"Maun, the Gateway to Okavango Oasis" Maun by Ramonq

Maun Travel Guide: 58 reviews and 87 photos

The Okavango Delta

Just imagine, expansive carpets of green papyrus reeds across the horizon, gently bathed by crystal clear waters that are clean enough to drink. Seasonally, these waters come from thousands of miles away in another African country, and through a stroke of luck, flows into the parched land along the Kalahari desert plains transforming the area into a veritable living oasis. This place is called the Okavango delta, famous worldwide for the vast oasis that seasonally sprouts like a mirage amidst an inhospitable desert. During the flood season, so verdant is the delta, that I have mistaken it to be a ricefield somewhere outside Bangkok, Thailand or at Inle Lake, Myanmar. There are also palm trees in the horizon to complete the idyllic picture.

But have a second look, and you would be able see a journey of giraffes or a pod of hippopotami wading in the water as they cross to reach an island in the far distance. You would be able to see a majestic fish eagle proudly perched atop a sausage tree studiously eyeing the calm water for a tasty tilapia fish. Seeing all these animals finally reaffirms that you are indeed in Africa and not in Southeast Asia. The Okavango delta is a unique finely tuned ecosystem and it is one of the must visit sites in Africa.

It may sound strange that the Okavango Delta is not along the coast but right in the middle of the desert. Don´t be surprised that there are actually thousands of islands in the area. The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland water systems. The water actually comes from the rivers of Angola’s mountain ranges in its west, and their tributaries consolidates to form the Cubango river. This river crosses the narrow Caprivi Strip of Nambian and finally enters Botswana which is known as the Okavango Delta. The seasonal floods come from the rains in the Angolan highlands. The rains in Angola start in October and finish sometime in April. but the water will only reach the bottom end of the delta in Maun in July. Therefore it would normally take around nine months for the water to flow from the Angolan highlands to the end of the delta which is located in the Botswanan Kalahari desert where the water eventually evaporates.

When the river was first formed, the Cubango river used to flow into a large inland lake but seismic activities had transferred the river flow towards the current area. As the water flowed into the area, the wildlife returned to the region. A unique water system was formed and it now provides a unique ecosystem that hosts numerous species of flora and fauna.

The delta´s area can expand to around 16,500 square kilometres at its peak, but this would later shrink to less to around 8, 5000 square kilometres when outlying areas surrounding the delta begin to dry out.

The best time to see the game animals would be around May through October when the vegetation has dried out and the animals concentrate around the water. November to May would be the best time to see the birds as the vegetation is still fresh and flowering.

The Okavango Delta is known for its water safari, where one can observe the wildlife in a mokorro, a native canoe. This canoe is piloted by experienced polers who guide the mokorro through the thick papyrus vegetation that separates the islands. I will never forget the sight of a herd of elephants wading through the water close to where my mokorro stood still, as they try to reach an island for fresh trees.

At sunset, Okavango takes on an eerie atmosphere, as the deep red sun slowly descend in the horizon and all sorts of strange animal sounds can be heard. This is when you take cover inside your tent and let the haunting sounds of nature dominate your senses. Hush and be still! One is humbled by the power of nature.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Idyllic Surroundings
  • Cons:Bugs
  • In a nutshell:A true oasis
  • Intro Updated Aug 27, 2007
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