If you are a birdwatcher aiming to learn more about African birds, you must book a birding safari in Botswana, land of the delta’s birds. The nation’s territory, in fact, includes most part of the Okawango Delta’s swamps, where an incredible fauna has its perfect habitat. River Okavango’s delta never arrives to the sea, it meets the Kalahari Desert first and evaporates completely. This is why it is called an “inner delta”, and this is why the environment here is so unique.
Botswana has no endemic bird, but over 100 species here are rare and precious. So birding safaris are a great opportunity to take the best photos or to have the best spotting ever. Almost all the territory is good for such a special trip, but there are some places which allow tourists to admire a great number of birds: Moremi Game Reserve and Mopane, especially.
Looking for delta birds, geese and cranes
Botswana is the paradise for geese and ducks. There are so many – pygmy geese, egyptian geese, bumpy-head geese – who mainly live along the shores of the wide delta. Also some of the most beautiful species of cranes live there and the wattled crane is the easiest to be spotted. You will need a lot of patience but the prize, especially at Moremi, can be spotting the rare rufous-red slaty egret! Moremi Game Reserve also hosts ostriches, birds of prey and the special “secretary bird”.
This one is a mix between eagle and stork, its scientific name is sagittarius serpentarius since it can fight against big reptiles and win! North of Moremi, in the place called Mopane Tongue, birdwatchers can enjoy the view of Verreux eagles, marabous, giant eagles, martial eagles. Also Cape vultures, white-head vultures, palms vulture and the sparrow hawks are precious inhabitants of this region. Much easier to be spotted, at Mopane, are: Arnot’s chats, red-billed hornbills, kestrels.
Water birds along the delta
The wide land of Okavango Delta is the sanctuary for “water birds” or marine birds. These animals only live close to the water and fishing is the main way they eat and survive. So make sure your birding safari will lead you on a boat on these ponds and swamps in order to admire African skimmers, kingfishers, moorehens and flamingos too. Especially at Chied Island, at Moremi Reserve, you will spot many beautiful herons. The green-backed heron is the king of the place! More to see, on a Botswana birding safari: African cranes, bee-eaters, Kori bustards, jacanas.
What to wear, what to bring
You shall wait for the best moment to take a photo of these birds in very humid places. Birding safari in Botswana means taking very long stands along rivers, ponds, lakes, swamps. So first of all, make sure you always have your mosquito repellent cream, wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers and boots. Take your cameras and binoculars into water-proof bags, but remember to take them out often, or the wet air inside will cause the same damages as water.
Best period for birdwatching on the delta
Every month is good for birdwatching in Botswana, especially along the Okavango Delta. It depends on the experience of the birdwatcher, though. The dry season (May-October) is the best for tourists, visitors and non expert birdwatchers. It is the season of the great migrating groups of birds so the best time for an easy safari. If you are a more expert “bird addict” and want to look for better chances and rare photos, try to book your safari during the summer. In Botswana summer is November to March. This is the period when rare birds can be spotted around but is also the time of rains and floods. Only if you really want it, you will face it.