Published on October 2015 in OurAfrikaSafaris.com
Photo Credit: Wilderness Safaris
“Look deep into nature. Then you will understand everything better.”
– Albert Einstein –
Life-sustaining. In a word, this is Botswana’s Okavango Delta, southern Africa’s oasis within a desert. And this just may be the world’s largest freshwater inland delta, while ecologists concur that it is Africa’s most pristine aquatic system. All combined, its nutrient-rich waters nourish both wildlife and land, and lives up to its accolade, “Jewel of the Kalahari.”
Think of the Okavango Delta as an abundant culinary banquet. Its channels, tributaries and ravine-filled waters provide a rich breeding buffet that nourishes myriad wildlife.
Its waters originate deep within Angola’s highlands where the Okavango River is called the Cubango River. Abundant rainfall produces gushing overflows that descend steadily towards the southeast. They traverse Namibia across its slender, arid panhandle known as the Caprivi Strip. These life-sustaining waters continue flowing, expanding, progressing and filling the silt-created floodplains, streams, swamps, grasslands and waterways that define the fan–shaped Okavango Delta. It is an amazing rebirth process that occurs over months. It fills the Okavango Delta in translucent emerald and sapphire liquid tones as they quench thirsty acacia-tree fields, bring abundance to sparse papyrus canals and surround wooded and wild date palm islands.
Ultimately, this lowland repast will evaporate into the sands of the Great Kalahari Desert, another of Botswana’s unique geographic features, until the cycle commences again.
Over 150,000 islands today reside within the Okavango Delta. Yet they shift with the variable sand and silt conditions that cause the river floor to undulate and rise. All is excellent news for the diverse species of waterfowl – of which over 600 are recognized.
The African elephant resides within the Okavango Delta – with some 120,000 pachyderms estimated to be safely residents of northern Botswana. The endangered African wild dog roams here, impressive with its pack density. Antelope, African water buffalo, baboon, crocodile, giraffe, hippopotamus, hyena, impala, kudu, leopard, lion, warthog and wildebeest inhabit the Okavango Delta. Cheetah, black rhino and white rhino – perhaps the world’s most endangered mammals – are sighted here intermittently.
In 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1,000th ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site.’