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Okavango Delta/Botswana

Introducing Okavango Delta

Welcome to one of Africa’s most iconic landscapes. There is something elemental about the Okavango Delta – the rising and falling of its waters, the daily drama of its wildlife encounters, its soundtrack of lions roaring, saw-throated leopard barks and the crazy whoop of a running hyena, the mysteries concealed by its papyrus reeds swaying gently in the evening breeze. Viewed from above on a scenic flight from Maun, the countless tributaries of the Okavango Delta can seem like an eagle’s talon clutching at the country and not letting go. At ground level, the ghostly silhouettes of dead trees in the dry season give the delta a hint of the apocalypse.

The stirring counterpoint to the Kalahari Desert that consumes so much of the country, the Okavango Delta, the up-to-18,000-sq-km expansion and expiration of the Okavango River, is Southern Africa’s massive outpouring of fertility. Indeed, the contrast the Okavango presents compared to the rest of Botswana is one of her most beguiling aspects: here, in the heart of the thirst lands, is one of the world’s largest inland river deltas, an unceasing web of water, rushing, standing, flooding, dying. And the waters do die. They never make it to the sea, soaking instead into the salt pans of central Botswana. But before they do, they sustain vast quantities of wildlife that shift with the seasons in this mother of waters.

The Okavango’s fly-in luxury lodges make a strong claim to be Africa’s most exclusive safari destinations. Fork out a fortune for nights spent deep in the inner delta and you’re unlikely to regret it. And yet, it is possible to gain a delta foothold for those on a smaller budget through a combination of mobile safaris from Maun and self-driving to the campsites of the Moremi Game Reserve. Whichever way you travel, you’ll take home so many experiences of a lifetime and the reason is simple: this is one of the most extraordinary places in Africa.