River of life
Its catchment area starts in Angola’s western highlands, with numerous tributaries joining to form the Cubango river, which then flows through Namibia (called the Kavango) and finally enters Botswana, where it is then called the Okavango.
Millions of years ago the Okavango river use to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi (now Makgadikgadi Pans). Tectonic activity and faulting interrupted the flow of the river causing it to backup and form what is now the Okavango delta. This has created a unique system of water ways that now supports a vast array of animal and plant life that would have otherwise been a dry Kalahari savannah.
During the peak of the flooding the delta’s area can expand to over 16,000 square kilometres, shrinking to less than 9,000 square kilometres in the low period. The delta environment has large numbers of animal populations that are otherwise rare, such as crocodile, red lechwe, sitatunga, elephant, wild dogs, buffalo, wattled crane as well as the other more common mammals and bird life.
Game viewing by canoe…
The best time for game viewing in the delta is during the May-October period, as the animal life is concentrated along the flooded areas and the vegetation has dried out. The best time for birding and vegetation is during the rainy season (Nov.- April) as the migrant bird populations are returning and the plants are flowering and green.
Safari activities by water are the primary speciality of the Okavango – the mokoro – a dug out canoe which is ‘poled’ along by your Guide is the most evocative way of exploring the numerous waterways. Motor launches travel on the main waterways and lagoons. Walking Safaris are available from most Camps and Lodges – perhaps the most exciting way of viewing Game – stalking and tracking wildlife with an expert Guide.
Private Lodges and Camps are either situated within the National Park or in private concessions, most can only be accessed by light aircraft out of Maun or Kasane. The Okavango does not really cater for the ‘Budget Traveller’ – This is deliberate policy on the part of the Botswana Government. They are anxious to avoid the mass tourism that has been allowed to spoil other areas of Africa, but also to protect the fragile eco-system that is the Okavango Delta.
This policy has resulted in The Okavango Delta remaining one of the truly unspoiled wilderness areas of Africa. A place of incredible natural beauty, indigenous protected Wildlife and vegetation.