The Okavango Delta: Gorgeous Lushness in the Desert
River deltas typically lead to the sea, but the Okavango never quite makes it there. Instead, it dumps its water onto open land, flooding the savanna with much-needed water for the surrounding plants and wildlife.
This water sustains numerous animals in an otherwise parched land. It’s an oasis for the abundant wildlife from the surrounding harsh, dry landscape.
This concentrated lushness has made the Okavango Delta one of the greatest wildlife viewing destinations in the world. There’s beautiful scenery and stunning animals at every turn.
It’s no wonder that the Okavango Delta got the cool distinction of being listed as the 1,000th UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 22, 2014. It’s also one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa—no easy feat in a continent filled with natural beauty.
Characteristics of the Delta
The Okavango Delta is one of the largest inland deltas in the world. It’s shaped like a fan with little tendrils of water stretching forward. Lush little islands dot its waters.
The delta is produced by seasonal flooding, with the floods peaking between June and August.
The delta is large, but fairly shallow and flat. There is less than two meters variation in height across its 15,000 square kilometers.
Each year the delta sees 11 cubic kilometers of water flow (put another way that’s a staggering 11 trillion liters of water). But by the end of the season, it’s dry. All of the water is eventually transpired or evaporated due to the high temperatures of the delta. Every year the cycle starts anew, with the basin flooded again with river water.
A Flourishing Habitat for Wildlife
The Okavango Delta is famous for its antelope and elephant populations, as well as numerous other large animals. Giraffes, buffalos, hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, and crocodiles all enjoy the waters of the delta.
Spotted Hyena Cubs: Source: Wikipedia
Of course, these are just the larger animals. It’s also easy to spot gorgeous iridescent dragonflies flitting around, or little reed frogs hiding in the bushes near the water.
It’s a sanctuary for over 400 species of birds, including African fish eagles, crested cranes, lilac-breasted rollers and ostriches.
To enhance this abundant wildlife, plants thrive here as well. Beautiful water lilies can be found floating through the waters and swaying papyrus line the banks.
Cool Ways to Explore
There is plenty to see in the Okavango Delta. Here are some exciting ways to explore the area:
- Want a gorgeous view from above? Try a scenic flight so you can truly appreciate the beauty and great expanse of the delta.
- A safari game drive will give you an up-close view of the animals.
- A Mokoro ride (a type of canoe/punt propelled by someone pushing a stick into the bottom of the water) is an exciting option for floating through the channels of the delta. Just watch out for the crocs and hippos.
- Who wouldn’t love to explore on the back of a mighty elephant. Elephant back safaris are another great way to get a unique perspective of the abundant wildlife.
- How about simply walking. Many guided walking tours are offered to give you the full flavor of the region.
Of course, game viewing depends on the season, and water and food availability, so you’ll want to plan your visit carefully. You don’t want to miss out on the awesome wildlife spectacle.
Hand carved Topi (Antelope) or Elephant Bookends
The Okavango Delta is a great place to spot majestic elephants and graceful antelopes frolicking in or near the water. Our beautifully hand carved Topi (antelope) sculptures and elephant bookends will add interest to your bookshelves and remind you of these wondrous African animals.