The Okavango Delta, designated a Ramsar site in 1997, is the largest inland delta in the world. Although referred to as a ‘Delta’ this is misleading as it does not discharge into a standing body of water. The Okavango is in fact a large alluvial fan and consists of 2 distinct regions, the upper ‘Panhandle’ section and the lower delta shaped alluvial fan.
The most accessible area of the Okavango is the Panhandle region due to its proximity to the tarred road from Maun to Mohembo. The majority of the camps and lodges in the central Okavango are only accessible via air charter from Maun. Only after taking one of these scenic flights, between the various lodges, do you fully appreciate the sheer size of the Okavango.
The Okavango is split into three sections - the northern Panhandle, the central permanently flooded swamps and the Okavango fringes which includes a number of community run wildlife concessions.
Wildlife in the Panhandle area is limited with only a few species occurring such as Vervet Monkey and Bushbuck although Hippo and Crocodile are common in the main channel and the elusive Sitatunga can be seen here.
Most of the water-based lodges in the Okavango are located in the central Okavango which covers a large stretch of waterways and islands from the edge of Chief's Island in Moremi to the villages of the western Delta. Elephants, Hippos and Crocodiles, as well as water-based mammals such as Red Lechwe, are common here. From the lodges in the area trips to Chief's Island are possible and walking safaris here can be rewarding with sightings of a variety of animals including Zebra, Impala, Warthog and the occasional Lion.
The northern private concessions, such as Kwara, Vumbura and Gudigwa, combine water based activities with game drives as these concessions also include large areas of semi-open savanna which attracts numerous antelope species as well as predators such as Lion, Wild Dog, Leopard and Cheetah.
The wildlife rich fringes around the Okavango include a number of wildlife concessions to the north, east and south of Moremi Game Reserve some of which are owned by local communities. The floodplains, seasonal pans and surrounding woodland provide perfect habitat for wildlife including Elephant, Giraffe and Buffalo as well as various antelope and smaller mammals such as Warthog. Predator sightings are particularly good in these areas.
The Okavango has many camps and lodges varying in luxury and price with those in the central areas offering a more upmarket Okavango experience. Some of the community concessions have formed a joint venture between the local community and the safari operator. The aim of these joint ventures is to enable the villages to benefit more from the tourism industry as well as to encourage wildlife conservation.
See below for a selection of photos taken in the Okavango Delta: