Botswana
 
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The Okavango Delta is the largest inland water system/delta and attracts large numbers of wildlife and birds making it one of the best safaris in Botswana and indeed, Africa. A Okavango Delta Safari is a must for anyone visiting Botswana.

Okavango Delta

Millions of years ago the Okavango river use to flow into a large inland lake called Lake Makgadikgadi (now Makgadikgadi Pans). Tectonic activity and faulting interrupted the flow of the river causing it to backup and form what is now the Okavango Delta. This has created a unique system of water ways that now supports a vast array of animal and plant life that would have otherwise been a dry Kalahari savannah.

The waters of the Okavango Delta are subject to seasonal flooding which starts in mid summer in the north and up to six months later in the south. During the peak of the flooding the delta’s area can expand to over 16,000 square kilometers, shrinking to less than 9,000 square kilometers in the low period. As the water travels through the delta, the wildlife starts to congregate on the edge of the newly flooded areas.

The Okavango Delta region attracts thousands of visitors and there are numerous camps/safari options to cater for most requests. Mobile tented safaris offer visitors a great way to see more than most people who stay in one camp for their visit.

Safari activities include the mokoro - a dug out canoe which is 'poled' along by your Guide through the numerous waterways.

Walking Safaris are available from most Safari Camps and Lodges - perhaps the most exciting way of viewing game - stalking and tracking wildlife with an expert Guide.

Botswana is a year round wildlife destination, however, there are certain seasons that are more suitable for special interests than others.

The following information is to be treated as a guideline as weather patterns and wildlife rhythms are never predictable and can never be guaranteed at a specific time or in a specific area.

January

Bird viewing is excellent. It is peak breeding time for many of the colorful migrant bird species. Excellent wild flowers, brilliant green foliage and constant sounds day and night - from insects and birds – the bush is alive. January is in the middle of the rainy season with spectacular afternoon thunderstorms, high humidity and warm days (average 30°C plus) and nights (20°C plus). Game viewing is reasonable with active predators still chasing the fast developing young of their prey species.
 
January is an ideal month for photography due to all the vivid colors, spectacular skies and unparalleled air clarity. The contrast of the predators natural winter camouflage with the summer colors makes for dramatic photos. More easily spotted by their prey species the predators have to work hard while the prey has a time of plenty.

February
Ripe figs are eaten by many species including the fruit bats that make interesting night sounds while feeding. It is peak flowering time for water lilies and the reed frogs are colorful and noisy - the Okavango Delta is brilliant, noisy and alive. Due to the rains plants are growing actively. Butterflies, birds, frogs and all the small creatures are full of life and at their best. The rains continue in the form of mid to late afternoon thunderstorms with dramatic skies and sounds. It is hot with daytime temperatures averaging above 30°C and warm nights at 20°C plus. There may be both wet and very dry spells within the month. The giant bullfrog emerges from months and sometimes years of hibernation to indulge in nocturnal feeding frenzies. The resident game species do not have far to go for water and the young are almost as tall as the adults. Birding is excellent.

March
The fruit of the Marula trees attract their attendant bull elephants that wander from tree to tree in search of their favorite meal. At this time of year elephant are often encountered on walks in the Okavango as they feed from one Marula to another. The start of the rutting season leads to the sleek and fat impala males snorting and cavorting to attract females. Temperatures are still warm both day and night but the air is drier and the rains less frequent. The bush is lush and green and there are lots of flowers.

April
The first signs that the times are a changing - night temperatures drop to below 20°C on average but day temperatures continue to rise up to 40°C on some days. Generally the temperatures are very pleasant. The cooler mornings with high relative humidity lead to wonderful early morning misty magic especially over water. The impala rut is in full swing and the impala noises continue right through the night with dramatic clashes between rival males. Baboon and impala are often seen together as the baboon act as sentries protecting the busy impala. The trees have completed flowering and fruit is ripening, with massive sausages hanging from the Sausage trees. Reptiles are actively breeding and feeding in anticipation of the dry season, which is about to start.

May
Flood waters from the Angolan highlands should reach the top of the Okavango Delta panhandle and begin their slow and deliberate progress through the Delta. The rains are over and the nights are cooler with temperatures averaging 15°C. The days are still warm with temperatures up to 35°C. Buffalo begin to group into large herds and visit the river areas more often as the seasonal pans begin to dry. Breeding herds of elephant increase in density daily as they visit the permanent waters. The vivid green bush starts fading to duller dry season colors and the predators begin to enjoy themselves as their colors blend in with their surroundings once again. The migratory birds begin their flights to winter-feeding and breeding grounds in far away places.

