Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Okavango delta

Michael - Thursday

The Okavango delta is a UNESCO world heritage site, and has been declared one of the seven natural wonders of Africa. I’m not sure who came up with the list, but the Okavango certainly deserves a place on it as far as I’m concerned. Each year heavy rains on the Bie Plateau of Angola flood down the Okavango River into the Kalahari. The water spreads out over between 2,000 and 6,000 square miles and then goes … nowhere. The Kalahari is hot; a lot of the water evaporates. Some leaches slowly through the sand and clear water settles over the area attracting a plethora of wildlife from the richer vegetation to the north and from within the area itself. It’s a paradise for water birds. Many years ago, Stan and I spent a day on a boat on the river where it flows into the delta suffering from bird overload. We didn’t know where to look first. Rows of herons and egrets literally lined up along the river, took a fish, and made way for others. Every tree was crowded with fish eagles. That was a special experience in a special situation and I’ve never seen it that way again, but the area always offers magnificent bird sightings.

Channels run through the area. At the height of the flood, all will be covered except the small islands
The area has a scattering of islands that are never flooded. Most are originally formed by termite hills and then built with deposits from the water, including a lot of salt. The local palms are able to survive that, but not much else. However, around the delta is plenty of land with good vegetation and wonderful wildlife. We chose Bushman Plains camp on the north eastern side.

Our tent overlooked the plain with a waterhole
The tents have comfortable beds, toilets and showers. I understand the meaning of 'glamping' now.

We were celebrating Pat’s 70th birthday with the trip to Botswana last month and this was to be the highlight. We weren't disappointed.

A couple of ostriches welcomed us at the airstrip
He was pretty relaxed but getting peckish in the evening

Not happy about the disturbance
A good place to relax

Huge treat. Wild dog pups at the den

Something completely different
One of the wonderful things about the delta is being able to canoe out on the water in mokoros - traditionally carved-out tree trunks. 

And watch the sun set...


  1. Hi! lovely pics! Which angolan mountains get snow ?

  2. Thanks! And good question! That is what I was told, but although the Bie Plateau where the river rises is 6,000 feet and it gets a lot of rain, I don't see snow...

  3. Thank you, Michael, for bringing me back to the first place that made me fall in love with the African wilderness. On my first trip in 2003, after three days at Camp Okavango, I went out to the airstrip to meet the plane that would take us away. I was overwhelmed with what I can only describe as home sickness. I was afraid I would never see it again. I went back 2 1/2 years later—the first chance I got. It’s time. Thanks to your posts, I am longing to be there again. I will find a way.

  4. fabulous pictures, taken with a long range lens? The wild dogs look very cute which I am sure they are not!

    1. It was a zoom telephoto, but the leopard was actually quite close! The pups ARE very cute. The adults are fine as long as they're not chasing you!

  5. I agree with Caro, but I assume a reallllly long lens for more than just the wild dogs.

  6. They were just a few metres from the vehicle, Jeff... such a privilege to be tolerated so close. Some glorious creatures in the Okavango are clearly used to game vehicles in quite close proximity.

    1. We have the same sort of situation in Northwest New Jersey with Canadian Geese. :)