The 1000th inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the Okavango Delta is a remarkable location that is unique in almost every aspect. Located in the Kalahari Desert, the delta lies at the end of the Okavango River. Rather than flowing out into the sea, as is usual for a river delta, it ends in the middle of the desert, where the water is evaporated.
This oasis in the middle of the Kalahari is teeming with plant and animal life. Home to elephants, lions, zebras, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, crocodiles, ibis, eagles and a myriad of other animal and bird species, the Okavango Delta is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems of Africa. On the eastern side of the delta, the Moremi Game Reserve is home to savannah wildlife and lagoon birdlife. Named after Chief Moremi of the BaTawana tribe, the reserve is home to Chief’s Island, the largest in the Okavango Delta, once the chief’s exclusive hunting area.
The landscape of the delta is ever changing. Sand brought in with the river water forms new islands, while the currents erode other small islands. Amid these islands float papyrus and reed rafts which provide shelter to crocodiles. The waters are navigated using mokoro boats, made from hollowed out ebony or Kigelia trees.
Five ethnic groups, each with their own culture and language, have traditionally lived in the Okavango Delta: the Hambukushu, Dceriku, Wayeyi, Bugakhwe and ||anikhwe. These five groups operate differently on the delta. The Hambukushu, Dceriku and Wayeyi are more settled, engaging in millet and sorghum farming as well as hunting and fishing. The Bugakhwe and ||anikhwe are bushmen, hunting, fishing and gathering wild plants. The Bugakhwe use both the water and the land, while the ||anikhwe preferred river resources. Today, tourism has grown, giving these groups new sources of income.
The Okavango Delta is an unmissable destination for a uniquely African adventure. Wildlife, culture and activities all await visitors to this oasis in the heart of the Kalahari.