Probably the best known area of Botswana is the Okavango Delta. This area is one of the world’s largest inland water systems, a unique oasis of life in the centre of the Kalahari Desert. It stretches over 15,000km2 and supports a staggering variety of animal, plant and bird life.
The water is once thought to have reached the sea, but this is no longer the case. After a series of tectonic uplifts and earthquakes running along geological fault lines, the land at the edge of the Delta now lies lower than that of the surrounding area. There are two fairly distinct areas of the Delta – the permanent swamp which is inundated with water all year round, and the seasonal swamp which is flooded annually and dries gradually with the onset of summer in October.
The wildlife in the Delta is rich and varied. Many of the larger herbivores are present and include elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo and antelope species as well as numerous smaller animals. The carnivore populations are healthy and widespread including lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, spotted hyena, crocodile and jackal. In addition to the animal populations, the Delta is home to a staggering variety of birds; some 450 species exist within Northern Botswana. The most exciting aspect of encountering this wildlife is that the populations have never been imported or controlled in any way, and the large, protected areas are not fenced. Therefore Botswana is one of the last remaining areas where you are able to witness the complex interactions of a truly natural environment.
Of the many lodges within the Delta, most are small and intimate. Access to the Delta is generally by light aircraft into one of the many airstrips attached to private safari lodges. Mobile safaris operate out of Maun and Kasane and combine game viewing with nights spent in luxury lodges or private campsites. It is also possible to hire a 4×4 vehicle and drive through Moremi and Chobe stopping at the four municipal campsites, although organised safaris are by far the easiest way to view the area. On many of the private concession areas located in the heart of the Delta, outside the Game Reserve, it is possible to take part in organized walking activities from a lodge base. These are by no means strenuous but usually take around 3-4 hours and are included as part of the activity packages of many lodges. The opportunity to see wildlife at relatively close quarters on foot is one of the most exhilarating parts of any African holiday, and the knowledgeable and experienced guides ensure a thoroughly safe experience!