The Okavango Delta is a large wetland or swamp formed in the middle of the arid Kalahari Desert in southern Africa in Botswana. The Okavango River, instead of flowing to the sea, flows into the desert, where it spreads out and forms an oasis. It has hundreds of winding channels cutting through palm islands which are often termite mounds. Such abundant water and rich feeding attract large amounts of wildlife in what is an arid region.
Most of the luxury lodges in the Okavango Delta cannot be accessed by road and guests must fly-in in by small charter planes and land on bush airstrips. The main hub for these flights is the airport at Maun. Guests should have their camera handy during the flight, as the views of the palm-fringed islands of the Delta spread out below is stunning.
Depending on the lodge location, either on the edge of the Okavango or deep within the delta, it may be surrounded by water or not. Guests may still need to catch a boat to the lodge after they land. Lodges which are surrounded by permanent water offer boating safaris, which are a wonderful way to enjoy game viewing as the boat glides close to the wildlife. One of the most iconic activities associated with the Okavango is going a Makoro ride. This means exploring the channels of the delta in a canoe, poled along by a guide, like an African version of a gondolier ride. This is a great way to see beautiful small jewelled reed frogs, birds and other wildlife.
The Okavango is the site of some legendary safaris such as Mombo on Chiefs Island in the Moremi Game Reserve which forms part of the Okavango. Other private concessions of the Delta such as Linyanti and Selinda offer some of the best game viewing and photographic opportunities in Africa. There is something about the landscape that wonderfully reflects the light, making for incredible photos. The game viewing and service is second to none, and many lodges have esteemed international reputations.
Botswana has implemented a policy of high cost and low impact tourism. So many lodges are quite expensive, but all must adhere to strict conservation and ecological principles. This is especially the case in the Okavango Delta.