March or April, when is the best time to discover the Okavango Delta? Do you want to experience the most fantastic Botswana safari ever that you plan to return every year thereafter? If your dream is to see the mind-blowing vistas of the Okavango Delta, then we can assist you with choosing the best time to travel, the most fulfilling month of the year when you get perfect weather, prolific movement of animals, lush growth of vegetation and plenty of rain or no rain at all.
March is still summer which is the wet season in Botswana. In the Delta, this, therefore, means plenty of rain, usually from November through to end of March. This spectacular wetland system becomes so verdant that it hurts your eyes and you need a good pair of sunglasses! Finding appropriate adjectives for the numerous and varying shades of green would stun even the best paint company!
You will see plenty of wildlife in March despite the thick foliage bursting out of canals and wetlands during this amazing wet season phenomenon. Some of the main highlights of the rainy season are the number of newborn animals being dropped, the quantity of migrating birds that keen birders can tick off, and the cooler evenings and mornings.
Only a few weeks later, visiting the Delta during April offers you the perks of seeing the end of the rains, the peak of the lush growth, and the chance to see small animals staggering around on shaky legs. During this fourth month of the year, most lodges tend to re-open for business and prices then tend to shoot up – as this is then the start of high season.
Hello, Easter holidays, the last of the warmth before winter sets in!
So does this make March a cheaper time to holiday in the Okavango Delta? Yes! You get cheaper rates and sunnier days at the end of the rains. There could be a late shower or two which does make getting around a bit harder, as roads tend to be rustic and muddy. Most experienced safari companies promote the use of 4×4 vehicles in Botswana and seasoned travellers will always hire these hardy trucks or have their own.
Now all you have to do is to look out for special deals and packages to the Okavango Delta during March before you book an April trip! Have you thought about places like Abu Camp in the Okavango Delta’s Abu Concession which offers six exclusive tents blending in with the ancient riverine forest? This awesome and opulent accommodation includes fantastic elephant viewing decks overlooking the lagoon.
If there is particularly high rainfall, such as during 2010, the Okavango Delta literally hums with life and animals start to head into the Kalahari, the Makgadigadi Pans and Chobe National Park. They disperse into these habitats, making them harder to find – so you need to consider adding the Kalahari area to your itinerary, or at least the Linyanti/Savute region! This way, you could start your Botswana excursion in March in the Delta then head south during April when the water levels drop a bit and animals are moving!
Here’s another angle to your travel story: if you don’t like rain and bugs then don’t go in March. Insects are rife and rain falls regularly, maybe hampering your plans to walk or to boat. During these summer rains, the floodwaters are literally swollen with water, the Okavango River flowing from Angola into Botswana at the Caprivi Strip, then into the fan-shaped Delta. Then, all of a sudden, they disappear!
They soak into the Kalahari as fast as bathwater running down a plug hole, and as they disappear, life starts to grow, right before your very eyes. The huge diversity of flowers, plants, birds and animals is astonishing and you have to pinch yourself to make sure that you are not dreaming.
Getting down to basics, for tourists, like you, there are three main geographical areas to visit within the Delta. The panhandle in the northern reaches is renowned for its wonderful birding, fishing and multihued villages lining the waterways. In the central Delta, large numbers of animals lurk and feed, retreating into this food-rich haven while they can. Lastly, in the dryland areas, game viewing and boating are the big attractions – get into a traditional mokoro to see a mind-boggling array of wild animals, birds, reptiles, rodents and their changing habitats. Look out for more than 120 species of mammal, including the white and black Rhinos which were recently successfully reintroduced!
You may not yet know that during June 2014, Botswana’s Okavango Delta became the 1000th site inscribed on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee! This is thanks to its mostly intact wetland system which floods every year “with the result that the native plants and animals have synchronised their biological cycles with these seasonal rains and floods. It is an exceptional example of the interaction between climatic, hydrological and biological processes. The Okavango Delta is home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammals, such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog and lion.”
Moving on to temperatures during March and April in the Delta and the Kalahari Desert – it is cooler during this month than during the height of summer and some days will be beautifully clear and sunny, others greyer and cloudier. During April, the skies clear up and temperatures start to fall, especially at night. Temperatures in the Okavango Delta, with its many camps and lodges, are more stable and less intense than in the Kalahari Desert which is much drier. But seeing the Kalahari in March is a must – you get to see many more animals during this green season when wildlife tends to congregate on the plains and around the pans where food and water are plentiful.
If you are seeking luxury safari accommodation, then you simply have to stay in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Voted “Botswana’s Leading Safari Lodge”, this opulent game viewing venue is for those who expect nothing but the best. Surrounded by Ilala Palms on the island of Xaxaba, this is one of the Delta’s most pristine, untouched locations. Who would expect in-room phone systems and air conditioning in the middle of the wilderness?
On the other side of the spectrum, a much more rustic adventure into the Delta, where guests are immersed in nature, can be done with Footsteps Across the Delta. Traverse the land with experienced and expert guides, heading off for walks in the early mornings and late afternoons. Each explorative walk lasts three to four hours and brings you closer to nature and wildlife with an expert guide who will use his six senses to bring the bush to life.
Footsteps Across The Delta is a comfortable, rustic camp within the private Shinde Concession in the stunning Okavango Delta. Only operational from April to November annually, the camp accommodates up to six guests in three unique Meru-style twin-bedded tents with sewn-in floors. Enjoy your own bucket shower and bush toilet and the ‘bush kitchen’ is run by a talented chef who prepares menus to whet every appetite.
After all of this information, it remains, in the end, up to you – March or April in the Delta? Rain and bugs, or not? The lush verdant scenery in the north, drier vistas in the south? The best option would be to start in March and continue your adventure through April to get the best of both worlds, not so? Contact the African Travel experts today to tailor-make your adventure into one of Botswana’s best attractions.