Located in the heart of Botswana, the Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta that forms each year by seasonal flooding. Rains in the Angola Highlands flow down the Okavango River, but rather than be deposited in a lake or ocean, they simply spread out across the plains, covering an area of about 8500 square miles (22,014 sq. km) for several months of the year. This results in a large ecosystem where a variety of plant life grows, attracting large numbers of animals to the otherwise dry and desolate region.
This amazing place is the largest intact watershed in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But, it has also come increasingly under threat from a variety of sources, including poaching, ongoing conflicts across the region, industrialization, irrigation, and climate change. But a dedicated group of conservationists is looking to protect the Delta and have undertaken an impressively massive expedition to explore its vast expanse.
Dubbed the Okavango Wilderness Project, the team is supported by National Geographic and have spent years charting the Delta from “source to sand.”
The word safari tends to evoke images of expansive savanna landscapes; roaming giraffes, lions, and zebras; and minibuses, trucks, and all-terrain vehicles. These classic safaris, however memorable and necessary to complete the African experience, tend to skip the continent’s many rivers, lagoons, and lakes.
If hippos are more your thing than giraffes, consider going on an African water safari to best see the semi-aquatic mammals in their natural element.
One of the most popular ways to see hippos up close is to take a mokoro safari through Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the seventh wonder of Africa.
Similar to a canoe, the mokoro is streamlined to maneuver through narrow waterways and is motor-less so as not to scare the wildlife. It is steered by a tour guide who uses a ngashi, a long pole, to propel two passengers across deep lakes and shallow channels through the reeds and marshlands of the world’s largest inland delta.
Relaxing and peaceful, a ride in a mokoro provides safari-goers a unique vantage point to see the hippos, as well as the frogs, birds, and elephants common to the areas.
It’s amazing how quickly one’s fear and bloodlust can be assuaged with a glass of bubbly and a peanut.
The noise that a hippopotamus makes is something that can never be unheard. It’s like a cross between a large dog drowning and a seriously malfunctioning whoopee cushion.
Experienced in a zoo it’s quite amusing, a wet snort that might have come from behind the bathroom door when your father is washing his face and clearing his nose at the same time. Well, my dad, anyway.
In the wilds of Africa, though, when you are balanced in a narrow dugout canoe slung low in the water and surrounded by tall reeds, it’s another kettle of 1500 kilogram killing machine. Suddenly that moist flatulence is less than amusing. And it’s getting closer, isn’t it? I’m sure it’s getting closer.
Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, suggests five must-see destinations for the year ahead, from Malta to Ireland, and pristine wilderness to cultural hot spots.
MELBOURNE AND THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD, AUSTRALIA
The arch rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne is at the heart of a long albeit friendly debate. Sydney has always been Australia’s glamorous darling, a stunningly beautiful city with its iconic opera house and harbour-spanning bridge. But Melbourne proudly holds the spotlight as Australia’s sports capital (it goes wild over everything from AFL football to grand-slam tennis) and cultural nerve centre – world known for its bohemian and sometimes quirky vibe, flourishing music scene and edgy street art. Explore the city’s cobbled bluestone laneways – not long ago dark desolate no-go alleyways that have recently undergone a dramatic transformation and are now home to galleries, shops, coffee houses and restaurants.
Botswana’s diamond mines have long provided jobs and economic stability. But the land-locked nation is now looking to diversify its economy and is betting on sustainable tourism to help maintain its high standard of living in the future.
Britain’s Prince Harry calls Botswana his “second home”: For 20 years it has been his destination of choice when he wants to escape the media glare. The young royal even sourced the central diamond for his fiancée’s engagement ring from the country.
The diamond industry – in partnership with De Beers, the world’s largest supplier – currently contributes around 20 percent to the southern African nation’s GDP. Since diamonds were discovered in the country in 1967, the revenue from mining has been invested in infrastructure, schools and medical centres.
It is what transformed Botswana from one of the poorest to the fourth-wealthiest country on the continent – after Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Africa is alive with numerous summer destinations that cater to the luxury traveler. Some over-the-top scenic, breathtaking, memorable destinations.
Everyone looks forward to summer time because it’s the perfect opportunity to venture out and see what there is to do. This is the time of year when everyone, including the wealthy folks, is busy planning for their vacations. Africa is alive with numerous exclusive summer destinations that cater to the luxury traveller. Have you ever wondered where the wealthy go for their vacations in Africa?
We’ve compiled a list of some over-the-top scenic, breathtaking, memorable destinations that serve the needs of vacationers looking for a truckload of memories to cherish forever. Discover hidden gems that you never even thought existed before – destinations that have a unique and heavenly charm attached to them.
When it comes to deltas, the Okavango is the best. And if that’s too cryptic an introduction then let’s catch up with some more delta facts.
At 15 000 square kilometres, the Okavango Delta is one of the largest deltas in the world, protected by both the government of Botswana and mother nature itself. The wetlands make it very difficult to build buildings, roads and the other disruptors of natural life we humans love to splatter all over the auction.
Okavango Delta: UNESCO World Heritage Site
It’s naturally caught the eyes of the UNESCO World Heritage Site team with its seasonally flooded grassy plains that house some of the world’s most endangered, and enigmatic species: white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog and lion.
Plus the cheetah and that great creature whose size camouflages its vulnerability: the elephant.