User Reviews – Okavango Delta
First the bad news: the flights (usually at least 3) are endless and exhausting; for most mortals; for most mortals, the prices are painful; getting up at 5:30 every morning is not my idea of pleasure; and there are mosquitoes.
The good news is that the wildlife and the vistas more than compensate for the long flights, the high prices, the early rising and the occasional itch. The wildlife is forever changing from camp to camp and from day to day. You experience the wildlife with an electrifying, personal immediacy - - - without the distraction of competing vehicles that mar game viewing in much of southern Africa.
After three separate visits to Botswana and stays at some 10 different camps, we have come to prefer the smaller (perhaps 12 guests) and less luxurious camps.
We are too old to enjoy roughing it, but jacuzzis seem out of place to us. We also prefer for a longer time at fewer camps, getting more familiar with the locale, the local wildlife and the guide.
The photography is wonderful, but it can be a distraction. From time to time, the distracting camera should be put back in its bag while you just breathe in deeply and try to absorb the scene around you. Another photographic distraction might best be described as 'lens envy". There is always someone at your camp with a longer, faster lens. The pricey equipment makes sense for professionals and serious bird-watchers, but most of the game is so large or gets so close that lugging a $5,000 is no necessary.
The pleasures of Botswana reflect the commitment of the government, the camps and their skilled staff to sound, protective care of the environment and the creatures in it.
20-35 years of age
Visiting the Okavango Delta is an amazing, unforgettable experience
For the duration of the trip, I traveled with a guide from Zimbabwe who currently resides South Africa. For the trip to Okavango Delta, we met up with 8-10 polers who helped us navigate the delta and assisted us with the campsite and dinner.
Our guide. That man worked his butt off to make sure things went right, even when every other turn seemed to present some other problem. He turned the "bad" stuff into just a blip on our vacation timeline.
The Okavango Delta. The whole trip was amazing. Our campsite was only available by "polers" pushing us along in Makoros along hippo-created paths along the reeds. SO amazing. And the polers were friendly and fun and awesome to spend time with.
Seeing elephants. And zebras. And rhinos... no glass or fence separation. Just us with the animals. Not that that meant better photos of said experiences, however. We kept cracking jokes that people who went to a local zoo would have better pictures that we did, but only because those visitors had convenient protection from being attacked. ;-)
The helicopter ride (without helicopter doors!!) just after we exited the delta. The ride was an add-on but 100% worth it.
Seriously. I don't think there was a single place who wouldn't bend over backwards to help others.
The trip far, far exceeded my expectations.
Email mustangflyboy | 65+ years of age
I was seized by the reality of the Okavango Delta upon seeing a leopard in a tree with its kill.
We booked our southern Africa tour with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), because we had an exceptional experience with them in Egypt and Jordan in the prior year. The African tour also proved to be as seamless, from one connection to the next. July proved to be the best month for the tour: clear skies; no mosquitoes; and temperate weather, albeit cool mornings.
Upon landing on the Okavango Delta dirt strip, on July 14, we were met by our guides and driven in open "jeeps" towards Dumelang Wilderness Tented Camp. En route, we saw red lechwe and white beaked vultures. Then, our driver, a keen tracker, drove up to a tree. Perched high in the yoke was a leopard calmly eating the remains of a fresh impala. I had to remind myself that I was face-to-face with a big untamed, wild cat. In real time. We sat there for several minutes taking spectacular pictures. Then the leopard slowly let herself down to the ground. To our delight, our guide/driver paralleled the leopard as she loped through the savannah, paying no attention to us. She then stopped and sat down. Next to her was a female cub, about two months old, according to the guide. We stopped, approximately 40 yards from the cats. Then, the cub got up and walked towards us - the cub was curious! Mama leopard stayed where she was, but stood, hyper vigilant, tail pointing to the sky. The cub walked up to our jeep, looked around, then went back to her mother. All this occurred before reaching our lodge.
