What is the Best Time to Visit Okavango Delta and Other Top Tips

By on August 28th, 2019 in Africa, BOTSWANA, National Parks, Off the Beaten Track with 2 Comments

When is the Best Time to Visit Okavango Delta

Oh my oh my, well what can I say, the Okavango Delta was every bit as amazing as I imagined it to be.

It has taken me 5 trips to Africa and 2 visits to Botswana to finally get here, but I made it and it’s been worth every cent and inch of effort to achieve it!

And that’s with very little research in advance about the best time to visit Okavango Delta, because with such seasonal variations this is a major factor to consider when you travel here.

So if you’re thinking of hitting up this watery, wildlife wonderworld but still have some questions about when, why and how to do it, then read on to discover my full lowdown on the trip I enjoyed.


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My trip to the Okavango Delta was kindly sponsored by Absolute Africa, but, as always, all view are my own.


What is the Okavango Delta?

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Mokoro Ride

The Okavango Delta is essentially a huge seasonal plain that floods with a vast quantity of water annually which flows down from the highlands of neighbouring Angola.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Okavango Delta is a massive natural reserve in Botswana known for its spectacular scenery and vast array of wildlife.

The whole delta is a watery paradise of islands, papyrus reed beds, waterlilies and waterways that can be visited any time of the year, because the ebb and flow of the water levels here means this changing landscape offers travellers a lot no matter what the season.

 

Why Visit the Okavango Delta?

To put it frankly, the Okavango Delta is one of the most amazing destinations to visit in Africa.

Nothing can compare to the sort of safari experience it offers, the peaceful dreamy quality of sailing through the shallow waters in a traditional canoe, remote camping deep in the delta, flying ahead to view the network of flooded plains from above or walking within a few metres of elephants, zebra, hippos, giraffe and many more.

You should allow at least 3 days to experience the wealth of this habitat and to soak up what can only be described as the one of Africa’s best and most unique landscapes and wildlife spotting opportunities.

 

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What is the Best Time to Visit the Okavango Delta?

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Mokoro Poler

While this part of Botswana can be visited at any time of the year, probably the best time to visit the Okavango Delta (according to my experienced guide and the local facilitators) is during the months of March through May.

This is when the summer rainy season has ended (meaning you won’t get soaked) but before the water flowing from Angola reaches its peak in the Delta.

Read. it takes a few months from when the rains fall north in Angola to reach the Delta in Botswana.

As such, the months of March, April and May are the best time to visit the Okavango Delta because the water levels are the high enough to see the scenery at its greenest and most spectacular, while low enough for you to still see abundant wildlife,.

In addition, the sweltering heat and rain storms of the high summer months have passed.

I visited the Delta in late January and while I still saw a lot of wildlife and water, it was sweltering hot.

Thankfully it’s dry heat here (which I can cope with far better than humidity) and the nights were cool, but do be aware temperatures rose to over 35 degrees during the day and, of course, you’ll have to get by without even a fan, let alone aircon!

 

Where is the Okavango Delta?

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Sunset Portrait
The Okavango Delta is situated in the north of Botswana in Southern Africa.

The nearest major town and point of access is Maun, which is around 6 hours drive from Kasane – the gateway to Botswana’s most other famous national park – Chobe River.

As such, many people combine these 2 parks in one trip, either as a standalone adventure, or combined with a trip to see Victoria Falls, which lies just across the border from Kasane in Zimbabwe.

Maun can also be reached within a few days drive from northern Namibia and overland trips often head this way after or before visiting Etosha National Park in the north of Namibia.

Stocking up on supplies in Maun before you head to the Delta is essential and there’s a good array of supermarkets, banks, fuel stations and other amenities in this bustling Botswana town.

 

BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR BOTSWANA

I’d never even consider heading to Botswana – or anywhere in Africa for that matter – without proper coverage and highly recommend travel insurance from World Nomads, which I’ve used during my time in Botswana and beyond.

