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The Okavango Delta or the Masai Mara - Which is Better?

People often ask me, "which is better - the Masai Mara or the Okavango Delta?" The answer is neither. I can't say one is better than the other because they are different. And both are amazing.

Some things I love about the Mara:

  • Sunrises and Sunsets. There is nothing blocking the view of the sun as it lowers in the sky. It makes for great photos. What is better than a giraffe or even just an acacia tree silhouetted in front of a bright orange sun? I dream of the shot with both the giraffe and the acacia tree in the same shot.

  • The number of game you see on a game drive in the Mara. They are easy to spot and the concentration of animals is second to none.

  • The Migration. You won't see thousands of wildebeest and zebra and antelope crossing rivers anywhere else (unless you are on the Tanzania side of the river.)

  • The Masai people. All our guides and staff are Masai. Visiting a village and learning their culture is a highlight of our safari.

Some things I love about the Delta:

  • The privacy. Some sightings in the Mara can be crowded. Ten or more vehicles at a sighting are not unusual. In the Delta, you never have more than three vehicles at a sighting.

  • Birdlife. I love birds and the Delta is full of amazing birdlife.

  • Painted Dogs. You won't see Painted dogs in the Mara but you most likely will see them in the Delta.

Nearly all the camps in the Delta are in private conservancies. That is great for crowd control but also makes those camps pricey. Expect to pay more for a safari in the Delta than the Mara.

Getting to the Okavango: You will need to fly to Johannesburg (Delta has a direct flight from Atlanta.) It's about 15 hours. Then take a 2.5 hour flight to Maun (plan to layover in Joburg before flying to Maun.) From Maun you take a light aircraft to a landing strip near your camp. It's normal to spend a few days at one camp and then take a short flight to your next camp.

Getting to the Mara: Kenya Air has the only direct flight to Nairobi. Delta connects with KLM in Amsterdam or Air France in Paris. American connects with British Air in London. United connects with Lufthansa in Frankfurt. Each leg is around 8 hours. You can also fly Ethiopia Air or Emeritus or Qatar Air. From Nairobi, you can drive or take Safari Link to the mara.

Best time to go:

Definitely the migration season for the mara. That starts mid July and goes through September. Weather is ideal in August with cool evenings and day time temps in the low 70's.

High season for the Okavango is June through September. I prefer the shoulder season of May when it is still green but the rains have ended.

Sunset in the Mara

Delta sunrise

Water buck in the Delta

Crossing the Mara River

Masai warriors

Painted Dog

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