The northern and central regions of Botswana are the sites of some of the best game viewing in the world. Several different ecosystems coexist in this area – each worthy of a visit of two or more nights. No Self-Fly Safari® taken with game viewing in mind is complete without a visit to northern Botswana.
Maun and Kasane – two small but thriving towns in north central Botswana - are the main staging points for safaris into northern Botswana and crossroads for transport and commerce north into Africa.
The OKAVANGO DELTA is one of the world’s major inland deltas. It is formed by the Okavango River that rises in the eastern Angola highlands and flows into northwestern Botswana. But, instead of flowing onwards to the sea, the Okavango water fans out over a huge sandy area bringing life and lush greenery to the otherwise arid Kalahari Desert. Then it evaporates. The Okavango is a river with no mouth. The Delta is a fan-shaped wilderness, a shallow depression of forest, stream, pool, and lagoons with myriad labyrinthine channels. On the surface, usually in a flat-bottomed boat or a dugout canoe - known locally s a mokoro - it is often impossible to see more than a few feet due to the tall reeds and papyrus that thrive in the marshland.
From the air it is often impossible to distinguish between marsh and solid ground. Except for the airfields at Maun and Kasane, there are no ground-based navigation aids. In the days before GPS, navigating to airstrips in the largely featureless terrain required hard-learned knowledge of the area and well-honed ded-reckoning and pilotage skills. Landing strips here tend to be dirt, grass or calcrete (a compacted calcium-rich hard surface). Delta strips are usually level, but some are rough, some are narrow. While most are 3300' long (1000 meters) some are as short as 2200 feet (700 meters). All airstrips we use are adequate for the aircraft used for the Safari.
The Delta is a major big-game viewing area. There is no shortage of wildlife: predators, elephant, baboon, plains game and bird life. It is a unique and rewarding Self-Fly Safari® destination that will appeal to naturalists, photographers, and anyone who can appreciate the African wilderness. With more than 400 different species of birds in residence, the Delta offers rich bird watching experience. Anglers will enjoy fishing for bream and tiger fish at some Delta camps.
Exceedingly good Big Game viewing opportunities abound also in locations peripheral to the Delta. Chief’s Island, the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, and the Linyanti Swamp – north of Maun – are good examples of such areas.
Recommendation: Two or more nights at each of two venues.
CHIEF’S CAMP – Chief’s Island. (Land and water) Private airstrip.
This camp is located on Chief’s Island, which is considered to be the Okavango Delta’s prime game viewing area. Guests are accommodated in 12 luxury tents with a private balcony and ensuite facilities. Main lodge is located under a canopy of Jackelberry, Sausage and Rain trees with a view over the floodplain. http://www.sanctuaryretreats.com/botswana-camps-chiefs
STANLEY’S CAMP – Chief’s Island. (Land and water) Private airstrip.
A small gem of a camp consisting of 8 classic styled safari tents, delicately appointed, exuding classic Africa; hand crafted beds dressed with the fine linen, antique furniture, oriental carpets. A glimpse of colonial Africa. Game drives by land rover and mokoro. Unique optional activity: walk with elephants: Two sessions: 1) "Meet the Herd" and 2.) "Join The Herd."
MOMBO CAMP – Chief’s Island Private airstrip.
Located just off the north-western tip of Chiefs Island, Mombo is the premier game viewing camp in all of southern Africa (and also one of the most expensive). Here you will see large concentrations of game of every sort. It is not unusual to see over 10 game species while sitting on the lodge verandah. It is well-known for its predators including cheetah and wild dog, besides elephant and the other Big Five African animals. Game viewing is done in a land rover or on foot as well as from the comfort of your room. Accommodation is in large tented rooms raised off the ground on decks with ensuite bathroom facilities and indoor and outdoor showers. Excellent views over the plains from each room. http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/botswana_okavango_delta/mombo_camp.
DUBA PLAINS – northern Okavango Delta Private airstrip.