I love their great coverage of safari activities – crucial for a country like Botswana – as well as their excellent customer service and ability to claim online, which is very handy if you’re travelling in remote places for a long time.

 

How to Get To the Okavango Delta

As I’ve said, Maun is the main access town for the Okavango Delta and can be reached by road from Vic Falls / Kasane, Gaborone (although it’s a long way) or Northern Namibia.

You can fly direct to Maun from a number of regional Africa airlines – do check Skyscanner for the best prices.

Driving to Maun is totally possible if you’re on an extended road trip or many African overland companies make the circuit between the major Southern African attractions I’ve mentioned above.

I visited the Okavango Delta with Absolute Africa, who are a fantastic budget overland company offering various routes across Southern and East Africa.

As a solo traveller, I honestly don’t think it is possible to see as much, or cover such a great array of countries, as cheaply by yourself.

For this reason, as well as their excellent customer service, high quality guides, diverse itineraries and very reasonable prices, I highly recommend an Absolute Africa tour if you plan to visit the Okavango Delta solo.

As well as getting me to the Okavango Delta from Vic Falls, via Chobe River and then into Namibia, Absolute Africa also arranged my 2 day camping excursion into the delta and a scenic flight over the landscape the following day.

This made it easy and simple to fit a lot into my short 3 days there.

 

LOOKING FOR A BUDGET TOUR IN BOTSWANA?

If you’re interested in an unforgettable, well-priced tour in Botswana with guides you can trust, then email me at steph@bigworldsmallpockets.com and I’ll send you my top recommendations – simple!

 

Things to Do in the Okavango Delta

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Walking Safari

And this covers 2 of the major things to do in the Okavango Delta, namely enjoy a scenic flight over the landscape, to gauge the full scale and magnitude of this 18,000 sqkm reserve and enjoy a mokoro /camping experience.

Organised by Absolute Africa, I enjoyed a 45 minute flight with Delta Air for $90 USD – sharing the plane with 6 others who were on my overland tour.

Not only did I get some great aerial snaps, but seeing herds of elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, ostrich, zebra and buffalo from way above really is an experience I’ll never forget.

It’s also worth pointing out that while $90 USD is a lot of money, this scenic flight is much cheaper than anything offered in Victoria Falls, the Masai Mara in Kenya or the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Taking a multi-day mokoro / camping excursion into the Delta is also another must, providing the perfect counter-experience to a scenic flights as you get to fully immerse yourself in the Delta at water level.

From our campsite in Maun, we enjoyed a 1 hour bumpy 4wd to the launching point, where we were taken in traditional canoes – mokoros – for 2 hours through the waterways of the Delta to reach the remote island that would be our campsite for the next 2 days.

Epic safari walks, swimming in the delta and learning how to pole the mokoros were just some of the activities we enjoyed during this time, as well as the requisite star gazing, sunset watching and meditative campfire evenings that were accompanied by local singing and dancing from our guides.

The 2 day Okavango Delta camping excursion cost $145 USD and was arranged by Afro Trek Safaris (via Absolute Africa) who were efficient, well organised and highly professional.

This was honestly one of the best excursions I’ve enjoyed in Southern Africa, with local people guiding you both on foot and via mokoro to see and share information about the wildlife and their unique cultural home.

 

Wildlife in the Okavango Delta

As part of the both sunset and sunrise walking safaris we enjoyed in the Delta, we got the chance to see elephants, hippos, honey badgers, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, kudu, buffalo, bik-bik and an amazing array of birds.

The mokoro ride through the waterlily and reed beds felt almost dream-like it was so peaceful, and spotting all the birds and animals at such close range, without the noise, pollution or physical barriers of any motorised vehicles, really was like something from another world.

 

6 PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR THE OKAVANGO DELTA

#1 Headlamp – Required for your camping overnight excursion in the Delta as there is no electricity, I love my Black Diamond Storm, which served me perfectly here.

#2 Botswana Lonely Planet – A great travel aide to this country with tons of historical info, maps and top tips, the Botswana Lonely Planet will help you get the best from your time in the Okavango Delta and beyond.

