Two Lionesses Pouncing Through the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta: Botswana's Legendary Waterway

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Niarra Travel

Welcome to the world’s most spellbinding waterway: the Okavango Delta.

Spanning an incredible 16,000 sqkm at its peak, this network of rivers, lagoons and wetlands plays host to some of the most majestic natural splendours in all of Southern Africa. The intricate layout of this natural phenomenon makes areas of it totally impenetrable, leaving it unspoiled by human presence and allowing local wildlife to flourish in a manner that is seldom seen elsewhere.

Geography of the Okavango Delta

A remaining natural bastion of a forgotten age, the Okavango Delta was once part of the great Lake Makgadikgadi, a gigantic body of water that once spanned across modern day Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Okavango Delta’s geography is the fact that it is one of few known waterways in the world that does not run into the ocean. Instead, its water is transpired by the array of tropical flora that grows along its many beds and banks, before the final trickles eventually run into the Kalahari Desert and evaporate in the sweltering heat.

Traditional mokoro canoe floating through the serene waters of the Okavango Delta

Another unique feature of the Delta is the manner in which it transforms between seasons. Following deluges during the rainy season in January and February, the Delta gradually expands as run off from the Angola highlands reaches its waterways. It remains this way for the coming months before Botswana’s dry season sees the Delta expand up to an astonishing three times its usual size.

This colossal body of water attracts a plethora of different creatures to the Delta in one of Africa’s most astonishing wildlife gatherings. It is this natural phenomenon that makes a Botswana luxury safari experience totally unmissable.

The Best Time to Visit the Okavango Delta

The scenery of the Delta transforms throughout the year in a manner that is as drastic as the very seasons that define them. With this in mind, it is difficult to definitively name the best time to visit the Okavango Delta, as it depends on the experience that you are seeking. However, there are two distinct seasons typically experienced in the region.

Green Season - November to April

Average Temperature: 32C

Average Daily Rainfall: 80mm

The mornings during Green Season are typically very hot, followed by dramatic downpours in the afternoon. During this season Botswana experiences heavy rainfall, as well as significant run off from deluges in its neighbouring countries. The shrubs and grasses reach their most verdant states, transforming the banks of every waterway into a mesmerising vista of emerald green.

The height of this season falls between December and March, when most of the rainfall tends to arrive. Meanwhile, April and November provide viable options for those looking to travel to Botswana during the shoulder months.

While the volatile weather conditions and thriving greenery provide a fantastic backdrop for photography enthusiasts, they also provide ample water and cover for the animals in the Okavango Delta. This tends to make wildlife slightly harder to locate as you explore the water onboard a mokoro, due to being more sparsely spread and better hidden by the dense bush.

Cheetah amongst some shrubbery in Okavango Delta

Dry Season - May to October

Average Temperature: 28C

Average Daily Rainfall: 6mm

With the heavy rains having passed and the arrival of slightly cooler daytime temperatures, May to October would be considered by most to be the best time to visit the Okavango Delta.

While dubbed the Dry Season, this is typically the time of year when the Okavango Delta is in fact at its fullest. However, a thinning of the local fauna enables you to find a clearer view of the Delta’s enchanting subjects with greater ease.

July welcomes the start of peak season for the Okavango Delta, which typically lasts until October. During this window visibility is at its best, enabling you to find wallowing hippos, prowling lions and grazing elephants with greater ease.

The Dry Season is also typically considered the optimal time to visit Botswana for birdwatching enthusiasts, as you are treated to an array of migratory flocks making their way to the expansive waters for the summer months.

Two cheetahs chasing each other in the Okavango Delta.

Wildlife in the Okavango Delta

Home to over 800 species, the Okavango Delta’s animal inhabitants are as varied as they are fascinating. As a verdant waterway, the Delta attracts all manner of wildlife to its banks throughout the year.

The horizon-spanning network of wide rivers and deep lagoons make it a haven for semi-aquatic mammals. As you venture along the waterways by mokoro or the bankside dirt tracks in a jeep, you are sure to hear the deep grunts of wallowing hippos and the trumpeting of elephants as their herds traverse the riverbed, trunks aloft.

The Delta’s myriad of waterways also attracts some of Africa’s most iconic inhabitants to the water’s edge, as well as a handful of more endangered species. Along with prides of majestic lions, towers of giraffes grazing on treetops and gargantuan herds of cape buffalo, you will also have a chance of witnessing cheetah, African wild dogs and rhinos marauding across their natural habitat.

Serene Little Vumbura lodge surrounded by water and rich greenery, showcasing the unique lodge design

The Best Okavango Delta Lodges

Spending the night among the wild waters of the Okavango Delta is unlike any other experience on earth. Prepare to unwind in a state of bliss at the end of a long day in the bush; dine while overlooking the Delta’s wild residents grazing; and fall sleep to the sound of the African wilderness surrounding you on all sides.

There is no shortage of incredible accommodation options when visiting the Delta. However, here are some of our favourites:

Little Vumbura

Located in the northern reaches of the Delta, Little Vumbura is a luxury, eco-friendly island getaway like no other. Just six rooms are located on this stilted safari nirvana, where you can begin the day gazing out over the floodplains from the comfort of your private veranda. From its dining area to its star deck to the rooms’ private plunge pools, this is safari at its most luxurious.

Aerial shot of Little Vumbura, highlighting its remote and scenic location within the Okavango delta

&Beyond Sandibe

Opulence and purpose combine in the heart of the Delta’s meandering channels at &Beyond Sandibe. Located within a 22,500 hectare wildlife-rich concession, the lodge is an architectural masterpiece, shaped like a gigantic pangolin. Beyond its spectacular 12 luxury suites, complete with private plunge pools, this lodge has exclusive traversing rights over its grounds, meaning you can explore the wilderness without a single other soul in sight.

Architectural view of &Beyond Sandibe, with design inspired by local wildlife, nestled in the Okavango Delta

Camp Xakanaxa

Situated on the banks of the Khwai River, which meanders through the centre of the Moremi Game Reserve, Camp Xakanaxa offers year-round safari experiences on water and on land. The camp’s 11 spacious Meru-style tents encircle a central lagoon, each equipped with its own spacious private viewing deck looking out over the surrounding environment. The luxurious lounge, swimming pool and riverside fire-deck offer you that extra level of comfort and elegance.

Outdoor dining experience at Camp Xakanaxa, offering panoramic views of the delta's waters

Purveyors of creating unforgettable travel experiences with a purpose, at Niarra Travel we ensure that our guests not only experience the very best of a region but also leave having made a positive impact. If you are interested in booking a trip to the Okavango Delta that encompasses both luxury and conservation in equal manner, get in touch with our team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 or at and begin crafting your dream African adventure today.

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