Many superlatives have been used to describe the Okavango Delta, but one thing is clear: everyone agrees it’s a wonderland. So what’s the best way to experience and enjoy the amazing Okavango?
Many would agree that the experience begins as soon as you arrive. It’s that breathtaking view from the window of a small plane of the great plains, picturesque islands and snaking river channels and the sight of wild animals fanning out from the runway as you descend to the airstrip near your camp. It’s that humbling view that leaves you speechless and staring in wonder the first time you see it. Or perhaps you’ve seen it many times before, but it still affects you with a feeling of wonder and a sudden rush of excitement when you see those first wild animals.
Or perhaps it’s the experience of stepping on board that game drive vehicle on a cold winter morning and heading for your first safari drive. In the Okavango you don’t have to search far to see wild animals. That’s because you are in the wilderness; and, thanks to excellent wilderness management by the Botswana tourism authorities, the Okavango can offer visitors a sense of exclusivity during game drives. There is none of the ‘traffic congestion’ with safari vehicles circling like vultures that you might encounter in some of the tourism hot spots.
In fact, humans are pretty scarce in the Okavango Delta. That’s why it remains one of the world’s true undeveloped wildernesses.
There’s the chance to experience the most extraordinary sights. It could be a big pride of lions resting and yawning after a long night of hunting; or the sight of a cool and elusive leopard looking almost as if it could be hugged and stroked like a big domestic cat.
There’s the amazing experience of watching predators in action. It can be traumatising to see wild dogs rip open a live antelope and eat chunks of it while the animal still runs for its life until it finally succumbs to its wounds; but it’s an amazing sight to witness. A predator kill is among the top experiences that can easily be achieved in the Okavango Delta.
It could be those kings of the jungle, the lions, out on a hunt and later having to fan out the opportunistic and fearless spotted hyenas that want a piece of the lions’ kill.
Some believe the best experience of the Okavango Delta is to be found among the large bird population that the area contains.
The delta is a birdwatchers’ paradise, with some 600 bird species (of which about 500 are regularly occurring).
However, many people believe that the ultimate adventure experience in the Okavango Delta is to glide in a mokoro (small dugout canoe) through the hippo pathways. It’s the closest you can get to the wilderness. What makes the mokoro trip such a unique experience is the knowledge that those quietly flowing waterways could produce a lurking crocodile any minute, even as you listen to the soothing bird calls and admire the beautiful water lilies that decorate these risky pathways.
Other first-rate adventure experiences are available in the Okavango Delta, too, including elephant-back safaris and horse riding.
However, the feeling of just being in the Okavango is an incomparable experience in itself. The surprising luxuries of the five-star camps in the Okavango Delta, together with the excellent people who work in these establishments out in the wilderness, will leave many visitors with lasting memories.