Safari in the Okavango Delta: 10 Things to Know Before You Go

Ultimate Guide to a Safari in the Okavango Delta

Planning to safari in the Okavango Delta in Botswana?

What to know how to prep and plan for your trip, as well as discover what to expect from your time here?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

Read on to get the full lowdown about the 10 key things you need to know ahead of your adventure in this UNESCO-listed watery world, including how to get there, the best tours and the top things to do there.

Because my oh my, the Okavango Delta in Botswana really is breathtaking, and if you haven’t ticked it off your bucket list, then now is the time!


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This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.

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

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#1 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.

The water flows down from the highlands of neighbouring Angola on its way to the Kalahari Desert.

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 at most times of the year, because the ebb and flow of the water levels here means this changing landscape offers travellers a lot to see no matter what the season.

That said, different times of the year offer different types of safari and travel experiences, so keep reading to find out more.


#2 Why Visit the Okavango Delta?

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Waterlily

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

Nothing compares to the sort of experiences it offers.

Be it peacefully sailing through the shallow waters in a traditional canoe, camping remotely 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 – this place offers it all!

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


#3 Where is the 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 a 6 hour drive from Kasane, where there’s an international airport.

Kasane is also the gateway to Botswana’s other famous national park – Chobe River.

As such, many people combine both Chobe and the Delta into one epic trip, either as a standalone Botswanan adventure, or by tagging on the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls too, which lies just across the border from Kasane in neighbouring Zimbabwe / Zambia.

Maun can also be reached within a few day’s drive from northern Namibia and overland trips often head this way, either 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 thankfully, there’s a good array of supermarkets, banks, fuel stations and other amenities in this bustling Botswana town.


#4 How to Get There?

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Sunset Polers

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

You can fly direct to Maun with a number of regional African airlines too – check Skyscanner for the best prices.

Driving to Maun is also totally possible if you’re on an extended road trip, and many African overland companies make the circuit between the major southern African attractions I’ve mentioned above, stopping at Maun on the way.

I visited the Okavango Delta with Absolute Africa – 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 Absolute Africa tour if you plan on visiting the Okavango Delta.

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.

And for all these reasons and more, I’m currently offering all my readers an exclusive discount across all Absolute Africa tours, meaning you can now travel even more in this amazing continent for less!

Simply send this top African overland tour company an email to [email protected], quoting the discount code BWSP, and start planning your incredible trip with them today!


#5 Top Things to Do in the Okavango Delta

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Walking Safari

Camping excursions in the Delta, as well as scenic flights over this utterly vast and unique landscape, are definitely 2 of the best things to do in the Okavango Delta if you want to gauge the full scale and magnitude of this 18,000 sq km reserve.

Organised by Absolute Africa, I enjoyed a 45 minute flight with Delta Air for $90 USD – sharing the plane with 6 others who were also 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 at either Victoria Falls, the Masai Mara in Kenya or the Serengeti in Tanzania, so I’d definitely consider it.

Taking a multi-day mokoro / camping excursion into the Delta is also another must-do while you are here, providing the perfect counter-experience to a scenic flight, 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.


#6 Wildlife in the Okavango Delta

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Zebra

As part of both the 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.

If you want to see the best of Botswana’s wildlife, there’s no question that the Okavango Delta is the best place to head for.

Do I rate it higher than Chobe River National Park?


Learn more in this article, which compares both destinations.


#7 What to Pack for the Delta?

Botswana, Okavango Delta, At Camp

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 into the Delta, therefore, is essential.

This includes:

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 can be 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 in the shade are recommended.

In the winter months of May through September, 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, which runs from November to February, it’s very hot and mosquitoes are prevalent, so long, thin clothing for the evening to stay protected 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.


#8 How Much Does an Okavango Delta Safari Cost?

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Lily

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.

Stocking up on supplies at the supermarket in Maun to keep food and essential costs down is also a key money-saver.

You’ll then need to budget for at least 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 in the Delta itself.

I paid $90 USD for the flight and $145 USD for the 2 night camping 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 – experiencing the Delta as part of a longer overland tour across southern Africa will provide far greater value for money.

When it comes to paying for things in Botswana, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.

The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here, and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here.


#9 Recommended Tours to the Okavango Delta

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Mokoro at Camp

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

Otherwise, I suggest you contact Absolute Africa, who offer budget group tours for some of the best prices around.

If you use the code BWSP, you’ll even get an additional discount from them, offered exclusively to my readers! Shoot them an email now at [email protected].

Alternatively, you can also check out these great options to visit the Delta with Safari Bookings – who offer fantastic tours to suit just about any budget, travel style, duration and date.


#10 Travel Insurance for an Okavango Delta Safari

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Elephants

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.


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Mini Travel Guide to Botswana

Botswana, Okavango Delta, Misty Sunset

How Long to Spend There?

I’d suggest at least 5 days in Botswana to ensure you have the chance to visit both Chobe River National Park and the Okavango Delta.

Ideally, you’ll spend 2 nights in both, with a night in Maun in between, but if you’re pushed on time, you can probably get away with visiting Chobe for just 1 night.

If you have less time and need to choose between these 2 destinations, check out this article I wrote that compares them.


Top 5 Packing Items for Botswana

#1 Good Camera – Don’t even think about coming to Botswana without a good travel camera to capture the best of this country. The Sony A6000 mirrorless ticks my box every time!

#2 Walking Shoes / Boots – These are highly recommended for walking safaris in the Okavango Delta and for early morning or evening game drives in Chobe, when the temperatures can really drop. Keen Targhee’s II always get my vote!

#3 Birkenstocks – And talking of footwear, a good pair of sandals are king in Botswana. I love my Arizona Birkenstocks which were perfect for keeping my feet cool and supported at the same time. Literally wore them every day in this country!

#4 Waterproof Windproof Jacket – I visited Botswana in the dry season, but was amazed how cold it got at night, especially when camping. Having my North Face lightweight, windproof and waterproof jacket saved me!

#5 South African Power Adapters – Botswana primarily uses South African power outlets, which are pretty unique, so make sure you come prepared with a suitable Skross adapter.


Travel Insurance for Botswana

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.


Travel Money in Botswana

When it comes to paying for things in Botswana, it’s great to know that accommodation and tours can generally be paid for by card.

ATMs are also available in most major towns.

Whether you use ATMs or pay by card however, you’ll want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.

The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here, and it links easily with Google and Apple pay. Get yours here.



The Ultimate Guide to a Safari in the Okavango Delta


And there you have it, my list of the top 10 things to know before you safari in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

I hope this article has proved helpful in planning your trip and convincing you to go, but if you do have any more questions, don’t hesitate to drop them into the comments box below and I’ll get back to you…


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