Maun is the regional centre of Ngamiland (north-western Botswana) and is principally the service centre for the safari industry. It is relatively advanced, in African terms, with an international airport, two open-air shopping malls, three banks and numerous hotels and lodges. Regular flights arrive & depart from Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Gabarone and Windhoek to Maun.
The population of Maun and its environs is estimated at 40,000. The majority of safaris depart from Maun.The Okavango is an area of unusual beauty and striking contrast. Whilst the periphery is semi-arid, the Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, peatlands, backswamps and forested islands in the permanent swamps, and floodplains and ivory palm islands in the seasonal swamp.
In the dry winter season one of the most spectacular events in the natural world occurs, floodwaters that have traveled 1000 kilometers from the highlands of Angola infiltrate the delta inundating large areas causing a great concentration of wildlife.Many species of wild animals, which move into the surrounding savannas during the wet season (summer months Dec/Feb), therefore, concentrate around the delta at this time.
There are an estimated 9000 species of flora and fauna in residence in the delta throughout any one given year. The delta itself forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley (of East African fame), and covers an area of 22,000 square kilometers.The delta can be divided into four regions; the panhandle, in the northern most reaches, the permanent swamps in the upper region, the seasonal swamps in the lower region and a large number of large landmasses, such as Chiefs Island, which occur as large islands or which extend into the delta from the surrounding mainland areas and are referred to as sandveld tongues.
Two key areas of interest are:
The lush Chobe riverfront is noted for the large concentrations of megafauna (elephant and buffalo) that gather on its banks in the dry season. The Chobe in the dry season (Apr-Nov) is the only major source of water north of the Okavango. Hence game is attracted from great distances. The river itself originates, like the Okavango, in the highlands of Angola and eventually flows into the mighty Zambezi. Apart from elephant and buffalo the Chobe is noted for its namesake species of bushbuck, the puku, antelope and its birds. Its sunsets are also something to behold. Chobe Chilwero Lodge is located on the border of the Chobe National Park and offers the best views of the Chobe River.
The Savuti Channel has a fascinating history of flooding and drying up independently of good rainy seasons and flood levels elsewhere. The dead trees in the channel tell of a long non-flowing period. Savuti has been the subject of numerous wildlife documentaries such as The Stolen River, Eternal Enemies and Patterns in The Grass to name a few. It is also home to small exhibits of bushmen rock art. Savuti is generally at its peak, game wise, at the end of the rainy season (Mar-May) when large numbers of zebra and wildebeest move through the area from the Linyanti, further west, to the sweeter grasses on offer in the Mababe depression, to the south. For the remainder of the year there are generally excellent concentrations of plainsgame, particularly elephant, around the few waterholes in the area. It is not uncommon late in the dry season (Oct/Nov), to see elephant guarding the waterhole against lion and plainsgame species.