The Okavango River flows down from Angola into Botswana's Kalahari Desert, where it creates an oasis in the desert, a paradise of islands and lagoons. Trapped between fault lines and dammed by rising land to the east, this extraordinary landlocked delta is one of Africa’s finest safari wildlife destinations. This vast expanse of interlocking streams, lagoons, papyrus beds and palm-fringed islands is uniquely captivating. The delta air is pure, the water crystal-clear and it teems with wildlife.

Many of the channels are permanent, allowing year-round exploration by mokoro or motorboat, but when the floodwaters arrive in May, dry channels fill up, and the number of camps that can offer you the fun of water-based game viewing increases. As the water level across the delta rise, this decreases the size of the islands, and intensifies the concentration of the wildlife on dry land, making land-based game viewing exceptionally rewarding.

Water-based camps in the Okavango Delta give you the opportunity to explore the tranquil waterways and lily fields by boat all year-round. Mokoros make no noise as they glide through the water channels. There is no better way to see the delta's water birds, as well as beautiful tiny speckled frogs and other amphibians that live among the papyrus. In the past mokoros were made from tree trunks, today they are fiberglass, but the activity is timeless.

You'll see larger mammals in the Okavango Delta too - elephants, water buffalos, hippos and also the occasional crocodile. Motorboats are used on the wider channels, and these often have an upper deck as a viewing platform. They are ideal both for fishing and for watching fish eagles as you sip sundowners at sunset. You can alight at any of the islands to explore on foot, or search for the elusive Pel's fishing owl.

If you have the time, it is best to combine a stay at an area of permanent water with a stay in a camp where land-based safari activities are strong. But otherwise, choose a camp where both activities are possible.

Shelley Phillips

Travel Specialist

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