Okavango Delta, Botswana - Stein Travel
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Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta in northwest Botswana is unique. The annual flood of fresh water that gathers here from Angola's western highlands slowly spreads for more than 5,800 square miles (15,000 sq km) over the Kalahari Desert forming a maze of lagoons and channels. The thousands of islands that arise sustain several diverse ecosystems, which are home to vast numbers of game and a myriad of birds, while the champagne-coloured waters support a varied array of aquatic life.

The height of the flood occurs in August each year, and as it recedes in its constant cycle, the delta shrinks. At its lowest level the delta covers about 2,300 square miles (6,000 sq km).

As the flood increases, so does the wildlife that congregates in huge numbers between May and October each year. The delta draws large numbers of animal populations that are rare, such as crocodile, red lechwe, sitatunga, wild dogs, buffalo and wattled crane. The familiar favourites are there in force too - various antelope, elephant, giraffe, hippo, lion, leopard and the like.

Numerous game camps and lodges are located in the Delta catering to the range of visitors who come to enjoy the teeming flora and fauna and admire the lush green beauty of the waterways. The favoured way to travel through the Delta's channels is on a makoro, a dugout canoe, poled by a local guide.

The town of Maun is the administrative centre of the Delta region and has an airstrip which serves as landing point for most incoming visitors to the Okavango. Countless safari and air charter companies operate in the town, which has been transformed from a rural outpost by the advent of tourism, although it is still a little rough around the edges. It extends along the Thamalakane River, and now boasts good shopping centres, hotels, banks and lodges.

Information & Facts

Climate

The Okavango Delta experiences heavy afternoon thunderstorms during the months between December and March, accounting for most of the annual rainfall. The hottest months are December to February where average daytime temperatures can soar as high as 104°F (40°C) and humidity is high. March to June are the most pleasant months to visit as the temperature cools down and average temperatures reach around 86°F (30°C) and nights are cooler. The winter months of June to September are dry and cold with night-time temperate dropping to close to freezing.

Language

English is the official language but Setswana is widely spoken.

Money

The unit of currency is the Botswana Pula (BWP), which is divided into 100 Thebe. The word 'Pula' means rain and 'Thebe' means shield. The shield appears on the national coat of arms. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and travellers cheques and foreign currency are accepted at most large hotels and lodges. There are banks and exchange bureaux in all the main towns, as well as ATM machines. Surcharges are often high on travellers cheques, and it is best to carry cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

Time

GMT +2.

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