#3 Good Camera – Botswana is one of those ultimate bucket list destinations and travelling here with a good camera will help you preserve the memories. I highly recommend the mirrorless Sony A6000. Light, compact and robust, it’s been perfect for my Africa travel adventures.

#4 Sun Hat – Botswana is hot year round, with some crazy strong UV rays. When you’re in a mokoro or enjoying a walking safari in the Delta, you’ll be exposed to the sun for long periods of time, so making sure you pack a sunhat for adequate protection is key. I love this one from Hello Sunshine.

#5 Insect Repellent – Malaria is a huge risk in Botswana, so cover up at night and use at least a 30% DEET repellent.

#6 Sarong – Whether it’s for covering your shoulders from the sun, using as a sheet when camping or as a towel after your Delta swim, a sarong is a great multi-purpose travel item to bring here. I love these ones from One World Sarongs.

 

What to Take to the Delta

If I’ve not made it clear enough already, then I’ll spell it out now – the Okavango Delta is extremely remote and after Maun there are no shops or supplies available.

Taking everything you need with you therefore is essential.

This includes:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunhat
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Strong insect repellent
  • Small first aid kit
  • Headtorch
  • Good camera, lens, tripod and cleaning kit
  • Swimwear and towel
  • Thin, light clothing you can layer
  • Camping gear including sleeping bag / silk liner

You’ll also need to take all the food and water you will require – and lots of it!

I’d suggest at least 5 litres of water per day per person.

Of course, you must also take all the trash and rubbish back out with you.

There are no facilities on the islands if you’re camping overnight, so bush toilets and no showers are the norm.

A guidebook would also be good to give you some background info, and, as it’s very hot in the daytime here (too hot to do much when I was there at least) another book to read, games to play or other activities to enjoy are recommended.

In the winter months of May through Sept, it’s also worth bearing in mind that the Delta gets very cold at night, so bringing thick layers to put on will be essential then.

In the summer season Nov to Feb, it’s very hot and mosquitoes are prevalent, so long, thin clothing for the evening is preferential.

At night, you also need to be careful of animals when in the Delta – never go anywhere alone after dark and always listen for wildlife noises and scan the surrounding area with your headtorch.

 

How Much Does it Cost?

Overall, the Okavango Delta isn’t a cheap excursion – none of the spectacular sights in Africa are – but there are some cheaper ways to do it.

Renting a car between a group, driving to Maun and taking camping gear with you can save you a lot of money.

Otherwise, I highly recommend joining a budget overland tour like those offered by Absolute Africa – I honestly don’t think you can do it cheaper as a solo traveller and it’s a great way to make friends, leave the planning to someone and enjoy the experience with others too.

Stock up on supplies in Maun at the supermarket to keep food and essential costs down.

You’ll then need to budget for 2 nights accommodation in Maun – 1 before your Delta camping excursion and 1 after.

There are plenty of campsites in and around the area which will be the cheapest option.

And finally, there are the cost of the activities.

I paid $90 USD for the flight and $145 USD for the 2 night excursion, which was fully inclusive.

Doing both these activities, plus getting to Maun, accommodation in Maun and stocking up on supplies, you’re looking at a trip to the Okavango Delta setting you back around a minimum of $400-500 USD.

That’s why I really recommend combining this destination with others in the area in a longer overland tour, which will provide far greater value for money.

 

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And that’s my complete guide to this amazing destination, including the best time to visit the Okavango Delta, what to do there, how much it will cost, what you need to take and what you can expect.

Do let me know I’ve missed any crucial information out by firing your questions into this comments box below…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Thanks Steph for your article. I am planning to do a trip with Absolute Africa from September to November. I am a solo traveller, and your article encourages me!

    • Steph says:

      Hi Meena that’s completely great to hear. No need to be nervous, you will have a ball! So happy to hear the article helped you – enjoy your time in Africa 🙂

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