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Okavango Delta Luxury Safari Tours

Okavango Delta luxury safaris are some of the most rewarding and exclusive tours offered in Africa. The world’s largest inland delta offers some of Africa’s best wildlife viewing. The map of this vast tangle of islands, channels and rivers changes with each passing year due to variable water levels. Small luxury outposts, often accessible only by plane, lie hidden from the outside world. Much of an accommodation’s surrounding area is only accessible to those staying there. It can be like wandering into a BBC Earth or National Geographic wildlife documentary, with fabulous accommodation to return to at the end of each day.

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8 Questions About Okavango Delta Luxury Safaris


8 Questions About Okavango Delta Luxury Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

Why should I choose the Okavango Delta for a luxury trip?

“The delta’s lodges and tented camps have set the African standard when it comes to luxury accommodation. With designer style, supreme levels of comfort and very low visitor numbers, most places in the delta are as close as you’ll get to your own private African paradise. Plus, an Okavango luxury safari could just be the most wonderful wildlife experience it’s possible to have. The wildlife here is astonishing. By one estimate more than 200,000 large mammals roam the delta, with over 450 bird species here as well. There’s very little you can’t see in the delta, although rhinos are rare.”


What is included in an Okavango luxury safari?

“Numerous packages are available for Okavango luxury safaris, but most operate on an all-inclusive basis. All meals, accommodation and most activities, including game drives, wildlife walks, village visits and mokoro (wooden dugout canoe) expeditions, will be included in the quoted price. But you should always ask any prospective safari operators to check what’s included and what isn’t. On standard game drives, you will share your guide and safari vehicle with other travelers. You’ll need to pay extra if you want them all to yourself. Tips (gratuities) to camp, lodge or safari staff, most spa treatments and massages, and other activities such as scenic flights will usually cost extra. Most accommodation in Okavango is accessible only via a small plane and these transfers usually cost extra. Again, always ask before booking. ”


How long do I need for an Okavango luxury safari?

“Plan on a minimum of three days (although five to seven days would be much better), staying in one or two different lodges or camps and areas of the delta. Rather than trying to see too much, concentrate on seeing a handful of places well. Plan enough time in each place to allow for all of the activities on offer; a couple of mokoro rides, a few game drives in each place is a minimum. Also include downtime for relaxing in camp. After all, it’s a holiday, and rushing too much will diminish your enjoyment. This is a vast area that, at its peak, covers more than 18,000km2/6,950mi2. With dozens of lodges and camps scattered across this wilderness, you could easily spend weeks hopping from one to the other. Even then, you’ll almost certainly leave wanting more.”


What is the difference between a drive-in or fly-in Okavango safari?

“Most Okavango luxury safari tours operate on a fly-in basis. That means you’ll fly from either Maun or (less often) Kasane into one of the many remote airstrips across the delta. You’ll then be transferred to your lodge or camp by boat or 4x4 vehicle. While staying at the lodge or camp, you’ll also explore by boat, mokoro or 4x4. When it’s time to move on, you’ll fly on to the next airstrip, hopping your way through the delta by small plane. Drive-in safaris in the Okavango Delta are only possible in some areas, where transfers from Maun or Kasane, and between lodges, can take place in a 4x4 vehicle. This is often possible in the Moremi Game Reserve and the delta’s southern reaches, but rarely in the northern or inner delta where trails routinely disappear beneath rising waters.”


What is the difference between a game reserve and a private concession?

“A game reserve is administered by the government whereas a private concession is leased by an organization and usually contains more exclusive accommodation. It surprises many first-time visitors to the delta that only a very small proportion is locked away under government protection. The Moremi Game Reserve occupies part of the southern, more accessible part of the delta and works like a national park, with entry gates, rangers and reserve fees that go into government revenues. Provided you pay to go in, anyone can visit. The remainder of the delta, which is most of it, is made up of private concessions, which are leased from the government and/or the local communities by safari operators and other tourism businesses. These are accessible only to those with a confirmed reservation in the lodges or camps that operate within these concessions, making for a more expensive, but also more exclusive experience. In the concessions, off-road and night driving is permitted, unlike in the reserves.”


