Apr 162009

Angola – Namibia – Botswana

The Okavango River is the fourth-longest river system in southern Africa, running southeastward for 1,600 km (1,000 miles). It begins in Angola, where it is known as the Cubango River. Further south it forms part of the border between Angola and Namibia, and then flows into Botswana, draining into the Moremi Wildlife Reserve.

Okavango River - waterscape


Before it enters Botswana, the river drops four meters, across the full 1.2km-width of the river, in a series of rapids known as Popa Falls, visible when the river is low, as during the dry season.

Discharging to an endorheic basin, the Okavango does not have an outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties into a swamp in the Kalahari Desert, known as the Okavango Delta. In the rainy season there is an outflow to the Boteti River which in turn seasonally discharges to the Makgadikgadi Pans, which features an expansive area of rainy season wetland where tens of thousands of flamingos congregate each summer. Part of the river’s flow fills Lake Ngami. Noted for its wildlife, the Okavango area contains Botswana’s Moremi Wildlife Reserve.

Described as “the river which never finds the sea”, the Okavango in northwestern Botswana disappears into a 6,000-square-mile maze of lagoons, channels, and islands. The river system annually brings more than 2 million tons of sand and silt into the Delta, yet less than three percent of the water emerges at the other end to either flood Lake Ngami or cross another 300 miles of the Kalahari, then to enter Lake Xau and the Makgadikgadi Pans.

It is a natural refuge and giant water hole for the larger animals of the Kalahari. The water gives rise to many forms of life unexpected in a “desert”: There are fish, crocodiles basking on the sands, and hippopotami and swamp antelopes feeding on the vegetation.

Inhabiting the waters of the Okavango are an estimated 35 million fish of almost 80 species. The most abundant, three species of bream, are preserved from excessive predation by crocodiles feeding on the tiger fish that would prey on the bream. Hippos flatten paths through the papyrus on their nocturnal forays to graze, allowing easier access for the sitatunga and antelope to traverse across the swamps during their daytime migrations. Belts of forest fringe the swamps with tall trees giving shade to large herds of larger game. Beyond the forest fringe the landscape forms an open savanna park land, and in these drier areas the greatest concentrations of game are accompanied by the predator families: lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, and wild dog. It is in these forest fringes and savanna grasslands that elephants and giraffes can be found browsing with antelope of almost every kind, from buffalo, wildebeest, and kudu, to sable, roan and impala. Okavango is a delicate and unique example of dynamic equilibrium at work in nature. A place worthy of being called a “greatest place.”


Location (from 12° 37′ 38″ S, 16° 3′ 57″ E to 19° 59′ S, 23° 25′ E)

View Okavango River in a larger map

service providers

Service Providers

Always start on top with info from the Namibia Tourism Board and the Botswana Tourism Board.



Divava Okavango Lodge & Spa, Namibia ’s hidden wildlife paradise in the Caprivi where time stands still. This luxury lodge is nestled amongst majestic trees on the banks of the Okavango River, a few hundred meters from Popa Falls.

Hakusembe River Lodge

Hakusembe River Lodge

Picturesquely situated on the south bank of the Okavango River, 12 km west of Rundu, Hakusembe River Lodge makes for the perfect stopover on the way into Caprivi and to the Victoria Falls. The 10 air-conditioned chalets offer magnificent views of the river and the lush vegetation which teems with diverse birdlife. The swimming pool invites to cool off on hot summer days. Experience the river world on a boat trip or join an excursion to the cultural village nearby. Relish the enchanting atmosphere during dinner in the restaurant and with a drink at the bar. A campsite is available.

In the Caprivi Region of Namibia, on the Okavango River close to Popa Falls and next to the Mahango National Park and the West Caprivi Park is the new Mahangu Safari Lodge. The Lodge offers bungalows,  luxury safari tents and also some beautiful campsites with power points next to the river.

Okavango River - Giraffe wading

Okavango River – Giraffe wading

About 20 km south of Divundu (Bagani) Bridge along road C 48, just behind the Popa Falls, is the turnoff to Ndhovu Safari Lodge, a peaceful riverine retreat situated on the western banks of the Okavango River, overlooking the well-known Caprivi Game Park.

Breathing clean Kalahari desert air, Ngepi Camp is situated in the unspoiled upper reaches of the Okavango panhandle in the western Caprivi strip, on an island with permanent river frontage and surrounded by seasonally flooded swamps. It is a paradise of flooded plains and secret swampy backwaters, teaming with wildlife.

