An Okavango Delta safari is a completely sensory experience designed to foster a profound connection with the Delta’s diverse ecosystems. Most of our blog posts focus on sight, where we discuss what we’ve observed unfolding in the fold. Because we live in such a visual world, we tend to favour images and carefully curated videos to share our safari stories, pleasing the “sight” sense. When you engage with our wildlife videos, try closing your eyes. Uncover a profound and symphonic world of sound. Whether it’s the crisp calls of frogs, the guttural roars of lions, the cackling laughter of hyenas echoing through the night, the wind weaving through the trees, or the vigilant warning calls of birds — everything resonates with amplified intensity on safari. Today we’re going to take a look at the orchestra ensemble that makes up the Okavango Delta’s symphony. If you want to HEAR a safari we recommend Mboma Island Expeditions, a magical place that offers the best of both water and land-based safaris.
The Movement of Water
You’ll hear the rushing of water while you cruise through the open waters en route to your destination at Mboma Island Expeditions. While out on a traditional mokoro your poler will gently guide you through the narrow channels where you can hear each glide. Listen out for the plopping sound of frogs, bubbles in the water, and the thundering splashes from elephants on the banks. Let’s not forget the quick-footed hooves of the lechwe flying across the water, creating plenty of splashing sounds.
The crystalline waters of the Delta are placid, but sometimes you can hear the tranquil flow of the channels meeting the open waters and the lapping of waters against the banks. Keep still and you’ll hear every movement in water possible. The soothing effects of land interacting with water is serene and healing.
The gentle breeze from the cool Delta waters sweep through the reeds, creating a wonderful rustling sound that adds to the natural ambiance of the Okavango Delta. If you look up, you can hear the whistling of the wind pulsating through swaying palm trees at Mboma.
Claps of Thunder
One of the most spectacular things to see and hear, is a summer thunderstorm in the Okavango Delta. These storms are short-lived and provide respite from the heat, peaking from January to March. Claps of thunder and a sharp crack of lightning really provide the deep beat in the Delta’s symphony.
While we’re talking about loud sounds that cut into the peacefulness of this pristine environment, it seems fitting to introduce predator calls into the mix. Predators are most active at night, which is when you’re cocooned in your Meru-style tent catching some shut eye. If you happen to wake-up, listen to the sounds of the night. You’re bound to hear a lion contact calling or advertising his territory. A lion’s call is deep, reverberating and guttural. Although it might feel like a pride is sleeping next to your tent, it’s probably not. Lions can be heard from up to 8 kilometres away – the stiller the night, the further the sound carries.
That strange bark you heard that sounds like a lost rescue dog? It’s not, it’s just a leopard emitting a few rasping yowls. If you happen to spot a leopard feeding, listen out for their purr – it’s an oddly soothing sound. Let’s chat about hyenas. They aren’t quiet and tend to be active the minute the sun sets. They have over 14 calls that range from high-pitched cackles to squealing, groaning, hooting and whoops. One thing’s for sure, this successful predator will certainly pierce the night with its sharp and comical sounds.
The boma experience is the quintessential part of a safari, especially in the Okavango Delta where the brazen sunsets match the blazing colours of a campfire. The sound of a roaring fire is one of the most warming sounds. Listen to the crackle of the flames leaping into the still air while you listen out for the signs of nocturnal beasts starting their night time antics.
Cicadas harmonise in a cacophony of evening sounds, creating a mesmerizing background melody to the ongoing sounds of Bell frogs in the background. During the day, you’ll hear birdsong from an array of species. There are over 600 species of bird in the Okavango Delta, the most iconic being the African fish-eagle – the sound of Africa! You’ll hear the pied kingfisher’s whirring wings just before it dive bombs into the water and, if you’re lucky enough, the drumming of a woodpecker into a nearby tree.
Hippos and Elephants
This doesn’t need much explanation! Honking of hippos, deep grunting and boulder-like splashes can only mean one thing: the hippos have arrived. Also known for their splashing, elephant herds love to play in the water. From trumpeting to spraying water and thundering through camp, our elephants are yet another iconic sound.
While this might be a strange thing to say, sometimes you can hear the silence and the stillness of Africa’s most pristine waterlogged paradise.
These aren’t the only sounds of the Okavango Delta, but they’re certainly the ones that stand out! There is also the pounding of hooves, barking of baboons and the crunch of the grasses as you walk towards your sundowner spot. There’s just so much to listen to while on safari at Mboma Island Expeditions. The Okavango Delta truly represents a symphony composed of nature’s orchestra, featuring the most remarkable sounds from its diverse ensemble of wildlife, water, and wind.