Rain-fed streams in the Angola highlands feed a river
that flows south to reach Botswana as the Okavango. But this is a river that through a trick of
geology is destined never to reach the sea. Instead, its waters sprawl out to form a vast inland
delta that is one of the world's greatest wetlands. The Okavango Delta is a watery Eden that gives
life in abundance to the heart of the arid Botswana Kalahari.
"In time and with water,
everything changes." Leonardo da Vinci
An oasis in a thirsty desert
Most of the Kalahari in southern Africa is an
expansive semi-desert of ancient sands and dry savanna. The Okavango Delta in Botswana
provides a dramatic contrast by flooding the heart of the thirsty Kalahari with life-giving
water. In this sprawling oasis of more than 15,000 square kilometers, desert gives way
to lush vegetation and a rich ecosystem.
fish eagles provide a magnificent spectacle as they hunt over the delta.
The waters of the Okavango Delta fan
out into a maze of channels that meander between forested islands. The waters wind through
dense beds of papyrus into marshes and lagoons that are festooned with water lilies. The delta
is a haven for wildlife that is sustained by the year-round abundance of water.
attracts stunning water birds like saddle-billed and yellow-billed storks.
A stronghold for lions
Lions prey on the herbivores that graze in the Okavango
Delta. North Botswana is now one of the last remaining major strongholds for the big cats that sit
at the top of the carnivore pecking order. Although these predators invoke both fascination and
fear, they have lost most of their ancient territories in Africa at the hands of man.
Humans have decimated elephants across
much of Africa. Thankfully, huge herds can still be seen in the area of northern Botswana that
encompasses the Okavango Delta and adjoining Chobe National Park.
A young elephant bathes in the
Okavango Delta. Elephants not only need water, but seem to enjoy it.
Red lechwe are
water-loving antelopes that will bound into the Okavango marshes to escape predators.