EPIC ROAD'S SAFARI BLOG

Entries in okavango delta (5)

Monday
Feb152016

Why an Okavango Delta Safari Needs to be on Your Bucket List

Why does an Okavango Delta safari need to be on your bucket list? Here are our top ten reasons that help to explain why the Okavango Delta is one of the best safaris and an adventure of a lifetime. The Okavango Delta is located in Botswana, an extraordinary country located in Southern Africa. Botswana safaris are some of the best that the continent has to offer including Chobe National Park, the Kalahari Desert, Makgadikgadi Pans, Savute and the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, but notably their flagship Okavango Delta safari. And that is due in large to the fact that the Okavango Delta is one of the best places to see the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, African leopard, Cape buffalo, White/Black rhino) and one of the, if not the, best water safaris as it hosts a series of winding waterways and an annual flooding making it one of the largest inland deltas in the world - which you get to explore by dugout canoe! Last but not least, the Okavango Delta is home to many incredible luxury safari lodges - including Mombo, Little Mombo, Kings Pool, Jao Camp and Zarafa Camp, conceived by National Geographic filmmakers Dereck & Beverly Joubert. The Okavango Delta is the ultimate safari destination, a unique romantic getaway or honeymoon and an overall must on any avid traveler's bucket list.

1. The Okavango Delta is a Beautiful Destination as One of the Last Unspoiled Wilderness Areas on the African continent.

The Okavango Delta is one of the last remaining unspoiled wilderness areas on the African continent. When you’re there, you truly feel as though you’re one of the few to have ever traversed certain landscapes and in some areas, you may very well be. Sometimes you even have the privilege to walk on tiny unexplored islands. The product of humanity is virtually non-existent with the exception of incredible sustainable luxury safari lodges, each of which blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings. The wealth of fauna and flora alike creates an atmosphere of enchanting no man’s land.

2. It is Home to Some of the Best Wildlife Sightings in Africa and is a Great Place to See the Big 5

The Okavango Delta may quite possibly be the best wildlife sighting and safari you’ll ever experience. Not only is the density of wildlife unparalleled but the proximity is extraordinary. You will undoubtedly come across prides of lions, packs of spotted wild dogs, humongous hippos, tree-climbing leopards, cheetah, hyenas, 300 lb. buffalos, innumerable elephants and giraffes, wildebeest, impala, zebra, incredible birdlife and so much more. You’ll observe these animals in their untouched natural habitat, you’ll see lions wading through the water, elephants rolling in mud to cool off, large crocodiles lounging in the sun, giraffes galloping across endless terrain and you’ll almost always be just a few feet away. The Okavango Delta is truly a wildlife wonderland and the best part is that the animals are living and thriving as they were meant to, the areas you will safari in are not closed off and are completely protected from human activity. Embarking on a safari through the Okavango Delta is like entering another world altogether. 

3. The Okavango Delta is a Year-Round Destination

The Okavango Delta is a year-round destination. Depending on what you’re looking for and looking to do, there is something for everyone every day of the year. Generally speaking however, Botswana’s Okavango Delta offers great animal sightings year-round. If you travel during the green season from December through March, you can expect intermittent showers but this also means extra lush vegetation and lots of young babies – seeing a lioness interact with her cub is a memory that will stay with you forever. Elephants are also a very affectionate species and watching them play together inevitably puts a smile on your face.

4. It is One of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa

The Okavango Delta is the 1000th site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for 2014 and rightfully so. It also secures a position as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. The Okavango Delta is a natural wonder in and of itself, an oasis amidst the parched Kalahari Desert. A vast ecosystem created by a localized seasonal flooding in an otherwise dry environment, each year approximately 11 cubic kilometers of water spreads over the area to form one of the largest inland deltas in the world. Whether you’re exploring the delta by hovercraft plane, boat, vehicle or foot, the landscape will truly take your breath away – lush greens, serpentine water trails, colorful birdlife overhead and incredible wildlife on the ground – what are you waiting for?

5. The Okavango Delta is One of the Best Water Safaris in Africa

The Okavango Delta is home to a series of mind-blowing canoe and water trails. The Okavango is a group of meandering waterways and scattered islands that are best explored by dugout canoe – locally known as mekoro. Mekoro are traditional canoes made by digging out the trunk of a large tree that grows in the area, such as an ebony tree. The mekoro has since evolved however in an effort to promote the preservation of large endangered trees and are therefore increasingly made of fibre-glass. One of our favorite experiences involves canoeing the famous Selinda Spillway, the waterway that connects the Okavango Delta to the Zambezi river. It is nearly impossible to depict these awe-inspiring waterways in a way that does them justice, which is why we’ve chosen the above photograph to accompany this post – though even the best image can’t convey the true magic of the Okavango Delta.

