Travel Guide Botswana: Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is one of the most fascinating regions in Africa. Due to its incredible biodiversity it is the perfect place for all nature lovers and adventure seekers. Learn more about the green paradise.
With an extension of 15,846 km² the Okavango Delta is one of the largest inland deltas worldwide. Formed by tectonic faulting, this amazing water-wonderland in the heart of Africa stores up to 95% of Botswana’s total fresh water. The delta can be divided in the areas Okavango Panhandle, eastern delta, inner delta as well as the area Moremi Game Reserve. As an inland delta it is not located near the coast to enter the ocean like other deltas, but unfolds within the landlocked country to slowly seep away into the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango Delta is home to countless, partly also very rare animal and plant species. Since 2014 it is part of the UNESCO world heritage.
Not only the sheer size of this delta is very special but also the fact that the water level is highest in the time the dry season in the surrounding reaches its peak. In consequence a large number of animals migrate to this place during the draught. Until now 71 species of fish, 33 species of amphibian, 64 species of reptiles, 444 species of birds and 122 species of mammals were recognized.
The Okavango Delta truly is a paradise for species that live in the water like hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius) or the Nile crocodile (Crocodilus niloticus), but also species that are usually living in swamps like the sitatunga, the lechwe or the waterbuck are common visitors to this delta region.
Many species, among others also elephants (Loxodonta africana), buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) and wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) that need a steady water source are leaving the hinterland during the dry season and come to the delta. Due to the high occurrence of prey, numerous predators like the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), hyenas (like the Crocuta crocuta), lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus) gather around the delta. Moreover, the avifauna (birds) is quite diverse with some species of migrating birds that are also seasonally at home in Europe.
Another special thing about this delta is, amongst others, the water quality as it is drinkable in many places. The Okavango River transports more than 500,000 t of dissolved salts every year and more than 95% of its water evaporates which might make the good water quality appear unusual. This phenomenon can be explained by two ecological processes. For once the transpiration rate of the plants is very high in the delta region which in turn leads to an accumulation of salts on the islands in the delta that are rich in vegetation. Moreover, regular flooding and the restructuring of sedimentary layers lead to the transport of salts in deeper soil layers.
Whether you are a hobby-botanist or a wildlife-adventurer who wants to explore the bush on a safari or a ranger training, the multi-faceted Okavango Delta is a magical place that has a lot to offer for you.