Look at a map of the Okavango Delta and you'll see that it's shaped like a frying pan, with the main river flowing down the handle, from the northwest. Thus this area gets its name.
The Panhandle's western side is very easy to access with a 2WD, as the road between Sehithwa and Shakawe is tar. Once you leave the main road and the larger settlements, a high-clearance 4WD is essential to cope with the sand in the area.
The track that follows the river on the eastern side is used much less, though it's not intrinsically difficult. Visitors very rarely travel along this as the only practical access to it is via the ferry that crosses the Okavango at Mohembo, north of Shakawe.
Geology and geography
All of this area is in the Kalahari, though here it's dominated by the influence of the Okavango River. This comes south into Botswana from the Angolan Highlands, having crossed Namibia's Caprivi Strip.
Entering Botswana, the river's gradient is very low. However, it is constrained from spreading out by steep riverbanks on either side. Underneath the sand lies a more fundamental constraint; parallel fault lines in the earth's crust which run southeast, about 10–15km apart. Thus the river meanders gradually southeast, between them, forming a series of wide, sweeping curves and the odd ox-bow lagoon – but always remaining within the constraints of the banks.
Where the river's meanders kiss the banks at the edge of the floodplain, villages have sprung up: Shakawe, Sepupa and Seronga. The southern extent of the fault-lines lies around Seronga, so south of here the river begins to spread wider to form the main body of the Delta.