6. There is an Amazing Selection of Luxury Safari Lodges & Some of the Best Safari Guides

The Okavango Delta is home to amazing luxury safari lodges. Our favorite luxury safari lodges in the Okavango Delta include Vumbura Plains, Zarafa Camp, Selinda Camp and Duba Plains Camp. Vumbura Plains mimics the design of a contemporary beachside ranch getaway and features thatched villas each with a private plunge pool, outdoor shower and deck from which to enjoy the breathtaking views. Zarafa is probably one of the most well-known properties in the area as it was conceived by National Geographic filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert. Zarafa is an intimate camp with just four luxury tents and an insane attention to detail and hospitality. The Selinda Camp is composed of eight beautiful tents, adorned with traditional artwork and featuring deep stone baths. Duba Plains Camp is by far one of the more remote safari camps in the Okavango Delta. It is built on an island shaded by large indigenous trees and surrounded by expansive terrain – the ultimate location for wildlife sightings. These lodges all maximize on the gorgeous natural surroundings and provide unique experiences beyond the safari, such as romantic candlelit dining aboard a boat on the Zibadianja Lagoon. But even that is a safari in and of itself as the lagoon is often teeming with hippo and elephants.

7. The Okavango Delta is the Ultimate Destination for Photographers

The Okavango Delta is a photographer’s dream come true. Inspiring backdrops and wildlife and the proximity to both, allow for wanderlust-inducing imagery, whether you’re an aspiring photographer or simply wish to cherish the memories and share with others.

8. It is also the Perfect Romantic Vacation or Honeymoon & Hosts a Surreal Sunset

The Okavango Delta hosts a gorgeous sunset. The sky over Botswana is often graced with a big iconic African sun, that which we relate to the Africa of storybooks; it rises and sets over the mighty Okavango Delta. Part of what makes the sunset so mesmerizing is that the forefront will often be accompanied by a herd of elephants or other wildlife passing through. Additionally, some of the properties listed above host outdoor beds for stargazing and have personal binoculars and telescopes on sight for your convenience – because the sky will continue to enamor you long after the sun has set. 

9. The Okavango Delta is Home to One of the Largest Mammal Migrations in the World

The Okavango Delta is home to the second largest migration in the world, just after the Serengeti. At the onset of the rainy season in November, as many as 25,000 zebra begin their migration in search of water and food. As noted above, the wet season means an abundance of young and both zebra and wildebeest can run alongside their mothers within just an hour of being born. Witnessing a young zebra foal or wildebeest calf walk and run for the very first time is spectacular and evolution never fails to astound us – a young zebra is the same height as its mother so it can be shielded from predators such as lions and other big cats that prey on comparatively weak and inexperienced young. To note is that the migration throughout the Okavango Delta is extraordinary and surprisingly unknown as it is often shadowed by the Great Migration in Tanzania.

10. Botswana is Greatly Committed to the Conservation of Animals & Their Habitat

The Okavango Delta is committed to the conservation of the animals and their environment, an effort that resonates deeply with us as well. The Botswana government correctly recognizes not only the fundamental importance of ensuring that the wildlife remain protected but that the local communities benefit through this conservation. Many African countries struggle with disallowing the local population to hunt as it is a long-standing way of life for many and a means for income and food. By providing jobs that support the conservation of species, the local government and organizations on the ground can better protect the area while empowering Botswanans to do the same and maintain a sustainable way of life. And it makes sense for everyone, with the region being a leader in conservation, tourism is an increasing sector and those that travel from near and far to witness the wonder that is the Okavango Delta, allow for the continued commitment to the environment. It is referred to as eco-tourism and is done in a way that is not harmful to the natural habitat. That being said, the Okavango Delta will not remain a secret for long, so we encourage you to visit sooner vice later!

 

Monday
May202013

Under African Skies

In the major metropolises where many of us dwell, the primordial beauty of the stars is shut out by light from skyscrapers, stadiums, and advertisements. Luckily, much of Africa remains the world's most pristine wilderness, making it the perfect place to rediscover and experience firsthand the amazing power of the night sky. Here are some of Epic Road's favorite African locations to do just that. 

MoroccoZagora & M'hamid, Dunes of Erg Chigaga

Travelers to the Dunes of Erg Chigaga report a sky more thickly laced with stars than any they’ve ever seen. The dunes, southwest of Marrakesh, are located sixty miles from the nearest trafficked road. This is true desert. Enjoy a delicious tajine dinner on a moonlit sand dune and then absorb the awesome power of the fiery sky.

Namibia: Namib Desert

In this nearly lunar landscape, one of the world’s oldest, it makes sense that the universe should feel so close and almost palpable. The low and flat desert horizon frames and accentuates the dome of earth’s atmosphere. According to NASA, Namibia boasts one of the planet's darkest night skies, creating a spectacular showcase for shooting stars, constellations, and the Milky Way.

