Okavango Delta, UNESCO World Heritage Sites (with Map & Photos)

The Okavango Delta is one of the most important rivers in the Kalahari Desert and is recognized as the largest delta in the world.

Okavango Delta Unesco
Okavango Delta Unesco

The natural identity of this river is so unique that it has become the 1,000th UNESCO World Heritage Site. Picturesque landscapes, a variety of flora and fauna, unusual landscapes make the Okavango Delta attractive for tourists.

Hydrological characteristics

According to the latest research by hydrologists, the Okavango River basin was formed millions of years ago and was once part of Lake Makkhadikhadi, which was located in southern Botswana.

Later, the process of tectonic activity of the earth's crust began, which led to serious changes in the riverbed, as a result of which it was completely blocked. The full-flowing Okavango carried its waters towards the Kalahari Desert and has since formed a delta there.

Okavango Delta Unesco
Okavango Delta Unesco

Today, the river is filled with rainwater from the Benguela plateau, from where it directs its flows along a long path to the southeastern part of Botswana. Such a long process leads to the formation of a unique natural phenomenon, consisting of:

  • swampy lowlands;
  • islets;
  • reed beds;
  • streams;
  • ducts.

The speed of river water movement is only one kilometer per hour, which indicates that the delta is filled with water slowly. This process takes about five months. At the same time, in small channels, most of the water evaporates.

Delta Features

The area of ​​the delta is more than 2 million hectares, where several natural zones harmoniously coexist. The delta is a model of the interaction of various biological, hydrological, and climatic processes. They form a delta system, adjusting depending on any external changes.

The purest water of the river, combined with nutrients, fills the dry surface of the desert, turning it into a green oasis. Most of the delta is made up of shallow swampy lowlands, around which bushes and trees grow. A single stream of water is divided into many streams, which partially evaporate or create warm backwaters.

During the annual flood, the water level in the river rises three times, and the delta overflows with renewed vigor. When the dry season comes to the mainland, the delta, on the contrary, narrows a lot, which leads to skirmishes between animals due to lack of drinking water.

Okavango Delta Unesco
Okavango Delta Unesco

Delta fauna

The Okavango is famous for its diverse habitat, including several species of birds and mammals. The largest zebra migration occurs between December and April. Later they are joined by elephants, buffaloes, cessebis and antelopes. Among predators in the delta constantly live:

  • serval cats;
  • jackals;
  • cheetahs;
  • lions;
  • hyenas.

Predators and other mammals coexist in harmony with nature and in accordance with the rules of natural diversity. So, at the end of November, when cubs of representatives of ungulates are born, 20% of them go to feed on predators. However, this fact does not violate the natural balance.

The delta is also home to a fairly large population of elephants, hippos and giraffes. Each species of mammal finds a habitat in the delta that suits it in all respects. Thus, the ecological sustainability of species is being formed in the Okavango.

In addition to various species of animals, there are about 90 species of fish, 63 species of reptiles, and 480 species of birds in the waters of the delta. Ornithologists note that 30% of the birds in the Okavango Delta were previously endangered, but thanks to good climatic conditions, the number of birds has come into balance.

The marsh spaces of the delta are inhabited by such representatives of birds as:

  • pelicans;
  • herons;
  • flamingos;
  • ibis.

Within a few months, one migration of birds replaces another. At the same time, water bodies do not have time to become polluted, since birds are also a source of food for many animals.

Moremi nature reserve

In 1963, the unique nature reserve Moremi was created on the territory of the delta, with an area of ​​5,000 square kilometers. The protected zone is located in the northeastern part of the delta and covers the arid savannah areas. About 40% of the reserve falls on the mainland, and the rest is occupied by small islands, bays and expanses of water.

Okavango Delta Unesco
Okavango Delta Unesco

For tourists in Moremi, tourist campsites were equipped, among which Little Mombo won particular popularity. The camp has everything you need to relax and observe the inhabitants of the reserve. Tourists, as a rule, come here on their own vehicles and set up tents.

You can move around the reserve in small cars, but you must leave your car near the campgrounds. Another mode of transport in Moremi is light aircraft. With their help, tourists move to different points of the delta and can observe animals, as well as birds.

Special conditions have been created for nature photographers in the reserve. First, they have the right to navigate the backwaters of the delta on the national mokoro boats. Secondly, they are allowed to enter the territory where predators live, but this is only possible with an experienced guide.

Okavango Delta Map