Known as “the river that never finds the sea”, The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a massive inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the basin of the Kalahari. There is something elemental about the Okavango Delta – the rising and falling of its waters, the daily drama of its wildlife encounters, its soundtrack of lions roaring, saw-throated leopard barks and the crazy whoop of a running hyena, the mysteries concealed by its papyrus reeds swaying gently in the evening breeze. Viewed from above on a scenic flight, the countless tributaries of the Okavango Delta can seem like an eagle’s talon clutching at the country and not letting go. At ground level, the ghostly silhouettes of dead trees in the dry season give the delta a hint of the apocalypse.
The scale and magnificence of the Okavango Delta helped it secure a position as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, which were officially declared on February 11, 2013. On June 22, 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1000th site to be officially inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The crystal clear channels of the Okavango spread over the thirst lands of the Kalahari with their papyrus-fringed banks and fertile floating islands. Adapted for a life in and out of water, the elegant red lechwe antelope and shy sitatunga antelope are found in this aquatic wilderness. The Okavango delta is both a permanent and seasonal home to a wide variety of wildlife including African elephant, Cape buffalo, tsessebe, blue wildebeest, giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, cheetah, leopard, brown hyena, spotted hyena, springbok, greater kudu, sable antelope, black rhinoceros, southern white rhinoceros, Burchell’s zebra, common warthog and chacma baboon. Notably the endangered Cape wild dog still survives within the Okavango Delta, exhibiting one of the richest pack densities in Africa. The delta also includes over 400 species of birds, including African fish eagle, Pel’s fishing owl, crested crane, lilac-breasted roller, hammerkop, ostrich, and sacred ibis.
Hippo inhabit the deeper channels and lagoons, while honey badgers can be seen in broad daylight. Tall termite mounds are homes for families of dwarf and banded mongoose. The delta can be experienced by land in open safari vehicles or by the glistening waterways on a mokoro (dugout canoe) safari as well as by foot in the private concessions.
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