Quick Travel Advice for the Okavango Delta

C. Fraser Claire

What You Need To Know Before You Go To The Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is a top safari destination in Southern Africa. Get quick trips before you travel.

Okavango Links:
Okavango Delta: Wildlife, Wetland, and Perfect Wilderness | Pel's and Papyrus on the Okavango Panhandle | Moremi Game Reserve | Khwai Community Concession | What To Pack For a Safari To The Okavango Delta | Okavango Delta Quick Travel Tips

Travel Advice for the Okavango Delta by The Safari Store

The Okavango Delta is fed by annual floods that make the pattern of channels and waterways unpredictable - and keeps the land around them wild. There is an abundance of wildlife and birds and, while it is a popular tourist destination, there is a wonderful remoteness to the Delta's camps, parks, and concessions. It also offers an incredible variety of guided activities, giving guests an amazing opportunity to experience wild Africa in diverse and exciting ways. There are exclusive, luxury camps located within the Delta - but there are accommodation options for every budget. This includes everything from fixed lodges to mobile safaris and self-drive 4x4 and camping options.

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Plan A Botswana Safari to the Okavango Delta

A trip to the Okavango Delta is the trip of a lifetime. This travel advice is a quick overview of tips and advice off the back of our own Botswana travel experiences that include time exploring the Okavango Delta through Moremi, Khwai, and the Panhandle. We are passionate about helping our clients to prepare for their safaris. Keep reading for our quick tips and safari packing advice.

We are here to help with answers to Okavango Delta FAQs and quick travel tips.

FAQs Answered: Okavango Delta

  • Where does the Okavango start and end? : The Okavango has its origins in central Angola, where it is known as the Kubango River. The Kubango becomes the Kavango River when it reaches the Caprivi Strip in Namibia and then becomes the Okavango River in Botswana, where it fans out into the Delta as it reaches the Kalahari Basin. The Okavango River is the fourth longest river in Southern Africa.

  • What is so special about the Okavango? : The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta. Whereas most deltas spread to the sea, the Okavango is landlocked. In the otherwise dry and desert landscapes of Botswana, the Delta floods bring wildlife and birds in abundance in a preserved wilderness. It is the 1000th World Heritage Site.

  • What is the best way to see the Okavango Delta?: The quick answer is "in as many ways as possible." Understanding the magnitude of the Delta is best done from the air in a fly-in safari, charter flight, or hot air balloon. However, exploring from water level in a mokoro is an intimate and special way to experience the channels and wildlife. Horse safaris, game drives, and walking safaris are perfect land-based complements to cover the elements in the most unforgettable way.

  • Is there malaria in the Okavango?: There is a high risk of malaria, especially in the northern Delta and especially during the rainy season. Take malaria precautions all year round to be safe. This includes prophylactic medications, adequate insect repellent to apply and re-apply regularly, and covering up in lightweight anti-insect clothing.

  • What time of year is best for the Okavango?: There is no one answer to this question. Different seasons and the different flood factorts make an exact answer a challenge. The dry season between June and October is generally accepted as a time that generally brings great game viewing and more moderate temperatures (heating up the closer you get to October). If you are hoping for water-based activities, the water levels are best for these during these months.

  • Can you swim in the Okavango Delta?: There are crocodiles, hippos, elephants, and even famous swimming lions in Okavango waters. This is not a place to swim at random. However, some guides may have 'safe spots' they can recommend during activities. Proceed with caution and only in the company of a guide.

  • Where is the Panhandle in the Okavango? The Panhandle is the name given to the north-western Delta. This is the main stretch of deep, permanent Okavango River that runs for around 70 kilometres before it becomes the alluvial fan of the Delta. If you consider the Delta to be shaped like a pan, this stretch of river is the handle.

  • Is Moremi Game Reserve the same as the Okavango? Moremi Game Reserve covers about 20% of the Okavango Delta. Moremi is a protected area within the Delta system.

  • Is Moremi Game Reserve fenced? Moremi Game Reserve is unfenced and is surrounded by private concessions and wildlife management areas that allow for the movement of wildlife into Chobe. Vet fences appear in places to prevent the intermingling of wildlife and domestic animals.

  • Can you self drive Moremi? You certainly can. The reserve has a good network of game drive routes that provide an exquisite cross-section of the park.

  • How do I access Moremi Game Reserve? Moremi is accessible by road via the North Gate from Chobe National Park or the South Gate from the direction of Maun. If you fly into Maun, you will fly by small charter to the airstrip and on to the reserve.

  • How cold does it get in the Okavango Delta? During the winter months, the average morning temperature in the Okavango Delta is 6 degrees Celsius. However, we have observed sub-zero temperatures at times. The real feel of these temperatures can be biting on the back of open game viewers or on boats, so packing a warm layer is essential.

  • What is the tipping etiquette in Botswana? Tipping is at your discretion, but it is courteous to tip your guide or poler personally at the end of a trip and to leave a general tip at reception. Remember to carry a bit of cash for this purpose. Pula or US dollars are widely accepted.

Okavango Delta weather conditions and what to pack for safari by The Safari Store

Dressing For The Delta:
At The Safari Store, we have designed, developed, tested, and refined our made-for-purpose safari clothing around the realities of African travel. Our Okavango Delta safari packing advice ensures you put the most suitable and best performing safari clothing, luggage, and gear into the right suitcase for your Botswana adventures.

