Wildlife in Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta wildlife

Official counts vary, but it’s generally thought that the Okavango Delta supports at least 2000 major species. Over half of these are plants, from giant hardwoods to waterlilies, with huge reed beds and grasslands and thick riverine forests. In the midst of the Delta you’ll find wild date and fan palms, clustering on low islands between the fig and waterberry trees. Take a look at a satellite image and you’ll see just what an anomaly this is – a lush hand of vegetation reaching south into the sand.

Okavango Delta supports at least 2000 species flora and fauna

Up close in the channels, beneath the waving papyrus, painted reed frogs can be seen clinging to the stems. Around 30 amphibians have been recorded in the Delta plus 60-odd reptiles and around 70 species of fish. In fact, many visitors come especially for the fishing and ‘catch and release’ fishing lodges are popular along the Panhandle. The ferocious-looking tigerfish is the most sought after prize, plus bream and huge catfish, up to a metre-and-a-half in length.

The Okavango Delta never drains completely and the best way to experience it is by boat. Whether you’re fishing or not, a boat excursion is essential, either by flat bottomed motorboat or local dugout canoe. Called ‘mekoro’, these canoes are polled through the narrow waterways – an ideal way to discover the Delta’s 400-plus species of birds. Expert guides will skirt around the pods of hippos, as you silently soak in one of the world’s last great open-air aviaries.

Up close in the channels, beneath the waving papyrus, painted reed frogs can be seen clinging to the stems.

On the islands and floodplains Africa’s iconic megafauna awaits – over a third of the continent’s elephants move through the Delta each year. All of the Big Five are found here in good numbers, including black and white rhino which have been recently reintroduced. While predator sightings are never guaranteed, there are few places left where so many come together. Lion, leopard and cheetah are relatively common, as well as wild dog, hyena, jackal and the smaller wild cats. These prey on the many thousands of herbivores who are drawn to the Delta’s water and abundant food. The rare sitatunga and red lechwe are both adapted to the swamplands and you’ll also find the stunning roan and sable antelope with their scimitar-curved horns.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)

day 1

Unforgettable safari
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)

day 2

Getting to grips with nature

day 3

Luxury meets eco-consciousness
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)
  • Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)

day 4

Lions with attitude

day 5

Canoe the Delta

day 6

We know you'll be back

View Full Itinerary

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Affordable Okavango Delta safari

Between the self-drive camping and ultra-luxury lodges, there are two main routes for a more affordable Okavango holiday. The first is to find a ‘mobile safari’ operator – a mid-range adventure package that suits your budget. ‘Mobile safaris’ are essentially organised, guided camping trips and range from group budget ‘pitch your own tent’ tours all the way up to full…

Okavango Delta in June

Climate June is mid-winter in the Okavango Delta and one of the coldest, driest months of the year. Daily average temperatures are around 25°C (77°F), although some hot days will still get up to 30°C (86°F). It’s the nights, however, that can get particularly cold – close to freezing at times, but more usually around 5°C (41°F). Early morning excursions can be very chilly in…

Okavango Delta in December

December marks the start of the rainy season proper. It’s the second wettest month of the year and afternoon thunderstorms become increasingly regular and violent. As the rains intensify the dusty atmosphere clears and between the storms the skies are bright and fresh. The usual pattern is a few days of cloud and rain, followed by another few days of hot, sunny weather. This builds and…

Okavango Delta in February

February is another wet month in the Okavango Delta, but like January, the rain and clouds are usually interspersed with a few fine, bright days. These summer months are always highly unpredictable however – there may be sunshine for over a week and then four or five days straight of cloud and afternoon storms. A thunderstorm over the Delta is one of Southern Africa’s most…

Chiefs Island in Okavango Delta

Region explained Chief’s Island was once the private hunting ground of the local Chief Moremi, but was incorporated into the wider Moremi Game Reserve in 1976. Roughly 60km long and 10km wide, the island is only accessible by boat or, more usually, by light aircraft, to one of the very few high-end luxury lodges and mobile camps that operate on the island itself. Day boat trips and…

Okavango Delta in August

Climate Temperatures climb steadily through August and daytime highs once again top 30°C (86°F). At the beginning of the month the mornings can still be close to freezing, but lows of 10°C (50°F) are more common as September approaches. By August no rain has fallen in the northern Kalahari for at least four months and the only fresh grazing is along the Delta’s flooded waterways.…

Popular Okavango Delta Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Okavango Delta Tour (4 days)

Okavango Delta Tour (4 days)

Moremi Private Game Reserve is home for 4 days on this safari. Highlights are a helicopter flight to the Delta, boat and foot safari's and en-suite tented accommodation...

 | Luxury Safari in Botswana and Victoria Falls (7 days)

Luxury Safari in Botswana and Victoria Falls (7 days)

Experience the paradise of Botswana and enjoy game viewing as well as exciting activities in Zambia ...

 | Botswana and Zimbabwe’s World Wonders (7 days)

Botswana and Zimbabwe's World Wonders (7 days)

Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – to the diverse game viewing at the Chobe National Park and ending at the thundering Victoria Falls...

 | Classic Botswana Family Safari (9 days)

Classic Botswana Family Safari (9 days)

Connect as a family while tracking wildlife and incredible landscapes through some of the most remote stretches of Botswana....

 | Highlights of Botswana Tour de Force (14 days)

Highlights of Botswana Tour de Force (14 days)

The ideal safari to capture Botswana's unrivalled beauty and abundance of flora and fauna through the lens...

 | Mobile Camping Safari in Botswana (7 days)

Mobile Camping Safari in Botswana (7 days)

One week of wild camping in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, arguably one of the most beautiful areas in the Okavango Delta...

Family | Passage Through Southern Africa in a Luxury Train (10 days)

Passage Through Southern Africa in a Luxury Train (10 days)

Weave your way through a safari medley that introduces you to the mighty Victoria Falls, a remote slice of the Okavango Delta and the African gems in between....

 | Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Watch the Okavango Delta come alive with the sounds of bird calls, the roar of lions in one of the most beautiful reserves in Botswana...

 | Nature, Romance and Exclusivity - A Complete African Honeymoon (14 days)

Nature, Romance and Exclusivity - A Complete African Honeymoon (14 days)

This exclusive African honeymoon through East and Southern Africa is the perfect way to celebrate the start of your new journey together...

 | Wilderness and Wildlife in Northern Botswana (7 days)

Wilderness and Wildlife in Northern Botswana (7 days)

From the Okavango Delta to the Chobe, this one-week journey is the perfect balance of wildlife and wilderness wonders...

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