Byline: Jennifer Southwell
The best time to visit Okavango Delta is when it’s flooded between July and September, as it draws in large numbers of animal species. An early rainy season and a river with no outlet cause the Okavango Delta to flood annually. As it’s the dry season in Botswana, the weather is hot and sunny, causing a need for a water source for animals. These animals gather around the overflow and along the Okavango River to enjoy the water.
Many people curate trips to the Okavango Delta area to view its various wildlife, so it’s essential to consider the wildlife pattern when scheduling a safari in Botswana. Planning a trip to the Okavango Delta panhandle during peak season (dry season) ensures excellent game viewing.
About the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta lies in the Kalahari Desert, a normally dry, dusty plains area with unrelenting weather. Usually, when the Okavango Delta is dry, the wildlife is spread throughout the area. Once the Okavango River begins flooding, a wetland appears, drawing in abundant wildlife. The Okavango Delta abundant resident wildlife means various species, including birds, African wild dogs, warthogs, hyenas, and others, gather around the water. There are also varied flora and fauna, with 1000 species present throughout the outer and inner Okavango Delta.
This inland delta is a freshwater wetland whose ecosystem is formed by the Okavango River. This river sits in the highlands of Angola, ending at its delta. As the wet season occurs, the river fills and overflows, creating the breathtaking Okavango Delta. There is quite a distance between the river and the Okavango Delta, creating a flood that begins around the same time as the dry season each year.
When is rainy season?
The wet season typically lasts from November to March. During these months, the weather in the area is hot, humid, and sunny earlier in the day. In the afternoons, torrential downpours occur in spurts. While you can visit during these months, the weather is more unpredictable, damping the visit.
When is the best time for safaris in the Okavango Delta?
For the most pleasant weather, a trip during June, July, or August is ideal for safaris. At this time, the weather is cooler, providing a reprieve from the usually hot, dry weather. As the areas around the delta have become drier than in other months, it’s more likely that the wildlife will stay closer to the delta providing incredible views.
The months between the dry and rainy seasons are also excellent options for a safari visit. These months also typically offer pleasant weather.
Month-to-Month Summary of Okavango Delta Visits
While the dry season is ideal for wildlife viewing, the Okavango Delta is viewable year-round. The below month-to-month guide offers key reasons for visiting throughout the year.
January offers the heaviest rains, with heavy rainfall in the afternoons. Visiting this month means fewer travelers and more openings for lodges and camps.
During February and March, the temperatures remain warm yet rainy (similar to January). While the weather may be unpredictable, the delta remains lush and green. The water levels are low, yet you can still view wildlife.
During this month, the waters of the Okavango Delta begin rising, providing the ideal location for water activities such as motorboats or canoe rides.
In May, the area surrounding the Okavango Delta begins to dry up, pushing wildlife toward the rising waters of the delta.
June is the best time to view predators, as the surrounding flora and fauna are beginning to disappear. This month is right on the cusp of peak season, so more people are beginning to visit the area. It’s an ideal time for participating in water and land activities.
This month marks the beginning of peak season and ideal weather. The delta is typically at its fullest in July, overflowing into the Kalahari Desert.
As the surrounding area continues drying, more and more wild animals head to the delta area. In August, various bird species begin building their nests nearby the delta, offering incredible views for bird lovers. Fishing this month is also exceptional, with an abundance of catfish in the water, drawing in more predators.
September and October is the best month for animal viewing, specifically predator viewing. During these months, the surroundings continue to dry up. Due to this absence of waterholes elsewhere, animals trek hundreds of miles to reach the Okavango Delta.
One of the hotter months at Okavango Delta, November, marks the beginning of the rainy season. This month is typically when many antelope babies are born, encouraging higher numbers of predators.
The second wettest month of the year, December features dramatic rain showers.