Quick Travel Tips For the Okavango Delta: From Moremi and Khwai to the Panhandle

  • What kind of camp are you visiting in the Okavango Delta? : The camps in the Delta are either wet camps, dry camps, or mixed camps. Your choice of camp - and the time of year you travel - makes a difference to the kind of experience on offer. Wet camps offer mostly water-based activities and are located along main channels of the Delta. Dry camps are more game drive centred and are located on the more permanent areas of land. Mixed camps offer a combination of both.

  • Moremi vs private concessions : Moremi and its surrounding concessions are equally wild and scenic. The difference ultimately comes down to the rules of the reserve. If you're staying in a concession, less limited walking, night drives, horse safaris, and off-track driving are permitted - whereas they are not in Moremi. There are also considerations around exclusivity of sightings, although we have observed very busy sightings in some community concession areas, so this will depend on the area. Some luxury camps will have exclusive accessibility to certain areas or full areas in private concessions. For mobile safari operations within Moremi, once the gates close, it's just you and the night. If you want to self drive or go on a mobile safari, private concessions won't be possible, but you will be able to stay in Moremi or a community concession.

  • Understanding the seasons in the Delta: The dry season in the Okavango Delta is between May to October. There are moderate temperatures and no rain during winter. Temperatures start to rise in September and October. The rains between November and April bring heat and humidity. The rains peak in December and January, when it is especially wet.

  • Cameras and drones: The Delta is a a haven for photographers. However, if you are keen on drone photography, Botswana requires you to follow certain regulations, which prohibits flight in certain circumstances and requires permits in others. Before you travel, check the area's drone policies with your operator as certain parks and areas may have a ban on drones.

  • Passports and visas: Many countries do not require a visa to visit Botswana. Check online to find out if you do and apply using their online visa platform if you do. If you require a visa and are visiting neighbouring countries as part of your itinerary, consider a multi-entry visa if you are re-entering Botswana. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Botswana. Passports must have two blank pages facing each other. If you are travelling with children under the age of 18, they will need a valid passport and their original, full unabridged birth certificate. If only one parent is travelling with the child, an affidavit from the absent parent will be required. If you have been to a yellow fever risk area, you may be required to present a yellow fever immunisation certificate on entry. Note: this does not replace travel advice. Be sure to find out exactly what is required before you travel.

  • Okavango Delta activities: There is an amazing array of activities - and some excellent guides - available in the Delta. Game drives, night drives, walking safaris, horse safaris, mokoro rides, canoe safaris, fishing, boating, hot air balloons - there are so many ways to enjoy the Delta and we encourage you to do as many as possible. If there are any activities you are particularly interested in, do your research to find out where these are available in the Delta.

  • Awareness around Okavango wildlife: The Okavango Delta is an amazing wildlife destination. Unfenced camps and lodges mean you may have wildlife wander quite nearby. Exercise vigilance and be aware when walking around camp or in the bush on activities. Always follow your guide's instructions. If you are self-driving, give animals space at sightings - especially elephants. Don't wander from your car unless in allocated spots and stick to park rules whenever you're in reserves.

  • How to get to the Okavango Delta: If you do not arrive in the Delta by road, you will typically fly into Maun via Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kasane, or Victoria Falls. From Maun, small charters fly into the Delta.

  • Self-driving remote places: Botswana is a country of wide open spaces - and there may be long stretches between villages. The more remote the destination, the more planning is required. Plot your route carefully with timings in mind and make a plan for offline maps. Be aware of wildlife - even on tar roads in some places in Botswana. Avoid driving in the dark because of the presence of wildlife and domestic animals. Once you're in the Delta, make sure you are au fait with the 4x4 functionality of your vehicle and brush up on top tips for driving sensitively with elephants and at sightings.

Okavango Delta Mokoro Expedition by The Safari Store

Expedition Tested: The Okavango Delta
At The Safari Store, our products have all been tested and refined off of expedition tests. In the Okavango, we put our clothing, luggage, and gear through its paces in mekoros along the length of the Delta. Read the Okavango Delta expedition story.

Fish eagle in Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta, by The Safari Store

Moremi Game Reserve:
Popular doesn't necessarily mean populated with people. This is something we learned on a trip to Moremi Game Reserve, where we explored and enjoyed mostly exclusive sightings in this exquisite reserve. Read our Moremi Game Reserve safari story.

Elephant in Khwai, Okavango Delta, by The Safari Store

Khwai Community Concession:
On the outskirts of Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai is home to a mixture of campsites, lodges, and luxury destinations for Delta visitors. It is a wild place that connects community and conservation - and links the Okavango to other famed safari destinations in Botswana. Read our Khwai safari story.

Okavango Panhandle by The Safari Store

The Okavango Panhandle:
Before the Okavango River branches into a perfect muddle of wild channels, it is a papyrus-lined paradise. Read our Okavango Panhandle safari story and find out how this was our launchpad for a mokoro Okavango adventure.

Lilac-Breasted Roller in Moremi, Okavango Delta, by The Safari Store

Botswana Safari Links:
Okavango Delta: Wildlife, Wetland, and Perfect Wilderness | Pel's and Papyrus on the Okavango Panhandle | Moremi Game Reserve | Khwai Community Concession | What To Pack For a Safari To The Okavango Delta | Okavango Delta Quick Travel Tips | Mokoro Okavango | Off The Beaten Track Safaris: Okavango Delta | Expedition Tested: Okavango Delta | Rowing the Okavango: A Lockdown Virtual Expedition | Raw Botswana | Kgalagadi, the Magic of Nowhere |

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