All rivers flow into the sea, or at most into large lakes. This is the universal rule that we all study in school books, but Africa is a continent that overturns the rules. And so here we find a river that doesn’t flow anywhere: it evaporates, disappears into thin air. This is the Okavango River, which flows from Angola to Botswana. A river that ends in an immense and spectacular delta, which in turn… just disappears! More wonders like this are to be discovered with some of the most beautiful safaris in Africa.
The Inner Delta of the Okavango
The Okavango River originates in Angola and flows normally like all rivers. But in ancient times, it is not known in which millennium of the past, an important geological event abruptly diverted its course away forever from the sea. The river then continues to flow towards the interior of the continent and, having reached the territory of Botswana, it meets the great Kalahari desert.
Here it widens into a gigantic delta which gradually evaporates due to the terrible heat of the desert. During the rain season, when the water flow is maximum, the delta creates a unique scenario … but it does not last long. When the dry heat returns, the delta and the river disappear into thin air.
What to see at the Okavango Delta
The first sight to admire is the delta of the Okavango itself. However, you could only enjoy this view from above … in fact many tour operators organize “air safaris”. In a hot air balloon or aboard small tourist planes you fly over the delta and admire its strange shapes and colors. In the rain season the animals move in large herds to drink along the river and from above you can admire these fabulous migrations of wildebeests, zebras, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes.
For those who love the traditional safari, which leads to admiring animals up close, there is no shortage of choice at the Okavango delta. By jeep you can get close to the habitats of the most beautiful African animals, also thanks to the large protected reserve of Moremi, located in the heart of the delta. Here live lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas but also monkeys and many birds.
The delta also offers the possibility of going on boat safaris, aboard the traditional mokoro canoes, to discover crocodiles, water snakes, rhinos and lake birds. The flowers that bloom and float on the lagoons in particular months of the year are also very beautiful to see.
The magic of the Kalahari
Once on the delta, the great Kalahari desert opens up before you. Made up of arid steppes and sands with an intense red colour, it is home to a few animals that have adapted perfectly. Even some humans persist in living here, still hunting as they did in the past: they are the San people, or Bushmen, who populate the areas with the little vegetation still left. Today some purely adventurous safaris are also organized, to enter the desert and get to know its most beautiful and disturbing aspects.
To reach the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari: travel to the capital of Botswana, Gaborone, or Johannesburg in South Africa with international flights. From Gaborone – with internal flights – you can easily reach the airport of Maun, a reference town for the delta but also for the organization of the tours described up here.