I knew when I departed for Botswana that given the severe drought Southern Africa has faced this year that it was going to be incredibly dry. However, even with the knowledge of what to expect, I was totally amazed at just how desolate the country was looking. October is traditionally hot and dry, but this year things were more extreme than I can remember.
My trip focused entirely on the Okavango Delta. There have been several new camps/lodges opening in the last couple of years as well as the continuous upgrades of existing properties. I began my trip in the southern delta, with my first night spent on the exclusive Qorokwe private concession bordering the more established Chitabe concession. Similar to Chitabe, it is a gorgeous area with spectacular game viewing. We were treated to a lioness killing a buffalo on our morning game drive, all on her own, which was incredible to witness.
With limited time and so many properties to see, I enjoyed a scenic helicopter flight visiting several properties which was spectacular. Flying over the Okavango by light aircraft is all part of the adventure with a trip to Botswana, but a helicopter really takes the experience to another level. You feel you get a birds eye view at the incredible scenery and can enjoy some fantastic game viewing sightings. I spotted countless elephants, an impressive herd of buffalo, giraffe, zebras and a highlight was several crocodiles feeding on a buffalo – we swooped round low to take a better look, it was exhilarating.
At this time of year, water activities do become more limited. However, in certain areas where there is permanent water, I did manage to get on the water which is always a magical feeling. Whether you are cruising by speedboat through the channels, gliding by mekoro on the open floodplains or catching a fish as the sun sets across the water – the Okavango never fails to impress with its wonderful scenery, beautiful sunsets and epic sense of wilderness.
The most water is usually found in the north of the delta, close to the permanent channels of the ‘pan handle’ and I was excited to visit a relatively new property in this area, Setari Camp, which is located on a small island within a private concession over 120,000 acres. Surrounded by seven different lagoons, the camp offers year-round water with many waterways to explore. The camp has been designed to integrate into the riverine forest and palm trees which dominate the island. Even in the height of drought, there is still the opportunity to enjoy a pure water based Okavango experience combined with superb wilderness and exclusivity.
To summarise, travelling to Botswana in October you need to be prepared for high temperatures, 35-40 degrees. It is also hot and dusty, until you get right into the wetland areas. However, it is a dry heat (rather than humid) and the game viewing is superb. This year has been tough on the animals and local people of Botswana. However, with the rains due November/December, it will only take a few weeks for everything to come back to life and flourish.