Serengeti: Lamai Wedge

Sleeping beneath the enormous, glittering Lamai sky is a singular experience. The stars seem almost to descend and kiss the ground. Lay back and search for Scorpio, Cygnus the Swan, and Taurus. You may even be joined by star-gazing companions, like hyenas, wildebeest, and elephants.

Malawi: Likoma Island, Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi is a truly magical spot to view the celestial landscape. At night, fishermen use lanterns on their canoes, dotting the lake like stars in the night sky. Above, the stars twinkle like diamonds in velvet, creating a 360-degree sparkling panorama. 

Mozambique: Quilalea Island

Where better to star-gaze than from the isolation of a private island? At Quilalea, only the gentle sound of the surf can interrupt what may be one of the most romantic, stellar nights of your life. The pink and blue cloud of the Milky Way is visible overhead almost every night.

Botswana: Duba Plains, Okavango Delta The Southern Hemisphere offers a completely different view of the universe than the Northern. On a clear winter’s night (June-September), with a strong telescope, there’s a possibility of glimpsing Mars, Jupiter with its four Galilean moons, and the ever-stunning ringed Saturn.  

Friday
May032013

Epic Road's Most Romantic Honeymoon Safaris

romantic honeymoon safari

Whether you're looking to relax together in the utmost elegant luxury, or to strengthen your bond over thrilling natural adventures, Epic Road has the most romantic trip for you. 

Rwanda: Trekking with Gorillas

With less than 800 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild, the time to see them is now. Ascend the slopes of Rwanda’s dormant volcanoes into dense, misty green forest, and come face-to-face with the great ape who shares 95% of our DNA. Be amazed by the eerily familiar behavior of these intelligent, charismatic and endangered apes as they eat, nap, and play in family groups.

Cape Town, South Africa: Jet-set holiday

Cape Town is the most European of African cities–a true melting pot, molded by Dutch and English imperialism, and deeply infused by the indigenous African cultures. The glittering skyscrapers that stretch towards the cloud-wreathed peak of Table Mountain are punctuated by the shouts of children in the townships and the call of the muezzin from the mosque. In one day, you can experience dazzling landscapes, visit cutting-edge art galleries, and enjoy a world-class meal made from the region’s many farms and vineyards.

Serengeti Plains, Tanzania: Africa's vast plains and you

Experience the Africa of storybooks and documentaries of the Serengeti Plains. Wide open savannahs, herds of wildebeest and big cats tracking them down. Zebras, elephants, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes and you. Reminiscent of a bygone era, Singita Sabora Tented Camp dishes up lavish doses of romance, exploration and intrigue. It's location on a private reserve in the Serengeti will often make you feel like you’re the only one on the planet. Alone to experience Africa’s vastness.

Arctic Circle: Northern Lights

The delicate, painterly wash of the Aurora Borealis is worth staying up for. Nestle close with your loved one outside of your safari-style luxury igloo while the sky lights up in psychedelic pinks and greens. In the morning, helicopter over the ice floes in search of a mother polar bear with her cubs, and the rare Torngat caribou herds. When night falls, settle once again into the warmth and luxury of your own personal igloo.

Mozambique Archipelago: Lost in the Indian Ocean

Aside from the wonderful staff on Mozambique’s Vamizi Island, who provide everything—shade, lunch, drinks, snorkeling equipment—don’t expect to see a soul. In this most remote, pristine setting, you and your loved one can dive with whales, dolphins, turtles, giant parrotfish, and manta rays, fish for your dinner, explore the island’s conservation activities with the World Wildlife Fund, or simply lie on the beach and let your worries be washed away by the island’s beauty and gentle surf.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: Wonders of the World

Few natural sights are as arresting as the massive Victoria Falls, the biggest waterfall in the world and one of Africa’s top draws. Less known however, are the wonders that surround the waterfall in this rich and diverse regions—one of Africa’s most beautiful. Swim in the thrilling precariousness of Victoria Falls’ Devil’s pool. Lounge beside hippos as they bathe in the great Zambezi River. Bungee jump next to the awesome, powerful Falls. Safari on the back of an elephant. This is romance at its most exciting.

Namibia and Botswana: Animal Adventure

The Kalahari Desert, stretching across Namibia and Botswana, is Africa’s oldest, unchanged landscape. This land of epic dunes, volcanic mountains, and prolific plains is also home to some of Africa’s most luxury safari lodges. In addition to spectacular landscapes—vast deserts with thousand-foot sand dunes and a coastline strewn with bleached whalebones and ancient shipwrecks. Stay at the Serra Cafema Camp in the northwest corner of Kakaoland to enjoy the mars-like landscape in luxury. Then head to greener Botswana’s Okavango Delta, where you can spot some of Earth’s most adorable creatures (giraffes, elephants, zebra, wild dog, hippopotami, lions, and leopards) gather at the rich floodplains near Selinda Camp.

