On the north western fringes of the Okavango Delta, the area known as the Panhandle combines perfectly with Namibia’s Caprivi Strip for an excellent value Delta alternative. This is one of Botswana’s best self-driving areas, with visitors often crossing the border from the fascinating Caprivi area before driving south and re-entering Namibia in the Kalahari. The Panhandle’s combination of beautiful riverine scenery, fabulous birdlife, varied activities and decent wildlife provides an “Okavango-lite” experience, while avoiding the budget busting private concessions of the Delta.
The Okavango Panhandle is the first stretch of roughly 70km before the mighty river fans out into the Delta, so the habitats are often quite similar, with papyrus swamps, high reed beds and a series of small channels to explore. Fishing and birdwatching here are first class, with long established, simple fishing lodges now being supplemented by a growing number of options targeting higher levels of luxury and a more varied activity base. Evening river cruises to watch the sunset over the waters are enticing, with walks and nature drives also possible when water levels are favourable. In the remote Tsodilo Hills, a stunning collection of ancient San-Bushman rock art makes for a fascinating cultural visit and a break from the focus on the natural world. There is also a sense of being far off the tourist trail, with the area receiving few of the tourists that visit Chobe and the Delta, making the Panhandle ideal for lovers of birds, water and peace and quiet!