The area sits on a large, open plain but it is really an island in the far northern Okavango. It is known for sightings of large herds of buffalo and lion. Sitting on a deck chair at the Duba Plains Lodge, gazing over the shimmering grasslands before you, you'll think you're in the middle of nowhere. You're right. It's a long way in every direction to anything. You need an airplane here. You landed on an airstrip but, on this savanna, did you really need one? (Yes. Always use the airstrip). And when the Okavango floods, you need a mokoro, too. In fact, you need a whole lot of things... but the Lodge takes care of it all. http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/botswana_okavango_delta/duba_plains
VUMBURA CAMP – Northern Okavango Delta Private airstrip
Vumbura, on the northern edge of the Delta, offers diverse game viewing opportunities with both water and land activities. Its wildlife is varied; its birding is spectacular. Red Lechwe, waterbuck, hippos, crocodiles as well as sable, kudu, wildebeest, buffalo and elephant complement the predatory lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah. Game drives in open land rovers ensure the safe sighting of predators at a discrete distance, while a game walk with a Ranger can make your heart pound with excitement. Vumbura’s main lounge and dining area overlooks the flood plain. Accommodations are in large luxury tents with hot and cold running water, flush toilets, and showers. Also, Little Vumbura Camp. http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/botswana_okavango_delta/vumbura_plains
SHINDE - Okavango Delta
Shinde sits on a palm island at the edge of a lagoon. Accommodation is in large walk in safari tents with ensuite facilities (hot and cold running water and flush toilets). The main lodge building is a tree house with many levels and great views across the delta. Great camp. Activities include game drives as well as mokoro and water cruises. Www.kerdowneybotswana.com
FOOTSTEPS - Okavenago Delta
Footstepsis primarily a walking camp, but if the water levels are right, you can do some of your excursions in a mokoro (dugout canoe). Accomodations are in twin bedded tents. Each tent has its own bucket shower and bush toilet. The bush kitchen is run by an accomplished chef, who has many years experience working in the wilderness. Maximum six guests. Each tent is shaded by magnificent trees. www.kerdowneybotswana.com
NXABEGA – Okavango Delta
Nxabega is on the edge of the permanent Okavango Delta consisting of Mopane, Riverine, Palm and Acacia woodlands, perennial swamp and seasonally flooded grassland. The lodge is nestled under dense stands of African Ebony and Strangler Fig overlooking a seasonal floodplain. Plunge pool. Accommodation in large luxury tented suites raised on a teak platform with private sundeck, ensuite shower and flush toilet. http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/luxury_safari/botswana/okavango_delta/accommodation/and_beyond_nxabega_okavango_tented_camp
KWARA CAMP- Okavango Delta
Accommodation is in large walk in safari tents raised on decks with ensuite facilities with indoor and outdoor showers.. Activities include game drives as well as excursions in a mokoro (dugout canoe) and water cruises. Here you can try your hand at fishing - a catch and release program. www.kwando.co.za
SANDIBE – lower Okavango Delta (Land & water) Private airstrip.
Accessible only by aircraft. The lodge is shaded under an ancient grove of riverine trees along a waterway bordered by papyrus and reeds. Central dining area and bar. Plunge pool. Game walks and drives, river cruises, mokoro excursions. Luxury cottages: screened windows, overhead fan, private verandah, elevated viewing deck. Just right for a private, intimate dinner. West facing to the sunset. The extraordinary night sky is rivaled only by the extraordinary daytime sky above the surrounding grassy plains. http://www.sandibe.com
XIGERA CAMP – Moremi Reserve (water) Private airstrip.
Waterborne activity, game drives and walks for big game, bird watching, and fishing. Comfortable, rustic, tented accommodation. No pool, but swimming in the clear waters of the Delta itself. Give it a try!
XUGANA ISLAND LODGE– Okavango Delta (water) Private airstrip
The airstrip was full of grazing red lechwe. We made a couple of passes to check and clear the strip and did our best to stop with a minimum rollout. No big game at Xugana, they’d said, but there were stories of elephants finding their way into camp. It was a motorboat ride from the airstrip. When we arrived in camp we could see that the only place more relaxed than this would be having our own home in the Okavango Delta. We don't have one so this did fine! An island. Quiet, serene, peaceful and no early-morning wake-up call… (unless you want a dawn exploration of the lagoon by mokoro). Good fishing, too. Small, intimate. Accommodation in individual chalets raised on stilts overlooking the lagoon. http://www.desertdelta.co.za/Okavango_Delta_Safari_Lodges-travel/xugana_island_lodge_botswana.html
MAUN - Cresta Riley's Hotel - The hotel is comfortable, centrally located, and a pleasant choice for an overnight. The food is good, the bar friendly, and the staff accommodating. It is a lively hotel, and often has a good crowd at the bar. This hotel has a good African vibe to it, with opportunities to mix with locals who are at the bar. http://www.rileyshotel.net