January 31, 2011
In the midst of Botswana’s arid Kalahari Desert lies the fertile Okavango Delta, a unique eco-system of floodplains, rich grasslands and abundant clear water that’s a paradise for millions of animals. Over 9,300 square miles in area, the delta offers some of the best game viewing in Botswana, including land-based and water-based safari experiences. Here are a few of our favorite activities that we arrange for our travelers in the region:
1.) Mokoros in the morning
Morning is a magical time in the delta. As dawn begins to light the sky, the sights and sounds of nature come to life. With a cup of coffee in hand, board a mokoro (a traditional-style dugout canoe) and let an experienced wildlife guide take you on a peaceful ride through the shallow waterways. Glide past graceful red lechwe (small antelope) wading in the water and listen to the chorus of over 400 birds native to the delta region. Don’t forget your camera, because you never know when you might catch a glimpse of a tiny painted-reed frog clinging to a leaf or an African jacana walking on lily pads. Take some time to explore a remote island before returning to camp for a delicious breakfast.
2.) A bird’s-eye view of the delta
A flight over the Okavango Delta en route to your luxury safari camp is a thrilling introduction to the beauty and drama of the region. The landscape below is an awe-inspiring network of flooded grasslands that are crisscrossed with channels, dotted with islands, and teeming with wildlife. You just might see herds of African bush elephants slowly traversing the plains, families of Burchill’s zebra grazing near the water, or a flock of African sacred ibis taking flight from the marshes. Artisans of Leisure arranges both scheduled and private light aircraft charters to and from the delta as well as scenic private helicopter excursions for the ultimate photographic safari.
3.) Sipping a sundowner along the “hippo highways”
Some areas of the Okavango Delta offer a unique way to see the incredible wildlife–a water safari by motorboat. Spend an afternoon cruising along the “hippo highways.” These natural water channels are created by the daily migration of hippos as they swim back and forth to land in the early morning and late evening in search of food. A day on the delta almost guarantees sightings of these magnificent creatures cooling themselves in the deep water. As the sun begins to set, there’s nothing finer than enjoying a sundowner cocktail on the water before heading back to camp for a gourmet dinner–the perfect end to a perfect day.
4.) A Big Five game drive in the Moremi Reserve
Set out with a ranger for an exciting land-based game drive on Chief’s Island, the largest landmass in the Okavango Delta. The island is home to the highest concentration of animals in the region, including lions, leopards, wild dogs, hyena, buffalo, elephants, rhinos, zebra and wildebeest. Known as the “predator capital of the world” and ranked among the best game-viewing areas in Africa, Chief’s Island is a popular spot to shoot wildlife documentaries. That’s the only kind of shooting done there these days–though the island was once the royal hunting ground for Chief Moremi of the local Batawana tribe, it’s now part of the Moremi Game Reserve and the animals are protected. Artisans of Leisure arranges stays at Mombo Camp, an exclusive luxury bush lodge in a secluded location in the island’s Mombo Concession.
5.) A room with a view
A big part of the safari experience is where you hang your safari hat at the end of the day. We’ve carefully selected our preferred luxury lodges in the Okavango Delta based on their location, service, high quality safari experiences, and rooms that offer incredible views (such as Vumbura Plains, pictured above). Okavango Delta camps offer different game-viewing experiences throughout the year depending on the season and water level. Whether you’re looking for a land experience, a water experience, or both, we’re happy to walk you through our preferred luxury properties and the most recommended options during your travel dates.
Artisans of Leisure’s private luxury tours and safaris in Botswana include in-depth exploration of the fascinating Okavango Delta region. Our “Best of Botswana“ tour includes two of our favorite luxury camps in the delta, one water-based and one land-based, along with a few days exploring the Makgadikgadi Pans and learning about San Bushmen culture in the Kalahari Desert. Our “Classic South Africa & Botswana” is a luxurious private safari tour that combines the Okavango Delta and South Africa’s renowned Sabi Sand Reserve with time at Victoria Falls and in Cape Town.