The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s most impressive wildlife areas. As famous as Tanzania's Serengeti or Kenya's Masai Mara, the Okavango is the world's only inland delta and is an area of exceptional natural beauty. Its lily-scattered flood plains and palm-fringed islands have exceptionally high concentrations of Africa’s big game in one of the continent's most beautiful settings. The Okavango is an area that exceeds expectations and would certainly stake its claim as the world's best safari destination.
The Okavango’s flood waters arrive at the beginning of May, after building up in the mountains of Angola during the early months of the year. As the Okavango’s plains flood with water, wildlife migrates here from all parts of the Kalahari, creating a focal point for a phenomenal migration of millions of mammals. From May onwards the Okavango comes into its peak season, offering some of the best game viewing in the whole of Africa.
The Delta area has been split up into private reserves where the game viewing is available only to resident guests. As a result, the Okavango offers some of the most exclusive game viewing area in Africa. The heart of the Okavango is the Moremi, a public park that is particularly busy in areas but is also home to the Mombo concession, a wildlife area regarded by many as the best in the world.
Safari camps in the Delta are classified as wet, dry or mixed. The range of habitat and game viewing, and the overall safari experience on offer, vary considerably from one type of camp to the next.
To maximise your safari experience, we would recommend including a variety of types of camp in your itinerary. The ideal itinerary will vary throughout the season, and care should be taken to achieve the best combination for any particular travel dates.
Okavango Delta wet camps: where to stay
The wet camps, usually set in stunning locations close to the Okavango’s main river channels, are not flood-dependent and can offer the famous mokoro boating safaris throughout the year. However, as a general rule the game around the wet camps is relatively poor (most of Africa's big animals, particularly predators, are not comfortable in water) and when the Okavango is in full flood, the game driving circuits become completely submerged and these camps can then offer only boating safaris.This significantly reduces the quality of the big game viewing on offer. On the other hand, these camps offer beautiful scenery and exceptional bird life.
Wilderness Safaris' Jacana Camp is a beautiful camp that sits on its own private island in the middle of the Okavango. The camp is surrounded on all sides by water and is quite simply stunning. Xigera, albeit actually located in the Moremi Game Reserve, is another great wet camp run by Wilderness Safaris. Little Vumbura in the Vumbura concession is surrounded by water during high flood and so for these months can be viewed as a wet camp but on the whole offers surprisingly good game throughout the year.
&Beyond's Xudum and Xaranna Camps are in an area of the Okavango that gets very wet during the high season months and as a result can be viewed as mixed and wet camps! These are certainly not the best camps for big game viewing when the floods are in.
Okavango Delta dry camps: where to stay
The dry camps, by contrast, do not offer any mokoro or boating safaris and tend to focus on big game viewing. They offer game drives all year round. These camps are usually located in some of the Okavango's prime wildlife areas, and are particularly good for predators.
The Chitabe/Sandibe concession in the Southern Delta, close to Maun, is consistently regarded as one of the best areas for game in the whole of the Delta. Wilderness Safaris run the spectacular Chitabe and the three-roomed Chitabe Lediba, while &Beyond run Sandibe. All three camps effectively share the same game and can guarantee good and diverse viewing, with the added bonus of frequent wild dog sightings.
Duba Plains in the Northern Okavango, adjacent to Vumbura, is one of Africa's most famous camps. The concentration of lion up here was made famous by Derek and Beverley Joubert's fantastic wildlife film 'Relentless Enemies', set in the Duba Concession. The 1,200 strong buffalo herd is in a constant duel with the lion prides and provides for some of the most explosive game viewing in Africa.
Okavango Delta mixed camps: where to stay
The Okavango Delta's mixed camps offer the best of both worlds. Game driving and walking safaris are available throughout the year, along with traditional mokoro boating in shallow water and also, for camps located close to the main Okavango channels, larger boat safaris. (Many of the wet camps cannot offer game driving when the Okavango is in full flood.)
Kwando's Kwara concession, one of the Okavango's largest reserves, is home to Kwara and Little Kwara. These are outstanding camps and have one of the best wildlife-viewing locations in the entire Delta. The Kwara reserve is the ultimate mixed camp option and its situation north of the Delta gives guests a chance to game drive north, effectively out of the Delta, whilst also being close to a main river channel - providing big river boating safari opportunities as well as the standard mokoro trips.
Wilderness Safaris' Vumbura and Jao Concessions are exceptional reserves with some of the most luxurious camps. Tubu Tree, Kwetsani, Jao and Vumbura Plains are what we define as mixed camps, whereas the remaining camps in these concessions (Little Vumbura and Jacana) are primarily wet camps.
Other top-end mixed camps include &Beyond's Nxabega camp and their new Xudum and Xaranna, Sanctuary Lodges (A&K's) Baines and Stanley's; but the game viewing from these camps is not so good. Rather than these we prefer Pom Pom, a superb and very well-priced camp that offers a range of activities and has a great vibe.