I have always been fascinated by the change in the seasons and how it affects the Okavango. The drier winter months from June to the end of October have always, traditionally, been the busiest time for travel to the region. To say the Okavango is drier at this time is an anomaly as the period from May to the end of August coincides with the annual flood in the Okavango reaching its peak in the central delta around July.
January - March
January until the end of March is the rainy season with the delta taking on a lush, green tropical feel. Many young animals are born into this time - impala, warthog, tssessebe and wildebeest all have their young. With the rain and all the young animals this is the season of life and it is dramatic. Cloud patterns are spectacular, storms are exciting and sunsets breathtaking.
April - May
April sees the end of the rains and the annual flood having worked its way through the pan handle of the Okavango. The area remains lush but by May the first of winter’s chill is felt with the flood starting to fill up the area around Xigera. I have always loved the month of May. The cold air makes for clear, crisp light conditions which is brilliant for photography. The arrival of the flood also means that all the Xigera boating and mokoro activities are all available.
June - August
June, July and August are the winter months and the flood is at its highest. The delta area has now dried up from the rain so the vegetation above the flood line has browner, winter colours. The floodplains are the opposite, filled with lilies and green vegetation. Visibility is better and animal viewing is excellent. August is special with the elephants pouring into the Xigera area for the fruit of the Fan Palms which is ripe at this time.
September - November
September, October and November are the driest months and the flood recedes in the area around Xigera. There is plenty of dust in the air and these are windy months famous for the red African sunset. One can feel the area being ready for rain and the first storms of the year can be seen. Storms are very localised and it is not normally until December that area gets its first proper rain. Wildlife viewing is good.
I have often said that the first few weeks of December are the best kept secret in Botswana. It is the season of life as usually the first proper rain has fallen and the bush is transformed from its dry brown colour to green in the space of a week or two. With it, the young impala are born and young warthog, both of which bring a sense of fun to the area. Skies are spectacular and fewer people travel at this time as people around the world get ready for the holidays. It is really a wonderful time to visit the Okavango.