Can a river have a delta without flowing into the Ocean? Yes, it can be possible if the river is Okawango, in Botswana. And if this river meets another one, river Khwai, crossing a beautiful protected area as Moremi Reserve you will have the best safari in the world. The landscape changes quickly from one place to the other and your trip will include stunning views, exciting encounters and magic nature. If you are in Botswana, do not miss the chance to visit Okawango river’s delta, and the small reserves all around. This is still Africa, but a different one. A special one. Worth the try.
Okawango delta, from mountain to desert
River Okawango belongs to the mountains of Angola, where it starts its flow as a small creek. As long as it goes southward it receives the water of hundreds tributaries. It is a very large water stream already when it suddenly meets the Kalahari Desert, in Botswana. So its water spreads around an area of 15,000 sq km turning the local plains into a great internal delta.
This is the second largest internal delta in the world, after river Niger’s. This is also the purest water in the world, since no human activity (farming, agriculture or other) meets the river’s flow. As the delta opens short before the desert, vegetation consists mainly of bamboo and papyrus. In the northern area you can find acacias and ficus, too.
Many birds live on the delta, so as crocodiles, frogs and tiger fish. Antelopes, gazelles, giraffes, elephants and baboons also live in this environment, while lions, cheetahs and leopards chase zebras and wildebeests all around.
Moremi Reserve on Okawango
Stretching over 4,871 sq km, the Moremi Reserve founded in 1961 occupies the largest portion of the Okawango delta. Set up north, it has large flooded areas and woods. Among the many trees of Moremi Reserve a rare species of leopard lives and tourists can meet it as long as they enjoy their safaris in one of the most beautiful places in Botswana. Over 500 species of birds complete the local fauna, as well as giraffes, lions, cheetahs, zebras, jackals. One of the most beautiful animals of Moremi is the wild dog which is protected, here, and studied by scientists. Be careful of what you are wearing as you go explore Moremi. Clothes and protections are important in order to avoid malaria mosquitoes.
River Khwai’s flow draws the northern border of Moremi Reserve and the beginning of the Okawango delta. As soon as river Okawango meets Khwai, its last and largest tributary, it spreads all over the plains and reaches the desert. This is the greenest and most wet region in Botswana, a nice place to see after the dry landscape of the pans. River Khwai flows among large rain forests where leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs hide. On one bank of the river there is Moremi Reserve, on the other one (north) live local tribes gathered at Khwai Village. Along the river you can also meet elephants and antelopes.
What to do at Okawango, Moremi and Khwai
If you book a safari on the Okawango delta you can stay at Maun or at the Khwai Village, which are the reference towns for the reserves. You will enjoy many wonderful trips, in this region. Game viewing, birdwatching, hiking, photo trips are part of the activity for tourists. You can visit the delta both by jeep car or by boat, and go on night safari (but not at Moremi).
If you like local culture, at Khwai Village you will meet the tribes. The people here are still upset because of the government decision to send them away of their lands in Moremi. But they love tourists and usually welcome them kindly.
How to get there
In order to reach the Okawango delta and the other reserves you shall arrive by airplane and land at Maun Airport or at Khwai Village’s Airstrip. Then you can only move with a local guide, by jeep car or by boat. You can walk in order to explore the region, but this is not recommended if you want to really enjoy the place.