Rainbow River Lodge lies on D3403, the direct road between Maun and the Okavango swamps. The lodge offers semi luxury chalets, african huts and camping sites.

Nunda Safari Lodge (a local Thimbukushu name given to the fruit of the Jackalberry tree) is situated on the Kavango River in the land of the proud Hambukushu people. They are ruled by their Fumu (King) and largely maintain their traditional way of life. Two kilometers west of the Lodge lies one of the scenic highlights of Western Caprivi, the Popa Falls. More rapids than falls, the Kavango River breaks through a four meter high rocky intrusion amidst islands dotted with pristine forests, surrounded by aquatic vegetation.

Popa Falls Camp is your gateway to the north-eastern corner of Namibia – with its perennial rivers, magnificent indigenous woodlands, riverine forests, floodplains and reed-lined channels.  It is the ideal base from which to explore the Mahango Game Park, with over 450 species of birds recorded.  A wide variety of wildlife species, including elephant, hippo, buffalo, crocodile, red Lechwe, reedbuck, roan and sable antelope, and if you’re lucky, even the elusive Sitatunga antelope can be observed.

Situated on a large forested sand dune and one of the very few high points along the Okavango River, Shamvura Camp offers spectacular views over the river and surrounding flood plains. The Treetop cottage affords the visitor a birds-eye view of one of the last remnants of natural riverine forest comprising mainly of Knobthorn Acacia. Freshwater fishing, game-viewing, nature walks, cultural activities, microlight flights and unequaled birding opportunities are part of this experience.

8 luxury river facing en-suite chalets, of which one is floating in the river, set between large acacia trees, make up Hakusembe River Lodge 10 km west of Rundu.

Situated 7 km east of Rundu, in Namibia’s Caprivi strip, is Kaisosi River Lodge. On the banks of the perennial Kavango River and on the route to Popa Falls, this oasis is accessible for normal road vehicles.

Small and beautifully perched above the Kavango River is Tambuti Lodge, overlooking the floodplain. Just north outside of Rundu, the lodge is open all year round, even during the flood season.


Desert & Delta Safaris

Camp Moremi can be found in the Xaxanaka Region of Moremi Wildlife Reserve, which covers an area of about 4,871 km², as the eastern segment of the Okavango Delta. Moremi combines mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons and has a vast variety of plant, bird and animal life, creating one of the most magnificent and welcoming wildlife sanctuaries in all of Africa.

Okavango River - Elephant Trek

Okavango River – Elephant Trek

Botswana’s magnificent Okavango Delta is a maze of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering an area of over 16,000 km² in flood and shrinking to less than 9,000 km² in the dry season. Trapped in the parched Kalahari sands the fresh water oasis attracts wildlife that depends on the permanent waters of this unique wilderness. Camp Okavango is situated on the remote Nxaragha Island in the heart of the permanent Okavango Delta, assuring a year-round water wilderness experience.

It is on the banks of Botswana’s fabled Stolen River, that you will find Savute Safari Lodge in a setting of remarkable beauty. The now dry Savute channel is part of the dynamic Savute eco system renowned for its large concentration of elephant and lion and their troubled relationship.

The Xugana Lagoon is widely accepted as being the most spectacular permanent water site in the entire Okavango Delta, which in the midst of the Kalahari sands, is Africa`s largest and most awe-inspiring oasis. The Okavango River, rises in the highlands of Angola and never reaches the sea; instead its immense waters empty over the sands of the Kalahari. Xugana Island Lodge is situated on a private concession n the edge of the beautiful Xugana Lagoon.

The Boteti River is the natural boundary for the Makgadikgadi National Park. It is on the banks of this dry river course that you will enjoy the comfort of Leroo La Tau. The Boteti River last flowed in 1993, as a result of climate change and erratic weather cycles which caused the once crystal clear waters to dry up.

Kwando Safaris

Lebala means wide open spaces in Setswana and the scenery is dominated by vast plains with scattered palms and tree clumps backed by wooded savannas. This wild expanse is contrasted with the casual elegance and luxury of the camp itself. Kwando Lebala Camp is situated 30 kilometers to the south of Lagoon Camp and fronts onto the Linyanti Wetlands.

Kwara Camp is located in the remote northern part of the stunning Okavango Delta within the private Kwara concession. The camp fronts onto a huge floodplain, adjacent to the permanent water of the Delta and is backed by extensive bush.

Kwando Lagoon Camp lies on the shady banks of the Kwando River among tall and ancient African Ebony and Marula trees, under the watchful gaze of the resident hippos.

