The Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta

Referred to as the “Jewel in the Kalahari,” the Okavango delta is home to some of Botswana’s finest lodges and bush-camps combined with spectacular game viewing and breathtaking scenery. Destinations are exclusive and the overall experience in the Okavango delta cannot be matched by anything worldwide – one of the most sought after and untouched, wilderness destinations anywhere.

The Okavango indepth

Created by tectonic movement of two main fault lines millions of years ago the delta contains 95% of Botswana’s surface water.

As a result of huge tropical rain storms in central Angola, the Cunbango River flows through Southern Angola, Namibia and into Botswana where its name changes to the Okavango River. This area is known as the panhandle, the northern most point of the famed Okavango Delta where over 11 billion cubic meters of water enter the Jewel of the Kalahari, but by the time it runs through the town of Maun 300kms away, more then 90% of the inflow is lost to evaporation and seepage.

The river is funnelled through the pan handle until it hits a series of faults that force it to slow down and spread out forming over 15 000km2 of the Okavango delta as we know it.

The Floods

Rain that falls in Angola in November and December reach the panhandle in January and February. As this water hits various fault lines it spreads out, slowly making its way south reaching the middle point of the delta in April / May and finally making its way to Maun in July/August almost 9 months later. This means there are two distinct seasons in the delta: almost opposite to what we expect

November – March the accepted rainy season for Botswana – the delta is normally low
April – October the accepted dry season for Botswana – the delta is normally high (in flood)

The delta consists of a multitude of ever changing channels, tributaries and lagoons that can be divided into two distinct zones:

Water Levels

The northern zone including the pan handle is “permanently flooded” and always has water to some degree. Banks and fringes tend to be covered in riverine forest and encompasses up to 12,000km2 of papyrus, reed beds and crystal clear water ways. The Pan handle is famous for its tiger and bream fishing.

Seasonally Flooded

Makes up the southern 3rd of the delta and includes Chiefs Island. Here plains are normally dry until such time as the floods arrive in April/May. This part of the delta tends to be very shallow with many sandveld islands hosting mopane trees and thornveld. The southern Delta is excellent for makoro trips and walking.