How does a typical day on an Okavango luxury safari unfold?

“In some ways, the Okavango is the true home of the luxury safari, thanks to the combination of blissful isolation, high levels of luxury, and a prevailing sense of utter exclusivity. Increasingly, too, culinary excellence across all meals is an essential part of the Okavango luxury experience. Pre-dawn wake-up calls out here take the form of a quiet African voice calling to you from the darkness. This is often accompanied with a tray of your favorite hot drink and a thoughtfully prepared breakfast snack. The morning game drive (or mokoro trip, or walk) begins around dawn. Depending on what’s happening with the wildlife, you should be back in camp by mid-morning for a larger breakfast, although gourmet bush breakfasts are also possible. From late morning until mid-afternoon, turning up for lunch is your only responsibility. Relax and discover what the camp or lodge has to offer in the heat of the day. Afternoon tea is one of numerous safari offerings that you’ll come to look forward to on your trip. It’s followed by the afternoon game drive/mokoro trip/wildlife walk. The fine old safari tradition of a sundowner (watching the sunset while enjoying a drink of your choice) is followed by the drive back to camp, watching for nocturnal animals along the way. Back in camp, dress for dinner, enjoy the main meal of the day, and relax by the campfire (unless you have a night drive planned).”


What type of accommodation can I expect?

“Deluxe tented camps are the main accommodation on an Okavango luxury safari. These consist of a small collection of large safari tents with no one but wildlife for neighbors. The tents vary in sophistication. Semi-permanent tented canvas camps are the most common. These have large living areas with beds, writing desks, wooden trunks, carpets and plenty of space to store your gear, with a bathroom, toilet and shower out the back. Mobile tented camps, though still extremely comfortable, tend to have more basic bathrooms and fewer furnishings to enable everything to be packed up and moved on to your next location. Solid-walled lodges are less common, but the better ones are architecturally very much a part of the delta environment, with a premium on light and space.”


How much will this safari cost?

“As a general rule, per-person-per-day prices shouldn’t go higher than US$870, although some luxury camps can rise well beyond US$1,500 per person per day. The main exception is if you’re traveling on your own. If that’s the case, you will usually be required to pay a single supplement that is normally around 75% of the price for two people traveling together. These rates should be all-inclusive of meals, activities, accommodation and most transport, meaning that additional costs are few. Okavango luxury safaris don’t come cheap. However, the price will vary considerably depending upon the season, the number of people in your group and the level of luxury you require.”


Okavango Delta Reviews

4.8/5 167 Reviews
Brian Jackman  –  
United Kingdom UK

Brian is an award winning travel writer, author of safari books and regular contributor to magazines such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa.

Africa’s Magical Everglades

What an amazing river is the Okavango. It rises in the mountains of Angola and then flows across Africa for 1,000 miles, gathering strength as it goes. But once it has entered northern Botswana its mighty floodwaters falter. In vain they...

Full Review

Sue Watt  –  
United Kingdom UK

Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.

Living with Elephants in paradise

I came to the Okavango Delta to write a story on a brilliant project called Living with Elephants for World Elephant Day, a deeply moving experience that remains a highlight of my travel-writing career. The organization is based on the...

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Angels  –  
Spain ES
Reviewed: Aug 31, 2023

You feel closer to nature than anywhere else by doing a walking safari. We felt very secure at all times with our guide, even when seeing animals very close, like giraffes, elephants, crocodiles and even lions (we saw two males eating a...

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Alina & Andrzej  –  
Poland PL
Reviewed: Aug 21, 2023

We have seen lions, buffaloes, lots (!) of elephants, warthogs, herds of antelopes (different species), hippos in the water and grazing, crocodiles, w wild nature. Mokoro trips and walking safari was exciting.

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Vidyasagar Premkumar  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Aug 31, 2019

Great wildlife sightings (both predators and plains animals) and birdlife. Delta from the air is magical for photography, with sitatungas in the channel and same as kwando - focus of guiding on what we are there for - wildlife

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Alex Bruce  –  
Canada CA
Reviewed: Jul 22, 2019
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...

Full Review