Little Kwara Camp is situated in a tree’d island on the edge of the permanent waters of the world renowned Okavango Delta in Botswana. The concession shares a common boundary with Moremi Game Reserve.

Wilderness Safaris

With an area of almost 600 000 square kilometers, Botswana is virtually the same size as France or Texas. Situated in the centre of southern Africa, it is a landlocked country, with Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe as its immediate neighbors. Botswana lies an average of 950 meters above sea level and is more than 600 km from the nearest coast. The Tropic of Capricorn bisects Botswana. Wilderness Safaris currently operates 21 camps and 7 explorations in Botswana which can be found here.

African Bush Camps

Join African Bush Camps in incredible adventures in the Okavango Delta. Linyanti Bush Camp is a small intimate African camp on the banks of the Linyanti providing the perfect atmosphere for an authentic and wild African safari experience. Luxury Mobile Tented Safaris take you back to the heart of tented safaris in Africa. Khwai Tented Camp provides the perfect setting of a wilderness area where a community lives in harmony with nature and wildlife. Linyanti Walking Safaris are mobile tented camping safari experiences focused on walking within the private concession in the Chobe Enclave, part of the Linyanti.

Okavango River - Savuti Channel

Okavango River – Savuti Channel

Selinda Reserve

Selinda Camp is situated on the banks of the eastern Selinda Spillway – a waterway that links Botswana’s Okavango Delta to the Linyanti and Kwando marshes, rivers and floodplains.

Zarafa Camp is blessed with an extraordinary location in the eastern sector of the Selinda Reserve. The site is about 2km south-east from the old Zibadianja camp, overlooking the vast savannas and floodplains of the Zibadianja Lagoon under cool and shady Jackalberry and Red Ivory forests.

The high waters flowing through northern Botswana in 2009 will cause the Selinda Spillway to flood like it has not flowed for nearly three decades and will enable adventurers the opportunity to experience a rare first on the Selinda Canoe Trail. The Selinda Spillway is an ideal setting for Botswana’s leading canoeing and walking adventure safari. The route will begin a little downstream from Motswiri Camp in the north-east of the Okavango Delta and run eastwards along the Selinda Spillway through the private 300,000 acre Selinda Reserve towards where Selinda and Zarafa camps are located and close to the Kwando and Linyanti Rivers.

Motswiri Camp is a small traditional tented safari camp that is built on the banks of Selinda Spillway in the extreme west of the Selinda Reserve, 70km as the crow flies or a full two to three hour’s drive from Selinda and Zarafa camps.


Surrounded by a mosaic of papyrus and reed beds, Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge lies deep within an exclusive 25 000 hectare (62 000 acre) wildlife concession. Nine playfully crafted split-level safari suites feature large bathtubs and romantic al fresco showers. Each suite also has a private plunge pool and a lofty rooftop look-out with magnificent Delta views. An interactive kitchen bustles with activity. Guests indulge in a water and wilderness experience, from mokoro excursions to thrilling night game drives and guided daytime walks.

Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp enjoys luxurious solitude on its own Delta island within a 25 000 hectare (62 000 acre) exclusive wildlife concession. It is a delightful, airy camp with just nine sleek ensuite safari tents that combine canvas and bleached timber. All the tents have sweeping views across the channels. Each tent has a romantic sala, private plunge pool, indoor bathtub and al fresco shower. Guests can experience guided walking safaris, interpretive game drives and traditional mokoro excursions.

From under a canopy of African ebony trees, Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp faces out over expansive lagoons and channels. With expansive Okavango views, nine exclusive tented suites are strung out on either side of the handsome thatched guest areas of the camp. Burnished teak floors and a lofty roof frame the sitting and dining areas. Private bush dinners, breakfasts in bed, lamplit cocktails on a river island or a walking safari with al fresco picnic are provided with pleasure by Nxabega’s warm and friendly staff.

Sanctuary Lodges & Camps

Set amongst the shady trees and water of the Okavango Delta, the intimate Baines’ Camp features five luxurious suites set on elevated platforms in the tree line. Wooden decks offer expansive views over the permanent water of the Boro River and a lagoon teeming with life.

Stanley’s Camp is situated on a 260,000 acre private concession, bordering the southern section of the famous Moremi Game Reserve, thus affording guests absolute exclusivity. The area is home to a wide variety of big game including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog.

Chief’s Camp is a luxury bush camp situated on Chief’s Island in the exclusive Mombo Concession of the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana. The camp has been so skillfully integrated into the landscape that guests can often view game without even leaving camp.

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