Crossing the Okavango Delta: Mobile Camping & Boat Safari

A 8 day trip to Botswana 
5 out of 5 stars
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On this exclusive 7-night safari, you cross the world's greatest delta system, following the waterways and submerging yourself in the Delta's wildlife and subtleties. Elephants use their trunks as snorkels, thousands of hippos bathe and grunt, and over 500 bird species flutter above an exciting cast of predators; the only way to truly discover the Okavango Delta is by boat. Staying at luxurious mobile camps en route, this is an intimate adventure through the heart of the oasis.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Maun, Okavango Delta, Okavango Kopano, Moremi Game Reserve, Chief's Island, Buffalo Fence, Nxaragha, Xaxwee, Xligera, Seronga, Sepopa, Shakawe

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Maun to Okavango Kopano – First Impressions of the Delta

The Okavango River spills from the west, stretching across vast floodplains to leave hundreds of islands cut off from everywhere. As the water flows eastwards, it slows its pace and slips into a series of ancient channels. These dissect the woodland and savannah of southeastern Okavango, creeping out like mystical fingers curling across the land. Often it still feels dry here, the grasses brittle and scorched as the delta's bounty doesn't quite stretch far enough. So this Okavango Kopano conservancy area isn't what you'd initially picture the Okavango to look like. It's a hybrid area, halfway between desert and delta, a place that's on the migratory routes while supporting an interesting cast of wildlife.

You'll touch down in Maun and get greeted at the airport by a local guide. From here it's a two-hour journey north, following a rugged four-wheel drive track to the water. This is where your boat journey starts, on the very edge of the world's largest inland delta system. For the first night, you're staying in a lodge above the river, a serene retreat that helps you overcome any travel fatigue and energize your batteries for the expedition that starts tomorrow. You'll still see the odd bit of wildlife, such as resident hippos and wandering zebra, along with a scattering of colobus and vervet monkeys that occupy the trees. Like each day on this itinerary, a sumptuous dinner ambiance on the riverbank and the evening is spent around a crackling fire.

What's Included: accommodation, airport transfer, lunch, dinner

Days 2 – 3: Okavango Kopano – Exploring the Beauty of Southern Okavango by Boat

As the water glistens with sunrise crimson, you set off on the adventure. Move slowly, and meander along narrow reed-fringed channels. Zebras drink from a clearing of low grass, the odd elephant emerges from the trees, and you quickly grow accustomed to the behavior of hippos. You're going to see thousands of hippos on this weeklong journey and these dawn hours are great for admiring them out of the water. Sometimes the guide uses the motor to take you gently along the channels. At other times, he paddles using a long stick, propelling you along waterways that are thrillingly narrow. With this silent mode of travel, you can turn a corner and suddenly be face to face with an impala or wildebeest herd.

The boat is tailored for long journeys, with a shade canopy and spacious seating. Take a drink from the cool box, snack on traditional rusks as you pass elephant herds, and sit back as you drift along through the Okavango. This isn't a race; it's a serene and surreal journey through the heart of the delta. By moving slowly, you can explore all the clues and seek out the complete range of wildlife. A sitatunga feeds in the reeds, standing on two legs and almost completely submerging itself in the channel. A giraffe drinks with a comical stance, stretching its legs wide apart to get its neck down to the water. Wildebeest splash in the shallows, the males rutting with a frenzied enthusiasm. Then the majestic horns of a kudu grab your attention as the boat takes you further and further north.

Over these two days, the journey takes you across the Okavango Kopano, a large community-run conservancy in the south of the Delta. It's a mix of mopane woodland, grassland, and riverine forest, a combination that helps attract a diverse collection of residents. You won't find the greatest quantity of wildlife here, but the varied cast helps you see another sight almost every hour. Soon you're hopping from island to island, getting out of the boat to discover the animals on walking safaris. Your camps are erected above the water, luxurious places to spend the night and continue the captivation with nature.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 4 – 5: Moremi Game Reserve – Traversing the Game-Rich Heart of the Delta

Cruising north, you follow the trail of water and watch how the narrow channels open out into vast lagoons and epic stretches of flooded plains. From June to October, Moremi Game Reserve is dominated by water, each angle reflecting the wonderful preconceived ideas of the delta. During these two days, you'll use the engine to cross evocative miles of water that connect remote islands. But you'll also stick to the silent travel, especially when you skirt the banks of Chief's Island, the largest of all the Okavango islands and favored home of the big cats.

