Botswana's Okavango Delta is a haven for wildlife but it is more than a big game safari experience, with pristine habitats and fascinating landscapes.
© Storm clouds approaching the Oklavango at sunset
Open grass plains that become lakes, permanent channels flanked by a variety of vegetation and islands surrounded by magnificent stands of some of Africa's iconic trees are the canvas for one of earth's natural wonders.
The eco-systems of the Okavango Delta range from seasonal floodplains and small islands to larger islands that support riverine woodlands, mopane forest, open grassland and savannah bushveld.
Islands of Paradise
These islands host most the species that occur in northern Botswana whilst the seasonal floodplains interchange between shallow lakes of water and grass and open grassland, providing rich feeding grounds for water dependent denizens and land grazers alike.
The permanent delta areas of deep channels, papyrus stands and reed beds are home to many breeding birds and the elusive sitatunga antelope. The sitatunga is a water-adapted species that lives in permanent swamp areas of Africa. The long splayed hooves allow the sitatunga to negotiate papyrus beds with ease.
Flooding of the Delta
The flooding of the Okavango affects all the eco-systems of the Delta but it is in the seasonal areas where the most dramatic influences are found, with open grasslands becoming waterlogged floodplains at the height of the dry season.
In a true miracle of nature the floodplains are green and lush during the rainy season, but not necessarily flooded, and during the long dry winter they become open bodies of water from - fed by the rains in the highlands of Angola almost two thousand kilometres away.