June
June is an exciting month. The African wild dogs begin to search for dens, which makes them easy to find for the next three or four months as they operate from their dens. Exciting hunts and playful puppies – what more could you wish for! Temperatures have dropped to their coldest by the end of June with night temperatures reaching as low as 5°C (very cold on night drives due to wind chill factor). Daytime temperatures rise up to a very comfortable 25°C and dusty dry conditions begin to dominate. Some green bushes and trees persist but leaf drop commences and pans dry up. Animals concentrate at permanent water sources, as do their predators. The inner Delta starts to flood.

July
It is the height of the floods for the Okavango Delta, after a slow path from the wet Angolan highlands thousands of kilometers away. The paradox is obvious - the flood arrives when dust and dryness pervade and the rains have long gone. The leaves are falling off the trees, grasses are getting shorter every day and visibility is excellent. The nights are still cold but the days are marginally warmer and the weather typical of Botswana - sunny and clear with brilliant cobalt blue skies. More and more animals congregate near the water and flood plains – July is a special time of the year. Water seeps into areas where there was none the day before and the Mekoro and boat trips become more exciting as new channels and waterways can be accessed. Soft early morning and evening light combined with dust provides the opportunity for many dramatic photo settings.

August
The elephant herds are getting larger. As they jostle for space near the water tension rises between the breeding herds. The bush is bare and the dust pervades but there is plenty of action and with patience and perseverance the rewards are great. The floods have passed through the Delta and now reach Maun - leading to excitement for the locals in town as water related speculation is at a peak - how high? When will it stop? How far will the water go? The weather is warming up with daytime peaks averaging closer to 30°C and night time averages rising to around 10°C. August is another special month in Botswana as well as being peak visitor season. The herons, storks and other birds start to congregate at the Gadikwe heronry.

September
The climate has changed and winter is all but gone. Night temperatures rise rapidly within the month and by month end the average reaches 15°C plus and day temperatures soar well into the 30°’s (Celsius). The sun shines, the skies are clear and it is really dry. Unbelievably the elephants concentrate in still greater numbers as do the buffalo keeping the predators busy as the season takes its toll on the prey species – it is a time of plenty for the lions. The colors explode as the carmine bee-eaters return for the summer. The first migrants arrive and storks start nesting. Water levels have slowly started to drop as the waters from Angola have completed their trek. Certain trees start to produce their first green shoots - fed by the flood waters and temperatures and not by any rain, as the first rains are still about six weeks away.

October
It is hot - really hot but never will you experience such great game viewing - well worth the sweat. This is the time of year when the herbivores are at their weakest because of a lack of food and the lions are at their strongest. Day temperatures rise regularly above 40°C and nights are warm with averages in the 20°C. There is no place to hide, everything is bare and the grasses have been eaten or trampled. Predator chases erupt into clouds of dust as the eternal game of eat and be eaten plays out daily in the very open plains. Fishing frenzies with the annual catfish (barbell) runs in the rivers. The Gadikwe heronry is full of activity with hundreds of birds breeding and nesting – bird viewing is excellent.

November
The expectation - in fact - desperation for rain dominates all discussions - the residents and the animals all seek an end to the dryness and dust. Temperatures remain high both day and night and game viewing is excellent - until the day of the first rains - normally around mid November. The rains come, the animals relieved, disperse to eat on new vegetation and drink from the seasonal pans. The birthing season begins with the tsessebe, followed by impala and Lechwe. The predators seek out the vulnerable young and kill many times a day to get their fill. It is a time of action, great visibility and color with big clusters of cloud, fresh sprouting grass and trees bursting into life - a wonderful time for the photographer.
 
Botswana Migration
 
December
Protein rich grass feed the mothers of the antelope while the lambs and calves grow at astounding speed. The impala complete their lambing, the wildebeest start and complete in a few weeks. The rains become more regular with thunderstorms every few days. The pans remain full and the colors shine in brilliant green. While the grazers enjoy the green tender mouthfuls the predators are ever watching and stalking. Their winter camouflage lets them down and they have to work harder, however, the bush is dense allowing more hiding places for them to observe their prey. All the migrant birds have arrived and the birding is excellent. Temperatures have cooled on average but hot days still occur and nights are still warm and humidity can rise after rain. Great colors, dramatic skies and lightning at night all add to the magic of December.

Bird viewing – October to March
The summer season in Botswana welcomes a large variety of migrant birds from the northern hemisphere which use Botswana, and more specifically the Okavango Delta, as preferred areas for breeding and feeding.
The first migrants arrive from the Northern Hemisphere during September. By December all the migrants will have arrived which means there are 20% more birds in Botswana during the summer months compared to the winter months. The period from December to March is very active and the colors, more specifically the birds in breeding plumage, are spectacular.
The Okavango Delta is a birders paradise which entertains both the experienced ornithologist as well as the eager amateur.

Have a look at some of our Botswana packages including the Okavango Delta or email us to customize your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. now.