The amenities of the tented cabin were splendid. Big, comfortable king-size bed protected by mosquito netting, ceiling fan, 12 volt electrical system for lighting, hot and cold running water, shower, sink and flush toilet, plus adequate storage for our gear. A hot water bottle was provided for warmth to ease the cool nighttime temperatures in bed (low tech, but worked well - and its refillable, if needed).
Breakfasts were warm and hearty. Lunch was provided on the afternoon game drives in the savannah, with plenty of snacking opportunities. The evening dinners were a feast, often at the gourmet level. The constant supply of goodies reminds one of a cruise ship.
Elephant, cape buffalo, impalas, lions, hippos, crocodiles and several bird species war in abundant supply. Every game drive revealed a changing array of animals.
Best Assortment of animals in diverse settings; the big five, small five, ugly five and many birds
As a long time traveler, I was concerned that my trip to the Okavango Delta would be marred by excessive tourism or local ennui with visitors. I experienced neither! From seeing predators in action to almost co-habiting with wildlife, there were wonders to enjoy every day. I probably took over 5000 photos -- of rare and common birds, of extraordinary bugs, and predator/prey behaviors, there was never a time when I was not mesmerized. I stayed in AndBeyond Sandibe Okavango Lodge (probably the most elegant of all I have stayed in) where customer service is phenomenal, and, most importantly the guides and trackers were amazing. Also stayed at Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp where the guides tailor made the safaris to our liking. Time on the water was magical. Locals are delightful. If I could, I would go back to Botswana every single year, as there is still so much more to see. AndBeyond, while not cheap, was worth every single dollar spent.
Email Csigabi | 50-65 years of age
It was the most amazing, unforgettable, best travel experience I've had so far.
Our trip to the Okavango delta was part of a ten day small group tour in Botswana and Zambia operated by Acacia-Africa. Our travel party consisted of six travel companions and our Afrikaans driver/guide/cook, who was always available when we needed him. We spent two nights in the delta far from any human settlements, far from civilization, far from electric lights.
We left Maun, the gateway to the delta early in the morning and were driven by a 4x4 in about an hour to a mokoro bording point, where our local guides and polers had already been waiting for us. Mokoros ar dugout canoes used in the Okavango delta. We loaded our quite limited personal belongings (I had a backpack and a camera bag only) and our supplies, camping equipment, food and water purchased in a Spar supermarket in Maun aboard the mokoros. It took two hours for our polers to propel our mokoros to our campsite. The scenery was amazing. The mokoros were pushed by the polers through narrow lagoons among the papyrus. The lagoons ocasionally opened up onto large open areas, where the surface of the water was covered by water lilys. Only the sound of the poles, water dripping from them, the tiny waves along the sides of the mokoros, the rustle of the papyrus, birds' calls could be heard. These were the real sounds of silence. Being November the weather was very hot, at midday the temperature reached 40 degrees Celsius. Our suncream served really good throughout this two hour mokoro ride.
By the time we reached our campsite, some of our local guides had already got there, put up the tents and prepared the campsite. They had already got a fire going, a teapot sitting on it with boiling water, and with a large heap of elly poo close to the fire. This remained there for the rest of our stay, for some people it provided a convenient tool to prop their feet up. Our tents were not large but quite sufficient for two persons. We did not intend to spend to much time in them in that heat anyway. Our water supplies heated up quickly. In 40 degrees one has to drink a lot, so we drank hot water. The clever ones made tea saying if it is hot they have to drink let it be tea. In the heat of the day we walked to a lagoon of the Okavango, where the water was clean and we dipped in it. It was magnificent.