Wildlife sightings move from the charming to the dramatic, and sometimes the tracker indicates that it's not safe to explore on foot. Find a cheetah lurking in the high grass, snoozing with one eye open as it settles in for the day's vigil. Laying silently, it's waiting for an antelope to make a mistake and get too comfortable when it’s too close. Lions drink in the open, a whole pride scattered across the bank, sipping away then falling asleep in the cool mud. High in the trees the tracker locates a leopard, only a sporadically flicking tail betraying its camouflage. The guide cuts the engine, and you paddle closer, gazing up at the spotted hunter in its stealthy hideout. Moremi Game Reserve is where the predators are found in abundance and these two days offer good opportunities to see them stalking their prey.

Evenings bring a wonderful charm as you cruise up to a luxury mobile camp. Your spacious tent has a solid floor, a bed raised above the ground, and an in-suite bathroom. Enjoy hot showers and a Western-style toilet, but most of all, savor how the camp doesn't interrupt the wild. Trackers are careful about where the camp is erected and will change location if there is any sign of predators in the vicinity. Some animals are inquisitive, and you'll see some of the antelopes get very close during the evening and morning. A crackling fire burns through the evening and night, a tactic that's warded off hyenas for thousands of years. Through the night, you hear the calls and see the distant mammal silhouettes, continuing this wonderful feeling of being out in the heart of one of the world's greatest wildernesses. This isn't a luxury lodge with a swimming pool. Instead, it's an iconic safari-under-canvas experience.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 6 – 7: Northern Okavango – Journeying Up the Okavango Panhandle

The Okavango Panhandle brings the rain of the Angolan Highlands to the desert. Broad and beautiful, this stretch of river creates the Delta, transferring the distant rainfall down to the floodplains. It's thick and bountiful throughout the year and is a great place to find animals hiding down narrow channels. Buffalo mark the open plains, sitatunga skip between last vestiges of grass, and you're never too far from the hippos and elephants. Traveling north, you start to encounter fewer predators and the ambience moves from wildlife drama to pure charm. This is where you sit back and enjoy the show, wallowing in the remote splendor of the Okavango. Most of this area is inaccessible by road, making it really feel like you're alone in Africa.

Hop between the islands and there's an adventure on every one. The local tracker scans for clues and quickly builds an impression of what you might find. Then you're following the prints on foot, seeking out the surprising finds marooned in the Okavango Panhandle. Many provide a haven for bachelor groups, young males that are building their strength before challenging for their own harem. It can bring an air of tension, and the guide will inform when to keep your distance. These islands aren't the best places to graze, and the males compete with each other, barging horns in test fights and powerful battles.

As your journey comes to its conclusion, you're surrounded by an evocative cast of birds. The Okavango is one of Africa's great birdwatching destinations, and there are some fabulous sets of wings to encounter. Pel's fishing owls, endemic egrets, half a dozen kingfisher species, flocks illuminated by the soft light of the moon; there are over 400 bird species in the Okavango, and the slow travel of a boat should give you the opportunity to see 150 or more of them, especially given your journey through contrasting parts of the Delta.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Shakawe to Maun – Scenic Okavango Flight and Departure

For the last week, you've been engrossed in all the subtle details. A sitatunga poking its head above the water, baby elephants using their trunks as snorkels, a zebra pair resting heads on each others' back. You've been immersed in all the complexities. And today, you get lost in the Okavango's scale. On an aerial safari, you retrace your route, getting a completely different panorama. The waterways extend and you admire how the rich swathes of blue cut across the sweeping stretches of green. Larger mammals can be seen on the move, the likes of elephant, buffalo, and hippo all visible from the air. The flow of water is appreciated as you admire the floodplains, as they creep eastward and split into narrower and narrower channels. And on the two-hour flight, you come to appreciate just how far you had traveled in the boat. Touch down in Maun and a representative assists you in connecting you with your international departure.

What's Included: airport transfer, safari, breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.