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.
What is the Okavango Delta?
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.
When does the Okavango Delta flood? The seasons explained:
The Okavango’s water influxes can be categorised into two main events. The first supply of water in the Delta is not from the water from the Angola Highlands (which creates the seasonal flood plains, and what we know as the Delta) but is from the annual rains in Botswana itself. The peak rainfall is usually in February. After February, as the rains become lighter, this rainwater begins to dry out making way for the second influx of water in the Delta which arrives in May time.
The second wave of water is in May when the water comes down from the Angola Highlands and flows into Botswana. They first flow through the pan handle (at the north-west of the Delta) and pulsate out across the flat Okavango Plains, creating the famous fan image and what we know as The Okavango Delta.
The water from Angola steadily creeps its way through the Delta, and the seasonal flood plains are at their fullest by July. By July the far corners of the Delta channels should have water, but before July, you need to take into account where you stay in the Delta if you are wishing to do water activities - some “mixed camps” may not yet have water in May if they are further from the pan handle. From July onwards the water begins to evaporate in the high daytime temperatures, so from the end of July through to October, the water levels slowly begin to decline.
How do the seasonal floods effect the wildlife and endangered species of the Okavango Delta?
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 and dreamy water-based safaris.
From July, as the water evaporates in the heat of the day, it does not mean however that the wildlife viewing is bad at all… Quite the contrary – in October, the hottest month and at the bitter end of dry season, the wildlife viewing is excellent. It is hot and so dry everywhere so the water from Angola in the Delta (although slowly evaporating) is still the main source of life for all the surrounding wildlife. So they do not leave, but stick around and hang on to the watery Eden that is the Delta until the very end of dry season, until the Botswana long rains come, and they begin to happily disperse again.
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