For many adventurous travelers, an African safari is at the top of the list when it comes to mixing beautiful scenery with the best wildlife encounters on the planet. Most visitors go to Kenya, Tanzania, or even South Africa to get the classic safari experience, but there are other, lesser traveled places, that can deliver that same experience, in a more remote location, far from the typical safari crowds.
One such location is the Okavango Delta, located in the interior of Botswana. Years ago, the region was dominated by a large body of water known as Lake Makgadikgadi, which the Okavango River once emptied into. But the large inland lake has mostly dried up, and due to tectonic shifting, the river now empties out into the Kalahari Desert, forming the Delta, and giving life to an entire ecosystem of plants and animals that couldn’t exist there otherwise.
The well irrigated portions of the Kalahari turn into a grassland, not unlike the Serengeti, and it attracts a similar level of wildlife as well. Elephants, giraffes, zebras, and hippos all call the Delta home, as do an array of big cats, including lions, leopards, and the elusive cheetah. More than 400 species of birds inhabit the region as well, and it is also home to a substantial population of wild dogs, which are now found in very few places on Earth.
One of the unique aspects of visiting this region of Botswana is that it allows visitors to go on safari not just by land but also water. Traditional 4×4 safaris are popular of course, but the waters of the Delta allow travelers to see the wildlife from an entirely different perspective, namely from a dugout canoe that is poled along by a native guide. Drifting through the serene waters, the canoes pass over hippo pools, while antelope drink from the shore, and Nile crocs float past like logs with eyes.
While the Okavango Delta is less traveled than the more well known safari locations in Africa, it still attracts thousands of visitors each year. That means that there are a wide array of accommodations available, ranging from simple campsites, with travelers staying in tents, to lavish lodges with all the amenities. But make no mistake, this is a remote and rugged place, unlike any other on Earth, and is definitely a must see for all adventure travelers.