Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta Wildlife

A True Wildlife Paradise

A protected swathe of wetlands and woodlands, the Okavango Delta rightly deserves its title of wildlife paradise. Permanent fresh water and year-round greenery means this UNESCO world heritage site is home to tens of thousands of large animals – elephant and buffalo, lion and leopard – as well as huge numbers of smaller animals and birds.

Different areas of the delta offer different wildlife experiences and safari accommodation reflects this by broadly dividing into two types: land-based and water-based camps. Land camps offer morning and afternoon game drives as their main activity while water-based camps emphasise the boating and walking experience, offering motor boat and mokoro (canoe) safaris plus nature walks with local guides. Some lodges are able to offer a mix of all activities (usually seasonally dictated) while others may only offer non-motorised adventures.



Known primarily as a wetland environment, the Okavango Delta comprises land habitats too. Some of it disappears when the delta floods in the middle of the year but there are many areas of permanent dry land. The delta is studded with thousands of islands, ranging in size from marooned termite mounds to Chief’s Island – 70 kilometres (43 miles) long and home to forests and grasslands. The result is a spectacular mix of savannah animals – zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and warthog – with aquatic ones: hippo, crocodile and otters. Elephants and buffalo are common residents here, grazing on lush floodplains with large numbers of impala and red lechwe antelope. Chief’s Island is also home to some of the last remaining white rhino in Botswana as well as a wide range of predators.


With its mix of permanent rivers, deep lagoons and shallow floodplains, the Okavango Delta provides suitable habitat for Africa’s most iconic water-loving wildlife. Hippos are the most obvious, and can often be seen grazing on the lawns of the delta’s safari camps. Crocodiles occur in large numbers too, seen sunning themselves on sandbanks surrounded by egrets and herons. Boat safaris enable you to access remote lagoons where there are teeming bird colonies while a mokoro safari (a traditional dugout canoe) allows you to take in the smaller details – dragonflies, kingfishers and painted reed frogs.


With this much bio-diversity it’s easy to see why the Okavango Delta is a paradise for predators both large and small. Lions dominate the pecking order along with large packs of spotted hyena but the delta’s floodplains are patrolled by cheetahs while its woodlands are the hunting grounds of leopards. The most commonly-seen predator in the Okavango Delta is the black-backed jackal but this is a destination known for sightings of rarer carnivores such as serval cat, African wild cat, and the wildlife showpiece: roving packs of African wild dogs. You may encounter predators on walks or boat safaris in the Okavango Delta but the best way to see them is from game drives on Chief’s Island and the delta’s drier fringes such as the Khwai area.


With well over 400 species recorded, the Okavango Delta has long featured on a bird watching itinerary but such is the breadth and scale of the birdlife that it will delight the casual birder as much as the professional ornithologist. There are many large birds such as ostrich, ground hornbill, eagles and vultures plus amazing water birds – waders, wildfowl and flocks of storks and cranes. Bee-eaters, rollers and kingfishers provide the colour; bulbuls, fish-eagles and doves provide the melodic soundtrack. Rewarding all year round, birding is at its best in the Green Season – November to April – and can be enjoyed by vehicle, on foot and by boat. Most lodges have a specialist bird guide on hand – a good idea if you are after the delta specials like Pel’s fishing-owl and slaty egret.


Top Experiences

Various Activities offered in the Delta

1. Sit Back in a Mokoro

Steered by a local guide, your flat-bottomed mokoro (canoe) takes you into the delta’s shallow wetlands – great for birding & photography. Contact us for more info about lodges and high water seasons.

2. Walk the Delta

Guided nature walks on the islands of the Okavango Delta are a highlight for many visitors – you’ll learn about medicinal trees, look for rare birds, identify animal tracks & get to see some animals.

3. Cruise the River

Swop an afternoon game drive for a motor boat safari, a great way to discover the delta. You’ll spot hippos & crocodiles plus dozens of different birds & finish the day at the best sunset spots.

4. Get Romantic

Breathtaking scenery, stunning sunsets plus super-exclusive accommodation: the Okavango Delta is one of the most romantic destinations in Africa. Honeymooners can expect private dining, spa pampering & plenty of romantic surprises.

5. Go Bird Watching

An amazing birding destination in general & always great for raptors, it’s during the summer months that Savuti explodes with colour & noise as migrant species such as carmine bee-eaters arrive.

6. Go on a Game Drive

Led by a professional guide, 4X4 game drives give you the best chances of seeing big game in the drier areas of the delta. Several lodges have a great reputation for vehicle-based game viewing; private reserves offer night drives & off-road driving too – ask us for the best ones.

7. Search for Wild Dogs

The delta’s grassy floodplains are packed with antelope, making them classic hunting territory for the highly endangered wild dog, one of the most sought-after sightings on an African safari. Head for the drier margins of the delta or ask us for recommendations.

8. Drop a Line Overboard

Whether you are a keen angler or just fancy trying your luck, many lodges offer fishing as an activity. It’s mostly catch-&-release but you can fish for your supper too. Serious fishermen will want to experience the delta’s infamous catfish run – get more info.

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We are six older but experienced travellers who usually do our own planning. Luck led us to Safari Online and Walter. His ideas proved spot on. Throughout our planning Safari Online have been helpful, always answering emailed questions, no matter how basic, straightaway. We’ve had probably our best ever holiday in years of travel, everything went smoothly. Pickups and transfers were on time. Staff in all the places we stayed were friendly and helpful. I can’t think of one adverse remark except maybe seeing a lion that wasn’t asleep, though I think if it could have been arranged Walter would have done so.

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Excellent communications and service. We dealt with Sabrina and she is awesome. The safari tour was amazing, i can highly recommend going to Elephant Plains. Its a very special place run by awesome people.

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Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver. She responded to our requests promptly and gave us several options with links to each option; we ultimately chose Lukimbi. She then coordinated our flights to and from the property, arranged the drivers necessary to get us from the airport to the lodge and back again, and sent the appropriate paperwork to each of us to verify each step of the process. We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

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We used Safari Online to put together a mid-range Botswana trip for a group of four going to three different camps and then onto Vic Falls. We asked several operators to provide options (through this great safari bookings website) and Walter Kohrs from Safari Online was easily the most responsive and quickest to provide different but realistic options and at good prices. In the end it was a no brainer to go with Safari Online. Walter always responded to my queries quickly, with honest and valuable responses that were clear and made sense. From our perspective he tailored a good mix of places for both our budget and standard of facilities that suited us perfectly, with enough information and links to help us make our decisions. In the end each camp was different and had different aspects and strengths that made each unique. We loved it.

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It was excellent all around. Everything worked out well. An experience of a lifetime! The game viewing rides were fun and very informative.

Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional.  Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

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Working with Walter was a great experience. He listened to us and helped us build a vacation that exceeded all of our expectations. We really appreciated his professionalism and attention to detail.