife, awe-inspiring landscapes, and a multitude of activities to suit every interest, Botswana’s Okavango Delta should undoubtedly feature on your African travel bucket list.

Embark on your Okavango Delta adventure with The Grown-Up Travel Company. Our tailor-made itineraries and in-depth knowledge of the region will ensure you have a truly unforgettable and responsible travel experience.

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