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The Okavango Delta in Botswana
has become the 1000th site to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
To wildlife lovers and conservation experts this accolade is long overdue.
Okavango is a massive inland delta formed by the Okavango River. It is one of the only interior delta systems not to flow into a sea or ocean, leaving a diverse wetland system intact. The delta is produced by seasonal flooding and swells to three times its normal size during the dry winter months (June to August). This attracts a huge concentration of wildlife there to drink and bathe.
The ‘big five’ – lions, buffalo, leopards, black and white rhinoceroses and elephants – can be seen at the delta, making it a huge tourist attraction. In fact, the big five are among 200,000 mammals attracted to this ecological marvel, and these include giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals and impalas. There are also 71 species of fish and 400 species of birds.
It is hoped that adding the Okavango to the heritage list will go some way to helping conserve this unique ecosystem. Many of the species are endangered and habitat destruction is one of the main obstacles they face, as well as poaching. There are also five different ethnic groups of tribes people who practice fishing, hunting and gathering at the delta and whose way of life would be under threat if it disappeared.
Many safaris go to the Moremi Game Reserve – on one side of the delta – and there is a large choice of lodgings; the delta can be visited by boat, plane or makoro – a special type of local canoe.
The World Heritage committee met in Qatar to add Okavango to the UNESCO World Heritage list. The list already includes such wonders as the Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arcin in France, which has some of the earliest examples of figurative drawing, and the Acropolis of Pergamon in Turkey.
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