There is no better way to grasp the remoteness of the Okavango Delta region than by flying over it in a light aircraft/helicopter. From the air, the wetland landscape is woven together with great intricacy: serpentine channels cut through emerald carpets of marsh, spilling into lagoons with pods of hippos. Winding streams twist and loop, diverging into lazy pools and vast plains scattered with islands. Palm trees hug the outer banks of the islands encircling white-sandy grazing grounds speckled with impala, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo. Animal tracks criss cross through dry wooded areas, and continue through shallow waters where black and orange silt marble the sand.
It’s common to see lechwe splashing over swampy ground and large herds of elephant. Sometimes giraffes gallop awkwardly across savanna plains with their characteristic slow-motion gait, or families of zebra frolic in patches of sand.
A flight from Maun is mandatory to reach most of the Delta’s luxury camps and lodges, but many travellers also book additional scenic flights. Most flights leave from Maun (the small tourist town known as the “gateway to the Okavango”). After taking off, there is an expanse of mopane veld littered with homesteads and cattle before the plane reaches the buffalo fence, and then finally, the Okavango Delta in its full splendor. Once the plane crosses the buffalo fence, there is more chance of spotting wild animals and slowly but surely the landscape transforms into a watery wonderland. Winter, when the Okavango is at its peak water level, is the best time for a scenic flight.