EXPLORING THE OKAVANGO DELTA
If you are one of the lucky ones travelling to Botswana – congratulations! If you are thinking of visiting, what are you waiting for? Just go already! It is such a beautiful country with so many different things to offer. The famous Kalahari, the Magkadigkadi, the unique Okavango Delta and not to forget, beautiful and friendly people all the way. This article will be about the delta though so let’s get right to it
The lush Delta is home to millions of different animals & therefore definitely worth a visit. There are plenty different things to do and activities to spend your hard earned money on. We for instance, spent way to much money over there and not all of it was worth it. So let us do the work and save you some money or at least time. But be careful, this article might end up leading you to spend more money than you wanted after all. But more on that later.
3-Day Kayak Trip
– our favourite –
Before you even start thinking about other activities: forget it! Going on a Kayak Trip through the delta was one of the best decisions we made so far, so let us tell you why! First off, it is not the cheapest activity you can book, but it’s definitely worth every single cent! It costs about 290€-350€ p.P for 3 days, depending on the size of the group. That sum might sound like a lot, but you definately get a lot of bang for your buck:
On the first day you will set off early in the morning and take a motor boat that will take you about 80k into the Delta. Once you arrive, a massive brunch will be waiting and you will have a look at your new best friend for a couple of days – the yellow Kayak! After you finish feasting you squeeze your now considerably larger stomach into your kayak and you are off for the first day off paddling. It doesn’t take long to be completely immersed into the delta’s sounds and slow but steady stream. No sound exept for the animals and the water around you with only the backup boat gurgling in the background from time to time. If you are really lucky, you’ll encounter the first animals drinking in the water while you paddle by silently observing them.
Let me tell you. It is one thing to see an elephant from the back of a safari-car or from your comfortable seat in a motor boat with enough horsepower to catapult you away in an instant, and another if you are there in a kayak. You suddenly feel small, VERY small. And it’s not fear, but you start treating the animals with alot more appreciation and respect. That is a really cool experience for everyone I suppose. So after you’ve been in the kayak for a couple of hours you arrive at your campsite, somewhere in the middle of the delta on one of the many islands.
You are probably thinking ‘great, after the day of paddling I have to set up a tent now… that must be fun.’ But fear not, because you don’t have to pitch your tent or bring your own bedding. Everything is provided and already setup when you arrive. So all you have to do is sit back and relax for a bit until you go for a game-walk later that evening.
When you get back to camp, dinner will be almost ready. And trust us – the food is really good! (special dietary requirements should definitely be advised BEFORE you start out on your adventure) After alcohol induced talking about god and the universe and everything else that truly matters to you in that moment you fall into bed.
The next morning you’ll have to get up early. As the sun comes up you have some tea and cookies to get your sleepy body going you are off for another game walk and come back to a delicious breakfast. After some eggs & bacon (and yes, if you are a veggie they will prepare something special for you) its time for some more paddling and encounters with hippo’s and other animals. From there on its the same procedure as on the day before. After a few hours you will arrive at another campsite, already pitched tents, a game walk and nice dinner. On the next day you will have to paddle the most, because the tour goes all the way back to Maun again & you’ll literally stop right in front of the Old Bridge Backpacker (where you must stay when you’re in Maun).
So to sum it up:
- Three days Camping.
- Two game-walks a day.
- Full board (really good food).
- including drinks (softdrinks and beer/wine).
- including park fees.
- Knowledgeble guides both for walking and in the water.
- adventure of a lifetime.
So, if you want to experience the delta in an unusual way, sleep somewhere in the middle of nowhere, want hippos and other animals around your tent at night, see elephants (and hippos of course) taking a bath just a few meters away from you, and are eager on what probably is a once in a lifetime experience? Go on this trip! (And if you do, please do great John and Jadis)
Before we forget: The 3 Day trip that we did is only one of the options that they offer, you can always make your trip longer and go even further into the delta. I guess we’ll try to do that the next time we are in Botswana.
Did we convince you? Great! We booked our trip with John directly at the Old Bridge Backpackers (he’s the brother of the owner) but please have a look at Kayactives Website or just watch the video below.