Stellenbosch and Franschoek, South Africa: Food and Wine

Few regions on earth rival the gustatory bounty of South Africa’s Western Cape. This is the heart of Africa’s farm-to-table movement, a veritable eden of vegetable garden’s, sheep farms, vineyards, orchards, and even apiaries. Feast your eyes and stomach on the best that culinary Africa has to offer—from famous fine dining to over one hundred wine cellars open to the public. 

Wednesday
Apr242013

Best Documentaries on Africa

documentaries on african safaris

Here at Epic Road, we like to get ready for our epic journeys and African safaris by reading up on the natural history of the region. Another, faster way to prep is watching some of the best documentaries on Africa there are—and there are many. Here are a few great recommendations to get you excited and aware.

The Last Lions

A collaboration between National Geographic and Explorers-in-Residence Derek and Beverly Joubert, The Last Lions documents the rapid decline of Africa’s lion population due to poaching and a terrible lack of government protection. The film documentary focuses on a lioness named Ma di Tau ("Mother of Lions") as she battles to protect her cubs against the daunting onslaught of enemies to ensure their survival. This is the jumping-off point for a disturbing, well-researched and beautifully shot cri de coeur about our moral duty to save this majestic species and others like it.

BBC’s Planet Earth

There’s no one segment on Africa in this mind-boggling series about the world’s wealth of little-known natural wonders; rather, spectacular footage of the continent is sprinkled throughout. Look out for a lion pride’s elephant hunt, elephants migrating towards the Okavango Delta, a seasonal bloom of life in the otherwise arid Kalahari desert, huge families of gelada monkeys living on the steep precipices of Ethopian highlands, and the touching, uncannily human behavior of Chimpanzees in the Congo.

War Dance

In war-torn Uganda, the L. R. A. (Lord's Resistance Army) kidnaps young children, turning girls into sex slaves and boys into soldiers. Thousands of children seek refuge from the L. R. A. in the Patongo camp, and this film follows several of the camp's children as they compete in the National Music Competition. Despite the enormous odds against them, these children manage to find new life and hope in dance. A story of human resilience in the face of total brutality, War Dance was nominated for an Academy Award and heralded as one of the best documentaries about Africa.

Africa

BBC’s latest addition to its spectacular annals of nature documentaries is Africa, a beautifully shot, in-depth look at the elusive continent. Narrated by David Attenborough, the series travels across Africa region-by-region, capturing never-before-recorded natural phenomena and animal behaviors on film. 

Wednesday
Apr172013

April in Africa

Luxury African Safari in AprilSerengeti

April is unfurling across Africa, but that means something different in each small corner of the continent. It is the perfect time for an African safari trip.

In Zimbabwe, April brings autumn. The rains have just ended but the grass is still green and the rivers are full. Days are warm and dry and the skies are a bright, vivid blue.

It’s a big month for the animals (both resident and tourist) of Zimbabwe’s mighty Zambezi River, which flows from the Congo basin in the north to the coast of Mozambique in the east. The fish in the river are jumping and the crocodiles are snapping. Rain means life, and wildlife (including lions and hippopotami) are rampant.  

Westward, in Botswana, the skies are clear and lovely. April is the perfect time to go on safari in the region as the wet season has just ended. The best game viewing in Botswana shifts from the Kalahari to the game rich Okavango Delta. Herds are congregating around the Okavango Delta. A quiet paddling trip down the Selinda Spillway in a mokoro (traditional African canoe) is the perfect way to watch them.

Perhaps April’s most spectacular sight is the South Serengeti. The life-giving rains that fall from mid-November to early May are ending and the well fed wildebeest who have grazed on the short grass of the Southern Serengeti Plains are getting ready to restart the great migration. It is also the tail end of the calving season. Mothers are waiting for their young calves to fatten up and have the strength for the journey north. The Great Migration is the region’s greatest spectacle. Thousands of young wildebeest calves stick closely to their mothers while predators eye them cannily from the grasses. Massive African elephants cool themselves in the woodlands around Lakes Ndutu and Kusini.

Nearby sits the Ngorongoro Crater, one Africa’s greatest natural wonders. Though only ten miles across, the crater is home to black rhino, elephants, buffalo, lions, and cheetahs.

In Mozambique, the rainy season has already ended. The sun has come out and the humidity is passing. It’s a magical time of year to experience the country’s pristine coastline and islands. Mozambique's beaches are simply stunning and its the perfect way to end a luxury safari.