2024 Okavango Flood Predictions

Posted on April 25, 2024

The Okavango Delta is often quoted as the “jewel of Botswana”, but what is it that makes it so special both for the animals that live in the area and those of us lucky enough to visit and ride there? Becky from In The Saddle writes:

Where is the Okavango Delta?

The Okavango Delta covers between 6,000 and 15,000 square kilometres of the Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana. Unlike other famous deltas such as the Mississippi, the Nile or the Rhine, the Okavango never reaches the sea.

Map showing the location of the Okavango Delta in Botswana (screenshots taken from google).

What is the Okavango Delta?

The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta that is affected by seasonal flooding. Water travels over a thousand kilometres from the rain-soaked highlands of Angola before it spills onto the Kalahari sands and slowly seeps away.

When the floods arrive, the main channels of the delta weave their way around lush grasslands, reed beds, palm groves and mopane forest. During this time a green oasis is created – a haven for so much wildlife.

The flood waters spreading out across the desert. The areas of higher ground are made into islands during this time (photo taken at Macatoo Camp).

What Happens When?

The floods originate from rain in Angola which has fallen between November and April. This flood water slowly makes it’s way through Namibia and into Botswana arriving into the Okavango Delta usually by late May. The floods normally peak in the Delta during July and August and start to recede in September.

Just to confuse a little, the time of year when the flood waters should be at their highest in the Delta, is actually known as the “dry season” because there is no rain at this time.  Between November to February are the hottest months and the ground is bone dry. However, since this is when the most rain falls it is known as the “wet season”.

A group of riders travel through the flood water alongside a herd of buffalo. (Image taken at Kujwana camp)

Game Viewing in the Okavango Delta

Key predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and endangered African wild dogs find sanctuary in the Okavango Delta. As well as the predators, you can see herds of wildebeest, buffalo, zebra and various antelope species.

During the months of the flood migratory herds of elephant head for the delta. Over these months, the area hosts almost half the continent’s elephant population. Rhinos are even making a comeback as conservationists, fearful of their survival in South Africa, relocate them to Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

When the delta is in full flood there is plenty of water for all species of animal. This means that the herds can spread out. But on horseback you can easily traverse this wet landscape. The riding during this time normally includes lots of splashy canters. The Botswana winter temperatures also make it ideal riding weather.

Having said that the hotter summer months of November to February are also great for game viewing. Since there is limited water at this time, the game surround the remaining water holes making them much easier to find.

During the hotter summer months, when there is little water remaining, the game is much more concentrated. (Image taken at Macatoo Camp)

Predictions for 2024

After the rains in Angola (between November to April) some predictions can be made about the likely flood levels in the Okavango Delta.

From Angola the water travels along various rivers including the Okavango River. Each day the water levels are taken at the town of Rundu as the water passes on it’s way to the Delta (see map below).

Map of Rundu showing Macatoo & Kujwana in the Delta. Image taken from Google Maps.

Taking the levels each day allows us to see how fast the river is rising and compare levels to previous years. As of today (24 April 2024) the water level at Rundu has increased 2cm since yesterday and is now at 5.51m.

Chart showing the water levels at Rundu (source: Hydrological services Namibia)

Each day the Hydrological Services Namibia releases a bulletin showing the different water levels at various locations. They also produce charts (like the one above) to show how the water levels compare to past years.

Looking at this chart above, the 2023 – 2024 levels (red line) are on the increase and looking very stable comparted to previous years. The 2019 – 2020 line shows an unusual flood year. However, it’s looking like this years flood should be a good one. The particularly heavy rains in Angola over the recent rainy season should mean that the flood waters stay around a little longer.


For more information about riding in the Okavango Delta, please call us on +44 1299 272997 or email rides@inthesaddle.com.

The rides that operate in the delta are Macatoo & Kujwana 

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