Something very odd happened in Sub-Saharan Africa about 100 million years ago: the entire landmass shifted, and as a result, one major river no longer had anywhere to flow. So it flooded an ultra-flat desert region, forming the world's largest wetland oasis. That paradise is now known as the Okavango Delta.
On the delta's fringes, the water fights a losing battle against the arid wastes and eventually just vanishes. But in its heart lies an astonishing maze of lagoons, channels and half-submerged islands. The unique wetland ecosystem supports a huge population of creatures, including rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, lions, elephants, giraffes, antelopes, wildebeests, hippos, buffaloes and crocodiles – plus countless exotic birds. Faced with such an abundance of wildlife, most visitors are hard-pressed to express their sense of awe. As one of our local friends puts it, "If you only see 10% of what sees you on a given day, it's been a great day of game viewing."
The traditional way to explore the delta wilderness is by mokoro or dugout canoe, gliding silently over the crystal-clear waters. A more original and unforgettable approach is on the back of an elephant: you get closer to the game than by any other means of transport – and even lions don't have the nerve to challenge these amiable two-ton giants. Of course we'll select the perfect place to stay from among the area's renowned lodges and camps. And rest assured that Botswana, with an official policy of maintaining low-volume, high-quality tourism, knows a thing or two about luxury and the needs of discerning travellers.
In addition to your explorations in the Okavango Delta, we'd recommend a visit to the Chobe Game Reserve, famed for the hundreds of elephants you'll find along the Chobe River during the dry season. You might also spend a few days in the Makgadikgadi salt pans, the largest expanse of salt flats on the planet. Located in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, this lunar landscape offers a surreal combination of silence, solitude and brilliant light from a vast dome of blue sky. And after the rains come, it's home to an incredible array of wildlife, including one of Africa's largest concentrations of zebras. Pitching our comfortably appointed '40s-style canvas tents within a palm oasis, we create the perfect setting for contemplating the wonders around you – and reflecting on your journey among some of the world's great natural treasures.