A Scenic Flight
Also a cool thing to do but if you look at money spent/time… between 80 and 150 € for one hour – mmh. Not really too good considering you can fill your whole day for that kind of money. But nevermind
The place you are staying at will most likely be happy yo book a flight for you. If you want you can always hop over to the small airport and book directly through one of the companies located on the first floor of the building. Flights in the morning or the late evening make the most sense because that’s the best time to see wildlife. You can also choose if you want to have your own plane (Smallest with a maximum of 3 people, maximum on a different plane a lot more) or if you want to share a plane with others to make it cheaper.
On the day of your flight you just need your passport and your camera and off you go! We booked with Kavango Air and everything was easy and quick. The only drawback was the pilot who wasn’t a person of many words, and didn’t explain anything. Instead, he just pointed out where the animals were located. But it was probably too loud to talk anyways. The flight itself was really bumpy as well. Lilli thought we’re going to die for sure but as you are probably well aware – we survived. All in all the flight is a great way to see a lot of the Delta in little time and get an idea of it’s dimensions. And yes, we did see a lot of wildlife as well.
There is the option to take a helicopter as well and spend your time flying around the delta. To take the helicopter is quite expensive though and will set you back a couple of hundred €/US$!
Mokoro Trip or Motorboat
Last but not least there are basically two different kinds of boat trips you can choose from. You can either take the traditional Mokoro, a boat traditionally carved out of a tree and pushed around like on a gondola in venice,(which we didn’t do but heard about alot) or you can book a tour with a motor boat.
You can also do multiple-day-trips with a Mokoro, just like the trip that we did. The only difference is that you don’t get as far into the delta as you do with a kayak trip because they usually stay within 8-15 kilometers of the park entrance. Another thing, one that would bother us alot but might be perfect for you, is that someone else does all the work for you. You just sit lazy on your bum while someone else pushes the boat forward with a huge stick. We don’t really like other people doing all of the manual labor for us. If you want to go for a mokoro trip nontheless there are plenty of operators you can choose from (that will all lead you to the same mokoro station where you begin your trip so it really doesn’t make a difference)
But what about the other option: a Motorboat. Sounds sweet doesn’t it? We wouldn’t recommend it though. You do get quite far into the Delta (considered that you don’t have full on birders in your boat that need to stop for EVERY SINGLE BIRD they see TWICE (or thrice…). damn!).
A day-boat trip usually includes a really good lunch and a short game walk as well. BUT, its expensive and really, really noisy so you throw off animals from a great distance and you don’t get to enjoy your surroundings to the fullest.
Day Trip Into The Moremi Game Reserve
The Moremi is a private part of the Okavango, situated exactly where the animal population is at it’s densest. Perfect for game viewing. The density of 4-5 Star lodges is at it’s highest around here as well, but for us mere mortals a day trip is more suitable although you could probably spend weeks on end without getting bored in there. As this post is mainly about daytrips or activities that start from Maun we’ll not cover staying over in Moremi, although that is definitely an (expensive) option.
Two options here:
If you’ve got your own 4×4 you can go for a day trip into the Moremi Game Reserve. You’ll have to start very early. To get to the “South Gate” entrance of the park takes about an hour or two depending on your car and the state of the road (generally very bad). Once you get there you can pay the park fee’s for a day, grab a map from the gate and go hunting (with your camera of course) for animals. The Park is fun to drive through as it consists mostly of sandy tracks that will sometimes test your car’s 4×4 a bit. A lot of animals are around as well! Definitely worth spending some time in there. But, if you have a gps that will definitely come in handy as you can get lost in there. Better safe than sorry. If you don’t have a gps, and you don’t want to buy one for your trip, look in the “other” section. You’ll hopefully find some tips and tricks regarding that problem around there if we got around to writing it. (Remind us if not)
The other option would be a organized game-drive into the park. There are different companies that offer day trips into Moremi. Easiest would be to book directly with the Old Bridge Backpackers, as you’ll be staying there anyways (just in case we haven’t made that point enough times).
The itinerary is quite the same, early morning, drive to the park, small breakfast at the gate, and off you go. Costs will be at around 100US$ pp for the whole day including some meals. We are not sure whether the park fee is included or not.
If you don’t want the hassle of driving yourself and enjoy the company of a knowledgable guide that knows the area well, spend some money and go on this trip.
Of course, this is only a short outline of the adventures you can take on around the Okavango, but the most essential. If you’ve got more time you might like to go on a fishing-trip as well and we guess there is a lot more that you can do!