Arguably one of Africa’s ultimate destinations and now a World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta is fed by the Okavango River, coming in from the Angolan highlands, passing through the Caprivi Strip and flooding on a reverse pattern to the rains. This is due to it taking between 4 and 8 months for the waters falling in Angola to find their way down, depending on rainfall, and subtle tectonic movements, as well as the actions of hippos and elephants blocking and unblocking channels.
As soon as the Okavango River enters Botswana, the variety of things to see and do begins. As the water flows along the pan-handle for 100 km or so, it passes Shakawe, Sepupa, and Guma, which are all excellent places from which to explore the waterways, to fish and to relax.
This is also an excellent spot to look for the very elusive sitatunga in and amongst the papyrus; an antelope endemic to the region. As the Okavango River spills into the Kalahari, a myriad of habitats come together to give the amateur or professional ecologist, botanist, ornithologist, naturalist or just straightforward interested visitor, a breath-taking experience of wildlife and wilderness.
Due to Botswana’s tourism policy of “High Cost, Low Volume”, the Delta is really only accessible to the more affluent traveller, and it is rare for the backpacker to ever find his or her way into its heart; sad for them but excellent for the exclusivity that must be afforded to this pristine area of the globe, which has achieved world heritage status.
Since becoming a Ramsar protected wetland site, the Okavango Delta Management Plan has sought to guarantee the continued survival of the world’s largest inland delta system. The game boasted here includes, and is in no way limited to: lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, elephant, rhino, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, caracal, serval, spotted hyena, aardwolf, civet, roan, sable, kudu, sitatunga, warthog, impala, red lechwe, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal and genet cat, to name but a few.
The birdlife is an ornithologist’s dream, and the botanist would never cease to be amazed by the huge variety of species found here.