Late afternoon, when the heat had ebbed and animals were supposed to be more active we went on a game walk on the island. We hardly left our camp, it was perhaps less than 30 meters we had walked, when our local guide, Dolphin said he heard an elephant in the bush. An then suddenly the elly appeared. About 30 meters from where we stood a lone bull elephant walked out from behind the trees. It was an experience words are hard to find to describe. We could hear the deep rumbling sound he gave while chewing on the twigs and leaves of the trees, and he was coming closer and closer. Eventually there was only one single bush between him and us. Though we held our breath I did not forget my camera and took photos of him. Only when the elly had been long gone did we move on to our game walk. We saw all sort of wildlife: zebra, impala, steenbuck, lots of beautiful birds, more elephants, more zebra, and on and on. There were plenty of termite mounds on the island, some of them reaching 2-2,5 m high, and many of them dug out and foraged by aardvarks, these nocturnal pig-looking mammals.
As we all learned it from the books, it gets dark really fast in Africa. It was almost dark when we got back to our camp. To our surprise our guide welcomed us with the question: does any of you want a cold beer? We could hardly believe that after a whole day of drinking hot water we could have something cold. It turned out that he secretly stocked a few cans of beer in the icebox where he kept our food. It was probably the best beer we had had on our tour. The night in the delta was incredible. It was hot, so the sides of our tents were rolled up, thus we basically slept in the open, only a mosquito net around us. The sounds of the night were exciting. Millions of insects buzzing, thousand of frogs croaking, zebra calling, fighting hippos roaring. A night I will never forget. The sky was clear, millions of stars illuminating the night, with an occasional firefly flying through.
Next morning we got up early at five o'clock, so that after a quick snack and coffe we left for another game walk. The scenery was as beautiful as the day before, however the island was illuminated by the rising sun from a different angle, so as a photography enthusiast I could take photos of the wildlife and the scenery with different lighting conditions. This walk was longer than on the previous day, we were walking for three hours. We could get quite close to some of the animals, especially zebras, who were wary, but did not run away. Late afternoon we went on a mokoro ride in the Okavango delta. We could see the beauty of the river, enjoy the peace, and watch the striking colors of the sunset. Late evening, after dinner prepared on the fire next to the elly poo, the local people had a little performance for us, they sang local songs and danced. In return we also sang some of our folk songs.
After another African night under the stars with the buzzing of the dark, early in the morning we had another game walk and then we it was time to break camp. We packed our stuff on the mokoros and were poled back to civilization. As I told my travel companions afterwards the Delta did really good to my soul: it had been a long long time that I felt so relaxed.
The Okavango River pours into northern Botswana from Namibia and Angola, then fingers into an immense sprawl of ephemeral marshland and forest containing one of the continent's most spectacular and diverse concentrations of wildlife. The geography is wondrously ambiguous -- deeply tropical at one turn, dryly wooded at the next.
Perhaps most startling of all the country's wildlife, if lacking the glamor of the larger mammals, are its birds, and the Okavango is the best place to see them. The country is held in high regard by birders worldwide, but the sheer volume of species in the Delta is overwhelming. Tent-side one morning, a scan of shallow riverfront resembled a field guide into which one of each endemic species had been dropped by an overanxious illustrator: storks, eagles, hornbills, vultures, and no fewer than a dozen of Botswana's prettiest creature (and also its national bird), the liliacbreasted roller. No less common here than a pigeon in Trafalgar Square, the roller is a brilliantly appointed avian with iridescent, powder blue wings.
Email Alex Bruce | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
A once in a lifetime trip that did not disappoint.
From the moment we arrived at Belmond Eagle Island Resort, we were made to feel like royalty. The entire staff greeted us at the entrance in song, followed by refreshments and tour. The accommodations redefine the term "glamping" with our beautifully appointed tent that included an outdoor shower (as well as an interior shower and soaker tub), a walk-in closet and infinity pool on our deck. The food was as expected, just wonderful.
We chose the month of June as it's the ideal time to see the wildlife due to the fact its the wet season. Unfortunately, it just happened that it was the driest June they've experienced in 10 years. That said, it did not hamper or affect our visit in any manner. While sitting on our deck in our first minutes of arriving, we watched elephants, hippos, antelope, eagles, warthogs etc....thinking, who needs to go on a drive when you're surrounded by all of this wildlife.
