Almost 40% of Botswana’s land area is under some form of conservation management, and the government purposely follows a high yield, low impact approach to tourism. Within the vast conservation areas the number of concessions and lodges are limited, and admittedly more expensive, but as a result, offer some of the most unspoilt wilderness and safari experiences imaginable.
This is especially true when the Okavango Delta is in flood. This pulsating wetland floods every year from March when heavy rains in the Angolan highlands hundreds of kilometres away flows into the Delta’s alluvial fan, with floodwaters usually peaking in July. This spectacle occurs at the height of the dry season of the surrounding Kalahari desert. The surge of lifegiving water transforms this landscape into a green wetland attracting some of the most spectacular migrations and bird and wildlife to the area. For visitors, it also affords an array of unusual safari experiences.
The Mokoro is a traditional canoe used by local tribes to navigate the Okavango Delta when the flood water arrives from March to create this green oasis in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. Often described as Africa’s last Eden, the Delta floods annually when the rains from the from the Angolan Highlands hundreds of kilometres away arrive and the Mokoro offers a serene, dreamlike gliding experience through the papyrus waterways of the Delta. It is especially useful to navigate some the shallow channels that aren’t accessible by boat.
Few people would imagine that it is possible to race through the Okavango Delta running alongside herds of wild animals, but this is precisely what you get to do on a horseback safari such as those at the Belmond Fish Island Lodge where unforgettable experiences such as galloping alongside a herd of giraffe await. Of the many unique ways to explore the Delta, horseback safaris are one of the most immersive experiences turning you from a spectator into an active participant covering both shallow floodplains and dry land.
With more than 2 million hectares to explore (roughly the same size as Wales), covering off great distances in the extensive wetland that is the Okavango Delta can be challenging. Boats like those used by Fish Island Lodge are purpose-built in Maun, Botswana, are designed to navigate these particular waterways. This mode of transport not only give you a genuine appreciation for the scale of the Delta but provides one of the best ways to witness the wildlife spectacles on the banks of Delta and the creatures navigating its waterways like hippos, crocodiles and elephants.