We were assigned a guide when we arrived. The daily routine was, your guide comes to your tent at 6:00am with coffee for your wake up call. Breakfast at 6:30 then meet at the jeep for 7:00 - 7:30. The morning drive goes until approx 11:00am, return for lunch and then 'siesta' time until 3:00 when you meet at the main lodge for "tea" then back to the jeep for 3:30 for your afternoon drive. The afternoon drive lasts until sundown which ends at a scenic spot at which the guide sets up a little bar so you can enjoy a cocktail while you watch the sunset.
Being winter at that time, the morning temperature can be quite cool (between 5-10 degrees celsius). While they advise you to wear layers, fleece lined ponchos were provided as well as blankets for the morning drive. By the end of the morning drive however the layers are peeled off at the temperature shot up to the mid 20's. I don't think we saw a cloud the whole time we were there.
As a professional photographer I was thrilled that we had drives that included the beautiful 'golden hour light'. I was also very happy that our driver had a good understanding of light for photography and would always position our vehicle for the best possible angle to take pictures.
I won't get into the actual wildlife we witnessed, only to say that we pretty much saw it all, including the Big 5 - Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Cape Buffalo. Our guide was amazing in his ability to track the various animals along with his knowledge of the area and wildlife.
Being a private reserve, we rarely saw another vehicle which for me enhanced the experience. As a bonus, I treated myself to a helicopter ride over the area which was a highlight of the trip, to see and photograph the animals from a different perspective. I would highly recommend the Belmond Lodges for that 'once in a lifetime trip and experience'
Email Peculiar Perception | under20 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
A safari full of humour and beauty
The Okavango Delta provided more beauty than any of other safari destinations we stayed at. The beautiful sunsets over the water gave us memories to always remember. The scenery was incredible. In terms of accomodation we had great food and excellent service. Our rooms gave us our own private balcony with a stunning view. The staff were very funny and good with kids. However, sometimes they joked around and would miss small details like birds. As we also stayed in safari lodges in Zambia, we found that the staff at the Botswana safari lodges had a lot more humour and seemed to love a laugh. One night they even sung and danced to us and the other guests. In conclusion, the Okavango Delta was a beautiful, enjoyable and fun experience and I would recommend it to anyone.
It was very wet while we were there, which sometimes made travel challenging, but even so, the safari vehicles navigated through the water over the sandy bottom. We didn't see quite as much wildlife here as in Chobe, probably because of the water levels, but had great looks at hippos and numerous birds.
Email maximi11ian | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
An opportunity to submerse yourself into the iconic natural world of Africa!
The biggest highlight for me was the isolation felt within the Okavango Delta. For the entire week we were there we didn't run into any other tourists/safari companies which I have previously noticed on safari tours elsewhere. This isolation made every encounter seem incredibly more special and private and enforced the feeling that we were guests into the animals world.
Safari Tours to Okavango Delta
5-Day Botswana Safari Tour
$2,415 to $3,401 pp (USD)
Botswana: Private tour
Mid-rangeLodge & Tented Bush Camp
You Visit: Kasane (Start), Chobe NP, Okavango Delta, Maun Airport (End)
4.9/5 – 53 Reviews
10-Day Vic Falls & Botswana Luxury Flying Safari
$7,250 to $14,550 pp (USD)
Botswana & Zimbabwe: Private tourLuxury+Lodge & Tented Camp
You Visit: Victoria Falls (Start), Okavango Delta, Maun (End)
The Safari Partners
5.0/5 – 87 Reviews
6-Day Okavango Delta + Chobe Luxventure® Safari
$3,120 to $5,069 pp (USD)
Botswana: Private tourLuxuryTented Camp
You Visit: Maun (Start), Okavango Delta, Chobe NP, Maun Airport, Kasane (End)
Ker & Downey Africa
5.0/5 – 82 Reviews